ENGL 668K:

Introduction to Digital Studies

Spring 2003


Contact Information:


4109 Susquehanna Hall

301-405-9650 (office)

301-314-7539 (fax)

301-495-1095 (home)





Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 2:30-3:15, and by appointment.


Email is usually the best way to reach me.




An introduction to the emerging interdisciplinary field of digital studies and its interface with current literary and cultural studies. The course is designed to be broadly relevant to all students of texts, media, language, and literature, regardless of area or specialty. Major topics will therefore include: writing and/as technology; critical and theoretical approaches to electronic textuality; close readings of hypertext and cybertext literature; cultural genealogies of new (and not-so-new) media; and a survey of major digital projects and research initiatives in the humanities. We will also pay some attention to these other topics: the digital divide and public policy issues, including the looming intellectual property showdown; teaching and technology; and scholarly electronic publishing and other aspects of online professionalization. Finally, in addition to the readings, we will have some doings: practical instruction in the creation and use of electronic texts and images.


Requirements and Grading:


·        Pedagogical assignment. You will be asked to construct an exercise suitable for undergraduate English majors that demonstrates the meaning of writing as a technology.15%.

·        5-7 page paper. A close reading of a piece of electronic literature. 20%.

·        Annotated Webliography. You will compile an annotated Webliography (a list of online resources) for an author of your choice and place it online. 15%.

·        Discussion leading. Once during the semester (and probably with a partner) you will be required to take responsibility for semi-formal discussion leading. This is not a presentation per se; rather, you should prepare some combination of questions, quotations, and additional references or resources to structure and focus our engagement with the readings. Partners will normally be assessed as a team, but I reserve the right to split grades if I have reason to think there has been significant asymmetry of effort.15%.

·        Final exam. This will be a take-home final in which you will be asked to write a comprehensive essay synthesizing various issues and readings from throughout the semester. 35%.

·        Active preparation and class participation. Active preparation means not only doing the reading, but also coming to class with questions and ideas to discuss.

·        Regular attendance. Weekly attendance is expected and required. I will confer with anyone who seems to be having trouble meeting the attendance requirement, and may ask such persons to drop the course. Missing more than two classes will be regarded as an especially grave development.


Participation and attendance are not “graded,” but I will use them to adjust final course grades if either proves conspicuously unsatisfactory.




Auditors are expected to conform to the attendance policy above, to come to class prepared, and to participate in discussion leading. Please register the course if you can.


Electronic Resources:


The course reflector address is: <engl668k-0101-spr03@coursemail.umd.edu>. Subscription is mandatory. I will use the list for announcements, and you may also use it for discussions of the readings, as an extension of our classroom time. Please get into the habit of checking your mail at least once a day; you will be responsible for the content of any email message 24 hours after it has been posted.


An electronic copy of this syllabus and other resources is available at: <http://www.glue.umd.edu/~mgk/courses/spring2003/668/>.


Primary Texts:


Barth, John. Coming Soon!!! Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Post-Human: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Hockey, Susan. Electronic Texts in the Humanities. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2001.

McGann, Jerome J. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web. New York: Palgrave, 2001. (Optional.)

Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London and New York: Routledge, 1982.

Petzold, Charles. Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software.

 Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2000.




[Readings in square brackets are recommended but optional.]




·        Introduction: Into the Future (film).


Writing and/as Technology



·        Ong, Orality and Literacy: 5-15, 31-36, 49-57, 69-74, 75-77, 78-138.






Genealogies of (New) Media




“The Dynamic Textual Edition, Underpinnings and Above.” A Lecture by Ray Siemens. 3:00 p.m. McKeldin Library, Special Events Room (Room 6137).






3.4  The Art of the Book/The Book as Art: Open House 9:30-12:30, SQH 3109.




·        Manovich, Language of New Media: 213-285.


Reading Electronic Literature





3.18 Adventures with Electronic Texts: Where Text Coding, Mathematics, and Evolutionary Biology Meet.” A Lecture by Peter Robinson. 2:00 p.m. McKeldin Library, Special Events Room (Room 6137).

















English Online: The Once and Future Discipline









Final Exam (take home)