MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017 Activities by Category - Literature

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CantoVerso Workshop, Reading, and Book Launch

Nick Montfort, Milton Laufer

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/18
Limited to 20 participants
Attendance: Advanced sign-up for Worshop, Reading is open to everyone

A digital literature workshop, reading, and book launch in English and Spanish
Un taller, lectura y presentación de libros en español e inglés sobre literatura digital

I: Workshop/Taller, 3pm-4:30pm

A quick poetry-generation workshop in English and Spanish, no programming experience necessary. Existing programs that can be modified will be provided and explained. A poetry generation tool that does not require programming will be available for use as well.

Una taller breve sobre generación de poesía, sin necesidad de experiencia en programación. Se ofrecerán programas existentes para su modificación y explicación. Se ofrecerá también una herramienta que no requiere programación.

II: Reading/Lectura, 5:00pm-6:30pm

The CantoVerso reading will allow workshop participants to share their outcomes. Milton Läufer will read from his generated texts in Spanish and English. Nick Montfort will read from his recent books, the collaboration 2x6 (in English and Spanish) and Autopia. Books will be available for purchase; programs will also be available online.

La lectura CantoVerso permitirá a los participantes del taller compartir sus resultados. Milton Läufer leerá de sus obras de generación de textos en español e inglés. Nick Montfort leerá de dos libros recientes, la colaboración 2x6 (en inglés y español) y Autopia. Se venderán copias; los programas estarán disponibles en línea.

Enrollment IN THE WORKSHOP limited to 20; Anyone may attend the READING

Sponsor(s): Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Contact: Nick Montfort,

I: Workshop/Taller

Jan/19 Thu 03:00PM-04:30PM 14N-233

Nick Montfort, Milton Laufer

II: Reading/Lectura

Jan/19 Thu 05:00PM-06:30PM 14E-304

Nick Montfort, Milton Laufer

Interactive Fiction Readings

Nick Montfort, Andrew Plotkin

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Interactive fiction is a text-oriented genre of videogame which has existed since the 1970s. We will get together to play one IF game each week during IAP. We'll play group-style: one player will read the story as it unfolds, but the group will decide what to do every turn. Each session will have 90 minutes of play time and 30 minutes for discussion.

We will play the top four entries of the recent Interactive Fiction competition. Two fantasy stories and two mysteries, each in a different IF format.

Sponsor(s): Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Contact: Nick Montfort,

Stone Harbor

Jan/11 Wed 02:00PM-04:00PM 14E-310

Stone Harbor (Liza Daly) -- an urban fantasy story constructed as hypertext.

Cactus Blue Motel

Jan/18 Wed 02:00PM-04:00PM 14E-310

Cactus Blue Motel (Astrid Dalmady) -- a Twine-based ghost story on the road.

Color the Truth

Jan/25 Wed 02:00PM-04:00PM 14E-310

Color the Truth (Brian Rushton) -- a parser-based police procedural.


Feb/01 Wed 02:00PM-04:00PM 14E-310

Detectiveland (Robin Johnson) -- a noir detective story built in a parser-like point-and-click interface.

Irish History Session 1 - Modern Irish History & Culture: From Molly Malone to Nobel Laureates

Christopher LaRoche, User Experience Consultant

Jan/20 Fri 12:00PM-01:30PM E25-117

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: None

Discusses and investigates aspect of modern Irish history. Specifically, a discussion of how the images and concepts of Ireland and the Irish have evolved over the last several hundred years in the eyes of the greater world.
In this talk, we will discuss and investigate the history and culture of Ireland from the eighteenth century to the present. We'll pay particular attention to issues and topics such as Saint Patrick, the repression of Catholicism, the Famine of the 1840s, the 1916 Easter Uprising, the Anglo-Irish War of 1920-1921, the Irish Civil War, and Ireland since the declaration of an Irish republic in 1948.
Finally the lecture will focus on and discuss the idea of mythology and stereotype used in lieu of history and how that has shaped many opinions about Ireland: and how that has recently evolved from Ireland as a caricature to respectability within the wider world view.

Sponsor(s): Office of Undergrad. Advising/Academic Programming
Contact: Christopher Laroche, 7-143, 617 324-9016, LAROCHE@MIT.EDU

Irish History Session 2 - Northern Ireland: Mythology & Reality

Chris LaRoche, User Experience Consultant

Jan/27 Fri 12:00PM-01:30PM 1-150

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: None

Discusses the evolution of the cultural, social, and political situation that led to the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921. Investigates the various conflicts and history of the evolution of the Northern Irish state from its inception in 1921 until the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Particular emphasis is placed on the social and cultural issues of the main communities within Northern Ireland.

Sponsor(s): Office of Undergrad. Advising/Academic Programming
Contact: Christopher Laroche, 7-143, 617 324-9016, LAROCHE@MIT.EDU

MIT Writers' Group

Steven Strang

Jan/09 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 66-148
Jan/23 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 66-148
Jan/30 Mon 12:00PM-01:00PM 66-148

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: none

Calling all creative writers! Want to write something creative but need some motivation or support or some thoughtful readers?  Join other MIT writers to get advice about your own writing, to be a reader of other writers' work, and/or to get inspiration to write something. Any type of creative writing is welcomed:  e.g., fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, memoirs, personal essays, plays, blog entries, book reviews. We help each other get started on a creative writing project, we help each other develop ideas and style, and we function as engaged and encouraging readers of each other's material.  The Group includes emerging and established writers. We meet every Monday from noon-1:00 p.m. Location TBA. Open to MIT undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, lecturers, staff, faculty, spouses and partners. Please note that this is not a class and not a group for technical writing or for thesis writing.

Please email <> to register.

Sponsor(s): Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Writing and Communication Center
Contact: Steven Strang, E18-233 B, 617 253-4459, SMSTRANG@MIT.EDU

Mobile Reading Marathon: Virginia Woolf

Marah Gubar, Associate Professor of Literature

Jan/31 Tue 09:00AM-09:30AM 14E-304, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 09:30AM-10:30AM 10-340, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 10:35AM-11:15AM Lobby 7, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 11:20AM-01:00PM 3-310, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 01:10PM-02:00PM Barker Media Room, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 02:10PM-02:50PM Music Library, Visit to view full list of locations
Jan/31 Tue 03:00PM-04:00PM Stella Room 7-338, Visit to view full list of locations

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Repeating event, participants welcome at any session

“I can’t bear lecturing,” wrote Virginia Woolf, as she struggled to produce the text of what would eventually become A Room of One’s Own (1929), “it takes ages, and I do it vilely.”  Written to be read amidst the domes and towers of a prestigious university by a river, Woolf’s luminous meditation on how creative minds work (and what impedes their full flourishing) explores what it means that minds inhabit bodies, and bodies inhabit particular spaces and times.

Hoping to bring some extra warmth to the icy days of IAP, the Literature Section invites you to bask in the “the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse”: to join us as we read aloud Woolf’s brilliant, self-questioning, unconventional essay in its entirety, in different locations around the MIT campus linked to the ones that Woolf describes in Room.

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” Come from start to finish, or just drop by for a little while; all are welcome. Books, good fellowship, and refreshment provided. After all, “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

Tweet as you participate: #ROOMatMIT

Sponsor(s): Literature
Contact: Chloe Jones, 14N-407, 617 258-5629, CJJONES@MIT.EDU

Pleasures of Poetry 2017

Noel Jackson, Moderator, Associate Professor of Literature

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

This popular activity – which aims to reach all lovers of poetry – has been offered every IAP for the last twenty years.  Each one-hour session is devoted to a single poet, usually a single poem.  The goal is discussion and shared pleasure.  No lectures or professorial arrogance allowed. Some participants attend every session, but many others attend only once or twice to read and discuss a favorite poet or poem.  The roster of poets is always immensely diverse: from ancient Chinese masters to contemporary American poets laureate, from such famous Greats as Shakespeare, Keats, and Auden to Dr. Seuss and Bob Dylan.  Discussion and collaborative close readings are the aim and ideal of each hour.

Join us for this month-long series as we study and enjoy the scope of poetry with the rest of the MIT community.

Visit to view our full POP 2017 calendar and selection of poems

Sponsor(s): Literature
Contact: Chloe Jones, 14N-407, 617 258-5629, CJJONES@MIT.EDU

Herman Melville

Jan/09 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Herman Melville, "The House-top (A Night Piece, 1863)"

Wyn Kelley - Moderator, Senior Lecturer of Literature

Geoffrey Hill

Jan/10 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Geoffrey Hill "Respublica"; "Ovid in the Third Reich"; "On Seeing the Wind at Hope Mansell"

Daniel Pritchard - Moderator

Wislawa Szymborska

Jan/11 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Wislawa Szymborska "Lot's Wife"; "A Contribution to Statistics"

Rosemary Booth - Moderator

Rafael Alberti

Jan/12 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Rafael Alberti "Open Letter"

Zachary Bos - Moderator

T.S. Eliot

Jan/13 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

T.S. Eliot "Preludes"

James Buzard - Moderator, Professor & Interim Head of Literature

Adrienne Rich

Jan/17 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Adrienne Rich "Origins and History of Consciousness" & "Power"

Anne Hudson - Moderator

W.H. Auden

Jan/18 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

W.H. Auden "Musée des Beaux Arts"; "Lullaby"

Howard Eiland - Moderator

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Jan/19 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Samuel Taylor Coleridge "The Nightingale"

Noel Jackson - Moderator, Associate Professor of Literature

Rosemary Tonks

Jan/20 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Rosemary Tonks "The Sash Window"; "Apprentice"; "Diary of a Rebel"

Stephen Pepper - Moderator

John Dryden & more

Jan/23 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

John Dryden "A Song for St. Cecilia's Day"

James Merrill "Angel"

Robert Creeley "Water Music"

Robert Pinsky "Street Music"

Martin Marks - Moderator, Senior Lecturer of Music & Theater Arts

George Gascoigne

Jan/24 Tue 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

George Gascoigne "Gasgoigne's Lullaby"

David Thorburn - Moderator, Professor of Literature & founder of POP


Jan/25 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Pearl (trans. MB & SA)

Arthur Bahr - Moderator, Associate Professor of Literature


Jan/26 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

a selection of anonymous sonnets

Alvin Kibel - Moderator, Professor of Literature

Robert Frost

Jan/27 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Robert Frost "The Gift Outright"

Ana Schwartz - Moderator, Predoctoral Fellow of Literature Section

John Berryman

Jan/30 Mon 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

John Berryman "Dream Song 1"

Stephen Tapscott - Professor of Literature

Alice Walker & Gwendolyn Brooks

Feb/01 Wed 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Alice Walker "Be Nobody's Darling"

Gwendolyn Brooks "We Real Cool"

Sandy Alexandre - Moderator, Associate Professor of Literature

Elizabeth Bishop

Feb/02 Thu 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Elizabeth Bishop "Pink Dog" & "The Shampoo"

Joaquin Terrones - Moderator, Lecturer of Literature

Ranjit Bhatnagar Pentametron (Twitter)

Feb/03 Fri 01:00PM-02:00PM 14E-304

Ranjit Bhatnagar, Pentametron (Twitter)

Nick Montfort - Moderator, Associate Professor of Digital Media

Polish Your English Through Creative Writing!

Eric Grunwald, Lecturer, English Language Studies

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 15 participants
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions
Prereq: None

"Everyone is creative. Everyone has something to say." —Brenda Ueland

“English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. . . . No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens not to be standard English, and if it shows itself when you write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue.” —Kurt Vonnegut

Are you a bilingual student who has wanted to polish your English? Do you like writing fiction, poetry, or personal essays, or have you always wanted to try?  Why not combine the two?!

In this workshop, you will both explore what innovations you have to offer to the English language and find places where you need to conform more to standard English. Through reading works by immigrant writers as well as imagining, writing, and workshopping your own, you can engage your imagination and polish your English at the same time.

All genres welcome! (Except, of course—well, you know...)

Sponsor(s): Global Studies and Languages
Contact: Eric Grunwald, 14N-236, 617 253-2647, EGRUNWAL@MIT.EDU

Jan/10 Tue 04:00PM-05:45PM 14N-313, Bring paper, pen, and laptop
Jan/17 Tue 04:00PM-05:45PM 14N-313, Bring paper, pen, and laptop
Jan/24 Tue 04:00PM-05:45PM 14N-313, Bring paper, pen, and laptop
Jan/31 Tue 04:00PM-05:45PM 14N-313, Bring paper, pen, and laptop

Eric Grunwald - Lecturer, English Language Studies


Thomas White, Videographer

Jan/13 Fri 06:00PM-07:00PM 32-124

Enrollment: email if you think you can go
Attendance: Repeating event, participants welcome at any session

ZOOM was the PBS network's premier kids show of all time. Original cast member and now MIT videographer Tom White wants to tell you all about the development and continuing interest in this pioneering interactive show with his documentary "ZOOM - LOST and FOUND". So get your striped shirts on and get ready for some fun!

Sponsor(s): Academic Media Production Services
Contact: Thomas White, NE48-308, 617 599-9414, TPWHITE@MIT.EDU