A lab and studio with locations in New York City and at MIT, room 14N-336, a temporary location while Building 14 is being renovated. Our mission is developing new poetic practices and new understandings of digital media by focusing on the material, formal, and historical aspects of computation and language.

The Trope Tank hosts postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate researchers, student visits from various classes, codefests, and other sorts of events and collaborations. The component of this lab and studio that is situated at MIT is a research group in Comparative Media Studies and Writing. The monthly meetings of the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction haven taken place in the original location of the Trope Tank at MIT, which is also where the Purple Blurb series of presentations of digital writing originated. The main letterpress printing machine of Bad Quarto (a micropress) can be found in the current MIT space. The collection housed in the Trope Tank, both in New York City and at MIT, supplies equipment for several events and activities, including the international demoparty Synchrony.
Comparative Media Studies & Writing
People's Republic of Interactive Fiction
Purple Blurb
Joe Haldeman’s Olympia SG-3 typewriter
Lydia Davis’s Kaypro 2 computer
Home computers and videogame systems ready for use in the Trope Tank
Home computers and videogame systems ready for use in the Trope Tank
Logo for the Oral Poetics project is CC BY-SA 3.0, based on a public domain photo of a statue of Homer and a CC BY-SA 3.0 photo of Common at Tufts University by Kelsey Marie Bell The Oral Poetics project (2019—) is focused on how we can model remarkable oral poetic practices, and oral creativity, in a way that is rooted in orature, instead of being based (for instance) on corpora of written, literate-culture documents. We aim to develop computational systems that can improvise in oral exchanges with people. (Logo for the Oral Poetics project is CC BY-SA 3.0, based on a public domain photo of a statue of Homer and a CC BY-SA 3.0 photo of Common at Tufts University by Kelsey Marie Bell.)
Logo for the Renderings project The Renderings project (2014—2018) involved translating computational literature into English. We not only employed established literary translation techniques, but also considered how computation and language interact. Literary and computational experts worldwide participated. The first phase of the project (13 works, 6 languages) was published in Cura in 2014. The project continued after the first phase, with translations published in different contexts through 2018.
In addition to particular projects, the Trope Tank supports a variety of research, teaching, and creative production. For instance, the Trope Tank collaborates with Bad Quarto on the online literary magazine Taper. A previous project was translation project Heftings. We undertook considerable work on the international collaboration Slant (2013-2014). A component of this project was Curveship, an interactive fiction platform for narrative variation.


Nick Montfort Judy Heflin Angela Chang

In-house researchers from semesters past:

Oral Poetics collaborators, 2019—

Renderings phase I collaborators, 2014

Taper editoral collective members, 2018—

Renderings phase I collaborators, 2014

Slant collaborators, 2013–2014

Racing the Beam and Platform Studies series collaborator, 2007–

The Deletionist collaborators, 2011–2013

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 collaborators, 2010-2013

Tools for the Telling collaborators, 2007-2008

Purple Blurb guest organizers:

"Trope Report" Series of Technical Reports

  1. TROPE-12-01 - The Trivial Program "yes" (Nick Montfort)
  2. TROPE-12-02 - XS, S, M, XL: Creative Text Generators of Different Scales (Nick Montfort)
  3. TROPE-12-03 - Creative Material Computing in a Laboratory Context (Nick Montfort and Natalia Fedorova)
  4. TROPE-12-04 - Carrying across Language and Code (Nick Montfort and Natalia Fedorova)
  5. TROPE-13-01 - Electronic Literature for All: Performance in Exhibits and Public Readings (Clara Fernández-Vara)
  6. TROPE-13-02 - Videogame Editions for Play and Study (Clara Fernández-Vara and Nick Montfort)
  7. TROPE-13-03 - No Code: Null Programs (Nick Montfort)
  8. TROPE-14-01 - New Novel Machines: Nanowatt and World Clock (Nick Montfort)
  9. TROPE-14-02 - Stickers as a Literature-Distribution Platform (Piotr Marecki)
  10. TROPE-15-01 - Textual Demoscene (Piotr Marecki)
  11. TROPE-17-01 - Heftings: A Preliminary System to Support Impossible Translation (Chris Kerich and Nick Montfort)
  12. TROPE-17-02 - 256-Byte Creative Programs (Sofian Audry, Angela Chang, Chris Kerich, Milton Läufer and Nick Montfort)
  13. TROPE-20-01 - A Full Explanation of the Petscii Jetski Code (Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul)
  14. TROPE-20-02 - Autopia and The Truelist: Language Combined in Two Computer-Generated Books (Nick Montfort)


A catalog of materials in the Trope Tank (hardware & software) is now available.

Hardware and software catalog

Researchers interested in computer and video games, electronic literature (including interactive fiction, hypertext fiction, and digital poetry), home computing and hobbyist programming, or related topics are welcome to contact Nick for access to the collection of materials, computers, and video game systems that is housed in the Trope Tank.


The Trope Tank, MIT
77 Massachusetts Ave, Room 14N-233
Cambridge, MA 02139


March 2020: Building 14 is now a limited-access building, and is essentially completely closed. The Trope Tank is at MIT in Building 14, the same building that is the home of the Hayden Library. The room number is 14N-336; this is in the north wing on the third floor. After finding building 14, come in — the entrance on the northeast side, next to the large black steel Calder sculpture, is the closest one to the Trope Tank. Once inside, take the stairs or elevator up to the second floor. The Trope Tank is not inside the library; it is in the wing across the courtyard from it.