ENG 8007: New Media Interfaces and Infrastructures (Winter 2010)

Recent new media scholarship is pushing beyond the study of texts or artifacts and attempting to study the systems, infrastructures, codes, and platforms that produce those artifacts. By examining and tinkering with the interfaces and infrastructures of new media, scholars across various disciplines and subdisciplines are looking to develop rhetorics and research methods for the interfaces and infrastructures of new media. In this course, we will examine and enter this conversation.

Course Goals:
To analyze and synthesize a set of scholarly arguments
To develop sustainable reading and writing practices
To examine and enter a scholarly conversation
To analyze and tinker with an emerging interface and infrastructure (Google Wave)

[Photo Credit: "the infrastructure" by haribote]

Course Work

You will be graded on the following work:

Précis Assignments
You will write 13 of these. All will be posted to the wiki, but only 7 will be submitted for grades. For more information, see What is a Precis?

Follow-a-Footnote Assignments
You will write 3 of these. The format will be the same as the book precis mention above. However, these assignments will focus on a source that is either:

1) cited and/or discussed in one of the books we're reading
2) cites and/or discusses the book we are reading

As you're reading, be on the lookout for a footnote that interests you. Three times during the semester, you'll post to the wiki (and present to the class) a precis of a source cited by one of the authors we're reading. We'll share these in class by giving a brief (5 minutes) explanation of the source and how the argument works. Our goal will be to have one "follow-a-footnote" presentation each class (if the scheduling works out).

Synthesis of Class minutes
During each class, we'll all be taking notes collaboratively by using Google Wave. Before each class, we'll start a "wave" and everyone will jot notes in it during class. After class, one person will be responsible for synthesizing these notes into a coherent document (each person will do this at least once). That document will be posted to the wiki, and we'll review it prior to class the following week.

Final Project
You will have the option of working on our collaborative article or of proposing your own project. Final projects can be a seminar paper, an annotated bibliography, or some other proposed project that will help students with their research agenda. You must have your final project approved by 4/5.

Required Texts

The following texts are required:

Software Takes Command, Lev Manovich (Introduction, pp1-33) (available online: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2008/11/softbook.html)

Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (pp.1-63), Christopher Kelty (available online: http://twobits.net)

The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich

My Mother Was a Computer, N. Katherine Hayles

Remediation, Bolter and Grusin

Media Ecologies, Matthew Fuller

The ÜberReader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell, ed. Diane Davis (Part I: “The Call of Technology,” pp.1-96)

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, Friedrich Kittler

Ex-Foliations, Terry Harpold

Mechanisms, Matt Kirschenbaum

Persuasive Games, Ian Bogost

Expressive Processing, Noah Wardrip-Fruin

The Laws of Cool, Alan Liu

Lingua Fracta, Collin Brooke

Computers & Composition, special issue: "A Thousand Pictures: Interfaces and Composition" (26.3)

What is a Precis?

For the purposes of this class, a précis is a tight, carefully crafted explanation of how an argument works. See the template below for an explanation of what this document looks like.

MLA Citation: Provide a properly formatted citation of the work.

Focus: What is the focus of the argument? This is a one sentence statement of the author's focus, and it should be an attempt to encapsulate the argument in the broadest terms possible.

Logic: How does the argument work? This section will include a one sentence statement of the argument's logic and a demonstration of that logic. It may be helpful to use a table to show how the argument works: its claims, its evidence, how those claims and evidence work.

Example might be:

Logic statement: Smith argues that existing methods fail to address the awesomeness of technology and thus proposes a new method that does addres awesomeness.

Existing Scholarly Method Limits of that method New Method Proposed by Author and how it addresses thos limits
[example] [example] [example]
[example] [example] [example]


Logic statement: Jones divides all technologies into "artistic technologies" and "rhetorical technologies" in order to explain their differing affordances.

Technology Type (artistic or rhetorical) Affordances
[example] [example] [example]
[example] [example] [example]

Implications: What are the implications of this work? These implications might be phrased in terms of the author's own scholarly conversation or they can be phrased in terms of your own scholarly conversation. What is novel about this argument? How does it extend the scholarly conversation? How can it be applied to your own scholarly interests? You may also explain the implications of this argument for the central text of our class, Google Wave (e.g. Smith's argument allows us to apply a new method in order to examine Google Wave's awesomeness).