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About Texts in Context: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies

This course will introduce students to graduate level reading and research through an investigation of the term “text” and its material, conceptual, spoken, artistic, interdisciplinary, and scholarly traditions. What does it mean to be a reader today? How do the material conditions of texts construct cultures of reading? We’ll also consider how the creation, production, and distribution of texts animate or challenge our work as students and researchers. How might our practices need to adapt to meet the challenges presented by scale, accessibility, and reproduction? What happens when we consider “text” as “data”? We will consider text as both spatial and time-based, and the tensions created by texts that transgress the philosophical domain of images.

By the end of the course, students will be able to craft their own definition of “text” that is reflective of disciplinary interests, and historical and technical contexts. Students will be able to create connections among texts and forms of textual production in writing and spoken discourse. Students will create texts in multiple media for various audiences with an attention to changing perceptions of reading and writing as methodologies. Finally, students will also learn how to search for, evaluate, access, and use text in print, digital, and manuscript forms.

Students should be prepared to take short field trips to local libraries and galleries during the semester (no more than four times). Readings may include but are not limited to work by Eve Sedgewick, M.H.Abrams, Johanna Drucker, Jerome McGann, Audre Lorde, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Alexander, Espen Aarseth, Kandice Chuh, Paul DeMan, and others. Assignments will include regular blog posts, participation in workshops across the Graduate Center, an annotated bibliography, an oral presentation, and a final portfolio that collects the semester’s work with a self-evaluative and reflective introduction.