This course will be taught as a seminar, so general attentiveness and active contribution to discussion will be particularly important, and more than two absences will significantly and adversely affect your final grade. Please read the assigned material before class and come prepared with questions and issues you would like to address (at times I will give you more specific instructions for this).
–!> There are three concrete assignments for class participation: (1) analysis of a substantive machine-generated text of your choosing; (2) a 350-word close reading of some aspect of one of our four primary narratives (Stanislaw Lem stories, Ex Machina, Neuromancer, Her); and (3) identification and commentary on a particular instance of machine vision for the final week of class (topics: facial recognition, drones, surveillance).
– Deadline for (1): October 11
– Deadline for (2) the day we are discussing your chosen text (e.g. by October 4 if Lem)
– Deadline for (3): week 10
Position paper (40%)
Questions and topics for the position papers will be assigned. Papers will be approximately 2000 words in length and due
November 17 [no later than 9:00am, Monday, November 21] in my box in the English department. Hard copies only.
Less-formal position statement (10%)
You will also be asked to contribute one blog post of substance on the specific topic of present and future forms of machine reading and writing. The topic of “futures” is grandiose so your comments can and perhaps should be speculative, if not visionary, if you take this approach. You may want to be less speculative, however, and comment on present practices, an artistic intervention, or one of the works of electronic literature on our syllabus.
–!> Deadline: no later than November 1
Final project: research report (20%)
The final assignment for this course will be to produce a research report on an artifact, broadly conceived, that instantiates some of the primary themes and questions that we will be considering throughout the term. The standard format of these reports will follow the guidelines adopted by the Transliteracies research project, but we will discuss the assignment at length in class. These reports should be either sent to me over email or published online in PDF format (if the latter, send me an email with the URL).
–!> Deadline: Thursday, December 8
-!> Sample artifacts: Zach Blas, Facial Weaponization Suite (2012) [on biometric facial recognition] | Ghost Writer: algorithmic autobiography [data collection & aggregation]
–!> Model reports: Trina Lazzara, Where You Are: Transcending Boundaries; Juan Valencia, Ineradicable Stain; Elizabeth Shayne, Biblion: Frankenstein
–!> We will discuss the search for an appropriate artifact in class but one idea is to look for curated lists, e.g. Generative texts in the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 3. Another is to look for tags on a topic that interests you, e.g. “drone art.”
Note: Please tell me in the email with your submission how you would like me to calculate the extra 10% of your grade: (1) add to class participation; (2) grade “futures” blog post as planned; (3) add to final research report.
// All assignments, including the required blog posts, must be completed in order to receive a passing grade in this course.
// The attendance policy is firm.
// Since much of our reading is online, you may find helpful this guide prepared by my colleague, Alan Liu: Methods for Studying Online Materials.