350:379 Computers and Literature

Review for Final Exam Ė Revised Dec. 13, 2003
The exam is scheduled for Thursday, Dec 18, 3:00pm Hill 104 Ė note corrected time

Be prepared to discuss several of these questions to be selected from a reduced set on the actual examination (with some element of choice). Do not rely on general knowledge. Make specific use of the actual texts. Show the depth and intelligence of your actual reading and research. The wording and division of some of the questions may be changed.

Doís: Do show detailed knowledge of the readings since this is an open book exam. When questions call for discussion, organize your essays around a point or focus and support it with evidence from the readings. In each essay, explain whatever evidence you use. Do make occasional references to any of the three main novels in the course, when appropriate. Do observe the boundaries between the different readings Ė and the different questions.

Doníts: Donít just repeat or paraphrase the language of the essay questions. Donít repeat the same discussion in more than one question. Donít simply quote passages from the anthology without explanation. Donít merely quote, summarize, or refer to the readings.

1. The Spiller anthology contains short introductions of about two (2) pages followed by very short but characteristic excerpts of two to three pages, sometimes slightly longer. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein falls outside the range of the anthology, but if it were to be included, how would you handle the following:

      a. What specific and concrete points would you make In the introduction?

      b. To which other readings in the anthology would you connect it, and how?

      c. Which short passage of 2-3 pages would you select as the most characteristic? Explain your choice of this passage.

2. Discuss the treatment of either Neuromancer or Snow Crash in the introductions to other readings in the Spiller anthology. To review them all, look them up in the volume index. Is there anther more characteristic passage you might include and another set of points in the introduction?

3 In "Technology and the Future, " Arthur C. Clarke, makes the oft-quoted statement, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." How does the advanced technology in Frankenstein, Neuromancer, and Snow Crash acknowledge this truth by incorporating significant references to magic, the esoteric, and the occult?

4. Despite the frequent complaint that a high degree of interest in computer hardware, programming, and hypertext are inevitable fields for male domination, a number of female critics and theorists, such as Balsamo, Franck, Haroway, Turkle, and Werthheim, are hopeful that more equal gender attitudes will emerge as cyberspace develops. Discuss this idea in these essays and, additionally, in the portrayal of female characters in the novels we read this semester.

5. Discuss the expectation expressed in varying degrees in Bukatman, Dery, Drexler, Levy, Lewin, Morovec, Rheingold, and Stelarc, that the real breakthrough in cyberspace will occur when the impact of rapidly-developing robots and cyborgs upon the senses and their powers takes place in the post-human era.

6. Describe your use of reading and research materials on 1) class handouts , 2) class research assaignments, 3) class web site, 4) Spillerís bibiography, 5) Spillerís list of URLs , 6) the Spiller index, 7) recommended web sites, such as Voice of the Shuttle, Cyberarts, technovelgy

7) Describe your use of the electronic texts, indexes, and concordances provided online at the class web site for Frankenstein, Neuromancer, and Snow Crash.

8) In accounts of Neuromancer in the passages quoted in Spiller, we see conflicting views of cyberspace. It is, alternately, seen as community, as isolation, as the place of sexual fulfillment, as the place of numb auto-amputation, as mind-body fusion, as mind-body division, as mind transcending the body, as mind transcending gender, as mind transcending the brain, as mind transcending personality, as mind transcending humanity, as mind transcending reality, and even as mind transcending mortality. It is said to be both the grounds for feminist equality and the field for masculinist obsession.

9. One of the oddities of the Spiller anthology is that the introductions are almost as long as the selections. Another is that the illustrations and graphic layout sometime seem more accessible than the text or not accessible at all. Another is that the footnotes and bibliography are very rich in possibilities. What final view of the subject is suggested by the fact that introductions make interesting connections and choppy selections which are drastically reduced for reasons of length? How does the visual medium of the anthology affect the message of its contents?.

10. Discuss the extent to which you agree with Davis, Franck, Heim, Kelly, McLuhan, and Werthheim that changes of an emergent, evolutionary, and transcendent nature in the human psyche and character will take place (for better or worse) in the next developments in technology, media and cyberspace.