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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Narrative and Computational Text Analysis (fusion online) (EFIE11089)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course examines some of the narrative forms which populate digital media in the contemporary period by situating them in their historical context, and investigates what it is that makes some kinds of stories particularly durable and influential. Complementing this theoretical and historical material will be hands-on activities in which students will be introduced to tools for performing computational text analysis. Students will also have the opportunity to use these tools on textual corpora for themselves in order to explore and test how the ideas in the critical readings for the course manifest themselves - or not -in both historical and contemporary texts. No prior experience of programming is required.
Course description There are three parts to the course. In the first, we will explore some of the social functions of stories and students will be introduced to data structuring and different ways of understanding the affective shape of a narrative. In the second part, we will move to considering virality, and will use the API of a digital cultural heritage collection to examine the historical antecedents of contemporary viral stories. In the third part, we will examine the growing body of work, both creative and critical, that engages with texts written in conjunction with artificial intelligence, and we will apply some concepts from narratology to understanding these generated texts.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  6
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 1, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Online Activities 4, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Other Study Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 4
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Students will be given formative feedback to their online postings by the teaching team, which will feed forward into the first assessment (portfolio of online discussion posts).

In the intensive, students will also receive feedback from the teaching team and from their peers as they work through the activities. Students who are unable to attend the intensive will be able to ask questions in an online forum which the course TA will monitor and respond to.

In the post-intensive period, the teaching team will make themselves available for 'office hours' which students can book in order to get formative feedback on their essay plan for assessment 2.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Situate aspects of contemporary digital literary culture in their historical context.
  2. Apply concepts from narratology to texts across different genres.
  3. Apply computational analysis techniques to the study of literary texts.
  4. Critically evaluate the results of computational textual analysis.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Essential Reading:

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. 'The Danger of a Single Story' TED Talk.

Cohan, Steven, and Linda M. Shires. Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative Fiction. Taylor and Francis, 1988.

Cordell, Ryan. ''Taken Possession of': The Reprinting and Reauthorship of Hawthorne's 'Celestial Railroad' in the Antebellum Religious Press'. Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 1, July 2013.

Delgado, Richard. 'Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative'. Michigan Law Review, vol. 87, no. 8, (1989), pp. 2411-41.

Fitzgerald, Jonathan D., and Ryan Cordell. 'Classifying Vignettes, Modeling Hybridity'. Going the Rounds: Virality in Nineteenth-Century American Newspapers. Draft chapter available at

Glass, Ira. 'Babysitting.' This American Life, episode 175,

Harriott, Michael. 'Someone asked about the worst job I ever had'. Twitter thread, 27 May 2021, Accessed 28 May 2021.

Meyer, Kim Middleton. ''Tantalizing Others: Multicultural Anxiety and the New Orientalism'. High-Pop: Making Culture into Popular Entertainment, edited by Jim Collins, Blackwell, 2002, pp. 90-113.

Sloan, Robin. 'Writing with the Machine'. Robin Sloan,

Mishkin, Pamela. 'Nothing Breaks Like A.I. Heart'. The Pudding,

Further Reading:

Baker, James. 'A Machine That Writes Like Mary Dorothy George'. Cradled In Caricature, 18 June 2020.

Cohen, Dan. 'Humane Ingenuity 9: GPT-2 and You'. Humane Ingenuity, 11 Dec. 2019,

Elkins, Katherine, and Jon Chun. 'Can GPT-3 Pass a Writer's Turing Test?' Journal of Cultural Analytics, Sept. 2020.

Goodwin, Ross. 'Adventures in Narrated Reality'. Medium, 9 June 2016,

Goodwin, Ross. 'Adventures in Narrated Reality, Part II'. Medium, 9 June 2016,

Hsieh, Kane. Transformer Poetry. Paper Gains, 2019,

McGill, Meredith L. 'Echocriticism: Repetition and the Order of Texts'. American Literature, vol. 88, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 1-29. [Read pp1-8.]

McNulty, Tess. 'Content-Era Ethics'. Post45, Apr. 2021,

Piper, Andrew. 'Everyone Writes Stories'. Public Books, 30 May 2019,

Shane, Janelle. 'This Is the OpenAI API. It Makes Spookily Good Twitter Bots 13/10 Would Retweet'. AI Weirdness,
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry (Graduates of the University will be able to create new knowledge and opportunities for learning through the process of research and enquiry): developed through readings, class discussions (both in person and online) and group activities in class.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy (Graduates of the University will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity and a desire to meet new challenges): developed through individual work on assessments using the technologies the course has introduced students to.

Communication (Graduates of the University will recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning): developed through contributions to in-person and online discussions.

Personal Effectiveness (Graduates of the University will be able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate): developed through the entire suite of learning activities (critical readings, participation in discussion, participation in class activities and production of assessments) which bring new methods from data science and more established insights from literary theory to bear on new digital media and narrative forms.
KeywordsNarrative,Virality,New Media,Digital Humanities,Reception Study
Course organiserDr Anouk Lang
Tel: (0131 6) 5 50 8936
Course secretaryMiss Abby Gleave
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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