21W.763J | Spring 2014 | Undergraduate

Transmedia Storytelling: Modern Science Fiction


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

In 2006, Henry Jenkins defined ’transmedia’ as narrative that has been conceived across multiple storytelling platforms to take advantage of each in order to enhance the experience of the audience. Most transmedia experience rarely adheres to this definition; more generally we find a story that has success in one medium expanded into another for commercial as well as artistic reasons. No matter which medium or how many, the heart of any successful transmedia project is a good story. In this class we will spend time on the basics of solid storytelling in speculative fiction, before we move on to how to translate those elements into various media. We will then explore how different presentations in different media can complement and enhance the experience for the audience.

While we will read scholarly articles and discuss ideas about transmedia, this is primarily a class in making speculative fiction transmedia projects. We will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of various media and consider how they complement each other, and how by using several different media we can give the audience a more complete, rewarding and immersive experience.

Students will write one theoretical paper, do one solo expansion, and then work in teams to create a transmedia project that they will present to the class. Graduate students will do additional readings and write an additional and more advanced paper.

Major Assignments

There will be three major assignments in this class.

  1. A single expansion from a student’s previous original work onto another platform.
  2. A critical, analytical essay on some specific aspect of transmedia or a single transmedia product.
  3. An original team-created narrative that functions on multiple platforms, each of which enhances and expands the storytelling in a manner unique to that platform.

Required Texts / Media

Most readings will be made available online. The following text and game are required for the class and must be acquired by all students.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780439023528. [Preview with Google Books]

Zombies, Run. Six to Start with Naomi Alderman, 2012-present.

Students will also be required to sign up for and use an online tool to create and share curated collections of multiple media.

To receive graduate credit, students will do additional reading and write a second paper on a more advanced topic.


In this class I will use what is called “contract grading.” That means that you and I have a contract: You will take this class seriously and fulfill the requirements to your best ability and you are guaranteed a B. If your grade ever drops below a B I shall notify you immediately. To receive an A will take more effort, talent, or originality.


Deadlines count. In the real creative commercial world, creators are penalized for missing deadlines. (Even if you work for yourself, if your audience expects a product at a specific time and you do not deliver, they become disappointed and then apathetic, and later reluctant to buy.) If you ask for an extension 24 hours before the deadline, I am frequently generous. Do Not show up without work or an extension on the day something is due. In that case the assignment will Drop a Full Letter Grade, No Exceptions.


This is a hands-on class. While there will be some lecture and discussion, we will do exercises and work toward creating transmedia projects. The last classes of the terms are reserved for teams to work together on their projects. Missing class means missing far more than you can make up by reading some notes. Therefore, more than two absences for any reason other than serious illness / family emergency will be penalized.


Please bring laptops to every class. Laptops and phones are Not to be open during lectures and discussion unless I specify; they will be used to access various images and examples, for exercises, and for group work throughout the semester. Please remember to silence all cell phones before class.

Food And Drink

Please do Not bring food to class unless you bring enough for everyone! It is rude to eat in front of others (who may be hungry and tempted to snatch your snack.) Beverages, however, especially those that will keep you alert and hydrated, are strongly encouraged.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Written Assignments with Examples
Presentation Assignments with Examples