Studies in Literary Criticism and Theory : Media Ecologies, Systems and Networks

Course Number: ENGL 236
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 236
Quarter: Fall 2010
Instructor: Raley, Rita
Day(s): T
Time: 3:30- 6:20 PM
Location: SH 2617

This course will provide a general overview of certain trends in contemporary media theory, with a specific focus on the question of relationality and its material manifestations as ecology, system, and network. So, in addition to thinking about the significance and critical stakes of ‘media ecology’ and ‘network politics,’ we will be thinking about issues of connectivity, which we will ground in discussions of assemblage theory, actor-network theory, swarms, cybernetics, multitudes, and affective networks. (Our discussion of social forms will either formally or informally touch upon social networks and fan and gaming communities.) We will connect our overview of the field at present with the question of network forms through a consideration of responsive environments and participatory media art works, as we trace a course from Myron Krueger and Marshall McLuhan to contemporary works such as Judd Morrissey’s The Last Performance, which he describes as “a constraint-based collaborative writing, archiving and text-visualization project responding to the theme of lastness in relation to architectural forms, acts of building, a final performance, and the interruption (that becomes the promise) of community.” We will move, then, from Roy Ascott’s articulation of a telematic politic as something like a cybernetic system to communitas itself. Course material will include data visualization projects, installations, and works of electronic literature. We will also have the opportunity to experiment with Scalar, a new publishing platform developed at the NEH-Vectors summer institute.