Creative Coding: Reading and Writing Web-based Literature

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 18, 20217/19 - 8/184 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineTheodora Ellin Ballew

Course Description

Every day, we encounter more language that can’t be page-turned away: advertisements spring on us with hidden or disabled “close” buttons, posts on social media allure collaboration, and notifications strut unasked onto our phone screens. As this crowd of digitized texts grows thicker about our heads, we relearn to read in accordance with its idiosyncrasies. Mobile text becomes more legible than static text. And so it is urgent that literature, too, moves.

This course will teach students to code mobile texts in the form of web-based creative works. While learning core web development languages (HTML, CSS, and jQuery), we will “read” examples of web-based creative works (mostly websites, but also creative interventions in social media, from the Internet’s going public in 1992 to today), and some micro-excerpts of theory. Working creatively on the web inherently disrupts traditional distinctions between creative practices. So, students will be encouraged to mix and match sound, video, art, and language in their work. The teaching mode will also be interdisciplinary: depending on the day, the course may resemble an English class, an art history class, a creative writing workshop, or a coding tutorial. Web development has thus far been used primarily for practical ends; however, it is used more and more often for creative ends, as mastery of it becomes more widespread -- as happened with so many other tools throughout human history, including, most recently, film. As we explore the emergent art form of web-based creative work, we will think about who has access to making and experiencing it, and how that accessibility might be broadened in this crucial nascent stage. Throughout the course, students will post websites to Canvas representing their coding progress. They will have made the skeletons of these websites during the tutorials, and will expand upon them on their own. Students will also post responses to the “readings.” We will conclude the class by exploring publishing venues for web-based creative works, so that students can submit the work they’ve made, if they wish. Students need only a standard laptop, and will not be expected to purchase any software.

Prerequisites: No specific prior experience or knowledge is required.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMS0928

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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