Writing Machines: Computer Programming and Literature

FallWinter
Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Olympia
Olympia
Daytime
Day
Freshman-Freshman
Freshman Only
Class Size: 46
100% Reserved for Freshmen
14
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Brian Walters
mathematics, computer science, improvisational theater
Hendricks-Steven
book arts, literature, creative writing

Literature is in part the product of the complex, gooey, electrical buzzing in people’s heads.  How writing materializes in the world also depends on the tools at hand: the chisel, the plume...the keyboard . In fact, the computer keyboard reminds us of the enormous flexibility of the alphabet, that words are no more than combinations of some of our 26 arbitrary symbols. Moreover, the power of the computer, the ultimate tool for manipulating symbols, can give us new kinds of access to and control over written language—a way of playing with letters and words, exploring texts, and posing questions about literature, meaning, and knowledge in general. 

Combining introductory computer programming with literary study and creative writing, this program is about practical, playful, and theoretical applications of the computer to working with words. We’ll look for ways in which computing and writing can be informed by one another. We'll explore the computer’s potential to help us analyze and generate text in a variety of ways, from predictive text schemes to playful textual transformations. For example, there are several schemes for producing new text in the style of an existing text; you'll learn about ways to generate a new sonnet based on the sonnets of William Shakespeare, a new novel in the style of Dan Brown. You'll learn to use the computer to experiment with textual analysis and visualization and to formulate rich questions that invite us to utilize the power of data to explore literature with a new lens.

In the fall, students will learn basic skills in computer programming and literary studies. In winter quarter, we’ll further explore applications of the computer to work with narrative structures through deeper study and conceptual projects with text. The regular work of the program in both quarters will include lectures, literature seminars, computer programming workshops, and creative writing workshops inspired by writers who have used computers and mathematics to rethink the writing process. Students will also sharpen their college writing skills, develop critical reading strategies, and learn to contribute to productive seminars. 

This program is intended for students who are curious about programming or who are looking for an entry point into the computer science curriculum and would enjoy exploring intersections of computer programming and literature. This program is good preparation for the Computer Science Foundations program and also for the Literary Arts Foundations program.

Greener Foundations:  This program will incorporate Greener Foundations, a holistic course designed for first-time, first-year students. Faculty and staff collaborate to bring study skills, academic planning, health and wellness education, advising, and more into the classroom. More information can be found on the college website at Greener Foundations

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Computer Science, Literature, Creative Writing

14

Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Fees:

$150 each quarter for an overnight retreat. 

Freshman-Freshman
Class Standing: Freshman Only
Class Size: 46
100% Reserved for Freshmen
Daytime

Scheduled for: Day

First meeting:

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 10:00 am
LAB 2 1223B - CAL East

Located in: Olympia