Digital Language Arts

Digital Literature is an emerging form of writing that engages a non-traditional medium, such as visual art, sound art, games, installation art, video, or live performance. In this introduction to the field, students will develop a framework of the practice by studying writers like Katherine Hayles, David Jhave Johnston, and John Cayley, who helped define the field, looking at early experimental text and video artist like Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Nam June Paik, engaging commercially successful artists in the field like Jenny Holzer, and finally by looking at contemporary practitioners making digital text art like Allison Parrish, Hito Steyerl and Judd Morrissey. In collaboration with this cursory study, students will create and workshop texts that engage a series of experimental formal techniques. For example, students will create twitter bots, make a poem in the form of a GIF, write with algorithmic rules, create language in game spaces, and use other experimental mediums to approach a more complex understanding of writing.

Course Schedule

The schedule is subject to change if necessary. Please refer to my weekly emails for materials and pay attention to the class blog assignment when it is given in class.

week 1 – 28 January


week 2 – 4 February

My mother was a Computer, Katherine Hayles

~~ Go to Interrupt V !

February 8 and 9th, Friday and Saturday

Granoff Center

Check for the full schedule ~~

week 3 – 11 February

Allison Parrish

Week 4 – 18 February

Long Weekend, No class

Week 5 – 25 February

Harun Farocki

Workshop 1–

Zach Even

Alainey Hellman

Wendy Rodgers

Week 6 – 4 March

Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries and Amalia Ulman

Workshop 2–

Alyssa Pho

Camila Pavon

Naomi Attman


Ami Coulibaly

week 7 – 11 March

You Are Here: Art After the Internet, Omar Kholief

week 8 – 18 March

Wafaa Bilal

Workshop 3 —

Alyssa DeGruccio

Garrie Ma

Judith Lao

Alainey Hellman

Wendy Rodgers

week 9 – 25 March

Spring Break, No Class

week 10 – 1 April

Dictee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

week 11 – 8 April

Seven Controlled Vocabularies, Tan Lin 

Workshop 4–

Ami Coulibaly

Alyssa Pho

Zack Even

Camila Pavon


week 12 – 15 April

Hito Steyerl

Workshop 5–

Alyssa DeGruccio

Naomi Altman

Garrie Ma

Judith Lao


week 13 – 22 April

Amalia Ulman and Ryan Trecartin


week 14 – 29 April

Final Portfolios Due. In class Reading, and snacks!

Credit Hours and Commitments

Over the 13 weeks of this course, students will spend 32.5 hour in class (2.5 per meeting) and 150 at home on course work. Out of class work will entail 5 hours of workshop preparation for the 6 weeks of workshop (30 hours). Reading will take 8 hours a week (96 hours). Finally, updating and participating with the class blog should take, at maximum, 2 hours a week (24).

Attendance Policy

Please attend all seminars and workshops and do all assigned readings. Turn in work on time and do not be late to class. Arriving 30 minutes after our scheduled start time will count as an unexcused absence. Missing 3 or more classes without excuse will result in an automatic failure. Please communicate with me about your needs, I understand that sometimes life gets in the way of arriving in the classroom.

Accommodations and Support from the University

Please inform me on the first day of class if you have a disability or other conditions that might require accommodations or modification of any of these course procedures. You may speak with me after class or during office hours. For more information, please contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services at 401-863-9588 or Students in need of short-term academic advice or support can also contact one of the deans in the office of the Dean of the College.

Inclusion and Safety

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion works to promote a diverse and inclusive community at Brown. If you have concerns about sexual or gender-based discrimination, harassment, and/or violence, please contact Brown’s Title IX office.

Class Blog

Everyone in the class will run a personal WIX website, or tumblr blog, where weekly material will be turned in and displayed for class discussion. The weekly blog assignment will be given out at the end of class. Expect things like, collect screen-shots of comments on youtube videos that make you sad, take photos of surveillance cameras, upload gifs that only feature text, transcribe everything you hear on your way to school…. These assignments are meant to be fun and generative. By collaborating with formal constraints, we’ll learn about the problems of poetics and composition that, for an artist, show up in every task.

Full Class Workshop

Each student will have the opportunity to workshop two pieces. One week before student work is discussed, the student should bring a printed version of work to class (even if these means printing screenshots of a video or plain text file).

Digital Language Arts is an emergent field, so, if a student is inspired by the course material to write creative nonfiction, or a poem where lines of text sit with photoshopped images, or to write a sci-fi story about a computer addicted to online shopping…these are all acceptable forms!

(Workshop is for you, so, bring in whatever you feel best about.)


I really don’t like canvas. If it’s ok, I’d much prefer to upload the syllabus and links to your personal blogs on my own website and then deliver reading materials through email. Your individual blogs will serve as a place to “turn in” work for the course.

Final Portfolio

15 printed pages, or the equivalent in digital material, of compiled work from the semester will serve as a mini-collection of engagement with digital poetics and text performance. The portfolio is due on the last day of class.

Required Texts

You Are Here: Art After the Internet ($22.50)

Omar Kholeif

Dictee ($25)

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

My Mother Was a Computer ($20)

Katherine Hayles

Seven Controlled Vocabularies ($20)

Tan Lin