English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Information Society

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2019 Hinojosa, Bernardo S.
MWF 1-2 41 Evans

Book List

Cline, Ernest: Ready Player One; Gleick, James: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be posted on bCourses. We will also watch television episodes (Black Mirror, Silicon Valley) and films (Her, The Truman Show).


What is an information society? How do we read and think in a world of information? Numerous publications in recent years, both inside and outside the academy, have identified the late twentieth and twenty-first centures as an age of information, an age in which digital technologies have drastically increased the availability and accessibility of textual and non-textual content. The internet has revolutionized pretty much every aspect of everyday life, from shopping to dating. The ubiquity of mobile technologies has made entire libraries fit inside a user's pocket. These new technologies have deep-rooted cultural, social, and ethical implications, and it is precisely these implications that this class explores. What do internet phenomena such as "Twitch Plays Pokémon" and Reddit's "Mildly Interesting" tell us about the formation of digital communities? What are the ethical implications of data science and machine learning? How can digital technologies both bolster and resist structures of sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia in our society?

In this class, we will discuss what "information" is and what it means to live in an "information society." In order to do so, we will also read and analyze examples of some of the major genres of the information age (the listicle, the meme, the thinkpiece, the tweet, the fake news article, among others) alongside works of fiction that explore these issues. Throughout the class, we will also compare our own digital age to other milestone moments in the history of information: the popularization of the codex in late antiquity, the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, and the development of telecommunications in the nineteenth century.

In addition to engaging in critical reading and thinking, in this class you will also develop your critical writing skills by producing a number of short written assignments culminating in an academic research paper. Indeed, the issues we discuss and read about will serve as topics, prompts, and starting points for you to plan, research, write, and edit your own work.

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