Syllabus for English 112 (section 1) Cyberspace, Virtual Reality, and Critical Theory, Spring 1996

Professor Landow (office: 209 Horace-Mann); office hours: 3.00-4:00, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; 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 class
  • Student Comments on the Course

    Part One. Cyberspace. Cyberpunk, and Simulated Worlds

    Week 1 (24-26 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. Recommended additional reading: Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital Lab/screening: none.

    Week 2 and 3 (29 January through 9 February). Gibsonian Cyberspace & Cyberpunk Sci Fi:

    The Neuomancer Trilogy; Michael Heim, "The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace," in Benedikt; Andrew Ross, "Cyberpunk in Boystown," in Strange Weather. Recommended additional reading: nonfiction section in McCaffrey, Storming the Reality Studio. Lab/screening: (1) introduction to WWW and Alt-X; (2) MOOs.

    Week 4 (12-16 February). Simulation.

    Reading: Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation. Fiks, The Simulation Web; Baudrillard In Cyberspace. [Guest speaker: Professor Todd Winkler, Music Dept., "Interactive Music Systems and the New Controllers," February 14] Lab/screening: to be announced

    Week 5 (19-23 February). Cyberspace and VR.

    Cyberspace. ed. Michael Benedikt, especially essays by the editor, Stone, Novak, Bricken. Lab/screening: to be announced.

    Week 6 (26-30 February). Avatar -- Cyborg Self, Simulations of Self:

    (1) Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash; (2) Mark Poster, Postmodern Virtualities; (3) Final Amputations: Pathogenic Ontology in Cybersapce. Lab/screening: selections from Bubble Gym Crisis (anime).

    Friday, 30 February, Midterm assignment due.

    Part Two. Cyborg Bodies, Virtual Bodies

    Week 7 (4 -8 March): week of 11 March) Cyborg-Feminists and Writing the Body.

    Reading: Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women; Anne Pycha, Bodily Writing. (Storyspace Web). Note: Pong 1996, the electronic arts festival, takes place from Wednesday evening through Saturday. The class will attend Nancy Kaplans's 8 PM lecture-reading in the Piano lounge. In addition, Wednesday class-meeting is canceled, and instead members of the course will attend Stuart Moulthrop's hyperfiction reading 8 PM Thursday (also in the Piano Lounge).

    Week 8 (11-15 March) Cyborg Academic Discourse

    Greco, The Cyborg Web. Lab/screening: Max Headroom.

    Week 9 (18-23 March). Cyborgs in Film and Anime:

    Max Headroom (commercial website), Bladerunner (Stanford U. website) , and Bubble Gum Crisis. Lab/screening: Bladerunner.

    March 17-20 (long weekend)

    Part Three. Virtual Worlds/Virtual Politics/Virtual Narratives

    Week 10. (week of 25 March) Hypertext and Reconfiguring Narrative.

    Landow, Hypertext.

    Week 11 (week of 8 April). Cyborg Fiction.

    Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl Mini-assignment: one or more html pages of commentary on Patchwork Girl.

    Week 12 (week of 15 April). Cyborg Subjects (Pun Intended).

    (1) Rudy Rucker, Live Robots, (2) Freak Show. Supplemental Reading: (1) David Porush, The Soft machine, (2) Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless Lab/screening: Freak Show.

    Week 13 (week of 22 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) SDtuart Moulthrop, Tangled Web: Hypertext and Its HistoriesSupplemental Reading: (1) McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy; (2) Crary, Incorporations; (3) Kroker & Weinstein, Data Trash: The Theory of the Virtual Class; (4) Moulthrop, Hegirascope

    [Reading period April 26-May 7]

    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.
    Diane Greco, The Cyborg Web
    Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. Routledge.
    Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
    George P. Landow, Hypertext: 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, Live Robots 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