Literature of Technology: Writing for the Future

Course Number: ENGL 146WF
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit provided the letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 146AA-ZZ
Quarter: Winter 2017
Instructor: Raley, Rita
Day(s): MW
Time: 11:00am - 12:15pm
Location: SH 2635

Does writing have a future? This provocative question by media theorist and philosopher Vilém Flusser will frame our seminar discussions. Following department courses on the history of writing technologies and changes in our present practices (from literary uses of computational media to emojis and animated gifs in everyday communication), we will embark on an extended theoretical analysis of the futures of alphabetic writing. Our primary genre will be dystopian fiction and we will ask why language should be continually imagined as both toxic and under threat. The seminar will then open up into a speculative consideration of codes and symbolic systems that await their future decoding in a post-apocalyptic, post-Anthropocentric, or even post-machinic moment, from signs marking nuclear waste facilities to Christian Bök’s Xenotext. On this theme of communicating with the future, we will also consider alien languages, space communication (from the Voyager/Pioneer plaques to #WeTheExplorers), and projects from the Long Now Foundation and the Future Library. Print reading will include Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet and Shaun Tan, The Arrival; we will also discuss The Silent History, Into Eternity, and other texts.