Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions

Course Number: ENGL 25
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 25
Quarter: Spring 2017
Instructor: Liu, Alan
Day(s): MWF
Time: 1:00pm - 1:50pm
Location: BUCHN 1940

Image and text collage showing digital manipulations of manuscripts and graphics.How have language, reading, and literature responded to revolutions in media, communication, and information technology? This course introduces the history and theory of the major changes in human discourse that have led up to our current information age. Readings in literary and artistic works exemplify the creative artist's response to these changes.

(Course Web site)




Highlights of the course:

  • Key units of the course:
    • * Literature Across Media Ages
    • * The Communication/Information Age -- Information's impact on what we mean by "meaning"
    • * The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age -- Information's impact on work and power
    • * Processing Literature -- Information's impact on the way we study literature
  • Key readings:
    • * Novelists: Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49), William Gibson (Neuromancer), M. D. Coverley (Tin Towns -- spreadsheet novel in progress)
    • * Media theorists: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, N. Katherine, Lev Manovitch, etc.
    • * Historians and theorists of communication/computing: Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, Vannevar Bush, etc.
    • * Business historians & theorists on the information age: Joseph Schumpeter, Shoshana Zuboff, Peter Senge, Manuel Castells, etc.
    • * Critics, cyberlibertarians, and hackers against the information age: John Perry Barlow, Critical Art Ensemble, Jodi, etc.
    • * Theorists and practitioners of the new "digital humanities": Franco Moretti, The Stanford Literary lab, Ted Underwood, etc.
    • * Theorists of digital "deformance" and "glitch": Lisa Samuels, Jerome McGann, Mark Sample, Rosa Menkman, etc.
  • Key assignments:
    • * Short essay in which you imagine what computing will be like in the year 2050.
    • * Short essay on Thomas Pynchon's novel.
    • * Spreadsheet comparing work life of a student and your imagined life in your desired future career, accompanied by short essay on "Being Human in the Age of Information Knowledge Work"
    • * Text-analysis exercise on a work of literature accompanied by short commentary.
  • Exams: (mostly "factual")
    • * Mid-term exam
    • * Final exam