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ENG 161

Reading Literature: Visual and Digital Narratives

This course explores the way changes in media have influenced literature, focusing on narrative forms that combine verbal, visual, and digital representation, including film, television, interactive fiction, and social media. It will consider the possibilities that new technologies of representation have brought to the art of storytelling and could also explore critical questions of new media literacy, such as production, dissemination, and reception.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Fall Semester information

Michael Sinowitz

161A: Lit:Visual & Digital


Spring Semester information

Nicole Lobdell

161A: Lit:Visual & Digital

Today's gaming industry is changing the way we view and interact with digital narratives. This course treats video games as digital literature with the goal of teaching students to analyze the literary elements of video games such as characters, settings, narratives, and literary and rhetorical devices. We will study the concept of "play" using an interdisciplinary approach that pulls from literary criticism, cultural studies, and media studies, and this course will include game play and the creation and viewing of game play videos.

We will read both literature and games, covering a range of themes and topics including but not limited to realism, social justice, interactive fiction, gender, science fiction, speculative fiction, first-person narratives, puzzle narratives, immersion theory, virtual reality (VR), and adaptation (literature into games, films into games, and games into films). Students will be expected to purchase apps and online games (through platforms such as Steam) but will not be expected to purchase devices or gaming consoles. The choice of games will take into careful consideration the financial costs of games and apps and accessibility across multiple platforms and devices. Possible texts include Ready Player One (2011), Wolf in White Van (2014), How to Talk about Video Games (2015), and How to do Things with Video Games (2011), and possible games include Sweatshop (2011), Dear Esther (2012), The Stanley Parable (2013), and Monument Valley (2014).


Tamara Stasik

161B: Reading Literature: Visual and Digital Narratives