Course Information

Instructor Information

Instructor: Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Office: Linton 308A / Wells C700
Office Hours: Monday 2:30-4:00 pm and by appointment

Class Days, Times, and Location

Monday 4:10-7:00 pm
B106 Wells Hall

Course Description

As practices of reading and writing become increasingly screen-based, the materiality of our engagement with texts becomes all the more important to the ways we construct and interpret them, as well as the ways we understand what a “text” is in the first place. This course will explore the interfaces through which we read and write — including those based in paper, those that appear on screens, and perhaps some others as well — and the ways those interfaces are deployed and represented in both fiction and criticism.

Course Objectives

Through this class, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the historical development of media forms and practices.
  • Explore a selection of theories about the relationship between media forms and the literary and cultural representations they facilitate.
  • Develop their own approaches to those theories, media forms, and representations through regular writing.
  • Experiment with tools for accessing, interacting with, and interpreting literary representations across a range of media formats.

You will meet the objectives listed above through a combination of the following activities in this course:

  • Attending our weekly class meeting.
  • Completing all reading assignments prior to the class in which they are discussed.
  • Writing a weekly blog post thinking through your initial responses to and questions about the reading.
  • Commenting on a colleague’s blog post each week in order to think together about the readings.
  • Participating actively in class discussions and activities.
  • Designing, proposing, and completing a semester-long project exploring an issue, problem, or idea related to reading and writing interfaces.
  • Presenting your final project to the class.

Please note that this course is a hybrid course for undergraduate honors students (enrolled in 478A) and graduate students (enrolled in 819). There are different assignment requirements depending on which course you are enrolled in, but the core readings are the same and participants are expected to participate in discussion equally and will be evaluated on how well they achieve to the best of their abilities.

Required Texts

The following books are required course materials; they are available from the bookstore and are on reserve in the library:

  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
  • Vilém Flusser, Does Writing Have a Future?
  • Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
  • Matthew Kirschenbaum, Track Changes
  • Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist
  • Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge
  • Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark
  • Lori Emerson, Reading Writing Interfaces
  • Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen
  • Stephen Ramsay, Reading Machines

Other required essays and materials are linked in the schedule.

Additional Texts

The following books are recommended additional texts for students enrolled in 478A and required additional texts for students enrolled in 819; they should also be available in the bookstore and on reserve in the library:

  • Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality
  • Branden Hookway, Interface
  • Alexander Galloway, The Interface Effect

Course Assignments

This course requires you to complete the following assignments:

  • Weekly blog post, plus weekly comments on colleagues’ posts
  • Semester project, including proposal, outline, draft, and revision
  • Final presentation of your semester project

Additionally, students enrolled in 819 will be responsible for facilitating class discussion on one assigned date.

Technology Requirements

This course will be partly conducted online through our WordPress-based course website, available at The syllabus will be posted there with links to online course materials and additional resources. Your weekly blog posts will be posted there as well. There are no other technology requirements, though you will have the option of completing the semester project in a web-based format, if you like.