Collaborations are the heart of the Electronic Literatures and Literacies Lab, and cut across academic disciplines and media silos. Our mission is to create a community space where creative artists can collaborate with social scientists, and humanists with engineers.

  • What we have in common

    We are writers, artists, game designers, linguists, educators, engineers, social scientists, roboticists, and others (both inside and outside the university) who share a fascination with the entangled relationships between culture and technology.

    What, for example, does literacy mean in a digital age?  What happens in the space where computation meets narrative?  Where ontological thinking meets metaphorical thinking? Where algorithms gain empathy?

  • What we’re working on

    Many of our projects and interests involve creating digital worlds for both pedagogical exploration and academic study — supporting  computational thinking in K-12 education — investigating language learning in virtual worlds — fostering conversations about the ethical implications of technological innovations — promoting digital inclusion — exploring artificial intelligence — analyzing the emerging power of social media to shape political landscapes — and discovering how technology can augment human capacities in unimagined ways.

If you’d like to join the EL3 community,  drop an email to Judith Pintar:


Playful by Design:

Gaming Pedagogies, Digital Literacies and the Public Humanities

learn more

Sponsored by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), the Playful by Design: Gaming Pedagogies, Digital Literacies and the Public Humanities Research Cluster, will facilitate the growth of an interdisciplinary community of practice organized around the emergent capacities of play and the design of playful pedagogical spaces, both virtual and real. Through a series of participatory workshops, faculty, staff, students, and members of the CU community who author games, interactive literatures, platforms, websites, and public installations, who teach in “gamified” classrooms, or who study games, virtual worlds and digital learning environments, will share their research, experiences, and skills during monthly gatherings leading to a spring Playful by Design Symposium.

Thematically, the focus for our events will be on playful platforms and pedagogies designed to foster empathy, to facilitate the attainment of cultural, digital, and linguistic fluencies, and to promote collaborative authorship and digital inclusion through the Public Humanities.

To join this group contact:

Judith Pintar

Slavic Languages & Cultures

Randall Sadler



Interactive Fiction (IF) at UIUC

A creative approach to fostering programming literacy through the humanities.

Interactive Fiction (IF) is one expression of the broader genre of interactive digital narrative (IDN) that includes digital poetry, hypertext fiction, and other forms of emerging text-based and multi-modal Electronic Literature. The authoring and academic study of IF as both a literary and game genre, is supported by courses that teach Inform 7, a unique programming language and design system and Twine, an innovative and open-source tool for interactive, nonlinear storytelling.

  • The Quad Game

    The Quad Game is an open-ended, ongoing work of IF that uses as its game world the UIUC campus, beginning at the center of the Quad. The game is collaboratively authored by students enrolled in the Illinois Informatics Institute class, INFO 490 JP: Designing and Programming Text Based Games and Simulations, and cumulatively expands every semester that the course is offered.

  • individual works

    Students enrolled in INFO 490 also author their own individual works of IF, which provides a steady stream of innovative narrative works of IF to the EL3 library.

    Other students and faculty as well as members of the Champaign-Urbana community are invited to submit works for inclusion in our UIUC/CU IF collection.


The Illinois Map

A collaborative programming sandbox that endlessly expands in virtual space and time.

Research.   Write.   Code.   Play.

Explore the Illinois Map (coming soon)
  • Understanding

    The Illinois Map is a digital learning environment, envisioned as both a classroom resource (an educational game), and a pedagogical tool (a coding workshop). It is designed to foster programming literacy while promoting intercultural/ interracial empathy through play.

  • Living history

    When fully implemented, the Illinois Map website will invite faculty, students, K-12 teachers and children across the state to “translate” Illinois histories, including minority and other non-mainstream perspectives, into linked interactive scenes, and to contribute to the development of AI-programmed NPCs who wander through the Map.

  • Natural language programming

    Both scenes and characters are being developed using Inform 7, a “natural language” design system and programming language with a gentle learning curve that makes it both powerful and accessible.

  • For everyone

    Those not interested in writing code may do research and/or contribute narrative prose; those not interested in writing may program; everyone else may enter the Map as players, immersing themselves in history.


Computers and Language Learning

A cross-disciplinary initiative addressing the use of computers in second language acquisition.

Visit the CLL Reading Group website

Sponsored by the Initiated as an Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), reading group during academic year 2016-2017, this group is interested in language learning and instruction through digital platforms and virtual environments.

Investigating technological innovations that affect the way we teach and learn languages, we explore the use of multi-player platforms, like Second Liee, as well as interactive fiction as a promising new medium for enhancing learning and developing language proficiency. This group is also a great place to get feedback on ongoing or future research projects.

To join this group contact:

  • Randall Sadler


  • Aurore Mroz

    French & Italian