Special Topics Seminar III: Experimental Contemporary Fiction

ENGLISH 490S.02

This course will focus on contemporary fictions that in some sense qualify as “experimental.” In some cases, the narrative is so unconventional that it is difficult to recover a narrative trajectory from it; in others, the author is bending the conventions that surround the book as a technological form, for example by making the book’s physical form reflect the passions of a character. In still others, the fictions take advantage of digital textuality to experiment with color, animation, images, graphic design and hypertext linking, as in the emerging field called electronic literature (literature wri en on a computer and meant to be read on a computer). As a group, these fictions interrogate the cultural assumptions of the media that instantiate them, bringing to the reader’s attention the ways in which media interact with content. The course will interrogate these relations across print and digital texts, with the goal of arriving at more nuanced, insightful, energetic and zestful engagements with the infinite varieties of literary textuality. Texts include David Markham’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress, Jess Stoner’s I Have Blinded Myself Writing This, J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S., Horowitz, Derby and Moffett ’s The Silent History, and selections from the Electronic Literature Collections I and II. Participants will be asked to write two short and one longer essay or course project. Assignments will include exploring the Electronic Literature archives of the Duke Library.