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Reading Code
ENGL 236 - Winter 2006,  Rita Raley

This seminar will address code as an object and medium of contemporary critical inquiry, political engagement, and artistic and literary production. Issues and genres that we will study throughout include the poetics, aesthetics, and politics of code; Saussurean semiotics; codework; operational text; electronic English and global language politics; machine translation; software cultures (including the Free Software and Open Source movements); the control society; and hacktivism and tactical media. We will also discuss the virtual class (variously, the Netzvolk, the digerati, the cognitariat) and the “California ideology” in relation to neoliberalism. One of the premises of the course will be that it is not simply a technical process of compilation that links the symbolic systems of language and code – that is, natural languages and the tower of programming languages, from machine language up to fourth-generation programming languages. Rather, they are bound up in a feedback loop wherein code not only has a material effect on the world but socio-cultural formations are mapped onto code. Experimental writing and poetry; theory and criticism; media artists and tacticians.


Rita Raley

Office and Office Hours
SH 2703
On leave 2012-2013


SH 2635
W, 5:00 PM7:30 PM

Required Texts

N. Katherine Hayles, My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts
Florian Cramer, Words Made Flesh: Code, Culture, Imagination
Alexander Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization
Paolo Virno, The Grammar of the Multitude

25% Participation & Presentation
75% Final paper/project
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