IT 140 Literature and Adolescence, sect.01 - "Digital Pinocchio"
Time: Tue.Th. 2:30--3:50
Place: MultiMediaLab, Grad Ctr. Tower E - 121, 92 Thayer St.

Prof. M. Riva (OH: T.Th. 12-1, or by appt., room 202, 190 Hope St.)
Contacts: Tel. 863-3984;

Description. The course approaches this most famous “coming of age” tale from a contemporary angle, focusing on Pinocchio as a “technological construct” and an “icon” of emerging artificial intelligence and life. We will begin with a close reading of Carlo Lorenzini’s (Collodi’s) tale, in light of its most influential and whimsical interpretations, including structuralist or post-structuralist analyses, psychoanalytical readings and theological exegeses. We will then look at Pinocchio’s many reincarnations in various media: from print to the Internet, from early to contemporary cinema, and from traditional puppetry to computer games, following Pinocchio’s evolution from puppet to child to robotic computerized and virtual persona. Students are encouraged to build their own Pinocchio, eg. propose their own critical and/or creative interpretation of the puppet, in various media (analog or digital).

Format and methodology. Seminars on Tue. and labs on Th. Seminars will consist in close reading, viewing and discussion of narrative and critical, written or visual texts inspired by Collodi’s Pinocchio. Given the abundance and variety of materials available, students will be asked to regularly report to the class about their independent research.

Evaluation. Attendance and active participation to class discussion, including a weekly blog posting about the readings (50%) + final project (50%), due May 15.

Final project: A draft proposal or outline is due on March 22. All weekly postings and final projects will be considered as potential contributions to a website designed as part of the course (

Textbook: Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio/ Le avventure di Pinocchio, bilingual edition, ed. by N. Perrella, available at the Brown Bookstore. All other readings available on e-reserve (unless otherwise specified).

Weekly Syllabus/Programma settimanale
(All texts on E-Reserve, OCRA or web site)

Th. Jan. 25 Introduction to the course.
Tue. Jan 30 Who was Pinocchio’s (real) father? Birth of a Puppet. Boylan, “Carving a National Identity.”
Th. Feb. 1 Adventures, chapters 1-10.
Tue. Feb. 6 Adventures, chapters 11-15.
Th. Feb. 8 First weekly posting due. Perella, Intro. West, “The Persistent Puppet” (
Tue. Feb. 13 Adventures, chapters 16-25. Kuznets, “When Toys Come Alive.”
Th. Feb. 15 Weekly posting due. Romantic genealogy: Folk-tales, structuralism and psychoanalysis (Propp: Fairytale Generator
); Hoffman, The Sand-Man (; Freud, “The Uncanny,”
) ; Nelson, “The Secret Life of Puppets.”
Tue. Feb. 20 No class, long weekend.
Th. Feb. 23 Adventures: ch. 26-36. Weekly posting due.
T. Feb. 27 A World of Illustrations, from Mazzanti to Gris Grimly (
Th. Mar. 1 P. at the movies: Italian cinematic adaptations, from Antamoro to Benigni. West, “Pinocchio on Screen.” Weekly posting due.
T. Mar. 6 American(ized) P., from Jordan Marsh to Walt Disney (1892-1940). Disney’s Pinocchio. Wunderlich, “How Pinocchio came to America;” “Pinocchio’s Good Fortune;” “At the Height of Pinocchio;” Shershow, “No strings on me.”
Th. Mar. 8 Pinocchio's progeny: puppets, marionettes, automatons and robots in modernist and avant-garde drama. Segal, “Eternal Pinocchio;” Wood, “Edison’s Eve” (link from Josiah); Riva, “Digital Pinocchio.”
T. Mar. 13 Pinocchio Futures. Dick, Aldriss and Spielberg’s AI. CyberPunk P. (964 Pinocchio, Shozin Fukui).
Th. Mar. 15 Re-animations: Little Otik (Svankmejer); Pinocchio 3000 (Robichaud, ). Weekly posting due.
T. Mar. 20 Interactive P. (Frischnaller, ). Game Theories (Jenkins, Murray, Pearce).
Th. Mar. 22 Final project proposals due.
Mar.23-30 No class. Spring Recess
T. Apr. 3 Lab time
Th. Apr. 5 Lab time
T. Apr. 10 Lab time
Th. Apr. 12 Lab time
T. Apr. 17 Lab time
Th. Apr. 19 Lab time
T. Apr. 24 Lab time and project demos.
Th. Apr. 26 Lab time and project demos.
Th. May 10 Project presentations and critique.
T. May 15 Final Projects due.