ENG 3931: Editing/Writing/Media
History of Text Technologies
Spring 2010 Course Syllabus


Class Details

Meeting: Tuesdays Room: Williams 120
Time: 14.00-16.50
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Instructor: David L. Gants Office: Williams 316
Telephone: 850-270-1232 E-mail: dgants(at)fsu.edu
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 09.00-10.30 or by arrangement

Course Overview

Course Description. This course provides an introduction to the complex interactions between literary culture and the changing, overlapping, frustrating and inspiring media technologies that have shaped the way we produce, transmit, transform, receive and interpret creative representations of human experience. In our exploration of textual manifestations, we will look at three important means through which language takes physical form: 1) Human Power, or writing on stone, earth, skin; and 2) Machine Power, or the manipulation of complex machines to manufacture linguistic artifacts; 3) Electric Power, or the analogue and digital encoding of language onto electromagnetic waves. We will conclude with a survey of how we have attempted to circulate and control texts over the ages.

Course Requirements.

Primary Texts. All materials for this course can be found on our Blackboard Course Library page. Note that, due to the nature of this course, the weekly readings may change. However, I will make any additions or deletions at least one week prior to the class meeting in which the readings will be discussed. Because course readings are all on-line, you are strongly encouraged to bring your laptop to each class meeting.

Course Policies.



Course Schedule
(see Course Library for readings)

I. Human Power

Week 1 (12 January): Introduction to the Course; Definitions and Concepts; Writing on the Body

Week 2 (19 January): Writing on the Stones and on the Earth

Weeks 3 & 4 (26 January, 2 February): Manuscript Culture; Palaeography; Natural Surfaces; The Scroll and the Codex

II. Machine Power

Weeks 5 & 6 (9, 16 February): Hand Press Printing; Handmade Paper and Type; The Rise of the Author

Weeks 7 & 8 (23 February, 2 March): Machine Press Printing; Machine-Made Paper and Type; Industrial Age Books

—Spring Break—

III. Electric Power

Week 9 (16 March): Telegraph; Telephone; Radio

Week 10 (23 March): Photography; Phonograph; Silent Movies

Week 11 (30 March): Sound Movies; Television

Week 12 (6 April): Digital Text/Sound/Image

IV. Overarching Issues

Week 13 (13 April): Networks

Week 14 (20 April): Censorship; Intellectual Property