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English 25,"Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions" (Spring 2016)


Print book = required print book    Course Reader = required course reader
All other readings are online on Web sites or as downloadable PDFs PDF 
Please read all assigned readings in advance of the relevant lecture.
TAs may flag specific assigned readings to be sure to get to before each week's section discussion.

 Week 1

Class 1 (M., Mar. 28) — Introduction

  • Overview of the course topic, readings, assignments, and enrollment/section policies.


1. Overture: Literature Across Media Ages


Class 2 (W., Mar. 30) — The Idea of Media


Class 3 (F. Apr. 1 ) — From Oral to Writing Media


 Week 2

Assignment due in section this week: "Create your system for working with online readings" 

Class 4 (M. Apr. 4) — [Colloquium Class]

  • Discussion with the Professor.
    (Classes titled on the syllabus "Colloquium Class" are breaks from the usual lecture format of the course. Usually placed at the end of a logical sequence of topics, these classes will include time for more informal conversations between the professor and students. They are occasions for the professor to ask students their views, for students to ask questions of the professor, and--in general--for reflecting thoughtfully on topics.)
  • Special early assignment due in section meeting in 2nd week of course: Creating your online readings system: Because so many of the readings in this course are online, students are required to demonstrate in section to their TA that they have the means to annotate and save copies of online materials according to one of the methods described in Guide to Downloading and Managing Online Readings.  For your section meeting this week, bring on your laptop or other digital device copies of the two assigned readings for Week 1 of the course (originally PDFs) plus at least one of the readings for Week 2 that was originally a Web page. These are readings that you should have downloaded, stored in an organized manner, and highlighted or otherwise annotated.  If you do not own a laptop, tablet, or other digital device, then bring a printed copy of one assigned reading. 


Class 5 (W., Apr. 6) — "Close Reading" (Past and Present)


Class 6 (F., Apr. 8) — "Distracted Reading" and "Distant Reading" in the Information Age



 Week 3

Class 7 (M., Apr. 11) — [Colloquium Class]



2. The Communication/Information Age

      Information's Impact on What We Mean by "Meaning"


Class 8 (W., Apr. 13) — The Communications Revolution & the Digital Principle


Class 9 (F., Apr. 15) — The Computer Revolution (1): History of the Computer


 Week 4


Class 10 (M., Apr. 18) — The Computer Revolution (2): Rise of the Network


Class 11 (W., Apr. 20) — The Computer Revolution (3): The Emergence of Digital "New Media"




Fiction Unit


Class 12 (F., Apr. 22) — Fiction in the Age of Media, Communication, & Information

  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) -- read at least to page 88 by today's class. (Print book; available at UCEN Bookstore and elsewhere) Print book
  • Help on the concept of entropy

Assignment due in lecture in Class 12: Essay 1 on the Future of Computing


 Week 5

Class 13 (M,. Apr. 25) — (Continued)

  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) -- finish rest of the novel. (Print book) Print book


Class 14 (W., Apr. 27) — (Continued) + [Colloquium Class]

  • Conclusion of lectures on The Crying of Lot 49
  • Discussion with professor on the novel


Class 15 (F., Apr. 29) — [Midterm Exam]

  • Exam on readings in the course to date. The exam is "factual," and is designed to reward students who have regularly kept up with the assignments and attended lectures and sections. See fuller description.


3. The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age

      Information's Impact on Work and Power


 Week 6

Class 16 (M., May 2) — Postindustrial "Knowledge Work"

  • "Scientific Management" (The Original "Smart Work")
  • "Knowledge Work" (Today's Smart Work)
    • Wikipedia, "Post-industrial Society" 
    • Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), pp. 82-84 (on "creative destruction")
    • Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (1988), pp., 3-12 Course Reader  Also read these online excerpts.
    • Joseph H. Boyett and Henry P. Conn, Workplace 2000 (1992), pp. 1-46 Course Reader
    • Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline (1990), pp. 3-14 Course Reader
    • VisiCalc (the original spreadsheet program created by Dan Bricklin, 1979)
      • Wikipedia, "VisiCalc"
      • VisiCalc running in emulator (working version of VisiCalc running in an emulator for today's computers.  Click on big icon at top to start the emulation. The syntax for the spreadsheet works like this:
        • Put a number in a cell: enter a numerical value or formula and <enter>
        • Navigate between cells: Use arrow keys to move to other cells (e.g., arrow-right key)
        • Create formulas: put formulas as follows in cells and then hit <enter> to get results., Examples:
          • addition of value to a cell: 10+A1 <enter>
          • addition of value in two cells: (A1+B1) <enter>
          • multiply values of two cells: (A1*B1) <enter>
      • See also Lotus 1-2-3 (the successor spreadsheet program known as the "killer app" for business): Wikipedia, "Lotus 1-2-3"


Class 17 (W,. May 4) — Neoliberal "Networked Society"

  • William H. Davidow and Michael S. Malone, The Virtual Corporation (1992), pp. 1-19, 50-72, 184-205, 214-16 Course Reader 
  • Wendy Brown interviewed by Timothy Shenck, "What Exactly is Neoliberalism?" (2015)
  • Manuel Castells, "Materials for an Exploratory Theory of the Network Society" (2000) PDF (read only the abstract and the two sections titled "The Network Society: An Overview" and "Social Structure and Social Morphology: From Networks to Information Networks" on the pages numbered 9-17)

Assignment due in lecture in Class 17: Essay 2 on Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49


Class 18 (F., May 6) — Against All the Above


 Week 7

Class 19 (M., May 9) — [Colloquium Class]

  • Discussion with the professor.




Fiction Unit


Class 20 (W., May 11) — Fiction About Postindustrial/Neoliberal Work & Power


Class 21 (F., May 13) — (Continued)

  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984), finish the novel. (Print book) Print book

Assignment due in lecture in class 21: Spreadsheet on Being Human in the Age of Knowledge Work


 Week 8

Class 22 (M., May 16) — (Continued) + M. D. Coverley's Spreadsheet Fiction

  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984). Conclusion of professor's lecture on the novel.
  • M.D. Coverley (Marjorie Luesebrink), Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions (behind-the-scenes look at a collection of in-progress works of electronic-literature fiction in spreadsheet form by special permission for English 25. Included here for English 25 students are samples from two of the individual works in the collection: Tin Towns and The Good Fortune Land. While these can only be seen in early, partial, and fragmentary form at present, they suggest how an author can experiment with spreadsheets as a form of storytelling.) 
    • Artist's Statement  (Description of Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions, its interface, the history that the works in the collection deal with, and representative downloadable Excel spreadsheets. The artist's statement describes two of the works in the collection in particular: Tin Towns and The Good Fortune Land. Please read the statement to get an overall sense of what the author is trying to do. Think creatively of suggestions for the author about how best to tell stories and historical fiction using spreadsheets. We will gather student suggestions in the section meetings to pass on to the author, who has agreed to respond to the class.)  PDF
    • Selected pages and spreadsheets from Tin Towns and The Good Fortune Land in browseable Web-page form


Class 23 (W., May 18) — (Continued): From Cyberpunk to Electronic Literature

  • M.D. Coverley (Marjorie Luesebrink), Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions 
  • Comparison of how Gibson's Neuromancer and Coverley's Tin Towns.
  • [If time allows: discussion with professor of the concept of Tin Towns]


4. Processing Literature

      Information's Impact on the Way We Study Literature


Class 24 (F., May 20) — What is Text in the Digital Age? (The Logic of Text Encoding)

Assignment due in lecture in Class 24: Essay 3 on Being Human in the Age of Knowledge Work


 Week 9

Assignment due in section this week: Text Analysis Exercise & Short Commentary

Class 25 (M., May 23) — Text Analysis and Literature


Class 26 (W., May 25) — Topic Modeling and Literature


Class 27 (F., May 27) — Social Network Analysis and Literature


 Week 10

[M., May 30 — No Class (Campus Holiday)]


Class 28 (W., June 1) — Spatial Analysis (Mapping) and Literature

  • Ian Gregory & David Cooper, "Geographical Technologies and the Interdisciplinary Study of Peoples and Cultures of the Past" (2013) PDF
    [paywalled; UCSB students have free access through campus network or off-campus through UCSB Library Proxy server]
  • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005), pp. 35-64 (print book; please purchase)
  • Barbara Piatte, et al., "Mapping Literature: Towards a Geography of Fiction" (2009) PDF
  • Neatline
    • About the Neatline platform
    • Examples of Neatline projects:
      • Kurt Jenseon, A Sentimental Journey ("In this exhibit, University of Virginia undergraduate Kurt Jensen uses Neatline to spatially and temporally visualize the travels of Yorick in Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. In doing so, he draws attention to the ambiguous relation between the narrative and the actual course of travel.")
      • "I am It, and It is I": Lovecraft in Providence ("This exhibit, by a University of Virginia undergraduate, connects short passages from the private letters of 20th-century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft with the geography of his home city, Providence, Rhode Island. Paul Mawyer uses Neatline to explore the ways in which Providence appears in and influences the writing of a man whose tombstone reads, "I am Providence.")


Class 29 (F., June 3) — Conclusion: What Is Literature For in the Information Age? /
     What Is Information For in Literature?

  • Discussion with the professor. This "Colloquium Class" will use as a thought-prompt the ideas of "deformance" and "glitch" in the literary/artistic use of information technology.


(W., June 8, 4-4:50 pm) — Final Exam





































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