DH Undergraduate course for Spring, 2017: Technology, Text and Textuality (ENGL 310)
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Advanced Writing (ENGL 310)
Technology, Text and Textuality
Section: 18W #5853
Instructor: E. Hopwood
3.0 credit hours Lecture
TR 2:30 – 3:45 PM LSC
Can you name a technological device that has drawn criticism for its tendency to captivate users? One that is used excessively and obsessively, to the extent that users, so entranced with their devices, walk into walls and ignore their companions? Today we might all knowingly shout, “the iPhone!” But in the nineteenth century, well before the invention of smart phones and tablets, another tool garnered similar negative response: the kaleidoscope. For Victorians, the kaleidoscope was both a technological innovation and cultural artifact that, much like the iPhone, was both admired and admonished in its historical moment. What’s the relationship between these, and other, tools of communication? What do they reveal about cultural formations, social interactions, and power relations? How has writing and communication been shaped through past and present technological innovations? This course situates students to critical understandings of how texts are made and mediated through technology, editing, and interface. Students will study the material and historical conditions of text—from manuscript and print to the digitized to born-digital—in order to understand the many “lives” that texts have lived. Students will practice modes of writing across new media and “old” mediums in order to draw connections between historical moments of print culture with those of contemporary technological advancement, considering, for instance, the many ways that technology has shaped the way we read and interpret (and, indeed, are ourselves read and interpreted).
This class will be structured with both discussion and hands-on activities where students can apply their scholarly interests to the tinkering, making, building, or experiencing of texts. Classes will be supplemented with experiential learning “labs” such as visits to archives or hands-on coding work. Assignments will include reading responses, “lab” write-ups of our fieldwork, and a final “Unessay” assignment. Students will gain an understanding of the principles involved in writing clear and effective prose in an emerging digital environment, across both scholarly and popular genres.