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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brian Reed
ENGL 593
Seattle Campus

Textual Criticism

Introduction to paleography, codicology, analytical and descriptive bibliography; examination of the major contributions to textual theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; practice in applying textual theory in editing literary works.

Class description

This seminar is one the four core courses developed by the Textual Studies Program. Course credit will count toward the Textual Studies Ph. D. track in Comparative Literature and may count toward the Critical Theory concentration.

This class will examine the intersection between new media studies and textual theory. Its first part will be retrospective: we will examine the rise and fall of “hypertext” as a key concept in new media theory. Why was it such a buzz word, and why does it now sound “so 1990s”? Next, we will consider the phenomenological turn in recent discussions of new media, and we will inquire into the challenges to textual theory presented (1) by hybrid visual-verbal genres such as computer games, digital video, and e-poetry and (2) by the contemporary “convergence culture” in which everything from fan fiction to cosplay to “transmediation” has newly destabilized the boundaries of “the text.” Finally, we will take a practical turn. Searchable archival databases have clearly been a godsend for literary scholarship (though, it must be admitted, text-encoding protocols and meta-data do continue to present profound problems). What other kinds of projects have been successful? Where and how have digital environments proved congenial to literature, and to the study of literature?

We will be reading such critics as Espen Aarseth, Joseph Grigely, Mark Hansen, Katherine Hayles, Henry Jenkins, George Landow, Jerome McGann, and Marie-Laure Ryan. Along the way, we will also be reading examples of “electronic literature” such as Stuart Moulthrop’s hypertext fiction Victory Garden and Stephanie Strickland’s mixed print and online e-poem V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L’una. Finally, we will be viewing selections of at least one anime.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brian Reed
Date: 05/06/2008