Parallel Worlds course: Jekyll website
This is the source code for the Parallel Worlds course I teach at The Master Institute of Visual Cultures, AKV St Joost, a 10-class course.
About the course
World-building is a valuable tool in art and design. The ability to immerse an audience in a complete world is crucial to the framing of TV shows and movies; corporations, nations, political parties, theatrical productions, and futurists all engage in ‘world-building’. What can artists and designers learn from world-building to enhance and augment their own practice?
This 10-class elective module enables students to explore the worlds of world-building through a structured series of individual and group activities. The course is practice-led, consisting of structured design activities, and seminars (which always lead to a design outcome). The course encourages students to build on skills they already have, enhancing their current practice and projects by creating worlds to embed them in.
We will be using philosopher Maurizio Ferraris’ concept of social objects to create artefacts, and imagined social and individual memories. We will use theory and techniques from numerous places – theatre, counterfactuals, psychological operations, fiction, television and film production, propaganda, situationism – as well as testing new methods for world-building. By the end of the course, students will have designed maquettes and small sets, artefacts from imagined worlds, and produced a short film, audio production, performance, or related project. The course is methods-focused, but will also provide supplementary reading materials for students who wish to integrate these methods into their practice.
The course will be performed in public: the syllabus and assignments will be made open source at parallel.olliepalmer.com, and the course will culminate in a public exhibition (venue to be confirmed).
If you've come here because you just want to copy/modify/look at parts of the syllabus, great! The syllabus itself is written in Markdown, and all of the pages can be found in the /pages/ folder. Dig in and see. Alternatively you can see the syllabus in a more user-readable format on the course website itself.
The course documentation is all on our website – parallel.olliepalmer.com. The website uses Jekyll, a framework for creating lightweight, database-free HTML websites. It's hosted on Netlify, which constantly looks back here to GitHub to see if there are any changes to the source code. The course documents are written in Markdown. All of the course content is stored in the folder
pages. When I add a new page (e.g. a new page for this weeks' class), or edit an existing Markdown page, I then commit and push the changes to this repository. Netlify monitors this repo, and if there are any changes, automatically re-compiles the website. It's fast and efficient – it all happens in a few seconds. Often I'll make a couple of small changes to an assignment based on student feedback during class, then direct students there for instructions at the end of the class. The whole process takes <30 seconds.
The website uses a template called Just the Docs which producesa clean, simple, and easily-navigable website.
If you just want the syllabus content, go straight to the pages folder, or head to the course website. If you want to clone the whole thing and play around, I'd recommend Netlify as a way to create a site from a GitHub repo.
This site uses 'Monofur for Powerline' by Tobias B Koehler for its titles - font licence and description can be found over here.
This syllabus has an MIT licence please feel free to use it in your own teaching or creative practice. All featured student work remains the copyright of its creator and will be clearly marked as such. Please re-use the course content, but don't steal the students' work. If you adapt the course to your own needs, please let me know! I'd love to talk about what worked and didn't, and how I can make this better for students and teachers. I'm hoping that making the course open source others will improve upon my work and make it their own.
Thanks to all of the Oulipians and writers and world-builders who inspired this course. Tim Clare's Couch to 80k Writing Bootcamp was an excellent and highly enjoyable writing course, and has also morphed into an interesting interview series for anyone vaguely interested in writing or creative work. Ross Sutherland's Imaginary Advice features a couple of times on this website, and I can't recommend listening to it enough.
Thanks also to the people who've authored web publishing frameworks that made creating this site so easy. :)