layer hidden off the screen
UCSB English Department Home UCSB English Department Home UCSB English Department Home
New Media and the Aesthetics of the New
ENGL 236 - Spring 2004,  Alan Liu

New Media (graphic by Bo Kinloch) "Novation: legal term: Substitution of a new obligation for an old one."

This course explores "new media" in relation to the ideologies of "newness"—modernity, postmodernity, creativity, innovation—that have recently culminated in the so-called "creative destruction" of postindustrialism. The course emphasizes contemporary, information-age new media, but substantial attention is paid to historical new media/new aesthetics from Romanticism to Modernism. The first unit of the course focuses on the theory of "novation" (Romanticism and originality, modernism and "make it new," avant-garde and destructive art, postindustrialism and innovation). The second unit of the course studies New Media under the headings of several fundamental paradigms: information (old and new), database, interface, algorithm (and the random), network, and hypertext. The course is designed for students of literature, arts, or media arts; and it places equal emphasis on primary and theoretical works. Requirements include one presentation and a final project. The project may be an essay, a digital work, or a hybrid of the two. In order to do some of the readings in the course, students need to have ready access to the Internet.


Alan Liu

Office and Office Hours
SH 2521
Please email


SH 1415
W, 12:00 PM2:30 PM

Required Texts

Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 1997)
Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2002)
Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, eds., New Media Reader (MIT Press, 2003)
Christiane Paul, Digital Art (Thames and Hudson, 2003)
Course Reader (Alternative Copy Shop)

20% Scouting Report
Project (Essay and/or online project)
Prospectus for Project (600-900 words)
Critique of Another Student's Project Prospectus
Click to format the
page for projection.
Click to return to the
default page view.