Literature and Technology

In this course we will explore the relationship between literary production and
technological innovation during the past two centuries. Throughout the semester,
we will address two key questions:

  • how have specific technologies—and in particular the social and moral implications
    of these technologies—been treated as themes in prose fiction, poems, dramas, film,
    and other literary media?
  • how have technologies such as print, cinema, hypertext, animation, and multimedia
    facilitated the development of literary forms and modes of distribution?

The issues we will discuss include the Industrial Revolution and its effect on
social relations in England and the U.S. in the nineteenth century; the development
of science fiction; the connection between technological change and the rise of literary
modernism and postmodernism; technological utopias and dystopias; the ethical
questions surrounding robots, cyborgs, and clones; and the role of computers, the
Internet, and handheld devices in our everyday lives and in the creation of innovative
works of literature.

In addition to giving you insight into the many ways literature intersects with
technology, this class is designed to build your skills in reading, critical thinking,
interpersonal communication, and argumentative writing.

This is an online class. After you register, you can access the course through
your Laulima account at Email the
instructor for further instructions.

All class activities will take place within the Laulima online learning environment.
You will interact with your classmates through required online discussions and
collaborative writing assignments.

Assignments: two 6-7 page critical analyses of assigned texts, weekly postings
to the class discussion forum (a minimum of five postings each week), a collaborative
writing project, two contributions to the collaborative Wiki encyclopedia, five quizzes,
a mid-term examination, and a final examination.

Required Texts:

  • Rebecca Harding Davis. LIFE IN THE IRON MILLS
  • Charles Dickens, HARD TIMES
  • Karel Capek, RUR
  • William Gibson, SPOOK COUNTRY
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, NEVER LET ME GO
  • “The Electronic Literature Collection”
    (available free online)
  • a course packet.


  • Fritz Lang, METROPOLIS
  • Katsuhiro Otomo, STEAMBOY