350: 379 Computers and Literature
Grading for Term Papers
No standard exists for projects
Team proposals should show the contribution of each participant


A Plan: Well-defined, useful, intelligent plan which takes into account the current state of knowledge on a subject and makes an valuable contribution to it.

Content: The reading or research shows an extensive mastery of the subject with substantial use (as appropriate) of primary materials such as novels, bibliographic indexes and surveys, and secondary material such as criticisms, histories, and reviews. Efficient exploitation of bibliographical leads in the Neal Spiller textbook and the class web site.

Execution: Mature argument developed with supporting evidence. Free of errors in grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation. Well edited to focus quotations and other evidence, remove distractions, effective introduction and conclusion. Clear sense of author's voice and how it connects with the reader. Well documented use of sources.

B. Above average in only two of the categories (plan, content, execution).

C. Average in all of the categories or with no or balancing distinctions and weaknesses

D. One or more major weaknesses without balancing excellence.

F. Not acceptable because of two or more weaknesses; unsuitable for course; unacceptable grammar or documentation.


Bibliographic suggestions (see web site for more information)

Caras, Pauline. "Literature and Computers. A Short Bibliography, 1980-1987." In College Literature 15 (1988) 69-82.

Porush, David. The Soft Machine: Cybernetic Fic tion. New York: Methuen, 1985. A discussion of fiction about cybernetics and computers in such authors as Vonnegut, Burroughs, Pynchon, Barth, Beckett, and Barthelme. Bibliography.

Warrick, Patrcia S. The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction. A discus sion of types of science fiction that have supproted stories about automata, robots, computers. Includes bibliographies of studies, indexes, fiction, and anthologies.


Asimov, Isaac et al. Machines That Think. Orlando, FL: Holt, Rinehart Winston, 1983. Twentynine classic tales, chiefly from 1932 to 1973.

Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot. New York: New American Library, 1956. Perhaps the best known cycle of tales on robots by a single author.

Barth, John. Giles GoatBoy. New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1987. A satire after Swift and Sterne on the alternate world of the computer as troll, mechanist universe, and author.

Beirce, Ambrose. ``Moxon's Master'' (1893). Do machines think?

Bruner, John. The Shockwave River. New York: Ballantine, 1984. Gives new meaning to the phrase ``computerhuman interface.''

Butler, Samuel. Erewhon (1872). See ``The Book of the Machine,'' chapters 2123.

Clarke, Arthur C. 2001. New York: New American Library, 1972. Based on the filmscript by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. See also Clarke's sequels, 2010 (also a film) and 2061.

Conklin, Groff. Science Fiction Thinking Machines. New York: Vanguard, 1954. An early collection of tales about robots, androids, and computers.

Forster, E. M. ``The Machine Stops'' (1909). A forecast in 1909 of the dystopian theme of twentieth century mechanized society as insect hive.

Heinlein, Robert. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. New York: Ace, 1987. A moon civilization overthrows exploitation by earth when it is led by its computer.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World (1932). Original outcry against mechaniza tion, genetic engineering, and mind control.

Orwell, George. 1984 (1949). The classic contemporary dystopia of the technototalitarian state and its impact on political thought, political language, and personal feeling.

Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time.

Roszak, Theodore. Bugs. New York: Doubleday, 1981. The computer as insect by the author of The Cult of Information.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein (1818). Amazingly perfective anticipations of issues in biotechnology, the social responsibility of the scientist, and the psychology of double identity which will astonish readers who only know the movie versions.

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. The Sirens of Titan. New York: Dell, 1959. The army as the ultimate human machine.

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Player Piano. New York: Scribners, 1952. A machinetechnological political and social elite.

Wells, H. G. A Modern Utopia (1905). A professionaltechnocratic utopia, probably the occasion for Forster's satiric reply, ``The Machine Stops.''

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine (1895). Unexpectedly thoughtful and provoca tive Marxian and Darwinian speculations into a far future in which human work roles, classes, races, and species have become redefined in radically unexpected ways.

Bolter, J. David. Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. 1984. A major interpretation, by a classicist who is also a computer scientist, of the intellectual and philosophical impact of the computer upon ways of thinking about basic concepts of time, memory, quantity, creativity, and intelligence. Each civilization tends to define itself by one technological image: once it was the loom, the clock, and the steam engine, and now the computer.

Heim, Michael. Electric Language: A Philosophical Study of Word Processing. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. A deep analysis of word processing using the language theories of Wittgenstein, Eric Holbrook, and Martin Heidegger.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Technological optimism that electronic information will be open, auditory, parallel, social, and global, replacing print information in books that has been closed, visual, serial, individual, and restrictive. An influential book.

Mitchell, William J. City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn. Cambridge: MIT, 1995.

Penrose. Roger. Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Con sciousness. Oxford: Oxford Univ. 1994.

Dery, Mark, ed. Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture. Durham: Duke Univ., 1994.

Gardner, Howard. The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolu tion. Although the human mind is turning out to seem less and less like a digital computer, computer and artificial intelligence modelling and simulation have been necessary to recent develop ments in cognitive psychology. Gardner traces connections between computing, cognitive psychol ogy, and philosophy, psychology, information theory, linguistics, anthropology, mathematics, and theories of perception and representation.

Sanders, Barry. A is for Ox: Violence, Electronic Media, and th e Silencing of the Writ ten Word, New York: Pantheon, 1994.

Campbell, Jeremy. Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life. 1982. A stimulating and widereaching synthesis of C;aide Shannon's communication and information theory and its implications for man as a grammarmaking animal who uses both natural languages and computer programming languages. Moreover, man is also a grammarmade animal since genetic DNA seems to operate as a kind of information channel.

Dennett, Daniel C. Brainstorms: Philosophic Essays on Mind and Psychology. Analyses of problems of mind, brain, and computer models of thought, perception, and sensation. "Dennett's graceful style and comparative lack of inreferences and jargon make this book much more engaging than the average philosophy book" (Hofstadter).

Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society. 1964. The book that is the starting point for much criticism of modern technology and its negative impact on human culture and society.

Hardison, O. B. Disappearing Through the Skylight : Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century. New York : Viking, 1989. Profound queries into the arrival of modernism and technology in the twentieth century and the apparent result: the disappearance of traditional ideas of nature, history, language, art, and human selfidentity. Highly recom mended.

Hofstadter, Douglas and Dennett, compilers. The Mind's I. A collection with stimulating articles, fiction, and essays on mind, soul, and self in philosophy, literature, and artificial intelligence. Hofstadter later said its goal was "to probe the mysteries of matter and consciousness in as vivid and jolting a way as possible." The jolt comes from "the curious fact (or illusion) that something we call an 'I' is somehow connected to some hunk of matter floating somewhere and somewhen in the universe."

Hofstadter, Douglas. G”del, Escher, Bach. A stimulating, fascinating, but demanding book on selfreferential loops in the mathematician G”del, the painter Escher, and the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, with fascinating implications for mathematical logic, DNA, music, art, computer programming, and artificial intelligence. The author later said: "In essence, GEB was one extended flash having to do with Kurt G”del's famous incompleteness theorem, the human brain, and the mystery of consciousness. It is well described on its cover as 'a metaphorical fugue of minds and machines.'" A stimulating, fascinating, but demanding book on selfreferential loops in the mathematician Goedel, the painter Escher, and the composer J. S. Bach, with implications for mathematical logic, DNA, music, art, computer programming, and AI. Impressive bibliography.

McCorduck, Pamela. Machines Who Think. 1979. Subtitle: "A Per sonal Inquiry into the History and Prospects of Artificial Intelligence." Delightfully written, full of enthusiasm for the potentialities of artificial intelligence, with eyewitness accounts of actual events as well as a fine survey of AI in literature and mythology from its flowerings to the 1960s and 1970s. Bibliography.

Minsky, Marvin. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988. Structured as a mosaic of selfcontained pages, suggesting how the biological brain might operate locally but be transformed when it functions globally as mind.

Penrose, Roger. The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and he Laws of Physics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. A distinguished scientist, Pen rose moves mindbody inquiries that oppose the "strong AI" position to the high ground of the philosophy of science, cosmology, and quantum mechanics to explore what may be the natural limits of our physicial knowledge of human consciousness.

Roszak, Theodore. The Cult of Information. 1986. Subtitled "The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking," this debunking book by the author of The Making of a Counter Culture notes that we may be facing an information glut, the menace of hidden agendas in computer literacy programs, and dangerous databanks that can curtail our civil liberties. One of the best antidotes to overly optimistic books about the future of computing.

Dunn, Thomas P. and Richard D. Erlich, eds. The Mechanical God: Machines in Science Fiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982. Eighteen essays. Good bibliography.

Erlich, Richard D. and Thomas P. Dunn, eds. Clockwork Worlds: Mechanized Environments in SF. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983. Fifteen essays. Useful bibliography.

Landow, George and Paul Delany, eds. The Digital Word. MIT 1993 $39.95. A collection of essays on text projects, electronic texts, text retrieval, text software, text corpora, text editing, electronic conferences, scholarly research, electronic publishing, critical analysis, and electronic reading.

Landow, George P., ed. Hyper/Text/Theory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994.

Landow, George P. Hypertext : the Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Johns Hopkins Univ. Pr. 1992. $45.00. ISBN 0801842808. Bibliography. Parallels between postmodern deconstruction in literary theory as practiced by Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes and he decentered, readerly, and antihierarchial structure of recent computer hyper texts.

Landow, George P. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Criticial Theory and Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1992.

Mowshowitz, Abbe. Inside Information: Computers in Fiction. Reading, MA: AddisonWesley, 1977. A collection of some three dozen works or excerpts from works of fiction that pertain to computers or computing; good bibliography. (The book was an outgrowth of the same author's study of information processing, The Conquest of Will.) Bibliography.

Muller, Herbert J. The Children of Frankenstein: A Primer of Modern Technology and Human Values. Indiana, 1970. A humanist approach to problems of technology in society and culture that acknowledges its starting point in previous works by Lewis Mumford and Jacques Ellul.

Nelson, Ted. Computer Lib/ Dream Machines. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, rev. ed., 1987. A reissue with some revisions of the classic 1974 doubledecker that intro duced the notion of hypertext.

Nichols, Peter The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1979). Enlarged by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1993, update 1995). Informative articles on such subjects as automation, computers, communications, cybernetics, cyborgs, linguistics, intelligence, and technology.

Tuman, Myron C., ed. Literacy Online : The Promise (and Peril) of Reading and Writing with Computers. Univ. of Pittsburgh Pr. 1992 $34.95. ISBN 0822937018. An outstand ing collection of essays on the nature of literary texts, teaching English, and critical thought, addressing the impact of computers and computing technology upon standards of public literacy.

Tuman, Myron C. Word Perfect: Literacy in the Computer Age. Univ. of Pittsburgh Pr. 1992. ISBN 1822937352. The place of the computer in the rivalry between print literacy and online literacy, and the consequences therefrom for college instruction in literature, reading, and writing.

Turkle, Sherry. The Second Self. Simon & Schuster, 1985. A remarkable and original book which applies six years of sociological and psychological research, as well as the prin ciples of Piaget and Freud, to the question of what children, adolescents, adult beginners, and professionals feel about computers and what they feel about themselves while using computers. The result, the notion of a "second self" or an extension of identity, is an important contribution to our understanding of what computer technology means to human personality and culture.


Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: 
Perspectives in Ergodic Literature


Theodor Nelson, Literary
Machines 93.1


Michael Joyce, Of Two Minds:  Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics

Links to online sources for 379:
http://www.andromeda.rutgers,edu/~ehrlich/379/379text_bib.html


Incidental questions:

What are the most important scholarly studies and works of creative fiction that appeared it the last ten years?