Experiential storytelling in Virtual Reality with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven has been one the most well-known poem since its first publication in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Its mass appeal might be understood, according to Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, by isolating four key elements: its compelling narrative structure, darkly evocative atmosphere, hypnotic verbal music, and archetypal symbolism. Poe himself even published a detailed (if also often unconvincing) account of the poem’s genesis The Philosophy of Composition in April 1846. Thus, on a textual level, The Raven already has a rich potential for reader analysis and exploration.

Neil Gaiman once wrote that there are secrets to appreciating Poe, and one of the most important is to read him aloud. The way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat - it is beautiful even if one doesn’t speak English. Much of Poe’s best work is concerned with terror and sadness, but it also implies a host of meanings without offering any resolution. Is The Raven about the certainty of death? Or enduring life knowing the unattainable? Is the narrator haunted by a love forever lost? Or the eternal unspoken darkness lurking in the shadow?

Unbroken Shadow aims to explore these tensions through visual poetry, verbal music, and surreal landscape expressing The Raven’s dark atmosphere and narrator’s state of mind. The goal of Unbroken Shadow is to encourage the user to think differently about literary contents​​​​​​​ and to inspire the contemplative relationship that often happens in readerly experiences.

Read more about the project http://yummypanda.com/unbroken-shadow
Narrated by Heather Cook http://heatherdawncook.com
Ambient sounds (creative commons) via freesound.org by cclaretc, MrAuralization, Tombombadil1988, theredshore, TOC1, gerardcatala, RaspberryTickle, michaelkoehler, Ryding, VKProduktion, and el-bee
Moonlight image (CC0 Public Domain) by avtar
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