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English 25,"Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions" (Spring 2019)


Print book = required print book    Course Reader = required course reader
All other readings are online on Web sites or as downloadable PDFs PDF
If any links to online readings break, please try their URLs in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (and notify the instructor). 
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.


Class 1 (M., April 1) — Introduction

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


1. Overture: Literature Across Media, Communication, & Information Ages


 Week 1


Class 2 (W., April 3) — The Idea of Media


Class 3 (F., April 5) — From Oral to Writing Media


 Week 2

Assignment due in section this week: "Create your system for working with online readings" Special early assignment due in section meeting this week: Create your online reading 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 4 (M., April 8) — (Continued)

  • [Continued from previous class]


Class 5 (W., April 10) — "Close Reading" (Past and Present) 


Class 6 (F., April 12) — "Distracted" & "Distant" Reading in the Information Age


 Week 3


Class 7 (M., April 15) — Reading, Continued: "Strange Books" 



2. The Modern Media/Communication/Information Age


Class 8 (W., April 17) — The Communications Revolution & the Digital Principle


Class 9 (F., April 19) — Computer Revolution (1): History of the Computer

  • Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (1945) (read the editor's introduction, and then sections 1, 6-8 of Bush's article)
  • Paul E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing (2003), pp. 13-36, 44-45 PDF
  • Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine (1996), pp. 233-58Course Reader


 Week 4


Class 10 (M., April 22) — Computer Revolution (2): Rise of the Network


Class 11 (W., April 24) — Computer Revolution (3): Emergence of Digital "New Media"



Fiction Unit


Class 12 (F., April 26) — Fiction and Modern 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. April 29) — (Continued)

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


Class 14 (W., May 1) — (Continued)

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


Class 15 (F., May 3) — (Continued)

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


 Week 6


Class 16 (M., May 6) — [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. (No blue books needed for exam.)


3. The Postindustrial & Neoliberal Age

      Information's Impact on Work and Power


Class 17 (W., May 8) — Postindustrial "Knowledge Work"

  • "Scientific Management" (The Original "Smart Work")
  • "Knowledge Work" (Today's Smart Work)
    • 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


Class 18 (F,. May 10) — Neoliberal "Networked Society"

  • William H. Davidow and Michael S. Malone, The Virtual Corporation (1992), pp. 1-19, 50-66, 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)


 Week 7


Class 19 (M., May 13) — Against All the Above

 Assignment due in lecture in Class 19: Essay 2 on Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49


Class 20 (W., May 15) — (Continued)

  • Donna J. Haraway, Excerpts from "A Cyborg Manifesto" (1985), chapter 8 in her book Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991)  PDF  -- The PDF contains the whole book. Read only following excerpts from the "A Cyborg Manifesto" chapter in the book:
    • pp. 149-155
    • pp. 161-165
    • pp. 170-173
    • p. 181 
  • Continuation of above lectures, plus discussion with the professor.




Fiction Unit


Class 21 (F., May 17) — Fiction About Postindustrial/Neoliberal Work & Power

  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984), read half the novel by this class (Print book; available at UCEN Bookstore and elsewhere) Print book


 Week 8


Class 22 (M., May 20) — (Continued)

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


Class 23 (W., May 22) — (Continued)

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

Assignment due in lecture in class 23: Spreadsheet on Being Human in the Age of Knowledge Work


Class 24 (F., May 24) — (Continued)

  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984), finish the novel. (Print book) Print book -- Conclusion of professor's lecture on the novel.


 Week 9


[M., May 27 — No Class (Memorial Day Campus Holiday)] 


4. Processing Literature

      Information's Impact on the Way We Study Literature


Class 25 (W., May 29) — What is Text in the Digital Age?

Assignment due in lecture in Class 25: Essay 3 on Being Human in the Age of Knowledge Work


Class 26 (F., May 31) — Text Analysis and Literature


 Week 10

Assignment due by email to your TA 24 hours in advance of  section this last week of course: Text Analysis Exercise & Short Commentary

Class 27 (M., June 3) — Topic Modeling and Literature


Class 28 (W, June 5) — Social Network Analysis and Literature


Class 29 (F., June 7) — Conclusion: What Is Literature For in the Information Age? /
     What Is Information For in Literature?

  • The thought-prompts for this concluding lecture are the ideas of "deformance" and "glitch" in the literary/artistic use of information technology.



(M., June 10, 4-4:50 pm) — Final Exam






































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