A Course on Digital Narratives:
Motivation & Inception

The Digital Narratives in Digital Culture course was first convened by Dr. Ciccoricco in 2005 as a "Special Topic" offering in the English Programme at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand). Ciccoricco teaches all of the sections with the exception of two guest lectures, usually one on blogs from a Mass Communications professor and another on online gaming from a Master's student in Computer Science. The Special Topic system is designed to pilot new courses by allowing them to run for a limited number of terms without permanently establishing them in the departmental curriculum. The course is designed to examine forms of narrative fiction that have emerged with the ascendancy of digital technology. It examines these texts through the lens of existing narrative theory, with the aim to expand or revise existing theories, preconceptions, and understandings of narrative textuality in light of the digital medium.

Included in the list of digital narratives that are studied in the course are hypertexts and Web-based fiction; textual adventure games and Interactive Fictions (IFs); text-based multi-user domains (MUDs); and the graphical descendants of MUDs, Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). The course also looks at the role of narrative in contemporary video games as well as other digital artifacts that are not necessarily fictional, such as blogs and wikis.

The course begins by providing a basic understanding of narrative theory and the general concerns of the discipline known as narratology. With this foundation in place, students are asked to engage with questions that arise when narrative fiction migrates to digital environments, such as those that concern multi-linearity, immersion/participation, textual orientation, and collaborative composition. They are also asked to respond critically to the distinction between "literature" and "games," "interpretation" and "configuration," and that of "reading" and "play."

The learning outcomes of the course are designed to enable students to:

The course involves two one-hour lectures per week plus an hour and a half workshop. Unlike the tutorials held for other English courses at the university, the workshop is held in a networked computer lab so that tasks can be built around a direct engagement with digital texts and digital writing technologies. It is the first English course at the university to be held in a networked computer lab. Also unlike more traditional English courses, all primary and secondary sources are available online or as software installed on lab computers. Although it was not a formal requirement for enrollment, basic computer literacy (including email and Web navigation) was "strongly recommended" as preparation for the course.

Mel - class of 06 Joe - class of 05 Todd - class of 07 Llew - class of 06


You Can Start Here
On the Digital
Threat / Salvation
On English Pedagogy & Contemporary Contexts
On the Course:
Motivation & Inception
Nothing Too New


On the Literary
On the Technical


Students as DesignWriters
Examples and Analysis