The Literature of Cyberspace
Topic: The Literature of Cyberspace
This course will track the literary development of the trope of “cyberspace,” as a way of narrating computer networks as sites or “spaces” of social interaction. That trope originated in the cyberpunk science fiction of William Gibson, and this course will focus on reading cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk novels as a set of intertextual dialogues and debates over the meaning of cyberspace and on a set of related terms, concepts, cultural fantasies, and speculative fictions, including virtual realities, immersive simulations, direct neural interfaces, prosthetic subjectivities, digitized or uploaded personalities, the disarticulation and possible rearticulation of minds and bodies, the relation of the virtual and the physical, the future of gender and race in high-tech cultures, and the emergence of network and/or surveillance societies. The focus will be on considering this body of fiction’s value in elaborating the possible cultural, political, and philosophical implications of new computer interface and communications technologies.
Primary texts will be William Gibson, Neuromancer; Pat Cadigan, Synners; Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand; Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash; Greg Egan, Diaspora; Hannu Rajaniemi, The Quantum Thief; and Cory Doctorow, Little Brother; as well as some selection of short stories, possibly including work by Rudy Rucker, Ted Chiang, Ken Liu, Aliete de Bodard, Maureen McHugh, Catherynne Valente, Charles Stross, Eugie Foster, and Nisi Shawl. We will also read some set of critical essays, possibly including work by John Walker, N. Katherine Hayles, Anne Balsamo, Hans Moravec, Fredric Jameson, Manuel Castells, Allucquere Rosanne Stone, Lisa Nakamura, and Paul Gilroy.
The primary assignment for the course will be one longer, research paper, along with some preliminary, informal writing and possibly a class presentation.