Digital Literature Festival on April 25 Showcases Student Creativity and Cutting Edge of Humanities

Posted on 4/18/2018 9:01:32 AM

Students in the Franklin regional twine workshop The Digital Literature Festival, honoring the creativity of junior and senior high school students, will take place on Wednesday, April 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the first floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building. More than 80 students will visit IUP to share their digital stories and explore other kinds of interactive games and literature.

Check the schedule of events for times and locations of sessions.

I mean, what can be more exciting than helping kids use smart computer-coding strategies to create original, emotionally moving, fun stories that can be played like video games?

—Mike Sell

Mike Sell is a professor of English and a member of IUP’s Center for Digital Humanities and Culture, and the co-organizer of a team of faculty and graduate students who held a series of on-site workshops at Franklin Regional and Indiana Area junior and senior high schools in March 2018. Those workshops taught students to create digital stories with Twine, an open-source software program that enables designers to create interactive storygames that resemble the Choose Your Own Adventure stories popular in the 1980s and 90s. More than 100 students participated in the workshops.

IUP doctoral student Olivia Maderer, one of the leaders of the workshops, sees learning experiences like these as an invaluable addition to humanities education. “The most impactful and diverse learning activities combine creativity, communication, collaboration, and play. That’s what makes digital literature like Twine storygames an ideal way to encourage students to explore the connections between the humanities, arts, and STEM,” she said.

In addition to Maderer, Sell’s team includes IUP English faculty members Ken Sherwood, Dan Weinstein, and Mary Stewart; IUP Literature and Criticism doctoral students Bradley Markle, Shane Sedlemyer, and Mark DiMauro; and IUP undergraduate psychology major/English minor Pope.

Bradley Markle teaching a student on a computer

Michael Farina, who teaches English at Indiana Area Senior High School, hosted one of the workshops as part of his Creative Writing class. “What I love about Twine is that it is interdisciplinary. Students have to wear creative writing hats, coding hats, and engineering hats all at the same time,” she said.

One of Farina’s students, Julia Ramoser, liked how Twine storygames allow collaboration between her and her reader: “You can create your own game, but the reader decides how the story should end.”

Ava Kruck, a sophomore at Franklin Regional High School where workshops were also held, said, “I liked it because it was interesting and made it easier to code something in this way. It was also rewarding to go back and play your game. To see what you created, when it works—that’s the best feeling.”

The creativity of more than 80 of these students will be honored at the Digital Literature Festival to be held on Wednesday, April 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the first floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Check the schedule of events for times and locations of sessions.

In addition to the Twine Arcade, the festival includes a collaborative Hypertext Arcade, a selection of learning games created by the students of IUP Communications Media professor Ramy Shaaban, videogames that explore gender identity, and, in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, the karaoke-style theater simulation Play the Knave. One of the creators of Play the Knave, Gina Bloom of the University of California–Davis, will discuss this and other digital humanities initiatives at a bring-your-lunch presentation, “Videogame Shakespeare: Playing with Performance in a STEM-to-STEAM Future,” to be held from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. in HSS 215.

The Digital Literature Festival is open to the public, and we cordially invite IUP students, faculty, and friends to come and share the fun.

The Digital Literature Festival is made possible by a special grant from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the departments of English, Theater and Dance, and Communications Media; the Center for Digital Humanities; and the Critical Play Union.