Theory & Method
on the Internet

ENGL 203 | Prof. Daniel Scott Snelson
http://dss-edit.com | dsnelson @ humnet
Thursdays | Kaplan Hall A56 | 3:00-5:50pm
Office Hours: danny snelson .youcanbook.me

 

Abstract

Research on and about the internet is characterized by information overload—too many genres, platforms, approaches, fields, and disciplines—put simply, too much information (TMI). This seminar explores emerging trends in scholarship on the internet with a focus on theoretical and methodological approaches to network culture. We will study recent monographs from a diverse array of fields including media theory, code and platform studies, poetry and poetics, critical race studies, visual culture, game studies, art and art history, gender and sexuality studies, cinema studies, digital humanities, and communication studies, among others. In each instance, we’ll chart how and why literary approaches to the internet might interface with these fields. The course will be built on works published within the recent past and as they surface throughout the quarter. New works will be paired with optional readings in related constellations and foundational texts for further research. The final set of readings will be determined in collaboration with seminar participants. Course requirements include: an oral presentation, weekly response posts, an annotated bibliography and a final research paper/project exploring new methods in digital scholarship.

All featured texts should be read in print—or at least the introduction. Participants encouraged to acquire print books where possible. The rest of the texts will be made available online. Access to the full course digital repository will be granted on the first session (and may be requested by the public via email). 

As a general outline for the course, take note that these are broad strokes subject to change. This seminar is fully interactive, growing and responding to its users. Each week will build on previous weeks, class conversations, and the directions that our study of TMI happens to follow. The content syllabus will be updated regularly as a result, though the requirement will remain fixed. The syllabus will only be completed after we finish the course, and all research (including your own) has been collected.

Given the brevity of the quarter, unexcused absences will cut into your participation percentage. If you must miss a class, it is your responsibility to make arrangements with me both before and after the absence. Proposals for interaction commensurate with a three-hour seminar session will be accepted. 

Participants will gain familiarity with a wide range of disciplinary approaches to writing about the internet. Skills for navigating the monograph using digital research methods will be developed. Independent research and creative synthesis will be highlighted. Scholarly techniques covered include the annotated bibliography, the public presentation, the collective synthesis, and the creative research project. Above all, this seminar incubates new and unlikely connections—among a diverse array of disciplinary perspectives—toward writing and reading on and about the internet. 

Between seminar sessions, we’ll continue an ongoing conversation over Discord. An invitation and signup to the dedicated (private) server will occur on our first meeting. This is a platform for informal conversation and advance preparation for seminar meetings and course actions. Responsive posts are encouraged.

Laptops or devices will be necessary for certain tasks. At some points in conversation, they will be banned. Laptops are required for every session, as experiments or research questions may arrive on the fly. I welcome any questions about technology or technical tasks at any point of the quarter.

This course aims to facilitate access to research and exploration across a variety of platforms. Please don’t hesitate to draw attention to any point of access that might be improved: from the lighting of the classroom, the size of text, the format of conversation, and so forth. All possible accommodations will be made. Additionally, or for more information, you may contact the CAE at (310) 825-1501, or at the CAE office at A255 Murphy Hall, or access the CAE website at www.cae.ucla.edu.

Course Actions Due Date % of Grade
Seminar Attendance & Participation. This is a conversation-based course. We only get to meet on a handful of occasions—your input in each session is paramount to the course's function & collective success. In this regard, I'll also note that grades will be non-qualitative throughout.
Ongoing
20%
Discord Server Interactions. Continuing conversation from the seminar room to Discord. Gathering & sharing resources. Building & maintaining informal discourse.

Each week should feature at least:
  • One key question for conversation on the featured text.
  • One key takeaway re: theory/method from the featured text.
Ongoing, due Weds. evenings
10%
Presentation & Discord Synthesis. Informal presentation / conversation starter for a selected date. Synthesize Discord queries & conversation with an overview of pressing questions on the reading.
Sign-up
10%
Annotated Bibliography. Select five constellation entires over the quarter to annotate. One paragraph per entry. These selections should build toward your research project. A bibliographic template will be distributed & discussed in the second session of the seminar.
1-3 due 11.14.19.

4-5 due 12.5.19.
20%
Pecha Kucha. Final session final project rapid-fire presentations.
12.5.19
10%
Final Research Project. Open format, 10 pages or equivalent depth in experimental form of your choice. Must synthesize and respond to course materials. Collaboration, invention, exploration all encouraged.
12.13.19
30%

Primary Text

Constellations & Redirections

Week 0 Shadow/Offline Libraries

Karaganis, Joe. Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education. 2018.

Warwick, Henri. Radical Tactics of the Offline Library. 2014.

 

Daws, Simon, ed. Media Theory 1.1: Manifestoes. 2017

Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities. 2016.

Rogers, Richard. Digital Methods. 2013.

Schreibman, Susan, Raymond George Siemens, and John Unsworth. A New Companion to Digital Humanities. 2016.

Week 1 – 10.3 Internet Archives

De Kosnik, Abigail. Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom. 2016.

 

 Presented by: Andrea & Brenda

Brillenburg Wurth, Kiene, Kári Driscoll, and Jessica Pressman. Book Presence in a Digital Age. 2018.

Brügger, Niels, and Ralph Schroeder. The Web As History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present. 2017.

Buerger, Manuel, Dragan Espenschied, and Olia Lialina. Digital folklore. 2009.

Hayles, Katherine N. , and Jessica Pressman. Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era. 2013.

Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. 2012.

Pressman, Jessica. Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media. 2013.

Springer, Anna-Sophie, Etienne Turpin, Kirsten Einfeldt, and Daniela Wolf. Fantasies of the Library. 2015.

Stephens, Paul. The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing. 2015.

Sterne, Jonathan, Darin David Barney, E. Gabriella Coleman, and Christine Ross. The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age. 2016. 

Week 2 10.10 — Annotate/Explore/Plan

 

Archey, Karen and Robin Peckham. Art Post-Internet: INFORMATION / DATA. 2014

Briz, Nick, Evan Meaney, Rosa Menkman, William Robertson, Jon Satrom, and Jessica Westbrook. GLI.TC/H 20111: READER[ROR]. 2011.

Bulajić, Viktorija Vesna. Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow. 2010.

Cohen, Kris. Never Alone, Except for Now: Art, Networks, Populations. 2017.

Cornell, Lauren, and Ed Halter. Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century. 2015.

Funkhouser, Christopher Thompson. Prehistoric Digital Poetry An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995. 2009.

Groys, Boris. In the Flow. 2018.

Kholeif, Omar, et al. You Are Here: Art After the Internet. 2017.

Quaranta, Domenico. Collect the WWWorld: The Artist As Archivist in the Internet Age. 2011.

Scholz, Trebor, and Nathan Schneider. Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet. 2017.

Week 3 — 10.17 Mass Digitization

Thylstrup, Nanna Bonde. The Politics of Mass Digitization. 2019.

 

Presented by: Emma & Brett

Bernes, Jasper. The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization. 2019

Curran, James, Natalie Fenton, and Des Freedman. Misunderstanding the Internet. 2016.

Fuller, Matthew, and Andrew Goffey. Evil Media. 2012.

Han, Byung-Chul, and Erik Butler. In the Swarm: Digital Prospects. 2017.

Hui, Yuk. On the Existence of Digital Objects. 2016.

Jones, Meg Leta. Ctrl + Z: The Right to Be Forgotten. 2018.

Kinder, Marsha, and Tara McPherson. Transmedia Frictions: The Digital, the Arts, and the Humanities. 2014.

Liu, Alan. Friending the Past: The Sense of History in the Digital Age. 2019. 

McGann, Jerome. A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction. 2014.

Tenen, Dennis. Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation. 2017. 

Week 4 — 10.24 Media Genealogy 

Hu, Tung-HuiA Prehistory of the Cloud. 2016.

Reviews: 1, 2, 3 & Rhizome Interview

 

Presented by: Dylan & Matthew

Bratton, Benjamin H. The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. 2016. 

Brügger, Niels. The Archived Web: Doing History in the Digital Age. 2018.

Gitelman, Lisa. “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron. 2013.

Gitelman, Lisa. Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents. 2014. 

Halpern, Orit. Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason Since 1945. 2015.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Track Changes: a Literary History of Word Processing. 2017.

Mailland, Julien, and Kevin Driscoll. Minitel: Welcome to the Internet. 2017.

Parikka, Jussi. A Geology of Media. 2015. 

Peters, John Durham. The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media. 2016.

Starosielski, Nicole. The Undersea Network. 2015.

Sterne, Jonathan. MP3: The Meaning of a Format. 2013.

Week 5 10.31 — Network Surveillance

Browne, Simone. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. 2015.

Reviews: 1, 2, 3 & Media/Interviews

 

Presented by: Nick & Salvador

Apprich, Clemens, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Florian Cramer, and Hito Steyerl. Pattern Discrimination. 2019.

Benjamin, Ruha. Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. 2019.

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics. 2008

Galloway, Alexander R., and Eugene Thacker. The Exploit: A Theory of Networks. 2007.

Galloway, Alexander R. The Interface Effect. 2012.

Joque, Justin. Deconstruction Machines: Writing in the Age of Cyberwar. 2018.

Losh, Elizabeth, and Jacqueline Wernimont. Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities. 2019. 

McKelvey, Fenwick. Internet Daemons: Digital Communications Possessed. 2018.

Nakamura, Lisa, and Peter Chow-White. Race After the Internet. 2013.

Srnicek, Nick. Platform Capitalism. 2016.

Steyerl, Hito. The Wretched of the Screen. 2013.

Week 6 — 11.7 Algorithmic Bias

Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. 2018.

 

 

Presented by: Dandi, Kaia, & Enrique

Burdick, Anne, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Samuel Presner, and Jeffrey T. Schnapp. Digital_Humanities. 2012.

Dobson, James E. Critical Digital Humanities: The Search for a Methodology. 2019.

Eve, Martin Paul. Close Reading with Computers: Textual Scholarship, Computational Formalism, and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. 2019. 

Fuller, Matthew. Software Studies: A Lexicon. 2008.

Hicks, Mar. Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing. 2018.

Jockers, Matthew Lee. Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History. 2013. 

Manovich, Lev. Software Takes Command. 2013.

Ramsay, Stephen. Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism. 2011. 

Roberts, Sarah T. Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media. 2019.

Tettegah, Sharon Y., and Safiya Umoja Noble. Emotions, Technology, and Design. 2016.

Underwood, Ted. Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change. 2019.

Week 7 — 11.14 Media Politics

El-Ariss, Tarek. Leaks, Hacks, and Scandals: Arab Culture in the Digital Age. 2019.

Interview; Review2, 3

 

Presented by: Anthony

Duarte, Marisa Elena. Network Sovereignty Building the Internet Across Indian Country. 2017.

Fielitz, Maik, and Nick Thurston. Post-Digital Cultures of the Far Right. Online Actions and Offline Consequences in Europe and the US. 2019.

Galloway, Alexander R., Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark. Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation. 2014.

Lunenfeld, Peter. The Secret War between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer As Culture Machine. 2011.

Mejias, Ulises Ali. Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World. 2013. 

Muhanna, Elias, ed. The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies. 2016. 

Nagle, Angela, and Mary Sarah. Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. 2017. 

Raley, Rita. Tactical Media. 2009.

Smith, Micheal D., and Rahul Telang. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment. 2017.

Week 8 — 11.21 Network Aesthetics

Jagoda, Patrick. Network Aesthetics. 2016.

 

Presented by: Jesslyn & Austin

 

Boluk, Stephanie, and Patrick LeMieux. Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames. 2017.

Drucker, Johanna. Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production. 2014 

Emerson, Lori. Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound. 2014.

Janich, Peter, Eric Hayot, and Lea Pao. What Is Information?: A Mythological Critique. 2018. 

Ludovico, Alessandro. Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894. 2012.

Mandell, Laura. Breaking the Book. 2015.

Milburn, Colin. Respawn: Gamers, Hackers, and Technogenic Life. 2018.

Milburn, Colin. Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter. 2015.

Montfort, Nick, P Baudoin, J Bell, I Bogost, J Douglass, MC Marino, and M Mateas. 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)) :GOTO 10. 2014.

Phillips, Whitney, and Ryan M. Milner. The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online. 2018.

Week 9 — 11.28 HOLIDAY

Week 10 — 12.5 Ordinary Media

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. 2017.

 

Presented by: Shannon

 

Bardini, Thierry. Junkware. 2011.

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. 2015.

Brouillette, Sarah. Literature and the Creative Economy. 2014.

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. 2011.

Dinnen, Zara. The Digital Banal: New Media and American Literature and Culture. 2018.

Eichhorn, Kate. The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media. 2019.

Ernst, Wolfgang, and Jussi Parikka. Digital Memory and the Archive. 2013.

Finn, Ed. What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing. 2017.

Hodge, James. Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art. 2019.

McGlotten, Shaka. Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality. 2013.

Pettman, Dominic. Infinite Distraction: Paying Attention to Social Media. 2016.