ENGL 192: Science Fiction: Transcoding, Computation and Culture
"In new media lingo, to 'transcode' something is to translate it into another format. The computerization of culture gradually accomplishes similar transcoding in relation to all cultural categories and concepts. That is, cultural categories and concepts are substituted, on the level of meaning and/or language, by new ones that derive from the computer’s ontology, epistemology, and pragmatics." - Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media
What might science fiction tell us about the relationship between computation and culture? How has literature impacted, foreseen, and otherwise responded to the new media paradigm? And what, pray tell, are the computer's "ontology, epistemology, and pragmatics"? In this course, we will explore the development of science fiction in the age of digital media. From the cyberpunk movement of the 1980's to the cyber-reality of our present day, we will investigate the ways in which literature envisons computational networks, incorporates computational metaphors, and remediates computational forms or structures. In so doing, we will evaluate Manovich's claim above, thinking through both the computerization of culture and the culturalization of computation in order to situate the role of literature (if any) within our contemporary media epoch. Possible authors/auteurs include: Charles Yu, Octavia Butler, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Italo Calvino, the Wachowskis, David Cronenberg, Sam Esmail, Kathryn Bigelow, Ted Chiang, and Fritz Lang.