ENGL 212 is a special topics course on literature and other media. In this case, we will be considering literature and the Internet. Several prominent scholars in the past two decades have explained the significance of the Internet by comparing it to the printing press. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the metal movable-type printing press in the mid-1400s started a Print Revolution that laid a technological foundation for the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, and eventually the rise of the novel. Has the Internet had such a profound impact on literature and culture?
This class will explore that question by considering a number of recent developments related to the Internet and digital technologies. We will discuss novels written on, and intended to be read on, cell phones. We will ask how e-readers have changed reading practices and the experience of literature. We will ask if GIF poems are literary or visual art forms. And we will examine early experiments in digital literature that made use of innovations (such as hypertext) that have since become essential to the Internet. Students will write critical and creative reading responses on our course blog in addition to participating in class discussion.