Proseminar #4: Computers and Literature

Autumn term 2001: Tuesdays, Sept 11-- Oct 16, 2001, 10:00-12:00

Rutherford South 2-05A

Course site:

objectives | schedule | project | reading | tools, etexts, resources | projects | students

Instructor: David S. Miall. Email: David.Miall@Ualberta.Ca. Tel. 492-0538
Office hours: Tuesdays 12:30-13:30. Website:

First class meeting: September 11, 10:00 in Rutherford S. 2-05A

Course objectives:

The Proseminar in computers and literature will address two main areas:

While the course is mainly practical, some reading will be suggested, based partly on a collection available in the Salter library and partly on internet sources.

Students will complete one project-based assignment, to be presented during the last class session.


September 11. Introductions and overview. Prelude: Libraries and the Internet. PowerPoint for those who need it: downloads

September 18. The Internet; web authoring I (Dreamweaver). Building a web site. Reading: Lang (1997); Bauman (1999). Reading writing hypertext (intro.). Evaluations of internet literary sites (Engl 417). Landow's rules (summary). Issues Affecting the Design of Web Sites.

September 25. Web authoring II, hypertext. Reading: Conner (1992); Crane (1991) -- see Perseus, Landow's Victorian Web (hierarchical structures) vs. Joyce's Twelve Blue fiction, Kaplan's E-Literacies essay (network structures). And see other internet readings below.

October 2. Concordance, text analysis I. Reading: Small (1984); Fortier (1995).

October 9. Text analysis, II. Reading: Van Peer (1989); Miall (1995).

October 16. Student project presentations; conclusions.


The following are available in a folder in the Salter Library (the folder includes other reading if you are interested):

Bauman, M. L. (1999).  The evolution of internet genres. Computers and Composition, 16, 269-282.

Conner, P. W. (1992). Hypertext in the last days of the book. Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 74, 7-24.

Crane, G. (1991). Composing culture: The authority of an electronic text. Current Anthropology, 32, 293-391.

Fortier, Paul A. (1996).  Categories, theory, and words in literary texts.  Research in Humanities Computing 5, ed. G. Perissinotto (pp. 91-109).  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Lang, S. (1997).  Converging (or colliding) traditions: Integrating hypertext into literary studies.  Texts and Textuality: Textual Instability, Theory, and Interpretation, ed. P. Cohen (pp. 291-312).  New York: Garland Publishing.

Miall, D. S. (1995). Representing and interpreting literature by computer. The Yearbook of English Studies, 25, 199-212.  [See also net version of essay]

Small, I. (1984). Computational stylistics and the construction of literary readings: Work in progress. Prose Studies, 7, 250-260.

Van Peer, W. (1989). Quantitative studies of literature. A critique and an outlook. Computers and the Humanities, 23, 301-307.

Internet reading:

George Landow, Hypertext: Chapter 1 (derived from his book, 1992).

Jerome McGann, The Rationale of HyperText (1995).

David S. Miall, The Hypertextual Moment (1998). A critique of postmodern theories of hypertext.

Siemens, Winder (Eds.), Technologising the Humanities / Humanitising the Technologies. Eight papers, also published in TEXT Technology 8.1 (1998).

David Golumbia, Hypercapital. On the politics of information access and its hidden liabilities.

Alan Liu, Transcriptions: Literary History and the Culture of Information: "a series of web pages designed to tease out connections between literary artifacts and material technology, in the past (the relation between literature and the book) for the sake of understanding the present (the relation between literature and new media)."

Marc Demarest, The Responsible Preparation of Electronic Literary Texts (June 1997). On bibliographical principles.

Cathy Ball's Tutorial on Concordances and Corpora (a bit out of date now)

Computers in the Humanities Working Papers, University of Toronto

Computers and Texts, journal/newsletter of the CTI Centre for Textual Studies, Oxford.

Tools, etexts, resources:

Concordance, by R.J.C. Watt, web site. Web examples. MS Word summary of Coleridge application.

Colloc.exe (43 K). Sorts collocation word lists produced by Concordance. (From collocate display window, choose Export; then from Text Edit display, choose Save as, provide a filename, and save to the same directory as Colloc.exe.)

Z.exe (30 K). Computes a Z-score from data you provide (e.g., from Concordance).

Dataread. An idiosyncratic statistical package, by D. S. Miall. Runs under DOS. Includes Chi-Square, Pearson correlation, t-test, 1-way Anova, etc. For downloading (86 K).

Requires data in table format, with variables as columns, no row identifiers, spaces between cells, ascii form only. E.g.:

noun    verb  other
 28      32    40
 27      52    21
Online Book Page. Index to online texts.

Oxford Text Archive. Another source for electronic texts.

Project Gutenberg. Source for many more electronic texts.

Internet Public Library. Online text collection (numerous texts in html format).

University of Virginia Electronic Text Center. Collection of electronic texts searchable via the Open Text search engine. (See English Online Resources.)

Victorian Women Writers Project, Indiana University.

The Voice of the Shuttle (extensive resources for all humanities disciplines)

Digital Librarian: a librarian's choice of the best of the Web. Includes extensive list of sources for Electronic Texts and Literature.

Karla's Guide to Citation Style Guides (need to remind yourself about MLA style?)

Other web resources for literature: organized list (from 1998). From William S. Peterson, University of Maryland.

Google (my usual Internet search engine).


Students in the class must present a report on a project in order to complete the course. This will be presented during the final class on October 16th, using the computer medium, e.g., a set of web pages, a Powerpoint display, etc. The project could, for example, offer a critical analysis of a significant web site with relevant links; it could consist of a short networked hypertext essay or fiction; or it could report an analysis of an electronic text. You will display your project and talk about it in the lab on the last day of the course. A project can be carried out singly or in collaboration with one other student if you wish.


Home pages
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John Doyle Billy the Kid
Michael Epp  
Mike Maclean  
Alison Rukavina Engl 101:L3
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Document created January 4th 2001 / Revised October 15th 2001