My Georgia Tech ENGL 1102 Class Description and Reading List for Spring 2012, “The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age Explored Through Science Fiction”

Martin Widmer’s “Tomb [V’]” (2007).
[UPDATE: I volunteered to teach three sections of ENGL1101 instead of three sections of ENGL1102 when the school made the request. This gives me an opportunity to immediately revise my ENGL1101 syllabus and try new things with my students!] In Spring 2013, I will be teaching three sections of ENGL 1102 (sections: P1, E, and M). For these sections, I will guide students toward completing and exceeding the desired educational outcomes with a class structured on the them, “The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age Explored Through Science Fiction.”

Building on the rhetorical strategies and WOVEN modalities introduced in ENGL1101, this class further develops students’ communicative and critical thinking abilities by guiding students through challenging research-based projects. The research focus of this class is on the promise and peril of the contemporary digital age. Science fiction is a uniquely suited genre for considering the digital age, because it is the only literature that is firmly situated at the intersection of science, technology, and culture. Furthermore, science fiction is a literature about the present in which it is written rather than its imagined future. With this in mind, recent science fictions comment on our present and our near future in simultaneously promising and troubling ways. Drawing on science fiction across multiple media (including novels, films, and video games) and using newly acquired tools of critical theory from cultural studies and the study of science and technology, students will develop a number of research-based projects individually and collaboratively that explore how science fiction informs and critiques the on-going digital age. All of these projects will culminate in or include a digital component (e.g., blog posts, Twitter essays, Storify curations, online videos, and Omeka archives). Also, students will learn how to use digital humanities technologies to inform their thinking and research.

Reading List:

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood, Anchor, 2004, 978-0385721677

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Broadway, 2012, 978-0307887443

Neuromancer, William Gibson, Ace, 2000, 978-0441007462

River of Gods, Ian McDonald, Pyr, 2007, 978-1591025955

Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge, Tor, 2007, 978-0812536362

Online reading:

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow [available here]

Game List:

CYPHER: Cyberpunk Text Adventure [available here]

I am still developing the class syllabus and assignments. When these are completed, I will post copies in a subsequent post.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.