Week 1 (Aug. 26-29)

Introduction and Provocations

Our focus this week is on getting familiar with the course, both with its mechanics (requirements, policies, etc.) and its concepts.


    • Download and read the syllabus.
    • Create a blog for the course and write your first post by Aug. 28, 10:00 PM. (See the Online Writing Activities Assignment Guidelines)
    • Complete and submit the Questionnaire. Due: Aug. 29, 10:00 PM.
    • Review and begin the Literacy Practices assignment. Due: Sept. 8, 10:00 PM.
    • Review and begin working on the Annotated Bibliography assignment (graduate students only). Due: Dec. 2, 10:00 PM.
    • Listen to the short introductory lecture on cyber-rhetoric:
    • Watch the short video introduction to the

      (3 min 49 sec video).

    • With your copy of The Medium Is the Massage in hand, listen to the introduction to McLuhan’s The Medium Is the Massage.
    • Lecture 1: Introduction
    • Lecture 2: pp. 1-10
    • Lecture 3: pp. 11-24
    • Lecture 4: pp. 25-43


Please read and watch the following texts. With the exception of the 22 minute video introduction by Tom Wolfe, each text is fairly short. Even the 43 pages of The Medium Is the Massage is a quicker read than its page count might suggest – although don’t confuse quick read with simple!

Each of these texts is intended to act as a provocation that takes up the issues explored in the Introduction to our course. Some offer historical context, some act as manifestos, and others provide background information that help set the stage for texts and ideas yet to come. All of these texts, in their own way, address the question as to how and why the study of electronic and digital technologies is an appropriate subject for English studies.

I suggest reading and watching these texts in the order listed here with the exception of the Tom Wolfe introduction to the Marshall McLuhan Speaks video archive. The Wolfe introduction might help you make better sense of The Medium Is the Massage, so try watching it before you finish reading the Medium passage if you’re finding the book too disorienting.

  • Carmody, Tim. “10 Reading Revolutions before E-books.” The Atlantic 25 August 2010. (Online reading.)
  • Wesch, Michael. “The Machine is Us/ing Us Final Version.” Digital Ethnography. 8 March 2007. (Online video, 4.34 minutes.)
  • Ramsay, Stephen. “DH and CS.” StephenRamsay.us. 30 April 2013. (Online reading.)
  • McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium Is the Massage.” Marshall McLuhan Speaks: Centennial 2011. (Online video, 22 seconds.)
  • McLuhan, Marshall and Quentin Fiore. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, pp. 1-43. (Required textbook.)
  • Wolfe, Tom. “Introduction by Tom Wolfe.” Marshall McLuhan Speaks: Centennial 2011. (Online video, 22 minutes.)

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