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25305 : Virtual Worlds and Nonhuman Narratives: Cyberspace Fiction

Description: The joke gets at a disorienting truth: we live in a world where cyberspace increasingly leaks into the "real" physical space of our lives, and the two often become surrealistically conflated. We can be at once in a given geographical location and "online," wafting in and out of presence in both places. We live in a world where major events transpire nowhere but "on the Internet," from hacks to business transactions to relationships. These events have effects and consequences that are felt in our physical world as well. How do we tell - and read - stories that take place at least in part in virtual regions? In this course, we will investigate narrative depictions of experience that transpires in the not-quite-place of cyberspace and similar technologically-sustained virtual arenas. Earlier dream narratives anticipate this world where experience increasingly takes place online; in later narratives of virtual reality, technologically-enabled virtual landscapes confer a dreamlike (il)logic on daily experience. What can we make of the apparent rapprochement between scientific and magical paradigms here? What are the political stakes of a virtual world sometimes portrayed as anestheticizing but also sometimes a space where otherwise unavailable experiences and information can be accessed? We will examine a transatlantic range of influential twentieth-century texts as well as selections from theoretical and critical texts on communicative and information technology.

Instructor(s): Nell Pach

Offered: Spring 2019

Category: Elective

Cluster(s): Network Art, Digital Moving Image