Theories of Text & Technology Syllabus

Theories of Text & Technology Syllabus

This spring, I’m co-teaching the Theories of Text & Technology graduate course in University of Central Florida’s Text & Technology PhD program with Dr. Mel Stanfill. Co-teaching is always an exciting opportunity to combine theoretical approaches and perspectives into the making of a syllabus, and I’m really looking forward to this one. Here’s our plan for the semester:

T&T Theory Course description

We will examine how theoretical discourse has evolved through shifting technological platforms, with particular attention to the challenges software, code, and networks present to our understanding of texts. We will engage with examples of complex procedural works ranging from video games to electronic literature and social media. Each of these new platforms challenges our understanding of knowledge and how knowledge is circulated, curated, and redefined in a web-centric culture.

Throughout the course, students will engage with current book-length scholarship on a variety of digital media subjects using a range of methodologies. Students will develop their skills at framing long-form scholarly objects in preparation for their dissertation projects.

Course Goals

  • To learn how to read theoretical works and incorporate theory in your own writing.
  • To enter and understand both “classic” theorists and the changing theoretical discourse surrounding evolving platforms, and engage with the interdisciplinary skillset required to make a meaningful study of technology.
  • To write persuasively about the “how” and “why” of critical and theoretical work, particularly your own. Theory and criticism have features as a genre, rhetorics, and intertextualities. You will learn to explain and justify how you engage with them in your own writing.

Required Texts

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2016. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. 2016. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Manovich, Lev. 2013. Software Takes Command. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Phillips, Whitney. 2015. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Shifman, Limor. 2013. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Sousanis, Nick. 2015. Unflattening. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Grading

150 points 10x Weekly Exams Summary
In 10 of 15 weeks of their choice, students will write a 1-page memo summarizing the required readings as if for a candidacy exam. This is due 3 hours before class time to allow the instructors to review them as we prepare.

200 points Fantasy Committee: Due February 14
In the spirit of Fantasy Football, you will “draft” 3 T&T faculty members to be on your Candidacy or Dissertation committee by looking for those who share similar research interests as you via the T&T website. You’ll then read at least one academic article written by each member and write up a short paper explaining why those professors would be appropriate to help guide you toward your degree.

150 points Final Paper Proposal/Background Reading: Due March 21
You will identify a journal or a call for papers suitable to your research and submit a 2-page proposal of a research question (empirical papers) or an area and a position (theoretical papers), a plan for how you intend to complete the project, and and a brief justification for why your work is a good fit to be published in that venue. You will also write an annotated bibliography or literature review of existing scholarly writing relevant to the project.

50 points Final Paper Draft: Due April 11
Produce a complete draft of your article (ballpark 8,000 words, unless your target journal has another length requirement) for peer review. Do not include any identifying information on the draft, because these drafts are going to be used for blind peer review.

100 points Peer Review: Due April 18
You will receive the papers of two other students to conduct double-blind peer review of the sort one is called to do for journals in an academic career. You’ll tell your colleague what about their paper works, what doesn’t work, and what you suggest to remedy whatever weaknesses it may have. You will be graded based upon the quality of your contribution to your classmate.

50 points Conference Presentation: Due April 18
On the last scheduled day of class we will have a mini-conference and invite the department to attend. You’ll be organized into panels, speak, and field questions. The idea is for you to use the feedback you get in the Q&A alongside the peer review in making your revisions, much like one will take a paper to a conference before publishing it in a journal.

300 points Final Paper: Due April 26
Based on the feedback of the peer reviewers and on the presentation, submit a revised version of the paper. Your final submission will include a practice letter to the editor of the journal to which you intend to submit, explaining what revisions you have made and why you feel they make the paper stronger.

1000 points Total
Schedule
January 10
Stanfill, Mel. “Finding Birds of a Feather: Multiple Memberships and Diversity Without Divisiveness in Communication Research.” Communication Theory 22, no. 1 (2012): 1–24. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2885.2011.01395.x.
Dreyfuss, Simeon. “Something Essential about Interdisciplinary Thinking.” Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies 29 (2011): 67-83. PDF
How to Read for Grad School https://miriamsweeney.net/2012/06/20/readforgradschool/

January 17
Sousanis, Nick. 2015. Unflattening. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press:
• flatness
• flatland
• the importance of seeing double…
• the shape of our thoughts
• our bodies in motion
McCloud, Scott. 1993. Understanding Comics. PDF.
Abbott, Edwin. Flatland. http://www.eldritchpress.org/eaa/FL.HTM

January 24
Sousanis, Nick. 2015. Unflattening. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press:
• the fifth dimension
• ruts
• strings attached
• vectors
• awaking
Lautour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. PDF
Wilkins, Peter and Damon Herd. “Unpacking Unflattening” http://www.comicsgrid.com/articles/10.5334/cg.bi/

January 31
Manovich, Lev. 2013. Software Takes Command. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
• Introduction
• Alan Kay’s universal media machine
• Understanding metamedia
Kay, Alan and Adele Goldberg. “Personal Dynamic Media.” PDF
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah. Expressive Processing. PDF

February 7
Manovich, Lev. 2013. Software Takes Command. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
• Soft Evolution
• Media Design
• Conclusion
Montfort, Nick and Ian Bogost. “Platform studies: Frequently questioned answers.” PDF
Marino, Mark. “Critical Code Studies.” http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/electropoetics/codology

February 14
Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. 2016. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
• Word Processing
• Perfect
• Around 1981
• North of Boston
• Signposts
• Typing on Glass
Cecire, Natalie. “Ways of Not Reading Gertrude Stein.”- PDF
Fantasy Committee Due
Library Workshop Day

February 21
Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. 2016. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
• Unseen Hands
• Think Tape
• Reveal Codes
• What Remains
• After Word Processing
Kittler, Friedrich. Selections from Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. PDF
Pathfinders Traversals – https://vimeo.com/channels/elitpathfinders/page:21

February 28
Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2016. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press: Introduction, Ch1, Ch3
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Translated by Richard Nice. New York: Cambridge University Press: 72-87, 159-171 – PDF
Althusser, Louis. 2005. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Towards an Investigation).” In Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, edited by Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Revised Edition, 79–87. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. – PDF

March 7
Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2016. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press: Enemy of my Enemy; I Never Remember; Ch4
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 1993. “Epistemology of the Closet.” In The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, edited by Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin, 45–61. New York, NY: Routledge- PDF
Foucault, Michel. 1995. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage: 195-170, 209-200- PDF

March 14 – Spring Break

March 21
Shifman, Limor. 2013. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press: Ch 1-5
Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” New York, NY: Routledge: 1-16 – PDF
Carey, James W. 1992. “A Cultural Approach to Communication.” In Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society, 13–36. New York: Routledge. – PDF
Final Paper Proposal/Background Reading Due

March 28
Shifman, Limor. 2013. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press: Ch 6-8
Combahee River Collective. 1981. “A Black Feminist Statement.” In This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, 210–18. Watertown, Mass.: Persephone Press. – PDF
Lorde, Audre. 2007. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 110–14. Berkeley, Calif: Crossing Press. – PDF

April 4
Phillips, Whitney. 2015. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press: Ch1-4
Marx, Karl. 1978. “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof.” In The Marx-Engels Reader, edited by Robert C. Tucker, 319–29. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Hebdige, Dick. 2001. “(I) From Culture to Hegemony; (Ii) Subculture: The Unnatural Break.” In Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, edited by Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas Kellner, 198–216. Malden, MA: Blackwell

April 11
Phillips, Whitney. 2015. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press: Ch 5-8
Dyer, Richard. 1997. “Lighting for Whiteness.” In White, 89–102. London, UK: Routledge.
Connell, R. W. 2005. “The Social Organization of Masculinity.” In Masculinities, 2 edition, 67–86. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.
Final Paper Draft Due

April 18
Peer Review Due
Conference Presentation Due

April 26
Paper Due