Fall 2015 - ENGL 484W E100

Topics in Literature and Media (4)

Class Number: 5459

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Wed, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Alison Dean
    Office: Harbour Centre
    Office Hours: TBD
  • Prerequisites:

    One 300 division English course. Reserved for English honors, major, joint major and minor students.



Investigates and theorizes the relation of literature and media (manuscript, print, visual, aural, electronic, and/or oral). This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Students with credit for ENGL 484 may not take this course for further credit. Students who obtained credit for English 484W prior to Summer 2015 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Reading Digitally:
The Book Up Close and At a Distance

“…a book is nowadays perhaps the most satisfactory work of art one can make or have. The best work of art of all to create is a house . . . . A book comes next, and between a house and a book a man can do very well.”—William Morris, 1893  

What is a book? Art or technology? One of the best ways to come to terms with important changes now well underway in media and technology, and their impact on literary studies, is to use digital means to study old and rare books and thereby address questions about the changing nature of the book, and especially the relationship between books and our digital world. This means asking questions about how books, and the words and images they contain, simply work. It also means asking how books work in and through time, across media, and the old and new hardware and software that embodies them. Finally, it also means asking questions about how, in a digital context, books work on us – that is, how we read.

The course will focus primarily on the SFU Library’s Lake District rare book collection in both physical and digital formats, but will also examine other online projects and environments. We will explore a range of digital tools and methods for computational text analysis and mapping aimed at introducing fundamental skills and critical issues. Our weekly readings will guide us through the broad spectrum of issues and debates that fall under the umbrella of digital humanities and related fields such as comparative media and new media studies. No prior technical knowledge or experience is necessary.


  • Seminar attendance, preparation, and participation 20%
  • Presentation (includes 500 word written component) 30%
  • Course paper/web project (equivalent to 10 - 12 pages): includes proposal (5%), annotated bibliography, introduction, and detailed outline (10%), final analysis (35%) 50%


To receive credit for this course, students must complete all requirements.



A courseware pack of weekly readings will be made available electronically.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html