Professor: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Multimedia T.A.:  Shasta Turner
Office: Crookshank 110   Office: Computer Lab
Office Hours:  M 3:00-5:00 
W 10:00-12:00
  Lab Hours: W 2:45-4:15 
additional hours TBA
Phone: 607-1496   Phone: Available on request
E-mail: E-mail:

Course Description | Course Format | Assignments and Grades
A Note on Technology | Schedule | Links

Course Description:

This class will explore two dominant themes in the development of the novel over the last thirty years:  conspiracy and atomization, on the one hand, and the search for (and even the successful development of) community on the other.  We’ll primarily, though not exclusively, focus on the American novel, both those texts considered “canonical,” as well as those from emergent voices.  Over the course of the semester, we’ll hope to draw some conclusions about the cultural climate of the late twentieth century, the meaning or lack thereof of the “postmodern,” and the present status of those bastions of the humanities (the novel, the author, the individual) that seem so endangered in the age of the computer.

But we’ll call that technological threat into question by using computer technologies to facilitate this exploration.  Following the theories elaborated by George Landow in Hypertext 2.0, we’ll use hypertext as a means of modeling the kind of intertextual reading that the postmodern novel demands.  This hypertext work will culminate in the development of web-based projects that will lay the groundwork for a new web site, tentatively entitled Postmodernism is/in Fiction.

Course Format:
This course is not a lecture course.  Instead, our work together will revolve around discussion, both in class and via Web Crossings, oral presentations, and group projects.  To facilitate this work, I will be splitting the class into two groups after the third meeting.  Half will meet for seminar-style discussion and presentations on Mondays, and the other half on Wednesdays.  During the class period when you do not meet with me, you will meet either with Shasta for computer lab work or with one another for team project work.  We’ll come together as a large group for presentations at mid-term and at the end of the semester.

There’s a catch here, of course:  because our work this semester will be so dependent on the work of everyone else in the class, your participation and preparedness are indispensable, and will be graded.  You will be permitted one unexcused absence; each further absence will lower your final grade.

Assignments and Grades:
Attendance and participation:  See above. (10%)

Web Crossings responses and discussion:  Our discussions of each novel we read will originate on the class Web Crossings site (and hopefully continue there after we’ve met!).  Each group will have its own folder; each week, one member of the group will be responsible for posting some careful, considered questions or thoughtful responses to the reading, at least 48 hours in advance of class time.  Between that time and noon the day of our in-class discussion, every other member of the group will be required to respond in some fashion, whether with suggested interpretations or further questions.  These writings will not be graded individually, but they are required, and they will result in one cumulative response grade, based on the thoughtfulness and insight they represent.  (15%)

Oral Presentation:  Each student will facilitate the in-class discussion on the week they lead the Web Crossings discussion, by opening the class with a ten-minute presentation on the novel.  The orientation of this presentation is open to the individual student’s discretion, and may revolve around the novel’s historical or factual background, the critical response to the text, or any theoretical or interpretive approach to the novel that will foster interesting discussion.  Two things are discouraged, however:  the presentations should not focus on biographical criticism (though some information about the author may be interesting, we’re far more interested in the text than in the writer), and the presentations should not rehash the work already done on Web Crossings.  (15%)

Two Short Web Assignments:  These two assignments will begin the work that will culminate in your final project.  The first will ask you to select the novel you want to work with over the course of the semester (which may or may not be the novel upon which you present), choose a crucial piece of text from that novel, and do a preliminary hypertext markup, creating links that provide a way of read that text that illuminates the novel as a whole.  The links you create in this assignment will be crafted from your own critical writing.  The second assignment will ask you to compile an annotated bibliography/webography for the novel you are working with, finding and presenting critical, theoretical, and other secondary sources that illuminate your text.  You will post this work on a Web Crossings page, to which your peers will respond.  Further instructions on each assignment will be posted on the class web site two weeks before they are due.  (15% each)

Final Web-Based Project:  In this project, you have free reign; the two short web assignments will provide key pieces, but by no means all, of the material you require.  This project should be revealing, engaging, and dazzling.  We’ll talk more about the criteria for this project as the semester progresses; as an example of this type of work, however, you should study the Pynchon web site developed by Brian Stonehill’s students (  Your final grade on this project will be assessed by your peers based on their examination of your work and your presentation of it at the end of the semester.  (20%)

Peer Evaluations:  You will be called upon, as noted above, to assess your peers’ performance, assisting in the determination of their grades.  For the oral presentation, the first assignment, and the final project, you will fill out an evaluation sheet with a grade and turn it in to me; Shasta and I will distill the information from the class and present it to the student without evaluators’ names attached.  For the second assignment, you will comment directly upon the student’s Web Crossings page, and Shasta and I will determine grades.  More information on this process will follow.  (10%)

A Note on Technology:
If you’ve never done any web-page work, don’t know HTML, and haven’t a clue what a hypertext might look like, here’s the first rule:  don’t freak out.  Shasta is here to instruct and assist with the technology as needed.  I’m available and happy to brainstorm or troubleshoot with you.  You’ll spend time in the computer lab (with and without Shasta) on the day you’re not in class, and in some classes we’ll talk about theories of hypertext and issues of web site assessment.  But make sure you take an active stance toward learning what you need to know in order to complete your assignments.  Look to your peers for support — the woman next to you may well be a web whiz.  And though your final projects will largely represent individual work, you will be encouraged to produce that work through collaboration with your classmates.

Jan. 20 Full Group:  Introduction
Jan. 25 Full Group:  Discussion of essays on postmodernism
Jan. 27 Full Group:  Discussion of selection from Landow, Hypertext 2.0
Feb. 1 & 3 Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
Feb. 8 & 10 Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
Feb. 15 & 17 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970) 
Feb. 22 & 24 Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (1980)
March 1 & 3 Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985) 
First web assignment due
March 8 & 10 Full Group:  Presentation of and responses to first web assignment; discussion of hypertext
March 15 & 17  No Class
March 22 & 24  Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy (1986)
March 29 & 31 William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984) 
Second web assignment due
April 5 & 7 Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless (1989)
April 12 & 14 Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters (1990)
April 19 & 21 Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)
April 26 & 28 Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998) 
Final web project due
May 3 & 6 Full Group:  Final project presentation and evaluation


Postmodernism and Cyberculture  Voice of the Shuttle
Alan Liu's huge collection of links for the study of the humanities (virtually every major time period and topic) really shouldn't be missed.  It's an excellent place to start gathering resources.  For this class, take a look at his Literary Theory Page (with links to more information on postmodernism) and his Cyberculture Page
Thomas Pynchon  San Narciso College Thomas Pynchon Web Page
The Pomona site you've heard so much about!  A very helpful and informative site, and an excellent place to go for inspiration while designing your own web pages. 
Ishmael Reed Contemporary Authors:  Ishmael Reed
This site--from a course project at the University of Iowa--illustrates perfectly how backgrounds can be detrimental to web sites.  However, if you can manage to see the text, you'll find interesting information. 

Ishmael Reed Awarded MacArthur "Genius" Grant
An interesting article on Reed's award.  Good for getting your "sea legs" on who Reed is and what he's written. 

Gabriel García Márquez  Macondo:  A Gabriel García Márquez Web Site
A beautifully designed site with wonderful links. 
Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie
Subir Grewal's great collection of Rushdie links. 

SALON Features:  Salman Rushdie
A fascinating interview with the controversial writer. 

Don DeLillo Don DeLillo's America
Excellent links provide access to a wide variety of DeLillo resources. 
Paul Auster Paul Auster and the Crisis of the Individual
Material from a dissertation-in-progress at the University of Hamburg. 
William Gibson Postmodern Science Fiction and Cyberpunk
The links place Neuromancer in its larger generic context. 

A Interview with William Gibson
The page title claims that the interview took place in 1984, but cites material from later years, which makes it difficult to date.  Despite this flaw and a total lack of links, the page has interest value.  Gibson discusses his influences, projects, and thoughts on technology. 

Kathy Acker Contemporary Authors:  Kathy Acker
Another site that falls into the "questionable background but interesting information" category. 

Bohemian Ink's page on Kathy Acker
The Acker page from a site that focuses on experimental art and poetry.  (NB:  dig around a bit in the main site--it has pages on Gibson, García Márquez, and several other authors of interest!) 

Jessica Hagedorn Jessica Hagedorn:  Cultivating the Art of the Melange
An article about Hagedorn from Third Rave
Richard Powers The Salon Interview:  Richard Powers
An interview with Powers by Laura Miller of Salon Magazine
Toni Morrison Anniina's Toni Morrison Page
Includes links to biographies, bibliographies, and interviews. 

Nobel Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison
The transcript of an on-line chat with Morrison. 

Please e-mail Shasta any helpful links you find!

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