Category Archives: digital essay

x12: Presentations and Arcade

I’d like us to spend our last class meeting presenting your digital essays. Our closing celebration of your work will be in two stages.

Presentations:  Process, affordances, and constraints

I’d like each of you to offer a brief presentation of your digital essay to the class.  I’ll project your project on the screen. You should then plan to speak about it for about five minutes—no more! In the second half of the class, people will have plenty of time to read through your piece and talk with you about the substance of your work. So in your presentation, I’d like you to focus instead on what composing for the digital media allowed you to do, and what it made difficult. Please point to moments in your essay that help you talk about:

  • How you developed your project, from idea through drafts and revisions to final version (process).
  • What you feel you were able to express that you could not have done as well in print (affordances).
  • What proved difficult for you in working in this medium (constraints).

At the start of this course, I asked the question: What changes when you write for the screen rather than the page? This is your chance to offer an answer.

Final drafts: A digital arcade

Please post a link to the final version of your essay to this website. We’ll spend the last half of the class walking about the room, viewing and discussing one another’s work.

In the body of your post, write a version of your presentation of your project to the class. The written form of your presentation may be read by people outside this class, so you might want to:

  • Offer a somewhat more detailed description of your actual project—a “teaser” to attract readers;
  • Say a little more about the history of your project, how you developed it;
  • Insert an image from your project.

Please post your work to this site by 11:59 pm on Thurs, 5/15. Please use both digital essay and x12 as your categories.  I look forward to a fun last class!

Will Self’s “Kafka’s Wound”

I wish that something had miraculously shown up in my inbox or Twitter feed that suited the category of “new digital writing.” Alas, nothing did. Instead, I located a digital essay by Will Self titled “Kafka’s Wound.” [Edited to add that I had forgotten that this had been one of the first examples Joe had offered of digital work.  :

falling ]

In this longform (8200 word) essay, Sef brings his reading of Kafka to life through a web of associations.

I do not think it is necessary to read the entire text of his essay to get a feel for the work he is doing of editorial, historical, and creative connotation. Interestingly, the London Review of Books sponsored this project, which took 14 weeks and many people’s labor to make. The explanation for the essay states that the goal was to use “digital technology to loosen and enhance the structure of the essay,” and it certainly does that. Although Self wrote the main body of the essay, “much of the additional content was researched or created by over 70 others,” presented in various forms including music, digital media, videos, photography, and drama.

Screenshot 2014-05-06 16.51.34

The user interface permits readers to open and close bubbles to the right side of the essay. There is also a freeform navigation web menu at the top of the page for readers who want to browse through the the material that way. I found that more compelling than reading the entire essay straight through. The various supplemental–and yet that’s not quite the right word–elements of the digital essay actually served as entry points into Self’s rather heavy prose.

The very reason I respect this piece of work–the quality and expansiveness of it–are the very reasons I also nearly chose something else to share here. It is really overwhelming to see such a massive undertaking so beautifully pulled off. Overwhelming in an admiration sort of way. Also in a holy-smokes-I-couldn’t-ever-create-something-of-that-scale way.


Class, Fri, 5/02

Draft One Workshops


Authors: Fastwrite: Read through the responses you’ve received to your essay. Formulate a plan: What part of your essay would you like to read and get further responses to?  What questions do you want to pose for your readers? (9:15–9:30)


Groups: Each essay gets 30 minutes. The task of each author is to direct her readers to a point in her piece that needs further work. The task of each reader is to offer a response that goes beyond what she has written. (9:30–11:30)

Revision Plans (11:30–12:00)

Write me an email in which you:

  1. Summarize your essay as it now stands, its strengths and problems;
  2. Summarize the responses you’ve received—in writing and in workshop—from your readers;
  3. Begin to draft a plan of revision: What will you cut? add? rethink? tweak?
  4. Ask me any questions that you’d like my help with.

I will send you an email in response—certainly by Thurs, 5/08, hopefully several days before. I will then reserve office hours for conferences from Mon, 5/12, through Thurs, 5/15.

To Do

  1. Tues, 5/06, 11:59 pm: Post x11 to this site.
  2. Thurs, 5/08, 11:59 pm: Post responses to x11.
  3. Fri: 5/09, in class: Be ready to talk about the new digital writing you are bringing to our attention.
  4. Fri, 5/09, in class: What help do you need in moving forward on your digital essay?

Remix and FYC: 1st Draft

Okay gophers, I can’t lie. This thing is a hot mess:

Summary: I argue that there are some problems with the way scholarship in rhet/comp is thinking divisively about multimodal writing vs. alphabetic writing in the composition classroom, and ultimately suggest that the concept of remix can help us to highlight the similarities in the kinds of intellectual practices we want students to take on inside the academy– within and across modalities. Though I haven’t yet been able to get the posts in the right order on the website, here is how I’ve broken this essay down:
1) Key Terms: I try to define what I mean by “alphabetic writing” “traditional academic writing,” “multimodal composition,” “digital composition” and “remix”– and the relationships between them.
2) The Same Refrain: I argue that the way we’ve come to differentiate sharply between the ways that alphabetic texts and multimodal texts produce meaning is problematic.
3) History/Futurity: Some Discursive and Conceptual Snags: I try to show that one problem with the scholarly discourse around alphabetic and multimodal writing is the assumption that alphabetic writing is an almost-extinct practice of the past, and multimodal writing is the future.
4) Textual Layers: I haven’t written this section yet, but I will argue that we can conceptualize traditional academic writing as a practice of selecting and layering pieces of other texts to produce meaning in the same way that multimodal composing does. This intellectual mode of making meaning is the practice of remix. I plan to work through two specific examples: one piece of alphabetic academic writing, and one piece of multimodal remix (probably a musical remix).
5) Resonance and Dissonance: Again, not yet written, but I will argue that a key feature of the practice of good remix, in alphabetic and multimodal forms, is the ability to recognize and control the resonances and dissonances produced by the rubbing together of these layers/pieces of other texts. I intend to continue working with the same examples from the section above to show how this intellectual practice works on both alphabetic and aural levels.

Gaps/problems: Oh so many. You can see from the above that I’m really only halfway done. I also need to work in a bibliographic page in addition to linking out within the posts. I need to figure out how to rearrange my posts so that they show up in the right order on the home page. [Update: Figured out how to get them in the right order. Pro tip: It’s a total pain.] I’d love to figure out how I can group the posts under different tabs, so that the current ones all go under “Theory”; and so that I can add posts this summer under “Materials” (putting syllabus and lesson plans for an E110 course centered around remix) and in the fall under “Practice” (updates and reflections how how it works in practice). I also have an incredible amount of material in note form responding to different scholarly texts on multimodal vs. alphabetic composing, but very little of it has made its way into my essay yet 😦

Feedback: I’d love to get some feedback on the general shape and organization of my argument as I’ve laid it out above, and on the actual prose as it is emerging in my first few posts. Are there gaping holes you see already? Can you follow my argument? Is it too obvious, repetitive, dull? Aside from needing to get the posts in the right order, what do you think of this format for my essay? I was originally going to do a video, and that increasing felt wrong for the content. Do you have any suggestions for aethetics/format/style? Visuals/images/audio/video?

I really appreciate any feedback you’re able to offer at this stage. I’m sorry I don’t have a more complete draft to share!

With gratitude,

Draft 1: Turning the Digital Page

Dearest groundhogs (or whistle-pigs, if you please),

Apologies for lateness, but here is my first draft of the digital essay,Turning the Digital Page.

Summary: My project is primarily interested in digital archives such as The Yellow Nineties Online, and the ways in which we understand and approach archival texts in these digital contexts, as well as the processes and decisions that go into their remediation.

Note: For additional background information, I would advise reading my tabs at the top on the Yellow Book and “About this Digital Essay” before launching into the subsets of the topic I present as posts; my hope is that the posts themselves can be read in any order, but I may go in later and reorder them more effectively if you think it advisable.

Gaps and Problems: At this point, I am still trying to translate (and remediate) this project from a seminar paper to a more precise digital version of itself (plus some). This necessarily means I am in the process of adding links/images/text,  as well as changing my tone and incorporation of references somewhat. I also still want to bring some of our readings from this class (Baron and perhaps another–suggestions welcome!) to bear on this topic, but have not yet done so. I think that the meat of what I want to say is there (I am fairly certain I’m already far over the word limit), but I’m still working to streamline, clarify, and beautify.


1.) I’ve been tinkering a lot with WordPress of late and I’d like to get your feedback on the appearance and ease of access of the site as it stands now. Does it work for you as a user? Is there any way I can/should guide readers more in terms of what to read first?

2.) I’m also concerned that my posts are too insular and do not clearly enough interrelate to each other and my stated goals in my introduction.

3.) What I’m most afraid of is that my project is coming off as too pedantic–that I have too much in the way of scholarship to the point of feeling clunky–and not as accessible as I’d like in terms of content–concerning level  of language and my sad dearth of images and other media. Any suggestions for making it more appealing (visually and otherwise)?

Thanks for reading!


Shakespr: (Re)creationally Writing Hamlet Online Draft 1

Hello there!

Link to digital essay: Shakespr: (Re)creationally Writing Hamlet Online

Summary of Project:

The prologue of my piece covers this in a bit more detail, but to summarize, I’m interested in how tumblr represents, remixes, remediates, and recreates Shakespeare. In doing so, I’m looking specifically at Hamlet on tumblr and how users read and rewrite the text.


So far, I have a lot done in notes (whether my annotated bibliography or handwritten notes on the primary sources) and a lot done with the digital essay format itself. While I love tumblr, it is not always the easiest to work with when you’re trying to do something it wasn’t exactly designed for: structure an argument. What that boils down to is that I’ve spent significant time at the start wading through primary sources to find the specific ones I want to talk about directly, and many many more hours constructing the anchor posts themselves, and inserting the infrastructure of links, tags, metadiscourse, etc. Basically, this means that I still have substantial work to do in more of the writing itself. That being said, with what I have so far, I have gotten a lot of the more gritty, time-consuming work completed.


At this point, feedback in three main areas would be of superb help.

1)      The format: Like it? Does the first post sufficiently explain how to move through the essay? Did you get lost at any point in terms of where to go next? Also – I’m thinking of adding a page – perhaps in my about page – for tags. I’m hesitant to do that at this point because it’s a lot of post editing across the entire blog, but I will happily do so if you think that will help the piece as a whole (including the pieces that are not discussed within the main body of the essay). I’m also thinking about whether to include a “random” page that will take readers to a random post on the blog.

2)      Sources: I’m not really working from any particular scholar (which is why the dramatis personae is under construction), but I do think I may include some of the larger ideas about fandom – such as Henry Jenkins’s “acafan” (academic fan) or some of Lessig’s work with remixing. Would the work benefit from these larger theoretical ideas?

3)      In terms of my argument, I am positioning this not as a strict closed-form piece that starts with the thesis. Instead, I’m starting with my questions and moving toward my overall argument. For this format, do you think this structure will work for you as readers?

Close Encounters, First Draft

Dear Groundhogs

Here’s my first draft:

This is not  a linear essay, you can start in any circle that you wish. The very last word of each post is linked to another post, if you follow them you could have a circular reading of the whole thing. Still you do not have to follow them in order. I’m trying to create interconnected but independent sections about our book-to-ebook transitional phase and our probable encounters in the near future with native digital generations who will not recognize printed books as a part of their formation any more .

I’m still struggling with the format, I’m not sure if it’s working for this content. I have not decided about the amount of hyperlinks to include,  and also videos and images. I’m thinking about minimizing hyperlinks in one post, in order to stimulate the experience of reading a printed book, and  overusing them in one particular section, to stimulate the experience of reading an ebook . Could it be a good idea?

I’m also working on more resources about digital generations, hope to reach a deeper insight into the subject.I appreciate any new ideas or suggestions for its intellectual aspect.