Creativity Support for Computational Literature

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The creativity support community has a long history of providing valuable tools to artists and designers. Similarly, creative digital media practice has proven a valuable pedagogical strategy for teaching core computational ideas. Neither strain of research has focused on the domain of literary art however, instead targeting visual, and aural media almost exclusively. To address this situation, this thesis presents a software toolkit created specifically to support creativity in computational literature. Two primary hypotheses direct the bulk of the research presented: first, that it is possible to implement effective creativity support tools for literary art given current resource constraints; and second, that such tools, in addition to facilitating new forms of literary creativity, provide unique opportunities for computer science education. Designed both for practicing artists and for pedagogy, the research presented directly addresses impediments to participation in the field for a diverse range of users and provides an end-to-end solution for courses attempting to engage the creative faculties of computer science students, and to introduce a wider demographic—from writers, to digital artists, to media and literary theorists—to procedural literacy and computational thinking. The tools and strategies presented have been implemented, deployed, and iteratively refined in real-world contexts over the past three years. In addition to their use in large-scale projects by contemporary artists, they have provided effective support for multiple iterations of ‘Programming for Digital Art & Literature’, a successful inter-disciplinary computer science course taught by the author. Taken together, this thesis provides a novel set of tools for a new domain, and demonstrates their real-world efficacy in providing both creativity and pedagogical support for a diverse and emerging population of users.

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Patricia Tomaszek