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Contemp Literature: Cyberspace

ENGL 285.601
instructor(s):
MW 5-6:15

Cyberspace, E-world, the Infobahn, the Net. The metaphors linking computers and what we do with them to the placeness of a virtual reality are increasingly hard to escape. Is cyberspace an inevitable development in the interaction of humans and computers? What will it look like? How will it feel? In this course we will examine what happens to the relationship of subject, author, text and the world in this context of computer mediation, in this "consensual hallucination" where information becomes architecture and words stand in for bodies. What are the larger narratives that work to shape collective perceptions of e-space? What of the blurring of author, reader and genre that virtual environments allow? What might it mean to inhabit an electronic form? In our explorations we will look first at works of science fiction, including Gibson Neuromancer, Stephenson Snow Crash and Piercy He, She and It. As we consider both theoretical and popular essays on computer texts and communities, including Rheingold's Virtual Community and Haraway's A Manifesto for Cyborgs, we will move into cyberspace ourselves, exploring at first hand a variety of virtual environments. Our writing through the semester will be geared toward a final collaborative presentation, which we will make available on the World Wide Web.