Experiments in form - resources

The semester is drawing to a close, and I'll be posting more soon. My students and I have been experimenting with form a lot this semester, from creating palimpsests to track the revolutions of fantastic narrative, to storyboards and comic tracings to help intro students think differently about literary analysis, to multimodal projects on House of Leaves. I'll be posting more on the projects - their goals, formation, and outcomes. But in the meantime, I thought I would link to the resources I used to think and build the assignments:


I've been thinking about palimpsests for a long time. Although it seems like a different age altogether, I first started thinking about palimpsests as critical form (and ontological trope - or better psychological topography?) in Tim Morton's Romanticism course way back in time and place. I didn't have a model for using the palimpsest as a compositional mode, but I do think digital tools like Google Drive that allow for this kind of archaeological writing space offer us an opportunity to explore these ideas in the classroom. I've written more about this assignment here


There are a lot of online resources for those who want to incorporate storyboards into the classroom. I relied on the AFI readings on "Film Language and Elements of Style," which you can find on The Story of Movies website. They also have graphic organizers that condense the information and help students think about a breadth of stylistic choices.

Tracing Analysis:

The tracing assignment came in large part from Mark Sample's tracing assignment the he describes here, and in conversation with Jim Brown about his version of Sample's assignment.

Multimodal Assignments:

My multimodal assignments are guided in large part by Jody Shipka's excellent book Toward a Composition Made Whole (description here on the UPitt website here. One of my favorite iterations of the multimodal-as-final project is the work students in the Literature of the Fantastic class (2013) did with House of Leaves. You can find the prompt for the assignment here, although as a prompt it serves more to scaffold an open-concept project than to delimit a particular theme or concern for students to investigate. Instead, we developed the focus of each project in conversation and "testing" in small groups. The results were simply astounding, and you can see an example of this work here.