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Cuneiform to Kindle: Fragments of a Material History of Literature

RL&L 234
Fall 2021
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: COL 232, MDST 231, WLIT 261
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate, Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

This course provides a theoretical and historical investigation of diverse media of literary expressions from clay tablets to digital texts. We will inquire into the history of writing through different technologies and modes of composition, circulation, and reception from antiquity to the present day. By engaging in such topics as the transition from scroll to codex, from manuscript to print, and from book to Kindle, we will consider the history of literacy in relation to other forms of expression (oral, visual, networked) and analyze different practices of organizing textual materials (punctuation, paragraphing, annotation). We will scrutinize paratextual elements (title, front matter, opening information, foreword) and various forms of verbal accretions (glosses, commentaries, editorial interventions). We will examine shifting notions of authorship and originality and explore different systems of storage (libraries, archives, museums). And by questioning the multifaceted, nondeterministic interplay between literary artifacts and the media by which they are formalized and materially formed, we will provide a critical and historical reflection on the nature of textuality, writing, and media.

Readings will set essays in the history of the book and media studies alongside key literary case studies from various periods and geographical areas. Projects will engage with textual materiality (including through the creation of book-objects of our own). The course will be conducted in English.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RLAN
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(CSCT)(ITST)(MDST-MN)(MDST)(MDST-Art/Arch)(MDST-History)(MDST-Lang/Lit)(MDST-Phil/Reli)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on JUL-23-2024
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