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English 220.03 @ SDSU, Spring 2015

The "Death of the Book," the
Digital Humanities, and the
Self[ie] in Literature, Film,
Art, Photography and the Web

Tuesdays & Thursdays 11 to 12:15
GMCS 333 (aka, the Eygasmatorium)

uckle your seatbelts and order up some eye-protection--this is NOT just an "introduction to literature" class--that I can guarantee.

Our Spring 2015 experimental literary/ cinematic festival will emerge out of the twisted corridors of something I am calling I/eyegasm as we explore the deliciously and outrageously damaged psyches, minds, and art of women and men in some of the tastiest, most exotic and eye-opening literature, film, art, photography, and poetry this side of the planet.

Let's begin with some definitions:

eye, n.
Etymology:  Cognate with Old Frisian āge , āch , Old Dutch ouga (Middle Dutch ōghe)
1. The organ of sight. a. Either of the paired globular organs of sight in the head of humans and other vertebrates.The basic components of the vertebrate eye are a transparent cornea, an iris with a central (circular or slit-like) pupil, a lens for focusing, and a sensitive retina lining the back of the eye. Light entering the eye is focused by the lens to form an image on the cells of the retina, from which nervous impulses are conveyed to the brain.
I, pronoun
I /aɪ/ is the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun in Modern English. It is used to refer to one's self and is capitalized, although other pronouns, such as he or she, are not capitalized. In Australian English, British English and Irish English, me can refer to someone's possessions (see archaic and non-standard forms of English personal pronouns).

orgasm, n.
Etymology:  < post-classical Latin orgasmus excitement or violent action in a bodily organ or part (1652 in the passage translated in quot. 1684 at sense 1; compare also quot. 1646 at sense 3) < Greek ὀργασμός , in scholia (medieval Greek or earlier) on Hippocrates On Humours 3 < ancient Greek ὀργᾶν to swell with sexual desire).

1. A sudden movement, spasm, contraction, or convulsion. Obs.
2. Originally: a surge of sexual excitement; the rut; oestrus. In later use: sexual climax, (also) an instance of this (cf. climax).

Enthralled by these treats from the dictionary, we are now safe to grapple with our neologism, or "new word" course focus: I-gasm or EyegasmI/Eyegasm is a word (maybe, also, a symbol) that reflects our semester-long obsession with issues of identity and subjectivity.

But there is more to it than that!

I/Eyegasm also embodies a common experience--that mesh of our minds with technology, touching/seeing screens (computer screens, smartphone screens, television screens) that come to dominate our world view (and maybe, even, our lives).

Eyes wide open, so to speak, these screens become electric, naked mirrors, concealing nothing, revealing all. What may come as a surprise is that literature is the one place we will find artists, famous and not so famous, whose stories provide us with protection, intellectual shields or a sort, that open our eyes to brave new worlds.  But these books, movies, and the rest 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--they may even tattoo our psyche!

The various works we encounter this term will teach us to rethink, rewrite, and reimagine what it is we call to consciousness when we picture the contours of the human mind--in the process, we will learn again just how instrumental the seductive mirror of literature can be in exposing the riches of these minds.

Or consider the urban dreamscape of this next-world city in this collaboration of ESKMO with Cyriak Harris:

Or lastly, this moving allegory by Dan Rodrigues and Jon Klassen, that ponders the connection between seeing, identity, and relationships:

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

Working List of Required Works
FILMS {Screened FREE in Class}

spike jonze, director, screenwriter


alex rivera, director, screenwriter

orson welles, director, screenwriter

{ no meaningful order}

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--this is especially true of the Sacks, Gualdoni, and the  Palahniuk/Kafka/Hawthorne three-pack books).

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.

1. Freud For Beginners ISBN: 9780375714603 Appignanesi & Zarate

2. Pop Art ISBN: 9788861307360 Gualdoni

3. The Mind's Eye ISBN: 9780307272089 Sacks

4. Notes from the Underground ISBN: 9781554812219 Dostoyevski (Broadview)

5. Octoroon ISBN: 9781554812110  Boucicault

6, 7, 8. (CUSTOM BUNDLE)  9780393279177 Norton

Fight Club, Palahniuk

Metamorphosis, Kafka

The House of Seven Gables, Hawthorne

9. Gradiva : Delusion & Dream in Jensen's Gradiva
ISBN: 9781892295897 Freud

10. Ways of Seeing ISBN: 9780141035796 Berger

11. Tex[t]-Mex ISBN: 9780292714571 Nericcio

I/EYEGASM Books via Aztec Shops!

I/EYEGASM Books via KB Books!

I/EYEGASM Books via Powells!

I/EYEGASM Books via Amazon!

logo photography from the work of heather noelle