Syllabus for English 111 Cyberspace, Virtual Reality, and Critical Theory, Spring 1998

Professor Landow (office: 209 Horace-Mann); office hours: 11-12, 2.00-3:00, Mondays, Wednesdays; Class meets 1:00-1:50 PM, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with a lab in 265 CIT Wednesdays or a screening in the Multimedia Cluster 7:00-10:00 PM

Contributions to the Cyberspace Web by members of the 1996 and 1998 classes.

Part One. Cyberspace. Cyberpunk, and Simulated Worlds

Weeks 1 (21 and 23 January). The Foundations of VR.

(1) digital vs. analogue media; (2) electronic and print reading: William Mitchell, City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn. Explore World Wide Web version of Mitchell. Student commentary miniweb on Mitchell. Landow, Hypertext 2.0, 20-29, 269-89.

Recommended additional reading: Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital Lab/screening: none.

Week 2 and 3 (26 January through 7 February). Gibsonian Cyberspace & Cyberpunk Sci Fi:

The Neuromancer Trilogy; Michael Heim, "The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace," in Benedikt; Andrew Ross, "Cyberpunk in Boystown," in Strange Weather. Take a look at relevant sections of Chris Hables Gray's Cyborg Handbook, especially essays in Parts 2 and 4. Lab/screening: 265 CIT -- introduction to html and continuing discussion of Mitchell. Discussion questions on Gibson due Thursday the 29th at 6 PM (deadline now two days later).

Recommended additional reading: nonfiction section in McCaffrey, Storming the Reality Studio.

[Directions for using Storyspace during lab Wednesday evening.]

Week 4 (9-13 February). Simulation.

Reading: Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation.Mobius Baudrillard Fiks, The Simulation Web (Storyspace). Discussion questions on Baudrillard due 6 PM Sunday, 8 February. [Follow for resulting discussions of Baudrillard by members of English 111.] Lab/screening: Wednesday, 8-9PM in classroom: Ghost in the Shell; 9-1PM in MML: scanning and Photoshop.

(Long weekend: 14-17 February)

Week 5 (18-20 February). Cyberspace and VR.

Cyberspace. ed. Michael Benedikt, especially essays by the editor, Stone, Novak, Bricken. Lab/screening: to be announced. Now that Benedikt has gone out of print and the Rock has but a single copy, we'll have to loosen up the reading assignment. Try to read Benedikt on reserve or in the extra copy I'll lend, and then read the following essays on David Rodowick's Rochester site: reading listed under his (1) week 8 and (2) week 12.

Week 6 (23-27 February). Avatar -- Cyborg Self, Simulations of Self:

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash -- Discussion questions on Snow Crash due 6 PM Sunday, 22 February; No Lab/screening this week.

Recommended additional reading: Mark Poster, Postmodern Virtualities; Final Amputations: Pathogenic Ontology in Cyberspace.

Part Two. Cyborg Bodies, Virtual Bodies

Week 7 (2-6 March) Cyborg-Feminists and Writing the Body.

Reading: Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women; Anne Pycha, Bodily Writing. (Storyspace Web); Cyborg Handbook, Parts 5 and 6. Discussion questions on Haraway due 6 PM Sunday 1 March. Instead of Lab: attend (1) Jim Rosenberg, "Hypertext Into the Sentence: Work in Progress" at STG, 5:30 PM, and (2) John Pearson, Grant Recital Hall, 8 PM.

Friday, 6 March, Midterm assignment due

Week 8 (9-13 March) Cyborg Academic Discourse

(1) Diane Greco, The Cyborg Web, (2) David Kolb, "Socrates in the Labrinth" and Greg Ulmer, "The Mirandas Warnings," both in Landow, Hyper/Text/Theory (reserve). (3) Semio-Surf. [In-class screening of Max Headroom this or next week.]

Lab/screening: Performance of last fall's final web and other hypertext projects: Swig Board Room, CIT, Thursday evening, 7-9 PM.

Week 9 (16-20 March). Cyborgs in Film and Anime:

Max Headroom (commercial website), Bladerunner (Stanford U. website).

Lab/screening: Bladerunner and Bubble Gum Crisis. Discussion questions due 6 PM Sunday, 15 March.

Part Three. Virtual Worlds/Virtual Politics/Virtual Narratives

Week 10. (23-27 March) Hypertext and Reconfiguring Narrative.

Landow, Hypertext 2.0.

Lab/screening: Midterm Projects.

Week 11 (30 March - 3 April). Cyborg Fiction.

Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl and My Body. Mini-essays on either of Jackson's webs due 6 PM Tuesday, 2 April.

Week 12 (6-10 April). Cyborg Subjects (Pun Intended).

(1) Rudy Rucker, Software, Wetware, and Freeware, (2) Freak Show. Discussion questions on Rucker due 6 PM Tuesday, 7 April.

Lab/screening: Freak Show.

Week 13 (13-17 April) Virtual Narrativity and Bolting it All Together.

(1) Exploring David Rodowick's Digital Culture website at Rochester. for material for your final projects; (2) Writing at the Edge, Hypertext as Collage, and other Webs; (3) Amerika/Meyer, GRAMMATRON; (4) Stuart Moulthrop, Tangled Web: Hypertext and Its Histories

Supplemental Reading: (1) McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy; (2) Crary, Incorporations; (3) Kroker & Weinstein, Data Trash: The Theory of the Virtual Class; (4) Moulthrop, Hegirascope

Assigned readings and viewings

Baudrillard. Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. U of Michigan Press.
Blade Runner
Bubble Gum Crisis
Cyberspace. ed. Michael Benedikt. MIT Press.
William Gibson, Count Zero. Ace Books.
_____. Mona Lisa Overdrive. Ace Books.
_____. Neuromancer. Ace Books.
Chris Hables Gray, Cyborg Handbook (Rourtledge, 1995).
Diane Greco, The Cyborg Web
Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. Routledge.
Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
George P. Landow, Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1992)
Max Headroom
William J. Mitchell, City of Bits, MIT Press
Rudy Rucker, Software, Wetware, and Freeware. Avon.
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash. Bantam/Spectra.

Materials added to Reserve List for 111-112

Storming the Reality Studio edited by Larry McCaffery PS 374.s35 s76 1991
Terminal Identity by Scott Bukatman PS 374.s35 B84 1993
Empire of the Senseless by Kathy Acker PS 3551.C44 E47 1988
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester PS 3552. U6856 N6
Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuhan Z 116 .M15
The Soft Machine by David Porush PS 374.C9 P67
Electronic Disturbance by Critical Arts Ensemble HM 221 .E43x 1994
Virtual Community, By Howard Rheingold TK 5105.5 .R44 1993
Incorporations edited by Jonathan Crary CB 478 .I53x 1992
Data Trash: the Theory of the Virtual Class by Arthur Kroker and Michael Weinstein HM221.K735



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