Prufrock Descending: A Collaborative Class Experiment in Reading

Prufrock Descending documents an investigation of mood shifts in T.S. Eliot’s modernist poem, “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock.” This interactive website is the result of a collaborative investigation in reading moods undertaken as a class project (150 students!) in ENG 287 The Digital Text (University of Toronto). We engaged in passionate debates re. tagging moods via phrases, lines, and stanzas, and wrestled with the subjective nature of literary analysis (training & expertise be damned!). The interactive poem offers three version reflecting more expansive and more fine-grained readings as there was no way to arrive a definitive single reading.

From the site:

From Conrad Aiken’s early 1916 review, Eliot’s dramatic monologue has had almost a century of being read as a psychological character study exploring the fluent mutability of an anxious, indecisive self-consciousness. Key to this interpretative approach is the dynamic interplay and range of emotions that Prufrock voices and which are readily discernible to both the scholarly and common reader (to borrow Virginia Woolf’s term). Undertaken as a collaborative TEI encoding project by the students in The Digital Text, a second year English course (University of Toronto, Fall 2014), our initial question approaching this text was whether we could map the moods articulated in the poem as we as readers perceived them? What would the aggregate of our collective readings look like? Would we see a marked convergence of opinion in our close readings? Or would we see striking divergences? What we discovered was both. Remarkably, as we dove deeper into our project, what was increasingly foregrounded was the ambiguity of reading and the instability of literary analysis as a methodological process. To paraphrase one student’s response, ‘the whole poem could be defined as expressing a single mood and then the TEI process challenges the reader to parse the nuances.’ The collaborative class process of deciding on a list of mood terms became an investigation of the rationales for individual close readings and a realization that there is no way to determine or argue for a definitive reading of mood and meaning in Eliot’s poem.

TMC Resource Kit

The TMC Resource Kit [] is a project co-created with Anthea Foyer to meet the needs of Canadian content creators moving into the digital sphere and Transmedia, Multi-Platform and Convergent production. This is a living website that will evolve as we add new case studies & resources over the coming year to build an extensive set of diverse case studies modeling unique and successful strategies in the digital sphere. Included in the resources is The Screen Australia Transmedia Bible written by Gary Hayes, a TMC How-To Resource, and other valuable tools.

The TMC Resource Kit is designed to help Canadian and international producers keep abreast of these changes by providing a comprehensive resource in regards to Transmedia, Multi-Platform and Convergent production strategies. Through these resources media producers in both countries will be brought up to date on:

  • understanding the value of an integrated development and production model;
  • working with other industry partners;
  • knowledge of existing and significant examples of convergent, multi-platform and transmedia projects (national & international);
  • create a familiarity with emergent technologies, platforms and practices;
  • help producers to push the envelope move to more integrated transmedia, multi-platform and convergent strategies



Body/Mind/Change, a virtual and real world transmedia extension of the film exhibition, “David Cronenberg: Evolution.”  Gentle spoilers for those who haven’t played yet (next stop, Europe!).

You can view more of my TMC Resource Kit Case Studies here

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