Aristotle’s Poetics

Prompt: Aristotle’s Poetics, some have argued, is nothing more than a very long recipe or formula for producing works of literature. For this assignment, create your own recipe or formula for the making of successful literature. The form is free, but you must cite and comment upon at least one passage from Aristotle’s Poetics in your paper.

“Tradition and the Individual Talent”

Readings: Tyson, the New Criticism; T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” and “Tradition and the Individual Talent”

Prompt: In “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Eliot discusses a peculiar anxiety that writers have about their potential for originality and argues that any “new” artistic form necessarily emerges from the past. For this assignment it is your task to locate one contemporary work of art or literature and write one paragraph about its relation to a previous work of art or literature.

Diagramming Structure

Writing Assignment: Diagramming Structure
Due Date: Tuesday Feb. 17
Grading: Conventional (A-F)

Prompt: Now that you have read a variety of fairy tales along with Klages’ introduction to Structuralism, I hope you are beginning to notice distinct narrative patterns within such works. When you isolate the elements that contribute to such a pattern in a text you are focusing on its structural elements. While structuralist theory initially emerged from an analysis of linguistic patterns, such patterns can emerge from any system of signification. For this week’s focus on structuralism, I would like you to do two things:

Create a visualization of one pattern that you identify in one of the fairy tales that we read for class. This pattern can be an illustration of something we’ve discussed or something else entirely. Whichever pattern you identify, however, your task is to make a visual abstraction of it. Think of this as an analog form of “distant reading,” i.e., reading distantly without the help of data visualization software.
Write a paragraph that explains your diagram (1 page max, single-spaced).

Cyborg Prompt

The central claim that Donna Haraway makes in her “Manifesto” is that the figure of the cyborg–a portmanteau of the words “cybernetic” and “organism”–offers us a radical new way for to think about what it might mean to be human.  The trouble with this, as she acknowledges, is that the cyborg in the popular imagination is usually hyper violent and militarized (think Robocop) or ridiculously over sexualized (think of any number of so-called “pleasure models” from the annals of science fiction).  Your assignment today is to try to find an image of the cyborg that brings us closer to the model that Haraway has in mind.  Search for about 5 minutes, and, once you’ve located your image, write a short paragraph the explains how, exactly, the image you’ve selected brings us closer to Haraway’s model.  Make sure to include a link to the image you’ve found.  Write your response in the “leave a reply” box below (or, as always, feel free to email me your response).

Turn of the Screw and “Social Book”

Writing Prompt: In his essay on the uncanny, Sigmund Freud describes the strange sensation one experiences when he or she feels both at home and estranged at the same moment.  For this assignment it is your task to find one passage in your assigned chapter of Turn of the Screw that engages with any of the ideas that Freud expresses in “The Uncanny” and explicate the connection in one-two paragraphs of cleanly written and well organized analytic prose. Note that  you must cite passages from both texts to receive full credit.

SocialBoook Prompt:

1. Open the following link:

2. Create an account if required

3. Find the passage that you identified in your assigned chapter.

4. highlight it by selecting the text

5.  Add a comment about its significance in terms of Freud (this will be a shortened version of your paper).

6. “Post” your comment, making sure that your name is on the post so you get full credit.

Prompt for “Cities and Their Cities”

Together, we are going to create a global map of “joined” cities.

To complete this assignment, you will need a google account and your completed homework assignment.


1. Go to the following link:

2. Log in to google (create an account if you need to, but your FAU account *should* work).

3. Locate your city & city.

4. Tag the locations with the passages from the novel you identified and include your analysis.

5. Add to your analysis, if you see a way to do so.

Save your work, log-out, go home!

Walter Benjamin


On April 17 we had a roundtable discussion on Walter Benjamin’s  “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” here at FAU.  I learned a lot from this event and am leaning evermore towards this presentation format, especially as opposed to the single-authored paper recitation/reading that dominates the MLA.


Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize

Animal Vegetable Digital” has won the Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize from the University of Alabama Press. I am grateful and honored.

“Awarded annually to the manuscript chosen as representing outstanding scholarship in the field of American literary studies, the Elizabeth Agee Prize was established in honor of a longtime Birmingham bookseller who described herself as “a reader and lover of books.” The prize includes a cash award and full publication of the work. The Agee Prize has recognized books on such diverse topics as Wallace Stevens, James Wright, John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Conner, Emily Dickenson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Walt Whitman, and it demonstrates the Press’s broad interests in American literary culture.”


“News” is a generous term. More accurately, this is an infrequently updated blog-notebook-commonplacebook-journal where I keep track of projects, conferences, conversations, ideas (of mine, of others), news, rumors, gossip, and events related to digital culture, science fiction, environmental practice, electronic literature, digital art, the history of science, the concept of nature, and many other weird and wonderful things under the sun.

My Book…

avd-image-largeAnimal, Vegetable, Digital is a project about making connections between digital technology, natural ecologies, and the arts. My book explores how works of digital art provide opportunities for experiencing human-environmental contingency, for demonstrating the human body’s coextension with the environment, for aiding in conservation practices, and for expressing the agency of natural spaces. It makes the argument that digital art, largely excluded from environmental criticism since its inception, has the potential—if not yet perfectly realized—to re-connect us to nature, remind us of our own embodied materiality, and re-affirm our kinship with other living and non-living things. It won the University of Alabama Press’ Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize in the field of American literary studies. The book’s companion website is in development, but can be viewed at


Advanced Media Production

Advanced Media Production Lab : The A.M.P. Lab at FAU is a production lab and seminar space for students and faculty within the College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University. The AMP Lab hosts seminars, screenings, lectures, and skill-building workshops (e.g., Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Wikipedia, Final Cut Pro) and serves as a site of interdepartmental collaboration among students and faculty, as well as a place to think about—and work within—the field of emerging media.

AMPLab logo and image design by Rachel Hartnett


Website for AVD

Animal, Vegetable, Digital is “in press” and scheduled for a spring 2016 publication (so long to wait! so far away!). In the meantime, with the help of some very talented students, I’ve made a web page for it, not merely to promote it, but to keep track of artwork, news items, insights, and events that relate to the intersections between digital and ecological aesthetics that the book explores. Once the book’s closer to publications, I’ll make the site a little less bloggy and (I hope) more useful and interactive for people who share an interest in eco-digital culture.


Singing Trees

This semester I’m teaching a class on Literature and the Environment, and when I was reading John Muir’s descriptions of the pines in “A Wind-Storm in the Forests,” I noted the following passage: “The waving of a forest of the giant Sequoias is indescribably impressive and sublime, but the pines seem to me the best interpreters of winds. They are mighty waving goldenrods, ever in tune, singing and writing wind-music all their long century lives” and this next one shortly after:

I drifted on through the midst of this passionate music and motion, across many a glen, from ridge to ridge; often halting in the lee of a rock for shelter, or to gaze and listen. Even when the grand anthem had swelled to its highest pitch, I could distinctly hear the varying tones of individual trees,–Spruce, and Fir, and Pine, and leafless Oak,–and even the infinitely gentle rustle of the withered grasses at my feet. Each was expressing itself in its own way,–singing its own song, and making its own peculiar gestures,–manifesting a richness of variety to be found in no other forest I have yet seen.

Both passages reminded me of a trip I took to San Diego a couple of years ago, and an unusual series of artworks I encountered when I was there: Terry Allen’s TREES, a gorgeous installation at UCSD, part of the Stuart Collection. It also reminded me that I’d taken some pictures and video, which I’m sharing below.

The Singing Tree
Talking Tree
The Quiet Tree