This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

ENGL 13186-15: Digital Literatures

Instructor: Matthew Kilbane

From the invention of writing to the arrival of that momentous literary gadget, the printed book, and through all the book’s subsequent iterations and updates, new technologies for reading and writing have always shaped the material possibilities for literary production. For the last fifty years, the next frontiers of literary technology have been digital in nature. This course examines how digital machines and digital cultures have conditioned both the everyday infrastructures of literature (word processing, e-reading, Amazon, social media) and the material horizons of literary experiment (hypertext, net art, virtual reality, AI). Attending closely to literary works in print and on screens, we’ll study the technical and social transformations wrought upon literature by new media, asking too how imaginative writing can help us understand the effects of digital machines on the ways we live, learn, and love now. Students will also be invited to scrutinize their own variously digital habits of reading and writing, since we will take as our subjects of inquiry not only the artworks and techniques of literary writers, but our own Kindles and iPads, our social media accounts, and our personal hopes and anxieties about the future of literature—and perhaps the future of democratic governance and collective life more generally—in the digital age. Assignments will include argumentative analyses, an extended research project, and some digitally creative writing of our own.