Digital London: Digital Writing

LocationWells Street, Central London
FacultySocial Sciences and Humanities

Digital London explores the ways in which writers can make use of digital technologies to re-imagine the city. The module considers examples of contemporary creative practice that exploits tools such as apps, social media, GPS and virtual reality in the creation of, for example, digital literature, creative guiding, game-playing, digital installations and site-specific interactions with the urban environment.

This module aims to:

  • critically examine the ways in which new technologies relate to literary and artistic practice
  • develop your understanding of the possibilities new technologies offer the writer
  • introduce you to particular examples of creative practice that use digital technologies through a series of visiting lectures with contemporary practitioners in the field
  • reconsider questions of editing and redrafting within a digital arts framework 
  • deepen your understanding of the professional infrastructure in which creative practice is embedded
  • guide you in the development of your own digital writing projects

Who is this course for?

The course is aimed at anyone with a genuine interest in and curiosity for learning about using new digital technologies in their literary or artistic creative practice.

No previous experience is required – beginners welcome.

Course content

This module will introduce you to examples of digital arts practice that explore, interpret and re-imagine the urban environment. It will examine concepts such as digital literature, creative guiding, immersive game-playing and digital installation from both a theoretical and practical perspective. The module will also introduce you to the practical processes involved in grant applications and project proposals.

The course will consist of off-site and on-site sessions including:

  • an introduction session by Rachel Lichtenstein in contemporary uses of digital literature projects
  • presentation on the development of GPS-activated apps, by both practitioners and technologists
  • development and production of a collaborative prototype for a GPS-activated app
  • off-site explorations around the city, testing and experimenting GPS-activated digital projects
  • practical workshops with technologists Calvium, leaders in the field of GPS-activated apps
  • visiting lecturers from writers, artists, designers and technologists, internationally renowned experts in the field of new digital media including Kate Pullinger and Tony White
  • practical sessions on interactive digital story writing, using new media to promote and market your work and funding possibilities for digital projects

At the end of the module, you will have:

  • developed an understanding of the relationship between digital technology and contemporary literary practice
  • identified a new range of tools that might be used in literary and artistic production
  • critically analysed the work of contemporary practitioners in this field
  • developed an appreciation of how digital technologies can interpret and construct our experience of the urban environment
  • gained an understanding of processes of idea pitching and project funding
  • designed key elements of a collaborative digital literature project

Rachel Lichtenstein is an author, curator, artist and lecturer who recently developed the Diamond Street App, which was described by The Guardian (17 June 2013) as “a really inventive location based tour-guide app” and The Londonist as "witchcraft in your pocket" (6 June 2013). The Diamond Street App was the first GPS-activated digital app to take readers on an interactive exploration of the territory described within a non-fiction text. Rachel is currently developing a new interactive digital project, connected to her latest non-fiction book Estuary (published by Penguin, 2015).

Her publications include Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden (Hamish Hamilton, 2012), On Brick Lane (Hamish Hamilton, 2008), Keeping Pace: Older Women of the East End (2003, Women’s Library), A Little Dust Whispered (2002, British Library) and Rodinsky’s Room (1999, co-authored with Iain Sinclair and now translated into five languages).

Rachel also writes regularly for national papers and periodicals, recent articles include: Save Our Smithfield (Evening Standard), No Place Like Home (The Guardian) and The Thames Estuary is Under Threat (Aeon). Rachel is the author of many books, including Diamond Street. She is also the curator of Shorelines: Festival of Literature of the Sea.

Other recent projects include the multimedia installation Sight Unseen (shown in London and Pittsburgh 2012). Her artwork has been exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery, the Barbican Art Gallery and many other venues nationally and internationally.

Eligible applicants will need to send a portfolio of their writing and a personal statement.