English 4400N/5400N Transmedia Storytelling (2013)

English 4400/5400: Transmedia Storytelling

Wednesdays 18:00 – 20:50 W561

Kiki Benzon


Office Hours: by appointment UH810K

Required Texts: Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. Pat Harrington and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Eds. (MIT Press, 2009); New Perspectives on Narrative and Multimodality. Ruth Page, Ed. (Routledge, 2009); Convergence Culture. Henry Jenkins (NYU Press, 2008).

Evaluation: 2 minor presentations (15% each); 1 major presentation (30%); final essay or essay+creative project (30%); participation/attendance (10%).

Minor Presentations: 20 mins. Students will sign up for two minor presentations on two texts we are reading. Presentations should convey the important ideas in the text and facilitate discussion of these ideas. Longer texts (i.e., 25+ pages) are equivalent to two minor presentations; students who opt to present on a longer text (identified by an asterisk in the reading itinerary) should prepare one 40 minute presentation worth 30%.

Major Presentation: 40 mins. Students should develop a topic and sign up for a major presentation date before March 10th. Provide Benzon with any required reading or viewing (website addresses are fine if material is easily accessible online) at least one week before your presentation. You may present alone or in pairs (students in pairs will *probably* receive the same grade). Your presentation may be related to your final essay project. You should submit a summary of your presentation to Benzon (point form or slides are fine).

Essay or Essay+Creative Project: For the final project, students may submit 1) a 15-20 page essay or 2) an 8-10 page essay and a creative project. The creative project may be a multi- or trans-media narrative work (please discuss your concept with Benzon before undertaking); the accompanying 8-10 page paper should outline the theoretical or cultural ideas informing the creative project. As with the major presentation, you may work in pairs or individually. Essays written collaboratively must not be divided into “chunks”—they must read seamlessly, in one voice.

Week 1: Jan. 9

PAGE “Introduction” in New Perspectives in Narrative and Multimodality (NM)
HARRINGTON & WARDRIP-FRUIN “Introduction” in Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives (TP)

Week 2: Jan. 16
Introductory Theory

HERMAN “Narrative Ways of Worldmaking” in Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research (2009) (PDF)
PAGE & THOMAS “Introduction” in New Narratives: Story and Storytelling in the Digital Age (2011) (PDF)
RYAN “Narration in Various Media” (2012) (PDF)
HALLET “The Multimodal Novel: The Integration of Modes and Media in Novelistic Narration” in Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research (2009) (PDF)

Week 3: Jan. 23
Multimodal Literature

NØRGAARD “Multimodality and the Literary Text: Making Sense of Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (NM)
GIBBONS “’I Contain Multitudes’: Narrative Multimodality and the Book that Bleeds” (NM)
HERMAN “Word-Image/Utterance-Gesture: Case Studies in Multimodal Storytelling” (NM)
DANIELEWSKI House of Leaves (Excerpts, PDF)
KRESS & VAN LEEUWEN “Introduction” in Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication (2001) (PDF)

Week 4: Jan. 30
Electronic and Multimedia Narrative

KLEIN “Spaces Between: Traveling through Bleeds, Apertures, and Wormholes inside the Database Novel” (TP)
ENSSLIN “Respiratory Narrative: Multimodality and Cybernetic Corporeality in Physio-Cybertext (NM)
TOOLAN “Electronic Multimodal Narratives and Literary Form” (NM)
LACCETTI “Cruising Along: Time in Ankerson and Sapnar” (NM)
TOMASULA Toc: A New Media Novel (DVD)

Week 5: Feb. 6
Comics/Graphic Fiction

MCCLOUD Understanding Comics (Excerpts, PDF)
MOULTHROP “See the Strings: Watchmen and the Under-Language of Media” (TP)
FORD & JENKINS “Managing Multiplicity in Superhero Comics” (TP)
WARE Building Stories
WALSH “The Narrative Imagination Across Media” in Modern Fiction Studies 52.4 (2006) (PDF)

Week 6: Feb. 13

*JENKINS Searching for the Origami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling” (CC)
PARKIN ‘Truths Universally Acknowledged: How the “Rules” of Doctor Who Affect the Writing” (TP)
MITTELL “All in the Game: The Wire, Serial Storytelling, and Procedural Logic” (TP)
LAVERY “Lost and Long-Term Television Narrative” (TP)

Week 7 Feb. 20 Reading Week

Week 8: Feb. 27

DENA “Beyond Multimedia, Narrative and Game: The Contributions of Multimodality and Polymorphic Fictions” (NM)
RYAN “From Narrative Games to Playable Stories: Towards a Poetics of Interactive Narratives” in Storyworlds (2009) (PDF)
KIRSCHENBAUM War Stories: Board Wargames and (Vast) Procedural Narratives” (TP)
HUBER “Epic Spatialities: The Production of Space in Final Fantasy Games” (TP)
KRZYWINSKA “Arachne Challenges Minerva: The Spinning Out of Long Narrative in World of Warcraft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TP)

Week 9: Mar. 6

*MCGONIGAL “Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming” (PDF)
*RETTBERG “All Together Now: Collective Knowledge, Collective Narratives and Architectures of Participation” (PDF)
HATTON, MCGURGAN & WANG “Keg Party Extreme and Conversation Party: Two Multimodal Interactive Narratives Developed for the SMALLab” (NM)

Week 10: Mar. 13
Fan fiction/Participatory

THOMAS “Gains and Losses? Writing it All Down: Fan fiction and Multimodality” (NM)
*JENKINS Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry” (CC)
*JENKINS Why Heather Can Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars (CC)

Week 11: Mar. 20 – Major Presentations

Week 12: Mar. 27 – Major Presentations

Week 13: Apr. 3 – Major Presentations

Week 14: Apr. 10 – Major Presentations

Apr. 24: Essay or Essay+Creative Project due

Grade Scale: A+ 91% to 100%; A 85% to 90%; A- 80% to 84%; B+ 77% to 79%; B 73% to 76%; B-70% to 72%; C+ 67% to69%; C 63% to 66%; C- 60% to 62%; D+ 55% to 59%; D 50% to 54%; F <50%.

Course Policies: Papers handed in after the due date will be subject to a reduction of half a letter grade per day late, for up to four days. An “A” paper, in other words, will receive an “A-” grade if it is handed in one day late. After four days, the paper will receive a zero. All papers must be written in accordance with MLA rules for citation and style. Plagiarism is theft. If plagiarism is suspected, the matter will be investigated and, if found guilty, the student will fail the course and may face further penalty from the university.