This is Nothing All Too New

Teaching and learning with digital writing technologies is nothing new. In fact, it has been adequately observed that most all texts today, even those that are intended only for a life in print, are today also digital texts in that they rely on digital writing technologies for their production. Likewise, teaching a course on digital literature is nothing new. J. Yellowlees Douglas was teaching classes on digital narratives (of the "classical" hypertext fiction variety) at New York University as early as 1992. Offering English courses in a networked computer lab is nothing new either — the practice is also at least a decade old. Marcel O'Gorman (2006), for example, held a survey of British literature course in a computer lab at the University of Florida in 1996 and wrote of the "uneasiness" and "bewilderment" his students felt when they realized their English classroom was full of computers (p. 96). Finally, the practice of setting assessment that involves creating some form of digital text (such as a web site or a blog) rather than a traditional essay or exam is, if by no means commonplace, still not new in 21st century English courses.

In this regard, the Digital Narratives course convened at the University of Canterbury in 2005 is nothing new in relation to the field of digital humanities. Neither are the practices of teaching on and with digital writing technologies new for the particular instructor of the course. This direction is, however, new for the particular university and new for the students of the course, who expressed the same "uneasiness" and "bewilderment" to which O'Gorman referred. And it is new for the majority of the teachers and administrators in the university department in which the course is offered.

But for the purposes of this webtext, we are not interested in emphasizing nor even so much as addressing its relative quality of newness. (Who decides what is [still] "new" anyway? In the commercial world, isn't it the case that a company can only brand a new product as "new" for six months before it is considered false advertising? Who will pull the terminological plug on "new media" and when?) Our emphasis instead falls on the web project that represented the final assessment for the course and the students' self-conscious engagement with the materiality of the digital media.

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