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

Spring 2007

E 314L • Text, Context, and Hypertext

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33710 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
FAC 10

Course Description


This course aims to explore what it means to study literature in the 21st century. Explicit throughout the course will be the notion--as Robert Scholes once explained -- "that reading and writing are important because we read and write our world as well as our texts, and we are read and written by them in turn. Texts are places where power and weakness become visible and discussable, where learning and ignorance manifest themselves, where structures that enable and constrain our thoughts and actions become palpable."

Beginning with the Selected Poems of Robert Frost, we will look at how reading poetry within the context of a single author's ideas and works influences our understanding of it. Moving to T. S. Eliot's The Sacred Wood and The Waste Land, by way of Matthew Arnold's "The Function of Criticism," we will examine how our modern ideas about literature, criticism, and culture get established within the matrix of Eliot's Modernism. We will also look at how Eliot's use of allusion establishes an intertextuality that may be best understood through the medium of hypertext. We will then explore how, in Janet Murray's words, computers transform texts into digital environments that are procedural, participatory, spatial, and encyclopedic. We will analyze closely the effects of these transformations with Richard Holeton's hypertext poem, "Frequently Asked Questions about 'Hypertext'" and the construction of a Wiki about Wikis. The course will end with a look at some constitutive ideas of Postmodernism through a comparison of Raymond Chandler's "Red Wind," Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

While no special computer skills are required, a willingness to explore the opportunities of the Internet and the computer-networked classroom is a must.

Grading Policy

Students will keep a dialectical reading journal and write a series of short (2 page) papers, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted; any subsequent essay may be revised and resubmitted before the next paper is due (note: all drafts must be submitted with re-writes). Students will also participate actively in on-line discussions, and complete a final paper or web-based project.

Short papers 30%
Discussions, web site, and journal conference 40%
Final paper/project 30%

All requirements must be completed by the end of the semester.


Chandler, Raymond, "The Simple Art of Murder"; "Red Wind" (Xeroxes)
Dick, Philip K, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (0-345-40447-5)
Eliot, T. S., The Waste Land and other Poems, (Faber Paperbacks; 0-15-694877-XHARV)
Frost, Robert, Selected Poems of Robert Frost, (Random House Value; 0-517-07245-9)
Holeton, Richard A., "Frequently Asked Questions about 'Hypertext'" (Online)
Lentricchia, F. and McLaughlin, T., ed. Critical Terms for Literary Study (UCP; 0-226-47203-5)
Scott, Ridley, dir. Blade Runner - The Director's Cut (Warner Home Video, 1982)
Packet of Xeroxes available at Speedway Copies & Printing (in the Dobie Mall)


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