Cybernetics and Ghosts: Narrative Machines and Posthumanist Fiction|
Fall 2018 not offered
Within certain texts that have been canonized under the various rubrics of postmodernist, posthumanist, and cyber fiction, there is a yearning to either discover or banish what in the mid-20th century was quaintly referred to as the "ghost in the machine." These texts offer a model of literature and of narrative as machine; produced algorithmically (e.g., via combinatorial recursion) or through the application of some experimental constraint, conceit, or gimmick, they seem to be functioning according to a program or plan rather than relating the events of a human life. Against or within this formal framing, these novels find themselves having to account for their human characters (and readers) in one of two ways: either by mechanizing them (in their motivations, their behaviors, and even their narrative desires) or by appealing ultimately to some sort of spirit, inspiration, or even ghost.
This course will examine the ways that several of these texts attempt to make sense--simultaneously--of mechanist models of the human (particularly derived from cybernetics) and of their own seemingly inorganic--and even alienating--narrative forms.
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|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)
Readings: Primary texts will include novels and stories by Georges Perec, Jorge Luis Borges, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, John Barth, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Mark Danielewski.