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For the past three years, I have taught a graduate-level course in creative writing that masquerades as a course about Python. (NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program offers the course; you can see the syllabus here: http://rwet.decontextualize.com/) The course concerns the classic tension in poetry between decontextualization and juxtaposition: deciding what a text’s constituent elements are, breaking the text into those elements, and then bringing them back together in surprising and interesting ways. Students are taught not just about string processing and text analysis, but also about the poetic possibilities of using those techniques to algorithmically build new texts. Each semester, the course culminates in a live performance, in which each student must read aloud for an audience a text that one of their programs has generated.
In this presentation, I present my methodology for teaching the course, along with my successes (and my failures) in using Python in a creative and pedagogical setting. I lightly touch on the history of algorithmic poetics, in addition to presenting some of the sample code used in the class.
This presentation is targeted toward Python programmers interested in creative uses of the language and educators seeking discussion and examples of Python being used in education (particularly higher education).
Adam hacks on web technologies at Socialbomb. He is also an adjunct professor at Hunter College and NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.
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