CCTP-681-01 Technologies of the Text
Spring for 2016-2017
This course addresses the latest developments in New Media and the Digital Humanities—including several major technological, legal, and literary influences on this field.

More specifically, the class is for those interested in twenty-first century changes to Graphic Novels (Comic Books), Videogames, Fan Fiction, Anime, Mash-ups, Blogging, Online Journalism, RSS-Feeds, Podcasting, Wikis, Online Communities, Web 2.0, Hypertexts, the new E-books—and other recent movements and experiments in New Media. What unifies such diverse media—and the course itself as well—are remarkably consistent definitions of “authorship,” “readership,” “news,” and “social media.”

Here's the way the class works: after covering the general background and foundations of the field, we develop special topics in the seminar according to the particular research interests of each class member. For the Spring 2015 semester, we will be adding short units on New Media in Asia (including developments in Alibaba, Sina Weibo, Baida, Youku, Tudou, and Taobao), the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a take-off on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), and Adaptation Studies (that is, adapting novels to film, television, and YouTube). In past years, we have also read the most popular hypertext ever written—namely, "Patchwork Girl," a powerful take-off on the novel Frankenstein (which we also discuss in the course). We have also read graphic novels such as the award-winning Fun Home, Akira, and The Watchmen (we saw the movie-version of the latter two as well). We consider all texts from a cross-cultural perspective, including American versions of Japanese anime and other non-Western genres.

Later in the term, each student in the class chooses a research topic of his or her own interest--the choice is completely open--and makes it their central project for the semester. Once we have a list of these individual topics, part of our syllabus shifts in order to incorporate these specific interests of the particular students in the class that semester. During previous terms, we have looked at the historical origins of today's digital culture—including the history of museums, libraries, and art collections. We have also discussed the origins of copyright law, comparing the first amazing trials with today's debates about digital copyright (including the famous Amazon, Napster, and Mickey Mouse cases). And we have investigated notorious internet hoaxes (including the Lonely Girl scandal)—and traced their origins to the most intriguing art and literary forgeries (such as those by Thomas Chatterton).

Students with other interests can also consider how various textual forms affect novels, plays, and poetry. How is literature influenced by, say, Thackeray’s emphasis on his novels’ illustrations, Joyce’s preoccupation with pagination, or Emily Dickinson’s use of hand-made booklets and stationery? How did the serialization of Dickens’s novels in periodicals affect their composition, distribution, and readership? What do William Blake’s bizarre paintings tell us about his poetry? In the past, we have also read influential literary works by Austen, Defoe, Sterne, Pope, Wordsworth, Byron, Hemans, the Brontes, and Joyce—as well as some of the more recent, experimental developments within literary and electronic textuality.

Students who are interested in exploring any of the foregoing topics can contact Prof. Michael Macovski at" (This course is more technologically oriented than “History of the Book” [CCTP 687]—and there are no prerequisites for it. Students are asked to register for either course—but not both.)
Assignments & Expectations of Students

Students are asked to focus on one, extensive research project during the course of the term.
If you would like more information about it, please email Michael Macovski at
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Course syllabi
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '17: Macovski, M (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.