English 601: New Literacies, Technologies, and Cultures of Writing


This course addresses the changes that new media have brought us and how the study and production of English literature have responded.

In this course, we will study texts, both traditionally written and electronic, that theorize, imaginatively portray, and encapsulate new media—whether the social media, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blogs, wikis, and podcasts, with which we are all so familiar—or still earlier forms of media, such as hypertext, television, film, and printed books.

Assignments will include two analytic papers of about five pages in length, an essay take-home mid-term and final exam, periodic postings to the course wiki or similar sites, and the filming and editing, in groups, of an original five to eight-minute video.  One course assignment will need to meet the criteria for an academically generous act.

Units and possible course texts (some of which will be available online) include:

I.  Media, from Old to New

Shirky, Clay, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age; Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe; The Illuminator and a Bible for the Twenty-First Century (video); McLuhan, Marshall.  Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (selections); Carr, Nicholas, The Shallows; Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein.

 II. New Media and Non-Linearity

Borges, Jorge.  “The Garden of Forking Paths,” Tomasula, Steve and Farrel, Stephen  TOC: A New Media Novel (DVD-ROM), John Cayley, "Windsound" and other Flash poems (online), Danielewski, Mark,  House of Leaves and/ or LaFarge, Paul, Luminous Airplanes.

III.  New Media, Reality, and Visual Images

Antonioni, Michelangelo.  Blowup or Scorsese, Martin, Hugo (film), Benjamin, Walter,  "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Artist of the Beautiful," Baudrillard, Jean.  “Simalacra and Simulations,” Deslisle, Guy.  Burma Chronicles, McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics.