Lit & Technology

While we tend to
think of technology as distinctly modern—computers, atomic energy,
cybernetics—in fact technology has shaped human culture and consciousness since
humans have been in existence. Indeed, technology is inseparable from the state
of being human, woven into the fabric of our biology (the Indo-European root,
teks-,” means “to
weave, fabricate, make”). Like the gift of fire from Prometheus,
technology gives humans a seemingly god-like power to fashion our environment,
each other—and, in some beliefs, the gods themselves. Technology allows us to
extend our senses and our imaginations to create and share previously
unimaginable realities—including realities whose consequences quite often go
beyond our imaginations and our control.


This course will
focus on verbal and visual communication technologies that have shaped human
consciousness in different historical periods and different cultural formations
from cave paintings and oral epics to print literature and film. A great deal
of the texts will focus on works that speculate on imaginary worlds or
realities shaped by as-yet undeveloped technologies: that is, “science
fiction.” Ever since the first “true” science fiction novel,
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818),
such imaginative works not only anticipate but have enabled future modes of
being human—or “post-human.”

Major Texts

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein,
or, A Modern Prometheus

Philip K. Dick, Do
Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

William Gibson, Count

Neal Stephenson, The
Age (1995)

A substantial
Course Reader will also be required (materials posted on Laulima)



Fritz Lang, Metropolis

James Whale, Frankenstein

Stanley Kubrick, 2001:
A Space Odyssey

Ridley Scott, Blade
(1982, 1992, 2007)

James Cameron, Terminator
2: Judgment Day

Ridley Scott, Prometheus


Major Requirements

Reading Blogs:
A 300-400 word reading response for each day’s reading will be posted on
Laulima. Grade will include responses to others’ blogs.

Two 4-5 page
essays; one must be revised

Final Research
Essay or Project: 6-8 pages

Students will be assigned two reports on topics related to class.

Final Exam:
Take home, essay-type exam