ENG 495.E, The Culture of Information:

Living the Internet

General Information:

Professor Laura MandellPhone: (O) 9-5276
Fall, 2002 Semester (H) (before 9 p.m.) 765-647-2096
English 495E, Section A: The Culture of InformationOffice Hours: MTW 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Classroom: 107 BoydOffice: 370 BAC

Course Goals:

In this class, we will ask:

  1. What is the difference between knowledge and information - or is there one?
  2. How do media affect modes of thought?
  3. What kinds of communities, and indeed, what kinds of selves, will be generated by the Internet, hypertext, instant messaging, email, and chat?

Required Reading:

"Books" to Buy

Online Materials


Attendance Policy

If you miss more than three classes, your grade will drop one grade per absence. You will be dropped from the course after 5 absences.

Required Work:

  1. Attendance and Participation: To receive an A, a grade meaning "excellent," you must participate at least once during each class period. If you do not like speaking in public -- or don't get the chance to contribute your ideas to the discussion -- post them to the class email list. Every week I will assign each student a class participation grade which you will be able to see: in Blackboard, click on "Tools" and then "Check Grade"; the grade appears in a column which has a title of the last class date of the week and "Attendance." Please feel free to discuss those grades with me at any time.
  2. Class Email List and In-Class Writing: Every Thursday, I will post questions in the folder called "Class Email List Questions," under "Assignments" in Blackboard. Write one or two paragraphs responding to the question and post it to the list before we meet in class on Tuesday. Throughout the semester, I will also ask you to write short essays in class on a particular topic. I will ask you later to fix grammatical problems in the essays in order to raise your grade.
  3. Final Project: Each student will design and compose a web site. Don't worry: no technological expertise is required; you can use Dreamweaver, Netscape Composer, or templates that I provide, whatever is most comfortable for you to work with. This web site will introduce first-year Miami students to "The Culture of Information." It will introduce undergraduate students to some of the texts you studied this semester, providing summaries of parts of texts that present interesting ideas about the Internet, as well as a 7-page essay discussing those ideas in detail and/or extrapolating from them. This long essay, several short summaries, as well as a bibliography, will make up your web site.


  1. attendance and participation (15%)
  2. listserv and in-class writings (40%)
  3. short paper, reading journal, and final project (45%)
A+ 97-100 C 73-76
A 93-96 C- 70-72
A- 90-92 D+ 67-69
B+ 87-89 D 63-66
B 83-86 D- 60-62
B- 80-82 F 0-59
C+ 77-79    


HO = Handout; MCS = Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks; other abbreviations explained below

Week 1 --

T 8/20: Introduction:

R 8/22: "Common Sense"

Week 2 -- Thinking Critically: Metaphor, Cognitive Models, Innovation

T 8/27:

  1. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (MWLB), pp. 3-76
  2. William Blake, "A Poison Tree" HO

R 8/29:

  1. MWLB pp. 77-155
  2. Vannevar Bush, excerpt from "As We May Think" HO
  3. Steven Johnson, excerpt from Interface Culture HO
  4. Mark Taylor, excerpt from The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture HO

Week 3 -- Thinking Critically: Communicating about Assumptions


R 9/5:

  1. MWLB pp. 156-237
  2. George Lakoff, excerpt from Moral Politics HO

Week 4 -- History of Communication: Alphabet, Manuscript, Print

T 9/10 Material History:

  1. Michael E. Hobart and Zachary S. Schiffman, excerpt from Information Ages: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Computer Revolution, on e-reserves
  2. Carla Hesse, "Books in Time," in The Future of the Book HO
  3. Paul Duguid, "Material Matters: The Past and Futurology of the Book," on e-reserves

R 9/12 John Durham Peters, Speaking Into the Air (SIA), pp. 1-31

Week 5 -- History of Communication (cont')

T 9/17:

  1. SIA, pp. 33-63
  2. Plato, excerpt from The Phaedrus HO

R 9/ 19:

  1. SIA pp. 177-226
  2. Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message," in MCS pp. 129-38

Week 6 -- Communication or Deception: Propaganda?

T 9/24: PAPER 1 DUE

R 9/26:

  1. Nicholas Garnham, "Contribution to a Political Economy of Mass-Communication," in MCS, pp. 225-52
  2. Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky, "A Propaganda Model," in MCS pp. 280-317

Week 7 -- Postmodern Identities

T 10/1: Postmodernism and the Self:

  1. Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra, MCS pp. 521-549
  2. Angela McRobbie, "Feminism, Postmodernism, and the 'Real Me'" MCS pp. 598-610
  3. Stephen Frosh, "Postmodern States of Mind," "The Construction of Selves," from Identity Crisis HO

R 10/3: Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen (LS), pp. 1-49, 77-124

Week 8 -- Postmodern Identities (con't)

T 10/8:

  1. LS, pp. 255-270
  2. Mark Poster, "Postmodern Virtualities," MCS pp. 611-25
  3. Selections from Gramsci in MCS 43-7
  4. Louis Althusser, excerpt from "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" HO

R 10/10 NO CLASS -- meet individually, paper conferences

Week 9 -- MOO (also called a "MUDD," Multi-User Dimension Object-Oriented Server)

T 10/15: NO CLASS -- meet individually, paper conferences

R 10/17: Meet in the Miami MOO to discuss:

  1. Sherry Turkle, LS, pp. 177-209
  2. Jurgen Habermas, "The Public Sphere," MCS pp. 102-8
  3. and to act out The Castle of Otranto

(Fall Break: 10/18, 19, 20)

Week 10 -- Postmodern Aesthetics

T 10/22: The Author

  1. Roland Barthes, from "Death of the Author" HO
  2. Michel Foucault, from "What is An Author" HO
  3. Roger Chartier, from The Order of Books HO
  4. Janet Murray, "Eliza's Daughters," in Hamlet on the Holodeck (HH) pp. 214-250

R 10/24: Copyright and Ted Nelson:

  1. "Ted Nelson and Xanadu," in The Electronic Labyrinth: http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0155.html
  2. Miracle Device: article on Ted Nelson's Literary Machines at Feed Magazine: http://www.feedmag.com/html/document/98.02nelson/98.02nelson_master.html
  3. Ted Nelson, "What Is Literature?": http://www.univie.ac.at/Philosophie/vw/literat.htm
  4. ---, "The Xanadu Ideal": http://www.xanadu.com.au/general/ideal.html
  5. Jim Whitehead, "Orality and Hypertext: An Interview with Ted Nelson" (1996): http://www.ics.uci.edu/%7Eejw/csr/nelson_pg.html

Week 11 -- New Narrative Forms, 1

T 10/29:

  1. Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck (HH), pp. 1-12, 65-96
  2. Begin reading Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  3. Begin reading, Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
  4. Remember that you are keeping a Reading Journal

R 10/31:

  1. HH, pp. 97-153
  2. Continue reading Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  3. Continue reading, Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
  4. Please sign up at the Turing Game Web Site
  5. Remember that you are keeping a Reading Journal

Week 12 -- New Narrative Forms, 2

T 11/5:

  1. HH pp. 185-213
  2. Finish reading Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  3. Finish reading, Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
  4. Remember that you are keeping a Reading Journal

R 11/7:

  1. William Blake, The Blake Archive
  2. Chris Cheek, Poetry OnLine
  3. Interview with Chris Cheek HO
  4. Stuart Moulthrop and Sean Cohen, The Color of Television: http://raven.ubalt.edu/features/media_ecology/lab/96/cotv/
  5. Remember that you are keeping a Reading Journal

Week 13 -- The Attack on Mass Media, 1

T 11/12:

  1. Mark Taylor and Jose Marquez, The Real: Las Vegas / Nevada
  2. Alan M. Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (available as an article in an ebook in Mind Design II [computer file]: Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, edited by John Haugeland
  3. Joshua Berman, The Turing Game
  4. Reading Journal Due

R 11/14:

  1. Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," in MCS 393-404
  2. bell hooks, "Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance," in MCS 424-38
  3. Herman Gray, "The Politics of Representation in Network TV," in MCS 439-61

Week 14 -- The Attack on Mass Media, 2

T 11/19:

  1. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproductuion," MCS pp, 48-70
  2. Horkheimer and Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," in MCS, pp. 71-101
  3. Guy Debord, "The Commodity as Spectacle," in MCS pp. 139-43
  4. Neil Docherty, The Merchants of Cool (to be shown in class; also on reserve at King IMC; search for non-electronic reserves)

R 11/21:

  1. Nick Gillespie, "Happy Birthday MTV," in Reason Magazine: http://www.reason.com/opeds/ng080101.html
  2. John Ward Anderson, "Roll Over, Komeini!" -- on Blackboard, "Documents," "Nick Gillespie"
  3. Daniel McGrory, "JR Ewing Liberates Romania" -- on Blackboard, "Documents," "Nick Gillespie"
  4. Nick Gillespie, "View Masters" -- on Blackboard, "Documents," "Nick Gillespie

Week 15 -- The Attack on Mass Media, 3

T 11/26: Sut Jhally, Dreamworlds 2: desire/sex/power in music video (also on reserve at King, IMC: search for non-electronic reserves)


Week 16 -- Wrap Up

T 12/3 Share Drafts of Paper 2

R 12/5 Course Evaluations; Class Party

Final Paper Due, Tuesday, December 10, by 5:30 p.m.