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Poetry in a Digital Culture

ENGL 200.304
instructor(s):
TR 12:00-1:30pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Junior Research Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major

What is writing in the age of emoji? Where is the place of the book in a digital culture? How do we read literature that straddles the border of video art and text? And—more importantly—where is the text in new media? Although traditional methods of publishing poetry persist, digital cultures have forced us to reassess how we read and write. This course investigates how contemporary poetic practice has responded to—and is shaped by—the everyday language of the World Wide Web as well as media authoring tools and formats such as iPads, mp3s, and Flash. Key texts include important digital and print works such as William Gibson’s artist book Agrippa, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ Flash-poem Dakota (c.a. 2001), Stephanie Strickland’s online sonnets Vniverse (2004-14), and Tan Lin’s book on web culture, Heath Course Pak (2009).

The Junior Research Seminar is designed to involve students in the kinds of research that the discipline of literary studies currently demands, including: working with primary sources and archival materials; reviewing the critical literature; using online databases of historical newspapers, periodicals, and other cultural materials; exploring relevant contexts in literary, linguistic, and cultural history; studying the etymological history and changing meanings of words; experimenting with new methods of computational analysis of texts; and other methodologies. The course typically involves a few main texts that are studied intensively from a variety of approaches. Research exercises throughout the semester will culminate in a final project emerging from independent inquiry. Final projects will consist of a 10-15 page scholarly paper on any topic or theme such as performance and text, remixing and video art, or the book as new media. Creative projects using and exploring media platforms and tools such as tumbler, twitter, or video are also encouraged.

Previous knowledge of new media tools is not required. Students interested in the intersections of poetry, technology, and web culture will find the lessons from this course not only a useful introduction to new media studies and digital cultures but also applicable to the study of print-based poetry.