New Media Narratives Course

NMN blog Just a reminder that the New Media Narratives Master's course at the University of Alberta, starting in January 2011, is filling up quickly. A few spots are left for any readers of the Transliteracy blog that might have an interest. You do not have to be a U of A student to take this course.

The course blog is here: http://newmedianarrativesonline.blogspot.com/

 

One of the key outcomes of the course is for students to think of transliteracy alongside their own writing and publishing.

 

Any questions can be directed to me in the first instance: jess AT jesslaccetti.com 

 

The electronic writer as trans[per]former

What’s the ideal skill set for a transliterate creative practitioner? I’m not sure. All I know is it’s very broad, encompassing a wide range of creative, multimedia, storytelling, problem-solving and technical skills – at least it is for an electronic writer/artist like myself, who tends to work alone. Here I’m thinking mainly about the skills and creative abilities you need to develop and create a work of digital storytelling or electronic literature. But what about once the work of e-lit is finished? How can you help it reach an audience? How do you promote it? That’s when another set of skills comes into play.

We’re used to seeing print writers give readings on the literary festival circuit. Electronic writers need to do this kind of thing too. Self-publishing and submitting work for online publications and exhibitions is fine, but you can’t just rely on an audience finding your work on the web – like musicians and print writers, it helps to go out on the promotional trail, make a live appearance, give a performance.

Underbelly-18
Uploaded with Skitch!

Later this month my transliterate abilities as an e-lit performer are going to be tested – at Ilkley Literature Fringe Festival, with a great group of poets and fiction writers, and at Inspace in Edinburgh, with a fabulous line-up of digital writers and artists, as part of the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2010).

In Ilkley, I’m performing with a group of creative print writers who came out of the Yorkshire Art Circus writer development programme some years ago. It’s a kind of reunion and to give ourselves an angle, we’re staging it as The Writers’ Group Exposed!!! We’ll be simulating a typical meeting – well, maybe not so typical because there will be an electronic writer in the group. It’ll be interesting to see how my e-lit (Fitting the Pattern) is received in this context.

For any writer, it’s seldom as simple as giving a reading, as the Ilkley gig demonstrates, but for the electronic writer, inevitably, there’s even more to consider. You’ve got to sort out the tech (computer software/hardware, digital displays/projection, sound, etc.) and more than likely you’ve got to be able to operate your tech and read/perform at the same time. Those are the practicalities, but there are also aesthetic and dramaturgical considerations too. How will your live self, your bodily presence, affect or interact with the virtual presence/s, visually, sonically and kinetically? Should work designed for the web be repurposed for live performance?

Canadian electronic writer Jim Andrews has an interesting take on this. Here’s his plan for a work he intends to perform at e-Poetry 2011:

Basically, the idea of the project is to scream my fool head off while playing Jig-Sound and dbCinema as instruments.

You’ve seen musicians play an instrument while they sing. Well, this is similar. Only I’ll be telling a story between (or perhaps during) screaming bouts. And the instruments I’ll be playing are Jig-Sound, which is sonic, and dbCinema, which is visual.

If live gigs are part of the process of reaching an audience, then should one build that potential into the design of the work from the outset (or at least somewhere along the way during the process of creation)? Should one consider it an opportunity for transmedia storytelling rather than promotion and networking?

In Edinburgh I’m performing Underbelly – playing it like an instrument – in an evening dedicated to Language in Digital Performance and, as such, the occasion will give me scope to explore these potentialities. For the most part, Underbelly presents a diegetic story-world that explores a psychic landscape where the predominance of spoken word exploits the intimate relationship between voice and the body, voice and interiority. I designed the piece as a work of playable media but not particularly for live performance so I’ll be adapting it for the Inspace show, mixing my live voice with the multiple voices on the digital soundtrack.

Underbelly-9-1
Uploaded with Skitch!

The ICIDS Language in Digital Performance event is billed as Inspace no one can hear you scream and, since it’s taking place on Halloween, we’ve been invited ‘to engage the spirit of this festival’… so, who knows, I might end up screaming too.

New Media Narratives: Master’s Module at the University of Alberta

Disclosure: I am designing and teaching this module and there is a deep focus on the *theory* of transliteracy.



This graduate level module will be of interest to new media practitioners/writers/artists as well as those hoping to leverage aspects of new media technology and thinking in their creative practise. 


Note: You don't need to be a U of A student in order to take this course. See the information on Open Studies at the end of this module outline.


Online Graduate Course – Winter 2011

New Media Narratives: Writing and Publishing in a Developing Field

 (COMM 597)

An elective course offered by the Graduate Program in

 Communications and Technology, University of Alberta

Course Description and Objectives


This course will provide students and practitioners with insights into the role of new media in the practises and processes of writing and experimenting with new narrative formats and platforms. The course will focus on the very nature of narrative and how new media affects story; its creation and dissemination.  A key aspect centres on a critical assessment of current developments in new media narrative alongside interpretations, transformations and challenges of traditional concepts and functions of publishing.  As such, a main aim of the course is to promote and transform the thinking of narrative in light of new media.  An element necessary to this transformative thinking revolves around the developing concept of transliteracy. As noted by Thomas, Joseph, Laccetti et al., transliteracy may be seen as a unifying perspective for literacy today: it is the “ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.”

This video of Kate Pullinger can give prospective students an idea of how writers might interact with new media in a transliterate way:

Continue reading

Transliteracy: some thoughts on themes and common ground

Transliteracy_conference wordle  At the recent transliteracy conference, one conversation touched upon the question of whether it was appropriate to have a definition for transliteracy. Although the presentations covered a rich mix of story-telling, digital and transdisciplinary art, anthropology and critical literacies, each presenter was, nonetheless, able to describe what they consider the relevance of the concept of transliteracy to their own research and discipline. This would seem to indicate that the working definition is fit-for-purpose, at least in initiating debate, engagement, if not always common ground. continue reading

Continue reading

What Is Transliteracy? An Introduction from Sue Thomas.

The conference is about to kick off, and I've managed to grab Sue Thomas, from DMU, to give us an introductory explanation of the idea of Transliteracy: 

It feels to me that Transliteracy's time has come, that a lot of people are looking for ways to explore the literacies surrounding particular technologies, networks and environments, that go beyond notions of 'raw language skills'.

The conference will explore the questions raised by the term, and look at how it applies to the creative sector, to business and education. 

Programme, Abstracts and Delegate List in PDF format

Download Transliteracy Conference Delegate List 2010

Download Transliteracy Conference Programme 2010

Download Transliteracy Conference Abstracts 2010

We’ll be amplified by Amplified – follow the conference online

We've commissioned the innovative social media group Amplified
to capture and amplify the conversations at and around the
Transliteracy Conference. Find out more.

This site already features Flickr and Twitter streams tagged #transliteracy. Tag your own transliterate tweets and pics to see them appear here.

Transliteracy Conference 9 Feb 2010 Programme now live

The outline programme for the 9th February Transliteracy Conference is now live here.

Registration now open for Transliteracy Conference 9 February 2010

I'm pleased to announce that registration for our 9th February Transliteracy Conference is now open.

For more information go here. To read abstracts go here. To register and see the delegate list go here.

The schedule for the day will be announced soon.

We look forward to seeing you !

A transliterate feast with Romeo and Juliet

"What are you doing over the festive season?" You often hear this question at this time of the year, but "Taking part in a Shakespeare reading" is not often the answer! It might seem a rather "boffinish" thing to do, as our youngest reader, Lizzi, remarked, but we will remember the Romeo and Juliet reading that we hosted on Saturday 19th December as a highlight of our festivities (and only a tad boffinish!). The company and the food were as great as those at Capulet's feast and the text as rich as ever, of course, but besides these essential elements, we also enjoyed seeing the Fonteyn and Nureyev ballet version to Prokofiev's gorgeous score (Royal Opera House, 1966), as well as the Shakespeare Readers Group's Facebook facility, on our new wide-screen TV.

This transliteracy experiment in bringing together voice, text, dance, music and screen was a first for this group, but in fact the clash and/or conflation of literacies is a continuous process, one that went on as much in Shakespeare's day as in ours. One member, Irene, pointed out a few words in the text that were possibly innovations by Shakespeare, reflecting the time's great excitement about language experiments as writers took inspiration from Europe and the Renaissance. These words dismayed or delighted the audience then, sometimes for different reasons than they do the same for us now. Then, these innovations were challenging because they were new; now, they are challenging because they are archaic, which may yet dismay some and delight others! It struck me that part of our enjoyment arose from the unique mix of literacies called up between us as we sought to share a pleasurable experience.

A requirement for participating in the group is "the ability to read English aloud fluently", an ability all our readers possess to greater or lesser degrees. But each also brings different perspectives, experience and skills. One might say that each possesses a variety of literacies. Some have English as a second language and  place emphases differently from first-language English speakers. The impulses of their primary literacy call our attention in new ways to individual words and to the iambic poetic flow of Shakespeare's English. Some are academics who revel in explication and analysis of difficult or unusual portions of the text. Some intuitively inhabit their characters, bringing them alive through vocal variation that responds to each event in the story. Some are older and voice the concerns of older characters with an empathy that is not yet available to the younger readers. Some are dramatists who read even Stage Directions with a conviction that enables us to see and feel the context of the action. We learn from each other.

Each time we took a break from the reading, we watched the ballet. There are inevitably losses and gains in the process of transliterating the familiar story of the star-crossed lovers into the languages of music and dance. Some modifications to the storyline might disappoint, for example when scenes are left out or conflated, but other changes might delight when they richly express implicit characterization, emotional interplay or actions sometimes only hinted at or briefly mentioned in the text. The introduction of Juliet and the Nurse, the balcony scene with Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's rejection of Paris and the final death scene are examples of wonderful choreography and dancing that carry the audience right to the passionate heart of Shakespeare's poetry, without words.

A new literacy for the group is that of relating to one another on-screen via Facebook. Everyone who attended had responded to the invitation via Facebook, but with varying degrees of comfort depending on their familiarity with the tool. Many had struggled to find their way back to the Event page to see the Links and find the scripts. For this reason, I presented a brief Facebook overview to demonstrate the difference between the individual's Profile (using mine as an example), the Shakespeare Readers Group and the Romeo and Juliet Event and to explain the import of leaving comments on each of the different Walls. We also looked briefly at the new Facebook Privacy options, to allay fears about publishing one's data to the world.

This move to organising the readings via Facebook Events has become necessary for several reasons. It is quicker to monitor attendance and dramatically cuts the number of emails to and from individuals that I as organiser previously dealt with. It also facilitates an ongoing sense of community which is otherwise fragmented between meetings, as the group has grown to over twenty people, not all of whom can come to every reading. There is also interest from people outside the UK who cannot attend readings but would like to participate in discussions. For instance, Eva, a member in Italy, shared our anticipation before the event by posting a link to a blog post she wrote in 2007 about Shakespeare's possible models for the Romeo and Juliet story in the real city of Verona.

Facebook is clearly useful in these ways, but I had not appreciated to what extent this particular new media literacy might have a direct impact on our appreciation of the plays themselves, until one of our new members, Anna, posted a link to this write-up of a student project that views Romeo and Juliet as A Facebook Tragedy of competing social networks which "contains an emphasis on the bonds between kinsmen and family. The play focuses on both honoring these bonds, and the consequences of breaking bonds."

Shakespeare offers all the fascination of the archaic and unfamiliar to those who are keen on historical mysteries, but most of his enduring attraction is due to the aptness of his themes for every age and the up-to-date voice with which he has always spoken on issues close to the human heart. This powerful communication has demanded translation into almost every world language and transliteration into every conceivable medium (live theatre, music, dance, film, TV…), with each translater or producer creating new metaphors in order to stay true to the old themes in their new medium. In our networked age, it should not surprise us to find Shakespeare alive in Facebook too!

This post is x-posted from http://tiatalk.wordpress.com