ENGL467 - Computer and Text

The World Wide Web is made of texts. This course is about the social significance of the ways these digital texts are composed and circulated. We will consider why it matters how they are written, who does the writing, and how they are distributed and read, when we aim to understand the social realities they reflect and effect. These questions lead us to examine the web from the politics of its fundamental design to the implications of this design for collaborative writing and cooperative results. Our case studies this semester include the free software movement, the Wikimedia movement and Wikipedia, and digital activism. This will give us a textual and rhetorical view of the web from its earliest collaborative practices to visions of global knowledge sharing and social justice.  There are no technical prerequisites for this course. You do not need to be—nor should you expect to become—a computer professional. Our emphasis will instead be on critical and theoretical approaches to web texts. The workload and my expectations for critical engagement and writing level will be commensurate with that of a 400-level English course. Students seeking instruction in software, programming, or web design would do best to look elsewhere. We will be using a computer-equipped classroom for weekly exercises and experiments to build on our theoretical understandings by composing some common forms of web text. 


One English course in literature or permission of department.