Throughout this course we will examine a number of works that blur the boundaries between text and image. Our class schedule puts these terms on a gradient, starting with stark words on one end and wordless images on the other—only to draw them together over the progression of the quarter. This gradient stretches from the photoessay collages of McLuhan and Fiore’s The Medium is the Massage to Jen Bervin’s erasures in Nets, the post-text futures (and pre-text pasts) of Richard McGuire’s Here to Tom Phillips’s novel-cum-artist’s book A Humument, and in outlining its features we will explore both the material presence and mediating function of text and textuality.
To this end we will ask: in what way do these hybrid objects “work” as texts? How might one read them? Can one read them, and would that reading still “count” as analysis? What analytic strategies, beyond those of the traditional English course, might we deploy to make sense of these objects’ inner workings, and what kind of knowledges do these strategies produce? How do these texts, and the subsequent sense-making our critiques deploy, operate rhetorically? That is, what position do they take with regard to their source material? And finally, how does tracking and answering these questions alert us to the function of the medium and medium specificity, a function that seems to underpin so many of the works at hand?
ENGL 149 focuses on the history and theory of the twentieth and twenty-first century media. Students study and create media projects. Media topics include film, radio, television, computer hypertext, the internet, and computer games. Course includes lecture and lab. The lab teaches the skills needed to do web-based projects and media presentations.