Seminar on Intro to Literature and the Culture of Information

Course Number: ENGL 25S
Prerequisites: Consent of the Instructor
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 25S
Quarter: Fall 2017
Instructor: Liu, Alan
Day(s): W
Time: 2:00pm - 2:50pm
Location: SH 2635

This honors section for English 25 is designed to augment students' understanding of the issues of the main course through informal discussion prompted by student interests. Each week, students bring something to class (an "artifact," as defined below) and a question about it. This allows the instructor and the students to mix it up in free-flowing discussion.


Attendance: Students need to attend and participate regularly.

"Artifact of Interest" Assignment (one for each class): For each of the class meetings, students will bring in a document that does the following:

  1. Identify (or reproduce) an artifact from the course readings (or that is related to course themes) that is particularly interesting, suggestive, rich, or problematic. The artifact can be, for example:
  • * a specific passage or phrase from the readings
  • * a news story or blog post
  • * an image
  • * a URL to something online
  • * Etc.
  1. Asks an initial question about the artifact, its contexts, or its relation to the English 25 course readings and themes. The best questions are those that suggest a rich area of thought, a new perspective, a contradiction or problem, or some other angle on the issues. Also, good questions make connections between concrete details (e.g., specific features of a passage or online site) and larger or abstract issues (e.g., an idea or social/cultural phenomenon).

"Remaking" Assignment (end of quarter): By the end of the quarter, each student must choose one of the artifacts s/he has chosen and "remake" it in a way that is motivated by a thesis or line of thought (in other words, by some reason for making changes in the original). For example:

  • Rewrite a passage, alter an image, or revise the structure and content of a Web page (you can just do a mock-up drawing on paper if you wish)
  • Hybridize a passage with another; collage together images and text; or "link" from words or parts of a Web site to other online sites (you can just underline where you want to put links on a print-out if you wish, with URLs identified for each link).
  • Revise a passage from a different perspective (as if taking a different "role" in a role playing game). For instance, rewrite a passage from the point of view of someone living in a different historical epoch; someone who is of a different gender, nation, race, ethnicity, class, or age. Or, another example: take the imaginary viewpoint of someone who has never before seen a particular form of media, information, or communication technology or anything like it--for instance, someone who has never seen a book, listened to a recording, or been online. How would that person describe what they are seeing or hearing in their terms?
  • "Deform" or "glitch" an artifact.

In addition to "remaking" your artifact of choice, students should add a short 1-2 page commentary laying out the rationale for the remaking.

This "remaking" assignment may be handed in at any time during the quarter, but students will present their "remakings" to the entire class during the last meeting of the quarter.