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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006

E 314J • Literature and Computer Programming

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34440 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM

Course Description

Computer assisted instruction.

We'll address numerous questions in this class, including: Who gets to tell the story of the computer programmer, the problem solver, the coder? Has this story been told fairly? Has it been told completely? How could one tell some counter-stories/counter-histories of the hacker? How do representations of the hacker character in literature and popular culture contribute to hacker culture? Do hackers thrive on this image, or do they disregard it altogether? This course will take on these questions and many more in an attempt to understand representations of the computer programming community. We will begin from the assumption that literature, culture, and stories matter just as much as the code that sits behind/underneath/inside your operating system. Representation of the hacker and the "computer geek" do important work in constructing images and categories. Our job will be to compile these stories. That is, we'll compile narrative the way a computer program is "compiled"--we'll decode and recode the narratives of the computer programmer.

Grading Policy

Students will keep a reading blog, write various 1-2-page response papers, compose a 4-6-page paper, and participate in a group multimedia project. Grades for the class are determined by the Learning Record Online, a portfolio system that requires students to compile work samples and observations about their learning process at the midterm and at the end of the course.


William Gibson, Neuromancer
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
Linus Torvalds, Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary
Loyd Blankenship, (a.k.a. The Mentor) The Hacker Manifesto
Seven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Pekka Himanen, The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age
Eric Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar
Possible Films: War Games, Hackers, Tron, and others


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