Thinking Like a Digital Writer: Image, Branch, Algorithm, Loop (Panel)


Pedagogy & Professional / Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing

Robert Glick (Rochester Institute of Technology)

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram (University of Massachusetts Boston)

Teaching creative writing for digital platforms introduces new pedagogical challenges. Generally speaking, print-based creative writing focuses heavily on elements of craft – with the exception of experimental literatures, there's very little emphasis on actively considering the medium of the page itself. However, writing with and for digital media forces the instructor to reframe creative writing pedagogy beyond craft, and asks students to broaden their expectations and valuations of how we make writing make meaning. Time previously spent on enjambments or line breaks might now be spent on web development, software tutorials, or debugging. Moreover, a work of digital creative writing might have no clear beginning, middle, or end, fundamentally altering how we understand and teach traditional craft elements such as plot, character development, or conflict.

This panel will explore pedagogical approaches to thinking like a digital writer – as someone who leverages the affordances of a particular technology into the writing process and product. How can an instructor teach the techniques of creative writing when aleatoric and algorithmic processes, branching narratives, augmented reality, or location-based markers are built into the medium? How can we teach students to write concurrent worlds, merge author-defined writing with user input, create meaningful variations upon “replaying” a piece of writing, or even consider programming as part of the site of writing? How can we discuss digital writing strategies and distribution as forms of resilience, subversion and counter-narrative? Topics may include reconsiderations of craft for digital media, creative writing in software environments such as Twine, collaborative writing and programming, and sociocultural and ideological aspects of digital creative writing.

Teaching creative writing for digital platforms introduces new pedagogical challenges. This panel will explore different approaches to thinking like a digital writer, which allows the student to leverage the affordances of a particular technology into the writing process and product.