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WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD CYBERSPACE? WHAT DO YOU SEE? WHAT DO YOU KNOW? Since the inception of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the discipline of ‘digital studies’, the notion and imagining of cyberspace has been deeply celebrated, contested, and colonized. Long before Keanu Reaves donned sunglasses and leather trenchcoat, William Gibson in the early 1980s coined the term ‘cyberspace’ and jacked the culture into the (many-layered) world of cyberpunk. From Burning Chrome, Gibson describes cyberspace, describes the matrix as “an abstract representation of the relationships between data system...bright geometries...Towers and fields of it ranged in the colorless nonspace...the electronic consensus-hallucination...” So what is cyberspace? Is it a place? Is it a space? Is it thought or body or machine or all of the above? Cyberspace has been touted as the ultimate frontier, the promise land where all ground is level for all people, the time and place where you can be anything you want. Cyberspace has been criticized for its lack of definition, its commercialization, its slipperiness when it comes to identity, community, and access. Cyberspace has even been demonized as the shadowy lair of thieves, perverts, sexual predators, terrorists, and subversives. Is cyberspace any of these things? All of these things and more?
This class, in broad strokes, will investigate and interrogate the idea, the material, and the manifestations of cyberspace, primarily in the US, through the lenses of literature and writing. This class will look at, explore, and tease apart what we believe to be a monolithic, all-powerful (and now completely naturalized) construction and convention and take into consideration historical context, commodification, technology, and the intersection of race, gender, class, and identity on- and off-line. We will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about (and surfing, mining, and clicking) cyberspace in literature, in film, in theory, and in everyday use. In other words, we will look at texts about cyberspace and cyberspace itself as text.
Welcome to English 111: Composition (Q Fall Quarter 2006-07)
Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote, “First sentences are doors to worlds.” In a manner of speaking, English 111 is the first sentence of your university experience. This class is a first step, a first look, and often a first in-depth exploration of literature, of academic writing about literature, of reading for writing, of scholarly research, and of rhetoric. The class takes as a basic assumption that writing is a skill and that, like any skill, it can be improved through guided practice. In this class, we will work to develop, challenge, and enhance the writing skills you already possess into the skills and intuitions necessary for academic and professional success. In a fundamental way, English 111 is a gateway class, a class that will set a critical and analytical standard and inform and influence and hopefully enrich your other courses.
English 111 promises a quarter of writing, reading, discussion, library research, asking questions, more writing, revision, more reading, more discussion, critical thinking, analysis, fun, and even more writing and revision. It is a writing class after all. We will engage texts small and large, everyday and theoretical and pay close attention to the tactics of writing and rhetorical devices the authors employ. This particular incarnation of 111 also promises a healthy inclusion of new media, film, technology, popular culture, cultural studies, politics, gender studies, everyday activism, and experiential learning. Through all of these things, you will learn the principles behind academic arguments, claims, evidence, and analysis; you will develop rubrics of proofreading, revision, workshopping, research, and MLA citation; and you will learn how to apply these skills in your writing persuasively, responsibly, thoughtfully, and stylistically. By the end of the quarter, the goal is that you will be well versed in the English 111 course outcomes and be prepared to face the writing and reading challenges you encounter with the confidence and competence of a critical reader, writer, student, and citizen.
For many, the prospect of taking English 111 is less than ideal. The course, over the years, has grown in both renown and infamy. English 111 is a difficult class, a time-consuming class, a meticulous class, a challenging class. It is a skills class. And at times it is a hard class. For many, it is only a required class that must be suffered and survived. Hopefully, though, English 111 will be more than just a requirement. Hopefully, you will come to realize that it is necessary and a foundation-building class with benefits that reach into your other classes, your time at the university, and beyond.
Message of the Day
Important class announcements, notes, comments, and suggestions will be made in-class and via email. Please be sure to check your email regularly for messages of the day. Messages will have "[English 111]" in the subject line. MOTDs will also be archived here.