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The Culture of Information
ENGL 25 - Winter 2002,  Alan Liu

This course studies contemporary information culture from the viewpoint of the humanities. We ask the basic question: "what is information, and why is the concept now so important that it not only affects much of our economy, politics, and society but also our sense of culture (the culture of "cool," it has been called) and our arts (the new literatures, arts, music, games, and media). To answer this question, the course brings writings about information society together with works of new literature and art to study the following aspects of "information": information as media, communication, and "new media"; information as work and power; and information as identity (see the Schedule page for details). Required readings are in print (e.g., William Gibson's novel, Neuromancer), on the Web, and on CD-ROM (e.g., M. D. Coverley's hypertext novel, Califia, and the game Riven). Assignments include some Web-authoring at the beginner's level. No pre-existing technical skills needed, but ability to access the Web is necessary to do the online readings.

This course counts toward the English Dept's specialization in Literature and the Culture of Information.

Section Information: There are two sections of English 25, both led by teaching assistant Elizabeth Freudenthal:

  1. Section 1 (web site): enroll code (ec#) 15172, W 11-11:50, South Hall 1417
  2. Section 2 (web site): enroll code (ec#) 15180, W 12-12:50, South Hall 1417

Elizabeth Freudenthal's office and office hours: South Hall 3432 N, Thurs. 2-3 and by appointment.


Alan Liu

Office and Office Hours
SH 2521
Please email


Broida 1640
MWF, 2:00 PM2:50 PM

Required Texts

David Trend, ed., Reading Digital Culture
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy
M. D. Coverley, Califia (hypertext novel on CD-ROM)
Rand and Robyn Miller, Riven (computer game; 5 CD-ROM set)
Course Reader (available at Alternative Copy Shop)

15% 4-page paper
10% Reading exam1
10% Online, revised 4-page paper
10% Reading exam2
40% 8-page essay
15% Section Participation
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