Literature as Media: How Texts Matter
CL48G.01 Literature as Media: How Texts Matter
Class Time: M 10-11:00 (JF101); W 13-15:00 (NH202)
Office Hours (TB 440): By appointment
W 11-12:00 and 15-16:00
From magic spells and blue jackets to Martians and green rabbits, this course offers students of literature an introduction to some central concerns in Media Studies and their application to literary criticism and the study of literary works. Following Marshall McLuhan’s now-famous maxim that “the medium is the message,” we will shift our focus from what a literary work means to how a medium expands and limits the possibilities of meaning. This course is structured around four components: 1) central concepts in media studies, 2) media analyses of literary works, 3) reflection projects for experimenting with various media modalities, 4) a final paper where students can explore a literary work through the lens of media.
Students are expected to attend each class having read both theoretical and literary works, as well as participate in “reflection projects” where we will experiment with various media by which literary works are created and consumed. In addition to following a roughly historical path, the semester will be structured around key concepts in media studies. We will apply these concepts to both familiar and unfamiliar forms of “literature” to both evaluate their usefulness and foreground the material or object-quality of literary creations. There will be quizams (short exams or long quizzes) at the end of each unit as well as a final paper due at the end of the semester.
Reflections (4) 20%
Quizams (3) 30%
Final Paper 40% (Proposal & Bibliography, First Draft, Final Draft)
AA 100-90: Exceeded course expectations and offered an outstanding performance in class participation, quizams, writing, and other assignments.
BA 89-85: All course expectations were met with an excellent performance in class participation, quizams, writing, and other assignments.
BB 84-80: Very good performance. Most course expectations were met with above average performance in class participation, quizams, writing, and other assignments.
CB 79-75: Good performance: Most course expectations were met with above average performance in class, quizams, writing, and other assignments.
CC 74-70: Average performance. Some course requirements were not met and student performance in class, quizams, writing, and other assignments was neither remarkable nor inadequate.
DC 69-65: Inadequate performance. Many course requirements were not met and student offered a below average performance in class, quizams, writing, and other assignments.
DD 64-60: Inadequate performance. Most course requirements were not met. Performance in class, quizams, writing, and other assignments barely merited a passing grade.
FF 59-0: Fail.
In order to participate, your body needs to be present in class; therefore, full attendance is expected. Those who do not attend 75% of the class will not be allowed to submit a final paper. Please see me if you are experiencing trouble in this regard. Accommodations will be made for all properly documented illness or disabilities (See your doctor and bring a note).
Academic Integrity (Plagiarism)
I expect all submitted work to be solely your own. In the event that you use someone else’s ideas or information, or if you use wording that is not your own, you MUST provide a citation with a consistent style (MLA, Chicago, etc.). Representing someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism and is a breach of academic integrity. (When in doubt, cite!) Plagiarism will automatically receive an F on the assignment. Depending on the severity, student may possibly fail the course. Repeat offenders will be referred to the department and faculty disciplinary committees.
Week 1 Re/Dis-orientation: Media Studies and Literature
Sept 24 Introduction and syllabus
Sept 26 Key concepts and terms
Critical Terms for Media Studies, edited by W.J.T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen, The University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Section I: Concepts and Methods
Week 2 Media Studies Methods
Key Concepts & Terms: Effect, Material, Bodies, Metaphor
Oct 1 Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message” from Understanding Media, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964/1994. pp. 7-22.
Oct 3 McLuhan cont.
Key terms and concepts (cont.)
Reflection 1: Media at Hand, Eye, Ear…
Janine Marchessault, Marshall McLuhan: Cosmic Media. London: Sage, 2005.
Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Foire, The Medium is the Massage. Corte Madera: Ginko Press, 1967.
Week 3 Re-Media-ting Cultural Objects
Key Concepts & Terms: Culture, Semiotics, Discourse, Object/Artefact
Oct 8 Stuart Hall, Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. London: Sage Publications, 1997, 8-40
Oct 10 Stuart Hall, (cont.)
Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg, “Cultural Studies: An Introduction,” in Cultural Studies, edited by Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg, (New York: Routledge, 1992), 1-23.
Section II: Prior to 1450
Week 4 The Spoken World
Key Concepts & Terms: Orality, Colonialism, Categorization
Oct 15 Marshall Poe, “Homo Loquens” from A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011: 26-60.
Oct 17 “Genesis,” from The Bible (NIV)
Reflection 2: Re-media-tion
Plato, Phaedrus. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html
Marshall McLuhan, “The Spoken Word, The Written Word, Paper Routes,” Understanding Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964/1994, 77-106
Francis Yates, The Art of Memory. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1966.
Walter Ong, “Transformations of the Word and Alienation,” in Interfaces of the Word (Ithaca: Cornell, 1977); Walter Ong, “Some Psychodynamics of Orality,” Orality and Literacy. New York: Routledge, 1982, 31-36.
Week 5 Writing: The Graphic World
Key Concepts & Terms: Technology, Memory, Representation
Oct 22 Walter Ong, “Writing Restructures Consciousness,” from Orality and Literacy. New York: Routledge, 1982, 77-101.
Oct 23 Walter Ong (cont.)
Anonymous, Merseburg Incantations (9-11th centuries)
Esther Inglis, A New Yeeres Guift, 1606.
Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology. trans James Stallybrass. Vol. 3, London: George Bell, 1883, 1223-1249.
Marshall Poe, “Homo Scriptor,” from A History of Communications: media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 61-101.
Tjan-Bakker, Anneke. "Dame Flora's Blossoms: Esther Inglis's Flower-Illustrated
Manuscripts." English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700. Eds. Peter Beal and Mararet Ezell. Vol. 9. London: British Library. 2000.
Georgianna Ziegler, “Hand-Ma[i]de Books: The Manuscripts of Esther Inglis, Early-Modern Precursors of the Artists' Book.” English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700. Eds. Peter Beal, and Mararet Ezell. Vol. 9. London: British Library. 2000.
Oct 29 (Republic Day) No Class
Oct 31 TBA
Section III: 1500-1900
Week 7 Coordinating Sight and Sound
Key Concepts & Terms: Hybridity, Visuality, Convergence
Nov 5 Bruno Latour, “Visualizing Cognition: Drawing Things Together.” Knowledge and Society: Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present 6 (1988),1-40.
Nov 8 George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes, Both Ancient and Modern (1635)
Proposal & Bibliography Due
Samuel Edgerton, The Renaissance Rediscovery of linear Perspective. New York: Basic Books, 1976.
Samuel Edgerton, The Mirror, the Window, and the Telescope: How Renaissance Linear Perspective Changed our Vision of the Universe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009.
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.
Week 8 The Novel, or Longing Eyes
Key Concepts & Terms: Author, Mechanical Media, Public, Narrative
Nov 12 Goethe, Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Nov 14 Goethe, Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Refection 3 Object as Archive (Revised Proposal)
Martin Swales, Goethe: The Sorrows of Young Werther. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Friedrich Kittler, “The Mother’s Mouth,” Discourse Networks 1800-1900. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 25-70.
Week 9 The Novel (cont.)
Key Concepts & Terms: Imagination, Psychology (Psychoanalysis)
Nov 19 Goethe, Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Nov 21 Goethe, Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
Quizam 2/Reflection 4
Friedrich Kittler, “Authorship and Love,” Theory, Culture, and Society, 2015; Vol 32 (3) 15-47.
Hawton K, Williams K. “Influences of the media on suicide: Researchers, policy makers, and media personnel need to collaborate on guidelines.” BMJ: British Medical Journal. 2002; 325 (7377): 1374-1375. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124845/
Section IV: 1850-Present
Week 10 Serial Novels, or Impossible Imaginations
Key Concepts & Terms: Psychology, Broadcast media, Media Archeology
Nov 26 H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds. London: Pearson’s Magazine, April-December, 1897.
Nov 28 H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds (cont.)
First Draft Due
Linley, Margaret, Media, Technology, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century. London: Routledge, 2011. (Copy available at the BU Library)
Marshall McLuhan, “The Phonograph, Radio, Movies, and Television,” from Understanding Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964/1994, 275-337.
Brian Winston, Media, Technology, and Society: A History from the Telegraph to the Internet. New York: Routledge, 1-88.
Week 11 Serial Novels (cont.)
Key Concepts & Terms: Secondary Orality, Nationalism, Popular Culture
Dec 3 H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds (cont.)
Dec 5 H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds (cont.)
Reflection 4 Presenting the Past
Susan Bernstein, Julia Chavez, “Serialization” In Oxford Bibliographies, 2013. http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199799558/obo-9780199799558-0122.xml
Friedrich Kittler, “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter.” Trans. Dorothea von Mücke and Philippe L. Similon. October, Vol. 41. (Summer, 1987), 101-118.
Week 12 Electronic Literature, or Tickling the Archive
Key Concepts & Terms: Code, Media (Analogue vs. Digital), Archive
Dec 10 Will Crowther, Colossal Cave Adventure, 1976.
Dec 12 Hayles, “Print is Flat, Code is Deep.” Poetics Today 2004, 25:1.
Quizam 3/First Draft
Jussi Parikka, What is Media Archeology? Cambridge: Polity, 2012.
Week 13 Bio Literature, or Green Bunnies
Key Concepts & Terms: Biomedia, and everything else
Dec 17 Eduardo Kac, “Genesis” and “Alba”
Dec 19 Wrapping up
Eugene Thacker. “What is Biomedia?” Configurations 2003, 11: 47-49.
Eduardo Kac. Media Poetry: An International Anthology. Bristol: Intellect, 2007.
Final Paper Submission: Dec. 28