In this Spring 2010 seminar, students will explore the concept of code as both a figure in and function of postmodern literature. The texts we examine in the course of this intensive study will either treat code thematically or figuratively, or they will literally involve the reader in decoding content. Taken together, the texts in this class will reside within the realm of the literary postmodern, broadly considered. Readings will also include relevant critical theory that informs our study.

The major project of the seminar will be a long paper. Students will also be expected to blog and lead class discussion on selected readings or topics.

NOTE: Students will, in the progress of this seminar, encounter and write simple computer programming. This, however, is not something to be feared. Moreover, no prior experience in programming will be expected, and students with prior experience will have no advantage over those with none. Above all, this is a seminar in literature, not computer science.

Required Texts

Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves. Random House, Inc., 2000.

—. Only Revolutions. Pantheon Books, 2007.

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Macmillan, 2008.

Hayles, N. Katherine. Writing Machines. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.

Singh, Simon. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography. Reprint. Anchor, 2000.

Stephenson, Neal. Cryptonomicon. HarperCollins, 2000.