Love letters generated by a computer. An online poem two hundred trillion stanzas long. A mystery novel in the form of a wiki. The story of Inanimate Alice, told through videos and instant messages. An ocean buoy tweeting remixes of Moby Dick. Welcome to the weird world of electronic literature—digitally born poetic, narrative, and aesthetic works read on computers, tablets, and phones. Experimental, evocative, and sometimes simply puzzling, electronic literature challenges our assumptions about reading, writing, authorship, and meaning.
Yet e-lit, as it is often called, has also profoundly influenced mainstream culture. Literature, film, comics, apps, and video games have all learned lessons from electronic literature. This course will trace the rise of electronic literature and explore both historic and contemporary works of e-lit. We’ll begin with electronic literature’s roots in avant-garde art and Cold War technology, and follow e-lit through the birth of the personal computer into the era of the Web and smartphone. At every step along the way the expressive power of new media—the way digital media enables and shapes different modes of creative and cultural expression—will be of particular interest to us.
Courses offered via edX.org are not eligible for academic credit from Davidson College. A passing score in a DavidsonX course(s) will only be eligible for a verified certificate generated by edX.org.