SyllabusTextsFinal ProjectsEssays by ParticipantsBibliography


Art and Literature in the Digital Domain
Winter 2002

Prof. N. Katherine Hayles
English Department
2232 Rolfe Hall
310 825-3534
Prof. Bill Seaman
Department of Design | Media Arts
1300 Dickson Art Center
310 825-9007 (message)
310 794-4898 (Studio)


This course will explore new frontiers in electronic art and literature, along with the theoretical and practical challenges they raise. More and more canonical literary texts are available in electronic form; what is the difference between reading these texts on screen and reading them in print? In addition, many canonical texts are now available on CD-ROM, where the text is enhanced by sound, video, and images; how does our reading and understanding of these texts change when they are hyper-mediated? In contemporary literature, a new genre of interactive fiction is appearing that depends for its effects on electronic media; how does the construction of narrative change when the text presents the reader with multiple reading paths? Similar questions arise in electronic art. How does traditional semiotics need to be revised to account for digital art works? What do computer games and “high art” forms such as serious literature and electronic art have in common, if anything? How do image and other digital components such as sound, animation, rollovers and navigation interact in a digital environment communication? How much is creativity constrained by available interfaces? What are the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative work? How does the interaction between pattern and randomness, chance and design, inform contemporary electronic art works? What is the relation between “New Media” works and older artistic forms such as cinema and the print novel? How much of the theory and terminology developed for older media forms can be carried over to New Media, and how much needs to be changed or re-thought?

These questions will also permeate the organization of the seminar itself. The seminar will use a collaborative style of learning that emphasizes working in teams and sharing information both within our group and within a larger electronic community. Participants will be asked to do a final project in electronic form. We will take approximately 7 students from English and 7 from Design|Media Arts. Enrollment is by the permission of the instructors.