(CS/EN 87) Computational Literature

2017 Spring Term

Course Description

Computational literature is a course that surveys the evolution poetry and poets have undergone from the end of the Romantic era and the invention of the analytical engine (1833) up until the predicted moment of Singularity (2045)--the advent of artificial intelligence. Students will explore the shift in aesthetics from the expression of the self to a future in which the self is controlled by algorithms, computation and behavior patterns of particles within a greater network. Students will discuss the precursors of digital poetry; from modernists, to Oulipo and the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, ending with contemporary voices in poetry and future ones. Students will create forms of nonexpressive poetry and construct them as algorithms, taking into account the influences of the internet and programming languages on both our lives and literature.

Course Details

Special Events

Monday, April 24, 2017 6:00 pm
Gates-Thomas 135 – Charles C. Gates Jr.-Franklin Thomas Laboratory of Engineering
Art + Tech Panel: Computational Literature
Part of the series: Art + Tech Speaker Series Curated by Hillary Mushkin, see also item on LA Daily News


Friday, May 19, 2017
CMS "Meeting of the Minds" Faculty Event

Homework Policy

Your homework should be submitted on a website of yours that would be visible to the instructor. Working in groups of 2-3 is encouraged. Email the instructor the web address that should link to assignments and gallery. If you work in a group, a single website is sufficient for the group.

Be sensitive to what your classmates might find offensive, triggering, or violent; be graceful (not defensive) and listen carefully when your work gets called out.

Assignments will be due at 9pm on Tuesday. This means you have 12-14 days for each assignment. You are allowed to extend the due date by a week for one assignment.


Eran Hadas               ehadas at c a l t e c h

Office Hours

Tuesday before class or after class, or schedule by email. My office is at Dabney, room 201 D.

Optional Textbooks

  • www.391.org (2013), Modernist Manifesti, [pdf]
  • Dworkin, C. & Goldsmith, K. (2011) Against Expression. Evanston: Northwestern University Press [pdf]
  • Parrish, A. (2010) Reading and Writing Electronic Text. ITP Springs 2010-2015 [Online Resources for course]
  • Recommended Books

  • xtine burrough ed. (2011). Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design [link]
  • Raymond Queneau; Barbara Wright (2012). Exercise in Style. New York : New Directions [link]
  • Georges Perec (1987). Life, a user's manual. Boston : D.R. Godine, 1987 [link]
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [link]
  • Assignments

    Lectures & Material

    Note: schedule is subject to change.

    Week 1 - Lesson 1 Introduction [texts] [slides]
    Week 1 - Lesson 2 Counting [slides]
    Week 2 - Lesson 3 Modernism - Manifestos and Avant-Garde [texts] [slides]
    Week 2 - Lesson 4 Language Models [slides]
    Week 3 - Lesson 5 Formalism [texts] [slides]
    Week 3 - Lesson 6 Literature Rules/z! [slides]
    Week 4 - Lesson 7 Panel and Conversation [links] [slides]
    Week 4 - Lesson 8 The Poetic Function [texts] [slides]
    Week 5 - Lesson 9 Post WW2 - Pre Deconstruction [texts] [slides]
    Week 5 - Lesson 10 Oulipo Live Writing Session [activity]
    Week 6 - Lesson 11 Oulipo Prose [texts] [slides] [Calvino slides by Drew Schaffer]
    Week 6 - Lesson 12 Deconstruction [texts] [slides]
    Week 7 - Lesson 13 Language Poets [texts] [slides]
    Week 7 - Lesson 14 Neural Networks [slides]
    Week 8 - Lesson 15 Internet Age Poets [texts] [slides]
    Week 8 - Lesson 16 Computation in Comics [links] Guest lecture by Keren Katz
    Week 9 - Lesson 17 Death of the Author, Rise of the Bot [texts] [slides]
    Week 9 - Lesson 18 Posthumanism [texts] [slides]