English 165

Special Topics: Literature and Media Theory

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2018 Langan, Celeste
TTh 9:30-11 note new location: 225 Dwinelle


This course will consider literature in relation to media theory.  Is literature made obsolete by new media?  What happens when we consider print literature in relation to other “distressed” media, from black-and-white photography to silent film to analog recording?  What happens to the concept of authenticity in the digital age? How does print differ from “code” as a “general medium” of sensory forms—sight, sound, touch? What do we value about “virtual” reality? Using Marshall McLuhan’s claim that “the content of one medium is always another medium” as a guiding concept, we will try to assess the impact of other media, especially photography, film, and recorded sound, on literature’s function and value.  Our particular interest will be in the status of the “document”—an historical or fictional piece of evidence that is somehow presented, represented, or mediated by the art form (or “platform”) in question.  We’ll compare  “documents” (including reported and recorded speech) as they are mediated in both 19th- and late 20th-century literary forms.  One question that may emerge, as we consider the history of mediation from Dracula to Danielewski’s House of Leaves, is why mediation is so often registered an occult or gothic phenomenon.  Students will be responsible for weekly discussion posts on the reading and two critical projects (one of which needs to be in print form!).

Texts will include:  Beckett, S.: Krapp's Last Tape; Danielewski, M., House of Leaves; Johnson, R.: RADI OS; Mann, E., Four Plays; Stoker, B.: Dracula; Williams, W.C.: Paterson; Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads. Secondary reading: Bolter and Grusin: Remediations; Hansen, M., ed., Critical Terms for Media Studies Kittler, F.: Gramophone Film Typewriter; McLuhan, M.: Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List