Friday, January 11, 2008

Course Syllabus

Course Syllabus & Information

Course Approach

The calendar title of English 484 (writing intensive) is "Literature and Media." We focus on one specific medium on which literature is delivered and of which literature treats: the internet. The backbone of the course is the new critical edition of Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, which we will read and discuss evenly throughout the term weeks. McLuhan is a superlative theorist, a master of prose, relevant to literature proper and media generally, and with value perennial and universal.
We will read and have lecture upon Gutenberg texts, and write a mid-term and a final essay on the WI criteria, and study and incorporate Paul Virillo's concise and explosive analysis of information culture in The Information Bomb.
Under McLuhan's moral and operational division of media into Hot and Cold, students in groups of three will work for themselves in the "low-definition" medium of online literature. In the critical theory component, each group will lead three thirty-minute seminars discussion over the Term of their choice of an on-line graphic novel. Then, for the on-line literature project, each group will complete an on-line literary engagement: either a blog on an existing fanfiction, a fanfiction of their own, or a Second-Life project.
Second Life is an excellent instantiation of both the subject of our three Gutenberg texts and the projected development of McLuhan's dictum that 'the medium is the message."

Schedule of Readings

Primary Course Texts

January 7th & 9th:
Understanding Media: Introd. First & Second, and Ch. 1
January 14th & 16th:
—Snow Crash
—Understanding Media: Ch. 2
January 21st & 23rd
—Snow Crash
—Understanding Media: Ch. 3-4
January 38th & 30th
—Snow Crash
—Understanding Media: Ch. 5-9
February 4th & 6th
—The Information Bomb
—Understanding Media: Ch. 10-12
February 11th & 13th
—Understanding Media: Ch. 13-15
February 18th & 20th
—Understanding Media: Ch. 16-18
February 25th & 27th
—Understanding Media: Ch. 19-21
March 3rd & 5th
—Understanding Media: Ch. 22-24
March 10th & 12th
—All Tomorrow's Parties
—Understanding Media: Ch. 25-27
March 17th & 19th
—All Tomorrow's Parties
—Understanding Media: Ch. 28-30
March 24th & 26th
Unofficial Reading Break
March 31st & April 2nd
—Understanding Media: Ch. 31-33
April 7th

Secondary Texts

    • The two secondary, or Recommended, texts concern the on-line aspect of the course and give important practical and theoretical information about IT at a level congenial to English majors, and aid understanding of literature in the on-line medium.
    • The texts should be read at a reasonable pace through the first six weeks of the course, and used for reference throughout the course.
On-Line Literatures
  • Group work in the course deals directly with on-line literature, and is divided into two sections: Graphic Novels and FanFiction (Webserials.)
  • The lists of on-line literature from which you may choose are at the following URL:

Class Deadlines

January 14th, Group Theory Projects sign-up sheet.
January 30th, Mid-Term Essay topics Posted.
February 4th, Group On-line Literature Project outline due.
February 20th, Mid-Term Essay Draught due.
February 27th, Graded Mid-Term Essay Draught returned.
March 12th, Mid-Term Essay Revision due.
March 19th, Mid-Term Essay Revision returned.
March 31st, Final Essay Outline or Thesis ¶ Draught due.
April 11th, Final Essay due.

Nb: There is a four percent per day late penalty for all assignments, documented medical or bereavement leave excepted. For medical exemptions, provide a letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead which declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented work on the assignment. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled and may be verified by telephone. For bereavement leave, simply provide, ex post facto, a copy of the order of service or other published notice of remembrance.
Support material available on Library Reserve.

Nb: “Participation requires both attendance and punctuality."

Instructor Contact:
Expanded Office Hours: AQ 6094 -- Monday two thirty to five thirty, Tuesday ten o'clock to noon, Wednesday two thirty to three o'clock, Thursday ten o'clock to noon. Bring your coffee and discuss course matters freely. E-mail to Use your SFU account for e-mail contact. Other e-Mail accounts are blocked by white-list.

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