Playing with Independence: Using Multiplayer Online Narratives to Explore Independent and Interdependent Tensions in Romantic-Period Literature

This paper discusses the outcomes of a multi-year project to engage undergraduate students in active and constructive encounters with Romantic period themes and contexts via web-based, multi-user gamespaces. Interactive, participatory learning environments, akin to humanities “lab” spaces where controlled experimentation and exploration can take place, encourage students to innovate, create, share, and play together. This pedagogical strategy engages students with the complexities, advantages, and difficulties faced by the intersection of independent and interdependent approaches to creativity, communication, and action during the Romantic period, allowing them to become performatively involved in experiential situations (as players/classroom citizens and as builders/authors) that reflect the thematic issues that they are studying.