ENGL 529

Literary History Becoming Digital introduces students to the problems –scholarly, ethical, aesthetic, technical, and cultural– that arise as literary studies moves away from old technologies and artifacts and is replaced or augmented by the digital. Through a focus on transatlantic American literary history, each of the units of this course will study the archive—on and offline—of Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, major figures of literary history and digital culture.  During each unit, we will divide our focus between understanding key (pre-digital) literary texts and their digital redaction through a study of digital archives that feature their work.  In addition to close readings and scholarly reception of the text in historical context we will also address issues of interface design and online communities by looking at the text-based Internet versus the multi-media Web. In the last unit, using OMEKA[1], we will develop a multi-media, group authored website building on what we’ve learned about web design for the scholarly world and Ralph Waldo Emerson, the focal figure of this last unit.   The class addresses issues of media manipulation, ethical behavior, and identity representation online, we will also be discussing social network use. Class requirements are two oral presentations and one short, animated film[2], one in each unit on a topic of your choice, Proposal (10 pages), Design Logs, and a Final Report (15-20 pages) due post-project.  *NO WEB EXPERIENCE NEEDED*


[1] Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its “five-minute setup” makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog.  Omeka falls at a crossroads of Web Content Management, Collections Management, and Archival Digital Collections Systems” For more information see http://omeka.org/  

[2] You can use Xtranormal, an open-source software used for making animated films.  For my 10 minute experiment see: http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7474529/.  For something much more complex, see http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7451115/.  

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