Syllabus for English 190 (section 5) Hypertext and Literary Theory

Professor Landow (office: 338 Carr House; e-mail:; office hours: 1.00-1:50, Monday and Wednesday. Class meets in the Carr House 130 2:00-2:50 AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with an occasional hypertext lab in the Grad Center Multimedia Lab Wednesdays, 7:00-10:00 PM.

Note: Check this on-line reading list at the beginning of each week since assignments may change or be reordered.

Classweb: Cyberspace, Hypertext and Critical Theory

Weeks 1 and 2. 22 through 31 January. Digital Textuality and Digital Images. (1) some preliminary definitions; (2) digital vs. analogue media; (3) electronic and print

Reading: Jason Williams, Zoe (Director); Macromedia Director Webs from RISD: Checker, Dadagian, Fung, and other projects. Begin exploring the hypertext and related sections of the Cyberspace and Critical Theory Web as well as other World Wide Web resources. Take a look at Christy Sheffield Sanford's Safara in the Beginning. Class lectures: What is a "medium? What are "media"?

Recommended additional reading : William Mitchell, City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn; Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital.

Week 3. 3-7 February. Hypertext: an Introduction

(1) hypertext systems; (2) Convergences -- Derrida, Bakhtin, Barthes.

Reading: (1) Landow, Hypertext 2.0, chapter 1. The place of hypertext in the history of textuality; or textuality and technology. (2) Bush, "As We May Think;" (3) Peter Brusilovsky and Riccardo Rizzo, "Map-Based Horizontal Navigation in Educational Hypertext;" (4) Adelman and Kahn's animation of the Memex. Lecture.

Recommended additional reading: Ong, Orality and Literacy [R], McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy [R].

Week 4: 10-14 February. A Quick History of Critical Theory from the Ancients to the Present, with an emphasis upon Structuralism and Poststructuralism; an introduction to Storyspace.

Reading: Landow, Hypertext 2.0, chapters 1.1 and all of 2. Multimedia and hypertext projects: Steve Cook, Writing as Virus: Hypertext as Meme; Pearl Maria Forss, Authorship; Wee Liang Meng, What is An Author?

Reading: Begin reading Barthes, S/Z; Hypertext 2.0, chapters 2-4.

Week 5. 17-21 February. An introduction to HTML

Reading: Mahasukho Halo, In Small and Large Pieces. Assignment: Using the on-line directions, produce and e-mail to me two html documents containing one or more links.

Week 6. 24-28 February. The Act of Reading, Active Reading.

Reading: Barthes, S/Z; Adam Wenger, Adam's Bookstore; Intergrams. We'll spend half of each class on html and Storyspace and half on Barthes.

Week 7. 3-7 March. (1) Bakhtin, Theorist of Multivocality and the Open Text (2) Storyspace.

Reading-- Bakhtinian fiction: David Yun's Subway Story; Robert Kendall, A Life Set for Two (Windows only).

Suggested Reading: Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics [R], xxxi-ix, 5-46, and The Dialogic Imagination [R], "Introduction," 3-83, 259-422.

Week 8. 10-14 March. Reconfiguring Writing: the Rhetoric of Hypermedia, and Writing with Images

Reading: Landow, "Reconfiguring Writing" (Chapter 5 in Hypertext 2.0); Jane Park, Food for Thought; "Growing up Digerate" and Leni Zumas'a Semio-Surf in Cyberspace web. Chapter by Ulmer in Hyper/Text/Theory.

Recommended additional reading: Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen, Imagologies: Media Philosophy.

Friday 14 March: Midterm assignment due.

The midterm project consists of two related exercises and involves creating (1) a substantial Storyspace web that explicates, challenges, critiques, or in some way relates to the theory of Derrida and at least one of the other theorists we have read. It may take the form of nonfiction, fiction, or a combination of the two; (2) an html version of your Storyspace web.

Week 9. 17-21 March. Hypertext as lens, or using (the experience of reading with) hypertext to read print (I): Calvino

Reading: Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler . . ..

Week 10. Spring recess: 22-30 March.

Week 11. 31 March-4 April. Hypertext as lens, or using (the experience of reading with) hypertext to read print (II): Tennyson

Tennyson, In Memoriam; In Memoriam web (Storyspace).

Week 12. 7-11 April. Hypertext Fiction

Reading: Michael Joyce, Afternoon; Landow, Hypertext 2.0, chapter 6. "Reconfiguring Narrative;" chapters by Liestøland Douglas in Landow, Hyper/Text/Theory.

Week 13. 14-18 April. Hypertext Fiction

Reading Jackson, Patchwork Girl; Tom McHarg, Ultramondane; Judd Morrisey and Lori Talley, My Name is Captain, Captain. Sections on Patchwork Girl in the class web.

Week 14. 21-26 April. Expansion week.

3-5 May: Reading period

Final project due can be scholarly, critical, theoretical, creative, experimental, or all of the preceeding and must investigate some aspect of a major theorist or theoretical issue in relation to hypertext. This project might take the form of a demonstration of the ways hypertext illuminates theory. Conversely, it might show how theory illuminates this new information technology or the new textuality that it produces.

Anyone wanting to create a final project involving either of the academic websites Prof. landow manages -- the Victorian and Postcolonial Webs should see him early enough to begin such a project.

Related Resources

Some Websites of Interest

Available from Brown bookstore

Cyberspace Web Hypertext