Hallucinating Mirrors
Literature, Film, Art, and the Internet in the Age
of the Smartphone and the Digital Humanities

Dr. William Anthony Nericcio (cyberindex | wiki | twitter)

Engl 220: Hallucinating Mirrors Channels/Resources



his is not just an "introduction to literature" class--or, at the very least, that phrase, that description, does not embody our ambitions nor our dreams. Our Fall 2015 experimental literary/art/cinema/web festival will focus on the metaphor of "hallucinating mirrors" as we explore the deliciously and outrageously damaged psyches, minds, and art of women and men in some of the most challenging and eye-opening texts you’ve ever sampled before.

And we come to this collaborative hallucinatory experiment focused on literature at a weird moment in history, a watershed epoch in the history of technology/knowledge--a moment, as rumors have it, where we are witnessing the Death of the Book.

But is it a “death” or a murder?

And, if the latter, “Who done it?”

The first suspect? The Movies or cinema (if you want to be fancy)--the heralded and infamous wonders of the silver screen heaping gasoline on the already burning, pristine pages of literary history. Next suspect? Television, the infamous "boob-tube," a technological innovation that invaded every home in America and turned us all into a nation of brain-addled, screen-sucking zombies. Next Perp? Computers and the Internet, with their insidiously addictive delights--memes that last a day or two but yank on the collective unconscious like heroin or worse. The last likely suspect? Our ubiquitous smartphones and social media apps—Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram lighting the match that burned Literature forever.

But don’t worry—there’s a happy ending (the ghost of literature not at all keen on making an early exit). The premise of this 16 week class is that the ghostly hallucination of literature will live on—evolving, mutating, transmogrifying. Literature survives and thrives, in books, on screens, in theatres, and, even, scrawled on bathroom walls… The need to leave a trace of ourselves, a tattoo of our existence, cannot be killed.

The SDSU catalogue says this is what English 220 will give you:

But that is not enough for us. We will want more.   Much more!

Still, we will need to show caution. We will have to be careful with these formidable, sometimes toxic/caustic narratives! Eyes wide open, so to speak: these textual mirrors, concealing nothing, revealing all, are not without their tricks, not without their surprises, and the fractured souls they flaunt before our eyes will test our intellect, imagination, and, most deeply, our emotions.

The final list of works is still under consideration, but the working list of books will include: Olivas's Things We Do Not Talk About, Sheppard's Explorer of the Mind: The Biography of Sigmund Freud, Plascencia’s People of Paper, Yuknavitch's Dora: A Head Case, Stevenson's Jeckyl & Hyde,  Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Fuentes’s Aura, Clowes’s Ghost World, Olivas's Things We Do Not Talk About, Murakami's After Dark, and Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. {Note, my book, Tex[t]-Mex, is an optional book for the class--NOT REQUIRED!!!}

Works of cinema, screened in class for free include: Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, Shainberg’s Secretary, Polanski’s Venus in Furs, and Iñarritu's Birdman.

This course is open to ALL undergraduates without regard to your selected major or minor and assumes no expertise in literature, film, or fine art. If you are breathing, have an imagination, and are not easily offended by adult issues, themes and images then you should seriously consider coming along for the ride.

Warning:  This is a university-level course in literature, film, art, and the internet--as it is thematically focused on issues of representation, subjectivity, psychology, and sexuality, it should not come as a shock that students in the class may, from time to time, encounter characters, ideas, situations, images, and scenarios that they find makes them uneasy.


The antithesis of a place of worship, the flipside of a space dedicated to faith and belief, the university is a site of questioning, a sacred space of critical thinking, skepticism, cynicism and irony.

This course is open to ALL undergraduates without regard to your selected major or minor and assumes no expertise in literature, film, or fine art. If you are breathing, have an imagination, and are not easily offended by adult issues, themes and images, then you should seriously consider coming along for the ride.

Upper division undergraduates and graduate students interested in taking this class for credit, should see me in office hours or write me at memo@sdsu.edu
Working List of Required Books:

A note about purchasing books in our special, outrageous, and experimental introduction to literature class... You might be asking yourself, "should I go ebook or old school paper-book?"  For the purposes of this section of English 220, you MUST 'go old school,' 'old gangster,' and buy or rent the real thing--and, though i don't care WHERE you purchase/rent this paper artifact, make sure it is the edition they carry in the campus bookstore! Why? So that we will all be on the same page during discussions, in-class writing assignments, quizzes, etc.  Another thing: I negotiated some cheaper prices on books and these sale prices may only be available at our campus bookstore (so if you go and shop online for all your books, you may lose out on a deal).

You may have heard we are living through the age of the 'Death of the Book.' Don't buy the hype. Just as a Biology 101 professor might scoff at you if you walked into an anatomy lab wanting to use your 'scalpel app', or an archeology prof on a dig would faint if you wanted to use your 'shovel app,' it's the same thing here. Literature is about books--paper, black ink, paste, etc.  As to whether you should rent or buy--keep in mind that literature books are NOT textbooks. They actually look good on your shelves and tell the world a lot about yourself--basically, they are an intellectual mirror of your tastes, range, and depth. That said, it is YOUR call.


I/EYEGASM Books via Aztec Shops!

I/EYEGASM Books via KB Books!

I/EYEGASM Books via Powells!

I/EYEGASM Books via Amazon!

Who is visiting our hallucinating mirror?