ENG 101b: Cyber-Theory

Dr. Irr

Spring 2002



See a list of interesting cyber-fiction links that students in this course located.


Themes of the Course:

This course asks how and why new cybernetic systems of communication—especially the Internet—have changed the practice of writing. Throughout the semester, we will be exploring theories that describe the unique features of print vs. electronic media and we will look at a number of attempts to map cyber-spaces. In particular, we'll be focusing on changes to the personnel of writing (author, reader, publisher) in the context of cybnernetics. We'll ask whether new options for writing, reading and publishing now available, and where further elaboration or extension of existing options might occur. Overall, the point of the course is to grapple with these questions by immersing ourselves in critical and utopian theories of cybertextuality.

The course does not assume that students have an advanced level of familiarity with debates about cyberspace or literary theory. It is an exploratory course designed for English majors; students in the Internet Studies program; future writers, readers and publishers; and people with an interest in the creative possibilities of contemporary culture.


Pedagogical Goals:

After taking this course, students should be able to do the following:

  1. use techniques of literary criticism to describe and evaluate electronic texts
  2. interpret the creative possibilities of new media
  3. produce and assess theories of cyberspace
  4. draw conclusions about the future of literary culture



-Tim Druckey, ed., Ars Electronica: Facing the Future

-Thomas Swiss, ed., Unspun: Key Concepts for Understanding the World Wide Web

-Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy

-Paul Virilio, The Art of the Motor

-Philip K. Dick, Scanner Darkly

-selected websites



-attendance and class participation. 12%

-4 lab reports posted to WebCT. 2% each x 4 = 8%

-4 short papers (5-8 pages each). 20% each x 4 = 80%