English 346a L. McGrane
M 7:30-10p.m. HU III


Topics in 18th-Century Literature:
New(s) Media and Print Culture

The English Civil War wrought massive changes in the scope, format, and distribution of printed matter in London. This course explores a century of polemic and performance as new(s) media from the mid-17th through the 18th centuries produced a wave of critical response and creative media innovation. We will read newspapers, novels, essays, poetry, and plays—works that embody and comment on fraught networks of writers, printers, and politicians. In particular we will focus on shifting representations of materiality and circulation; ownership, authority and license; citation, plagiarism and piracy. What structures might control systems of knowledge production and dissemination? What forms of readership were imagined in this anxious and ambitious marketplace?


As we immerse ourselves in this historical dialogue of cultural production, we will put these centuries in conversation with current theoretical work on digital media, interface, and embodiment. How might students situate themselves as critical producers and readers of new media today? As scholars grounded in historicized discourses of media change, students will embark on original projects in new media formats in the final third of the course—while talking with contemporary artists and current librarians engaged in multi-media production. These projects will encourage interdisciplinary approaches to the materials and thoughtful use of historical digital archives and Special Collections.


Course Requirements and Proceedings: Students will submit weekly thought experiments (20%), a midterm paper of 8 pages (20%), and a digital project + an essay of 6-8 pages (40%) on a topic of their choosing. Students will also participate in seminar discussions/presentations and complete small projects using Special Collections and online historical collections (20%). To this end we will explore the construction of the ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online) and Burney Early English newspaper digital databases, both of which offer access to eclectic materials from the period. Students will be asked to share thought experiments and participate avidly in discussions and workshops with both the Sarah Stout exhibit in Special Collections and the Brian Dettmer Elemental exhibition in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery.


Pre-requisites: Two 200-level courses or consent of instructor.
Course enrollment limited to 15


Primary Texts:
Daniel Defoe, “An Essay on the Regulation of the Press”; A Vindication of the Press”
John Dunton, The Life and Errors of John Dunton
Henry Fielding, The Author’s Farce
William Hogarth, Industry and Idleness
Delariviere Manley, The New Atalantis
John Milton, “Areopagitica”
Alexander Pope, The Dunciad
Jonathan Swift, “Tale of a Tub”; “The Battle of the Books”
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Newspapers & Periodicals (select readings):
Kingdomes Intelligencer (1660-1663 run)
London Gazette (1666-1792)
City Mercury (1675-1694)
Post Boy (1695-1728)
Flying Post (1695-1731)
The Athenian Mercury/Athenian Oracle

Theoretical Texts:
Roger Chartier, Forms and Meanings
Alexander Galloway, The Interface Effect
Julie Cohen, Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code and the Play of the Everyday
Jürgan Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
N. Katherine Hayles, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis
Adrian Johns, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates
Alan Liu, “Friending the Past: The Sense of History and Social Computing”
Jerome McGann, “Database, Interface and Archival Fever”

Exhibit/Art
Brian Dettmer, Elemental (Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Oct.-Dec. 2013
Jen Rajchel, “Who Killed Sarah Stout?” (Quaker Collections and Digital Media)