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English 25,"Literature and the Information, Media, and Communication Revolutions" (Spring 2017)


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., Apr. 3) — Introduction

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


1. Overture: Literature Across Media Ages


Class 2 (W., Apr. 5) — The Idea of Media


Class 3 (F. Apr. 7 ) — 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. 10) — (Continued)

  • 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. 12) — "Close Reading" (Past and Present)


Class 6 (F., Apr. 14) — "Distracted Reading" and "Distant Reading" in the Information Age


 Week 3

Class 7 (M., Apr. 17) — (Continued)



2. The Communication/Information Age

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


Class 8 (W., Apr. 19) — The Communications Revolution & the Digital Principle


Class 9 (F., Apr. 21) — The 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., Apr. 24) — The Computer Revolution (2): Rise of the Network


Class 11 (W., Apr. 26) — The Computer Revolution (3): The Emergence of Digital "New Media"



Fiction Unit


Class 12 (F., Apr. 28) — 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,. May 1) — (Continued)

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


Class 14 (W., May 3) — (Continued)

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


Class 15 (F., May 5) — [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 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 17 (W,. 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)

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


Class 18 (F., May 12) — Against All the Above


 Week 7

Class 19 (M., May 15) — (Continued)

  • Continuation of above lectures, plus discussion with the professor.




Fiction Unit


Class 20 (W., 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


Class 21 (F., May 19) — (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 22) — (Continued)

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


Class 23 (W., May 24) — (Continued)

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


4. Processing Literature

      Information's Impact on the Way We Study Literature


Class 24 (F., May 26) — 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


[M., May 29 — No Class (Campus Holiday)] 


Class 25 (W., May 31) — Text Analysis and Literature


Class 26 F., June 2) — Topic Modeling and Literature


 Week 10


Class 27 (M, June 5) — Social Network Analysis and Literature


Class 28 (W., June 7) — Spatial Analysis (Mapping) and Literature


Class 29 (F., June 9) — 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 14, 4-4:50 pm) — Final Exam






































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