Global Conversations: Textuality in the Digital Age

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alexandra K. Glavanakova
Lectures: 30
Seminars: 30
ECTS credits: 6

This generation’s students are more likely to be found gathering information, communicating, or seeking entertainment in front of a computer screen than anywhere else. Unlike television, movies, magazines, and books, which comprise old media, new media encompass different forms of electronic communication made possible through the use of computer technology. Examples include the Internet, websites, computer games, blogs, podcasts, to name a few. Just as the pencil is a tool to compose on paper, digital tools are needed to compose in new media. These tools include digital video, iMovie, Photoshop, WordPress, Google Picasa, Garage Band for creating podcasts, social media, most of which are free Web tools and open source programs.

This course will examine how new computer technologies, telecommunication networks, and digital arts are transforming everyday life, contemporary culture, institutions, groups and identity, dealing with issues about the production, consumption, regulation, representation of IT. It will also include reflection on the transformation of literacy, the role of the printed book and intellectual discourse itself. Grounded in the fields of cultural and literary studies, the course will focus on the critical analysis of the development of digital technologies and culture from a set of ideologies and activist practices such as media philosophy, postmodern theory, and net activism. Topics include: theories of the subject and reconstruction of human identity and the body in networked culture; community, group and subculture formation online (race, ethnicity, gender and technology); political organization and cultural resistance through digital media; digital technology and the law (intellectual property and privacy, hacker culture, file-sharing); ethics of surveillance and data security; simulation and virtuality; the representation of technology in popular media; the growth of digital entertainment industry; play and leisure in digital media.The course is designed to be both theoretical and experiential, involving technology, media, social networking practices, thus stimulating creativity and out of the box thinking. It focuses on the reception, interpretation, analysis and production of multimodal texts.Composition is seen as an act of communication that can be expressed through any number of media. By producing works using the latest digital tools, students will not only learn to create meaning, tell a story, provoke a reaction with sound, images, animation, and other media, but they also learn how theoretical perspectives lead to the rethinking of conventional rhetorical concepts such as authorship, audience, process, revision, and design when applied to digital contexts.

The course introduces students to experimental approaches to writing in different media and different artistic practices including photography, art installations, criticism and performance. The course aims to broaden students’ understanding of written discourse as it is produced, represented, and read across a variety of media based on canonical texts as they are remediated. Students can start from choosing a literary work and approaching it through methodologies from other media including visualization, storyboarding, simulation, social-network diagramming. This would involve a close reading of the primary text, as well as a number of secondary critical texts. Students will learn how writing and composition changes through digital productions that may also rely on sound, still and moving images, animation, and other media to create meaning. The ultimate goal is to advance students’ visual and digital literacy.
Students will be required to complete a significant number of in-class and out-of-class writing assignments, both individually and as parts of groups. In addition to creating digital pieces – e-literature, audio podcast, video, students will examine current scholarship in new media. To effectively deliver content, students as content creators will be required to not only master the use of digital tools, but to also apply solid principles behind composing, regardless of media.

The principal educational aims are to develop and enhance participants’ awareness and understanding of a range of subjects relevant to digital culture and technology, including:
– the key information and communication technologies that shape contemporary society.
– key developments in contemporary cultural expression, specifically as these are driven, mediated or influenced by digital technologies.
– how digital technologies are shaping society more generally, e.g. social intercourse, social structures, government, international politics, education and law.
– current critical and theoretical debates around digital culture and the role of technology in the shaping of literacy, the reform in education, the nature of textuality and literature.
– the ethical, moral and philosophical issues that arise from the role and impact of technology in cultural and social life.
Guest lecturers:
Following the establishment of the English and American Studies Alumni Network, its members who are professionals and experts working in/with different media will be invited on a regular basis to organize workshops with students.

Assessment: Continuous Assessment, Term Paper (Digital Essay / Creative Project)
Language of Instruction: English


Projects 2015


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Photographs courtesy of Elena Nikolova & Co

Projects 2016

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Projects 2018


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