Grad Seminar Proposal: Reading and Writing From Page to Screen; or, Thinking and Being from the Humanities to the Posthumanities

Featured Image: Tvrtko BuricPost human   

What difference does it make if we read on ebooks, stone tablets, mass market paperbacks, hyperlinks, code, or illuminated books? Do we change along with our writing tools? This course is an advanced introduction to issues explored in the fields of book history, media studies, and media archaeology. We start by examining theories of book history, particularly the large changes that occurred with the shift to mass printing and the dream of the Universal Library. Then we shift to more present-day concerns, with the emergence of figures like Gregory Ulmer and Friedrich Kittler, and examine theories on how media impact human consciousness. Finally, we’ll explore the non-human and ecological realities produced by media from thinkers like Wolfgang Ernst, Jussi Parikka, and Lisa Gitelman. In each part of the course, we’ll pay close attention to the relationship between the various media used in writing and conceptions of the human, particularly as they are institutionalized in the humanities and as they start to drift from the center into what some have started calling the posthumanities. Requirements include two 30-minute presentations, and a paper or multimodal project. Students will revise their projects biweekly, and be required to present a proposal and an annotated bibliography.

Possible texts to be taken from selections of the following:

  • Roger Chartier. The Order of Books (1994)
  • Gregory Ulmer. Heuretics: The Logic of Invention (1994)
  • Friedrich Kittler, Grammophone, Film, Typewriter (1999)
  • Jussi Parikka, Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses (2007)
  • Mark Hansen, Feed Forward: On the Future of Twenty-First Century Media (2014)
  • Wolfgang Ernst, Chronopoetics: The Temporal Being and Operativity of Technological Media (2016)
  • Lisa Gitelman, Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines: Representing Technology in the Edison Era (2000)
  • Lori Emerson, ReadingWriting Interfaces (2014)
  • Matthew Kirschenbaum. Track Changes: A Literary History of the Word Processor (2016)
  • Benjamin Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (2016)
  • Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (2013)


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