New Technologies, New Worlds

Course Description
Work Required
Create Your Blog
Class Schedule
Class Assumptions

ENG/IMS/CLS F103, Section A
Professor Judith de Luce
Professor Laura Mandell

de Luce: 529-1480; Irvin Hall, 105A

Mandell: 529-5276; 370 BAC

Spring 2006

de Luce: (H) (before 9 p.m.) 523-0176

Mandell: (H) (before 9 p.m.) 765-647-2096

MWF 10:00-10:50 a.m.,
163 Upham

Office Hours:

de Luce: M 8:00-9:00, T 9:30-11:30, W 8:00-9:00, 1:30-2:30, R: 8:00-11:30, F 8:00-9:00, 1:30-3:00, and by apptmt.

Mandell TR 9:00-12:00 and by apptmt.

Syllabus Available Online: go to
and click on our class.

Course Description

It seems like a relatively simple intellectual task to think about the impact of technology on our lives. Since the development of the automobile and the computer, life is more harried: we are expected to do more, to produce more, to be more places at once. But there are much less obvious ways that new technologies affect us, and many more serious consequences to these changes than those having to do with speed.

Science Fiction as a genre first arose to question the moral, political, and personal effects of technology on our lives. We will study Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel to figure out the major issues and questions about how technology changes what it means to be human. Some of these changes are visible only if one takes a look at the special connection between media (computer, television, film) and form. What is form? Well, of course, there is literary form: the sonnet is a poetic form that first made its way into English during the 16th century; the novel is a prose form that arrived more recently, during the 18th century. But in a broader way, everything we perceive or think is in some form or another, whether it be in the form of a word or an image. Anything formless is also unthinkable: reality must be always be formed in some way or another in order to be conceivable at all. Moreover (and this may surprise you) many literary theorists think that our idea of what it means to be a person -- the set of expectations, beliefs, feelings, and ideas we have about what it means and feels like to be a self -- took on its modern form during the late 18th century, at the moment in "the print revolution" of mass publication and mass literacy. Will "the computer revolution" change our ideas, our feelings, our sense of who we are?

This class is organized into three units: Narrative as Technology, Metaphor as Technology, Technology and Identity. The major premise of this course is that various forms (sentence structure, narrative, metaphor) are themselves "technologies." --Wait, you probably wish to say, are you suggesting that a sentence is like a car??? Well, sort of, except that it is a technology for thinking rather than for moving. What kind of technology is any given form? That is, what kinds of knowledge or feeling do various forms produce, and how? We will look at how narrative forms which change depending upon their media affect the way we tell our life stories, and consequently what we think and feel about ourselves. Metaphors provide pathways for thought and feeling without us being conscious of them: we will look at the part they play in emotions such as anger, even the explosive anger leading to violent crimes such as rape. Why look at these "old" technologies? To help us better understand the new. New media also produce forms of life and thought, sometimes by changing narrative forms (and even sentence structures, as we will see), sometimes by offering new metaphors and with them, new ways of being human. Thus in the last unit, we will look at how new technologies affect our sense of identity. What kinds of selves are now imaginable, that weren't before, given that we use digital technologies to think with, in the same way that we use sentences to think with? Of course computers enter not only into our practices and habits, but also into our dreams: how do we view ourselves now that we use computers as metaphors for delimiting what it means to be human?


History of this Class

This class has received two large grants from the State of Ohio to develop, as you can see from going to the web site we produced for that grant called "Technology and the Humanities." You can see previous versions of the class at the English Technology web site.

Work Required

This is a thinking class. In order to think well, one must read carefully, slowly, write about what one has read, and then discuss it with others who have different ideas and perspectives. Light on reading assignments (we'll read a great variety, but not a great number of pages!), this class requires the equivalent of about 3 double-spaced typed pages per week of writing. For each assignment, you will turn in a paper copy of your written response and then post it to your own Blog (which we'll help you set up). We'll return your work with suggestions for revision and will attempt to push your thinking further. It is precisely these questions that will be asked on your final exam. There will be one three-page, double-spaced, typed formal paper that is written in stages, turned in with accompanying the project you co-develop in Assignment 5. Your final Blog revisions must be completed 5/1, before the Final Exam.

Notice that 70% of your grade will come from averaging your weekly grades: it is not possible to pass this class by doing the Blog at the end of the semester. Blog assignments cannot be turned in late except under special circumstances: they are due at the time of our class meeting even if you are unable to attend class.


Web Blog, Weekly Grade


Final Exam


Assignment, Module 5, Creating Oneself In Media


Class Participation (if you are shy, post to the class listserv.


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      





Attendance is critical to your success in this course. Failure to come to class, and to come prepared, will not be looked upon with favor. Please do not expect me to sanction or otherwise tell you it is okay to miss class for anything other than documented illness or a real emergency. You are in college, and I expect you to make your own decisions about whether or not it is worth your while to attend a class for which you or someone else is paying tuition. Except in the case of sustained medical problems recognized as such by the university, more than three absences, even if some of them are excused, will lower your grade; after five absences, you will be asked to drop the class.


Create Your Blog

You are welcome to use any Blog you would like to use, as long as you can give me the URL and as long as it has the capacity to accept comments from your classmates. But if you don't have a preference, it is VERY EASY to start your Blog:

  1. Go to
  2. Follow the instructions for making your Blog.
  3. Send me the blog address:

All the URLs for Blogs will be posted at our Class Blog List Site:

As is usual with all new technologies, it is best to save your work just in case there is some kind of failure. After you work in your Blog or in the Blog of a classmate, highlight what you have written with your cursor, and then click on "Edit, Copy" at the top of your browser. Open Word and click on "Edit, Paste." Save your document as the class date (MMDDYY) in a folder called "NewTech"


George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, ISBN: 0226468011

Joseph Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace

Edward Tufte, “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” ISBN: 0-9613921-5-0

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, ISBN 0-451-52771-2

Isaac Asimov, Caves of Steel, Bantam 1991 ISBN: 0553293400

All the class readings other than these books are available at the public Web Site or here, below. When you come to a link in your Schedule (below), click on it: a new window will open containing the reading and/or the Assignment.

Some of the Readings are available via e-reserves at King Library.


Class Schedule of Readings and Assignments
Also available at:





Readings (have these items read by the time class meets)

Assignments Due at the beginning of this Class Meeting




Introduction to the Class





Spencer Holst, "The Zebra Storyteller" (online)





Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Birthmark" (online)

Assignment NT1.1




(no class on Monday)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: author's introduction through chapter 5, pp. xxi-47





Frankenstein (cont'): chapters 6 through 12, pp. 48-96

Assignment NT1.3




Frankenstein (cont'): chapters 13 through 20, pp. 97-152





Frankenstein (cont'): chapters 21 through 24 (end), pp. 153-198





clips from Frankenstein movies will be seen in class

Assignment NT1.2




Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel: author's introduction through chapter 5, pp. vii-71

"Robot Receptionist Dishes Directions and Attitude" (online)





Asimov, Caves of Steel (cont'): chapters 6 through 10, pp. 72-143





Asimov, Caves of Steel (cont'): chapters 11 through 14, pp. 144-209

Assignment NT2.1




Asimov, Caves of Steel (cont'): chapters 15 through 18 (end), pp. 210-170

Homer, The Iliad (Ian Johnson translation, online: lines 458-522)





René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (excerpt; HO)
William Dickey, "Androids," a poem in In the Dreaming, on electronic reserve

to be seen in class: excerpts from I, Robot;Star Wars (R2D2)

Assignment NT2.2




Archetypes (notes from David Leeming, Mythology, the Voyage of the Hero; HO)
Film Terms from William H. Phillips, Film: An Introduction (online)
Scott Fisher, "Storyboards," Multimedia Authoring (excerpt; HO)




Show your movies in class

Make a movie using the Learning Narrative Tool:

pick a newspaper story to create it in the tool, then tell an excerpt from your own autobiography, a story about you.




Marie-Laure Ryan, Introduction to Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling (excerpt; HO)
Barthes, Greimas, Genette: Narratology (online)

to be seen in class: excerpts from The Wizard of Oz

Assignment NT4.2




Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of the Forking Paths" (online)





(no class Monday; exchange day)

Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message"
Steven Krug, Don't Make Me Think! (excerpt, HO)
Jakob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability (excerpt, HO)





In-class presentation: Storyboarding

Team up to work in groups of 2 on Assignment 5

Part I of Assignment NT5.5 is due at the beginning of class; bring it with you to work on this assignment with a partner during class time.




Work in class with your partner on Assignment 5





Present your team-projects

Finish Assignment NT5.5: you will turn in all of it on Monday, including the storyboard designed by your peer with your peer's name on it and the web site that you designed. Make certain to write the essay described in the final part and to turn that in as well.




George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language" (online)





Joseph Williams, Style (sections on sentences as stories, active voice, nominalization)

How to Improve Crabbed Prose, and Figure Out What You Yourself Think




Edward Tufte, "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint"

Clive Thompson, "PowerPoint Makes You Dumb"
Stephen Shugart, "Beyond PowerPoint"




Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1860-61) (excerpt; online)
Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (excerpt; online)

Assignment TI1.2




projection (online)

to be seen in class: excerpts from Elephant Man





S P R I N G     B R E A K





Erving Goffman,The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (excerpt; online)

to be shown in class: excerpts from The Three Faces of Eve

Create your MOO character per MOO Instructions




MOO Class

Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet ( "Aspects of the Self," Ch. 7, online)

MOO Instructions




Discussion of MOO Class





Ovid, Metamorphoses (excerpts; handout)
Homer, The Odyssey (excerpts; handout)





Margaret Atwood, the "Circe/Mud" poems, from Selected Poems 1965-1975 (excerpts; handout)




Anne Sexton, "Cinderella" from Transformations (online)

Sut Jhally, "Image-Based Culture" (online)

Jean Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly 3 (scroll down, then click "Play Video" on the left-hand side of the screen)




The Dolls, by Jackie Kari (online)

Slide show on women in advertising

Assignment TI4.2




excerpt from Jack Goody, Intro. to Interface Between the Written and the Oral (excerpt); "Technologies of the Intellect: Writing and the Written Word" (from The Power of the Written Tradition) (HO)

George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, pp. 1-51

Assignment MTintro.2




Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (cont'), pp. 77-114

Metaphor Exercise




William Blake, “A Poison Tree” (with pictures; text only)
Judy Collins, Both Sides Now

Assignment MT1.2




George Lakoff, "Anger," from Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things (on e-reserves at the library)




Nell Bernstein, "The War Off Drugs"
Nell Bernstein, The Drug War's Littlest Victims
excerpt from, Joe Klein, "How to Build a Better Democrat"

Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (cont'), pp. 139-146

Assignment MT3.3




Philip E. Agre, "Imagining the Next War"
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, "Bomb them with Butter"
Michael T. Kaufman, [Winning the Battle, Losing the War]

Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (cont'), pp. 156-158




"A true and most dreadful discourse of a woman possessed with the Devill . . . ." (published 1584)

to be shown in class: excerpts from The Three Faces of Eve

Assignment MT4.2




Mind as printing press:

excerpt from John Locke, “Of Perception," Of Retention”
Oxford English Dictionary: Impression

Mind as Computer:

excerpt from Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”; Biography of Vannevar Bush
Steven Johnson, "Bitmapping: An Introduction"

Assignment MT6.3




Mark Taylor, The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture (excerpt; online)
J. M. Balkin, Cultural Software (excerpt; online)

Sense-dataum Theories, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Oxford English Dictionary

Current Ideas about How the Mind Works

Assignment MT6.2




Course Evaluations





Class Party






Turn in your final Blog before taking your Final Exam: cut and paste your blog into a Word document, print it out, and turn it in Monday, May 1.





DATE: Wednesday, May 3
TIME: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. -- you may not work on the exam after 11:45, so please be on time.
PLACE: 163 Upham

No one will be allowed to take the Final Exam who has not previously turned in their final Blog.


Class Assumptions -- in the form of an FAQ:

How much time should I spend on this course? The general rule of thumb for an undergraduate course is that you need to spend two hours outside of class for every hour in class. So, ordinarily you need to spend at least six hours a week in preparation for this class. Since this class meets twice a week, you need to plan your work very carefully. Waiting until Monday night to do the reading for our class isn't a very good idea.

What will the class be like? This will be a discussion class. That doesn't mean that people will simply say things off the top of their heads. It means that the work we do together will happen through the tool of disucssion. The professors are there to facillitate this work and will NOT under any circumstances do it for you. If people come unprepared, we will all sit in excruciating silence -- how this course goes is UP TO YOU. Please remember to be respectful of each other (and yourself!) in everything you say during class.

How can/should I prepare for class? Here is the single most important thing you can do to succeed in this course: make sure you have done the assigned reading before coming to class. Reading through assignments before you begin to read will help to focus your reading for a particular class; the assignments provide a basis for in-class writing and discussion. Studying with a friend is fun and helpful. And of course ask questions!

How can I become a more astute reader and critic? Try this link to "The Rational Critic."

My written English usage is not always effective; Joseph Williams's Style is an excellent guide to grammar and style. Is there any help on the Web? Take a look at Strunk's Elements of Style. It's old, but still helpful. In the most extreme cases, consider a tutor. Show us a rough draft. Have a friend read out loud what you have written; our writing never sounds so good or so unpersuasive as when someone else reads it out loud.

What is the one thing I should never ask a professor, unless I want her/him to laugh hysterically at me or to conclude that I am at best a mediocre student? Never ask any professor if s/he is going to do "anything important" in a class you are planning to cut. Of course, it's important. Read The Opportunity Cost of Missing Class (Tim Tweten).

How important are due dates? THE TWENTY-FOUR HOUR RULE. Due dates and guidelines for assignments will appear in the syllabus in a timely fashion. You are responsible for meeting them. If you miss a deadline, you must contact one of us within twenty-four hours to try to negotiate a make-up, but please remember that we do not ordinarily schedule make-ups except in instances of documented serious illness or real emergencies. Please do not abuse my patience or my understanding. Sometimes the unspeakable happens and there may be good reasons for a missed assignment; in that case, come talk to me. Wanting to leave for spring break a week early, however, is not a compelling reason.

Suppose I have a suggestion about the course, a topic I wish we could discuss, some great link I found on the Web? Talk to us; we welcome suggestions.

In order to meet the course objectives, we need to agree on some underlying Principles.

We will assume that dogmatic assertions of the "Truth" need to be examined carefully.

We will use language which is precise and accurate. I expect your spoken and written work to be in clear, meaningful, formal English appropriate to a classroom. The expression "whatever" is very popular on campus these days, yet most of the time it is the equivalent of the equally unhelpful and lazy "Ya know?" To say that slavery "sucks" is not only vulgar but does not say anything at all. Say what you mean; if you conclude that slavery is a vicious aberration of human behavior whereby one allegedly human group denies dignity and human rights to another group, then say so.

We will try to avoid any behaviors which demean or disparage individuals on the basis of their membership in particular groups (e.g., sexual orientation, gender, political ideology, physical or mental capacity, age, race, class, religion, etc.) We should all be able to expect a classroom community which is safe and comfortable. I would appreciate knowing if at any time you feel that something has been said or done which has interfered with your learning and participation in this class.

Honesty: I expect you to do your own work, to take credit for your insights and creative answers and to take responsibility for reconsidering your own misinterpretations or errors. Consult the Miami University Student Handbook about cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty, but be warned that I do not take issues of academic dishonesty lightly. Penalties range from failure on an assignment to failure in the course. Tempted by the term papers available (@$6.00-9.00 a page) on the Web? Don't be. Bear this in mind: 1) it is dishonest to claim as your own work which you have not in fact done; 2) how do you know that the author of the paper knew what s/he was doing, looked at reputable sources, didn't plagiarize something we have written or a scholar whose work we know well has written; 3) we spend our time doing literary analysis, i.e., studying texts; what are the odds that we cannot detect plagiarism, and are you really willing to risk the consequences of our discovering it? Not sure what plagiarism is or if you have inadvertently committed it? Look at this site.

Finally: If you have a condition of any kind that will affect your ability to do the work assigned in this course, please see us within the first week of class. This self-disclosure will enable us to make adjustments that will allow all students to participate fully and equitably.