From Westworld to Black Mirror, From Ex-Machina to Futurama, the world of entertainment is mesmerized by our ongoing revolution in artificial intelligence, robotics, and super-computing. In honor of this machine-dominating turn of events (where even your innocent smartphone knows more about you than you do) our playful, experimental and improvisational Fall 2018 section of Introduction to Literature will be a wonderland filled with bizarre, alluring fictional bodies (some robots masquerading as humans; some humans with little humanity at all).
Robotic Erotic Electric
or "I"//Eye Robot
English 220.06 Fall 2018
Tuesdays and Thursday @11am
GMCS 333, aka "The Robot Hive"
Professor William Nericcio
Along the way we will read and witness some incredible storytelling. We will prowl the remarkable and haunting nightmares of Ira Levin's THE STEPFORD WIVES and peruse the haunting hallucinations of Franz Kafka; the madness-laced prose of Charlotte Perkins Gilman will beguile us even as the psychologically complex (both hilarious and sad) painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat tempt us to see beyond machines to the bad wiring that has always infected what we call "the human."
But we will only have 15 weeks to introduce ourselves to the range of artifacts that masquerade as Literature at the dawn of the 21st Century, so things will zip along at an amphetamine-laced pace! Make no mistake about it: this is NOT a survey of long, white-haired, sedate, upper-crust, high literature folks--we will be as obsessed with art, film, photography, and the internet, as we will the trappings of traditional literature.
More an introduction to Cultural Studies than a long-in-the-tooth worship festival of the old classics (sorry Shakespeare, get-out th'way Milton, adios Edmund Spenser), our multi-media exercise in fictional fetishism will try to set itself apart with vivacious books, paintings, and film filled with tortured, robotic, broken imaginations. We will be strive to be eccentric (ex-centric, outside the circle) as we explore the world of alternative subjectivities, "televisual" constructions (think Facebook) where individuals make and remake themselves on a daily basis.
The Chris Cunningham-directed music video for Bjork, All is Full of Love summarizes many of the major themes and obsessions of our Robotic Erotic Electric class
The phrase "Robotic Erotic Electric" will drive our curiousity as we try to understand why our species creates versions of itself that it then re-markets (to itself) in various media: books, film, photography, the web, etc. Are we becoming more "machine" as we fuse our consciousness with our smartphone and share our deepest intimacies with Mark Zuckerberg and the invisible, nameless folks running Tinder? It turns out that the seductive fantasies, grotesque nightmares, and alluring hallucinations that our creative writers, directors, photographers, artists, philosophers make (shamans of fiction, all) form a key part of what we call our psyche: the psychology or soul that passes for the person you tell people you are.
The class is open to all majors and minors and presumes no prior love or, even, experience with literature and cultural studies.
ENGL-220 INTRODUCTION TO LITERATUR
Section 06 | Schedule #21340
Units 3.0 | Meetings Lecture 1100-1215, TTH | GMCS-333
Note: NO DIGITAL BOOKS ALLOWED--all students must bring their delicious literary jewels made of paper, ink, and glue to our imagination laboratory / classroom for class discussion!
Also--note that the book links provided below are included to ensure you pick up the correct edition of the required books, NOT to make Jeff Bezos more money at Amazon. All the correct editions are available from Aztec Shops Bookstore--and do beware bargains you may stumble across as the pagination may be different in older editions and you won't be able to follow along during class discussions.*
Are used books ok? Of course they are--but beware the notes and scrawls you find in these discarded receptacles of knowledge (not to mention the sneeze remnants lurking within their pages!!!
*Unlike other un-named classes here at SDSU, you actually have to read the books each week for the class to have any meaning at all.
Further musings on books and 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: paper, ink, glue, and all. And, though i don't care WHERE you purchase/rent this medieval prehistoric paper artifact, make sure it is the edition they carry in the Aztec campus bookstore!
Why? So that we will all be on the same page, literally, during discussions, in-class writing assignments, quizzes, etc. Another thing: I negotiated some cheaper prices on books, for instance, the Frankenstein volume, 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.
his 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. WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSITY! 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 in its own right which worships gods of its own: critical thinking, skepticism, cynicism and irony. So open your eyes, jumpstart your mind, and prepare to enter the choppy corridors of the always already evolving and morphing dimensions of the human psyche in literary history!