"We face a very simple problem: the decline of literacy, which anyone can see in the latest test scores. Students are ill at ease with language or just plain scared of poetry” (Robert Scholes).
In 1976 Brown University professor of English Robert Scholes collaborated with Brown University computer scientist Andries van Dam on a project to use computing technology to teach reluctant students to appreciate and study poetry.This pioneering film about the project was made by Andries van Dam.
"The film was funded by a 1974 grant provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities to support "an experimental program to teach a college-level English poetry course, utilizing a new form of computer based 'manuscript,' called a hypertext." More information about the grant is available on the NEH website
. To read the story behind how this film was re-discovered in 2016, see this article
on the NEH website. To read more about Andy van Dam's classroom experiment with hypertext, check out van Dam's final grant report
, as well as this journal article "Poetry and Computers: Experimenting with the Communal Text"
written by James Catano, one of the graduate students who worked in the class (note -- article behind a paywall).
"The Hypertext system used in the film is called FRESS and was developed by Andy van Dam, Carol Chomsky, Richard Harrington, and others based on the hypertext idea developed by Theodor Nelson" (https://archive.org/details/AndyVanDamHypertextFilm,