Reading List 11: Literature and Theory of Technology

Faculty Committee: Alan Liu, Jeremy Douglass, Rita Raley, William Warner

All works on this list marked with an * can be found in The New Media Reader, eds. Nick Monfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).

Please find PDFs of select works through our password protected website: Please ask our Staff Graduate Advisors for password. 

A. Foundational Concepts


Martin Heidegger, “The Age of the World Picture” and “The Question Concerning Technology,” The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays by Martin Heidegger, trans. William Lovitt (Harper, 1982) [PDF Available]

David Rothenberg, “Unexpected Guile,” in Hand’s End: Technology and the Limits of Nature (University of California Press, 1993) [pp. 1-27]

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (Schocken Books, 1968)

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto” *

Bruno Latour, “Third Source of Uncertainty: Objects too Have Agency” and “First Move: Localizing the Global,” in Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford UP, 2005) [pp. 63-86, 173-190] [PDF Available]

Félix Guattari, “Machinic Heterogenesis,” in Rethinking Technologies, ed. Verena Andermatt Conley (University of Minnesota Press, 1993) [pp. 13-27] [PDF Available]


Marshall McLuhan, Selections from Understanding Media and The Gutenberg Galaxy *

Jean Baudrillard, “Precession of Simulacra,” Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (University of Michigan Press, 1994) [PDF Available]

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT Press, 1999) [pp. 3-50]

N. Katherine Hayles, “Media Specific Analysis,” Writing Machines (MIT Press, 2002) [pp. 29-33]  [PDF Available]

Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Duke UP, 2002) [Introduction]  [PDF Available]

John Guillory, “Genesis of the Media Concept,” Critical Inquiry, 36.2 (2010): 321-62  [PDF Available]


Albert Borgmann, Holding On to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (University of Chicago Press, 1999) [pp. 9-37]

Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” *

Claude E. Shannon, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (University of Illinois Press, 1969) [excerpt online]  [PDF Available]

Warren Weaver, “Some Recent Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Communication,” in Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (University of Illinois Press, 1949)

Norbert Wiener, “Men, Machines, and the World About” *

Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly (July 1945) *

N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, (University of Chicago Press, 1999) [“Prologue,” “Toward Embodied Virtuality,” “Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers”]  [PDF Available]

Orality, History of the Book, and Media Archaeology

Eric A. Havelock, Preface to Plato (Harvard UP, 1963) [pp. 61-86, 134-44, 145-64, 165-93, 197-214, 215-33]

M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England, 1066-1307, 2nd ed. (Blackwell, 1993) [pp. 1-21, 25-43, 81-113, 114-44, 185-96, 253-93, 328-34]

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge UP, 1983) [pp. 3-107]

Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (University of Chicago Press, 1998) [pp. 1-40]

Roger Chartier, “Representations of the Written Word,” in Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer (1995) [pp. 6-24]  [PDF Available]

Peter Stallybrass, “Books and Scrolls: Navigating the Bible,” in Books and Readers in Early Modern England: Material Studies, ed. Jennifer Andersen and Elizabeth Sauer (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) [pp. 42-79]  [PDF Available]

D. F. McKenzie, “The Book as an Expressive Form” (1984), in Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts(Cambridge UP, 1999) [pp. 9-29]

Johanna Drucker, “The Virtual Codex from Page Space to E-space,” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, ed. Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman (Blackwell, 2007) [pp. 216-32]  [PDF Available]

Friedrich A. Kittler, “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter,” “There Is No Software,” and “Protected Mode,”Literature, Media, Information Systems: Essays by Friedrich A. Kittler,, ed. John Johnston (G&B Arts International, 1997)

---. Discourse Networks, 1800/1900, trans. Michael Metteer (Stanford UP, 1990) [pp. xii-xviii, 206-229]

Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (MIT Press, 2006) [Introduction]

Cornelia Vismann, Files: Law and Media Technology (Stanford UP, 2008) [pp. 71-101, 123-164]

New Media

Theodor H. Nelson, Selections from Literary Machines *

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001)

Victoria Vesna, ed., Database Aesthetics (University of Minnesota Press, 2007)

Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT Press, 2008) [Introduction, Chapters 1-2]  [PDF Available]

Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 1997)

Florian Cramer, Word Made Flesh: Code, Culture, Imagination  [PDF Available]

John Cayley, “The Code is Not the Text,” Electronic Book Review (May 2002)  [PDF Available]

Matthew Fuller, ed., Software Studies: A Lexicon (MIT Press, 2008) [Introduction; browse contents]  [PDF Available]

Alex Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2006)

Eric S. Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” first monday (1998)  [PDF Available]

Jaron Lanier, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” Edge (May 2006)  [PDF Available]

Colin Milburn, “Atoms and Avatars: Virtual Worlds as Massively-Multiplayer Laboratories,” Spontaneous Generations (2008)  [PDF Available]

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (MIT Press, 2009) [Chapters 1, 2, 5 & 8]

Digital Humanities

Allen Renear, Elli Mylonas, and David Durand, “Refining our Notion of What Text Really Is: The Problem of Overlapping Hierarchies,” Scholarly Technology Group, Brown University (January 6, 1993) [Abstract •Introduction • OHCO-1 • Conclusion ]  [PDF Available]

Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (Palgrave MacMillan, 2005) [pp. 20-72]

Lisa Samuels and Jerome J. McGann, “Deformance and Interpretation,” New Literary History 30.1 (Winter 1999): 25-56  [PDF Available]

Geoffrey Rockwell, “What is Text Analysis, Really?,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 18.2 (2003): 209-220  [PDF Available]

Stephen Ramsay, “Toward an Algorithmic Criticism,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 18.2 (2003): 167-174  [PDF Available]

Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees (Verso, 2005) [pp. 1-64, 91-92]

Society and Culture of Technology, Media, Information

Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (Harper & Brothers, 1911) [Introduction; Chapter 1; and pp. 30-77 from Chapter 2]

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” The Dialectic of Enlightenment,, trans John Cuming (Continuum, 1997)  [PDF Available]

Joseph A. Schumpeter, “Creative Destruction,” Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (Harper, 1975) [pp. 82 85]

Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture (Blackwell, 1996-97) [Vol. 1: The Rise of the Network Society, pp. 1-25, 195-200; Vol. II: The Power of Identity, pp. 1-67]

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology” (August 1995)

Lawrence Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0 (Basic Books, 2006) [Preface and Parts I & III]

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (University of Chicago Press, 2004) [Parts I-II; Part III.8; Part IV.9; Part IV.11]

Henry Jenkins, “Interactive Audiences? The ‘Collective Intelligence’ of Media Fans,” Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Media Consumers in a Digital Age (NYU Press, 2006)

Wendy Chun, Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT Press, 2008) [Introduction, Chapter 1]

Critical Art Ensemble, “Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance” *

Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) [Chapters 1-2]

---. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) [Introduction, Chapters 4-5]  [PDF Available]

Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age (Pluto Press, 2004)

B. Literature of Technology / Media / Information (selected early or “canonical” works)

Oulipo Movement (selections in The New Media Reader) *

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

William Gibson, Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) (Kevin Begos, 1992) and The Agrippa Files

---. Neuromancer (Ace Books, 1984)

Electronic Literature Collection: Volume 1 and Electronic Literature Collection: Volume 2 
-Browse ELC1 but the following are required: Talan Memmott, Lexia to Perplexia; John Cayley, translation; Geniwate, Generative Poetry; Michael Joyce, Twelve Blue; Brian Kim Stefans, The Dreamlife of Letters
-Browse ELC2 but the following are required: Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, Façade; Mez, extracts; Nick Montfort, ppg256; Noah Wardrip-Fruin et al, Screen .

Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl by Mary/Shelley and herself (Eastgate Systems, 1995) [Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is also recommended] [Available in Transcriptions Research Center]

Michael Joyce, afternoon, a story (Eastgate Systems, 1990) 

Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (especially “Dakota,” “Lotus Blossom,” “Beckett’s Bounce,” and “Rain on the Sea”)

C. Optional

Choose up to five works, primary or secondary, representing some contemporary extension of the above topics in such areas as science fiction, contemporary fiction, film or video, graphic novel, social networking, race/ethnicity or gender and technology, mobile or locative media. Please communicate your works to the examiner at least one month prior to the exam date. After your choices have been approved, please submit Section C to the Staff Graduate Adviser and do so at least two weeks prior to the exam date.


// Revised May 2010