ENGL 420 Writers Studio

Spring 2020

Dr. Kenneth Sherwood


Office: HSS 318

Email: Sherwood@iup.edu

See webpage for office hours and any schedule changes. Meetings also available in Commonplace Coffeehouse. Email for personal appointments: sherwood@iup.edu.



In Writers' Studio (ENGL 420 001) we explore ways to grow as a writer by composing new work and reimagining past work through remix and adaptation. One of the most powerful trends in contemporary writing has to do with the ways that context and medium (genre, platform) reshape how we write. Jay Bolter calls the shift from one zones to another “remediation.” From literature to movies to popular culture, we increasingly experience what Henry Jenkins calls “transmedia” – texts blending book, movie, game, webite, etc. For Mark Amerika and Lawrence Lessig, the digital aspect of these changes invites the practice of “remix.” All of these perspectives might date back to the 1960s theorist Marshall McLuhan who coined the phrase: “the medium is the massage.” So in this class, you may, for example, take a story you have written and remake it as an audio podcast; or recompose a short poem as a visual poster; or compose a series of blog posts and then reenvision them as an interactive hypertext; or publish a drama as a series of Tweets. As you can see, we will make use of some digital environments (no special computer skills required) to guide us into new territories. But you will also have significant choices, the freedom to develop your own work in directions that are meaningful and useful to you as a writer.


Syllabus Review

  • requirements
  • projects

Medium is the Massage

  • history of ideas about writing, media, and environments
  • a few transmedia, remediated, and remixed versions of McLuhan

McLuhan on Youtube


  1. Read McLuhan (original pp. 1-80) Archive scan pages 1-45
  2. Consider an appropriate domain name for your Writers Studio website (which you can keep, free for a year). Check that it is available https://www.name.com/domain/search/
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