Meaningful Machines: Exploring Creative Programming for Creative Writing and Literature (Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, UMass Boston
contact email: 

While the expressive potential for programming and writing is closely associated with corporate use (such as customer-facing chatbots, aggregate sentiment analysis of product reviews, and text generators), there are authors who build and use these tools to reveal something about, and generate, literature. Out of this emerges a poetics of programming that can serve to reconceptualize how we think of and consider the place of programming in a creative writing classroom. The rich history of digital poetics is being rapidly advanced by authors like Allison Parrish, Nick Montfort, Milton Laufer, Rafael Perez y Perez, Stephanie Strickland, and more. This is of particular interest and significance as the humanities further emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to traditional fields like literature and writing. Digital literary arts, electronic literature, and creative computing for arts and humanities have steadily increased as offerings in undergraduate and graduate school curriculums (Allegheny College, Brown University, and MIT, as examples). This is also significant as more of these technologies (such as transformer-based text generators) become available to the public and are structured with creative writing uses in mind.

This roundtable seeks to discuss not just the current computationally created literature available, but the potential place of programming strategies in writing curriculums, creative and otherwise. How do we introduce the value of creative programming to students and departments? How can we make creative programming accessible and inclusive, particularly for students in marginalized populations? What resources are available for students and teachers? Contributions are sought that engage these questions and others, including accessibility, course design, project design, inclusive technologies, programming, and traditional elements of writerly craft.