ENGL 2036 Introduction to Media Studies in the Humanities


Deven Parker



In media outlets ranging from the New York Times to Vanity Fair, journalists bemoan millennials’ reliance on technology, often claiming that users of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat lack “authentic”—or “unmediated”—encounters with the world. Flying in the face of such criticism, this course explores how, since the invention of writing, media and technology have always controlled our encounters with and understandings of reality. Looking more than two hundred years into the past, this class explores the history of media and mediation in the literature of the British Romantic period (1780-1840). We will investigate the historical development of this period’s key knowledge technologies—with a particular focus on print—to explore their practical use, inquire into the lives of those who used them, and use digital media to organize and explain our findings. In addition to learning about book history and printmaking in this period, we will pay particular attention to its “technotexts,” or those works of literature that most directly allude to the processes and tools that made them. As media critic Katherine Hayles explains, such works “interrogate the inscription (writing) technology that produces it, mobilizing reflexive loops between its imaginative world and the material apparatus embodying that creation as a physical presence.” Reading Hayles and other modern media critics alongside works of Romantic literature, we will consider the tools, methods, and people by which these works came into being, and how their contents reflect those processes.


  • To comprehend the processes and methods of printmaking and other important means of media production in the Romantic period;
  • To develop “close-reading” or literary analysis skills and to demonstrate these through both informal and formal writing assignments;
  • To supplement those traditional skills of literary analysis through the use of digital tools;
  • To describe the relationship between a work’s medium (e.g., print, digital, film, 
painting) and narrative, and to articulate this relationship in clear prose.


-Solveig Robinson, The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture (Broadview

2013—ISBN 978-1554810741)

-David Finkelstein and Alastair McCreery, The Book History Reader (Routledge 2nd ed.

2006—ISBN 978-0415359481)

-N. Katherine Hayles, Writing Machines, (MIT Press 2002, ISBN 9780262582155

-William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience (Dover 1992—ISBN 978-0486270517)

-William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (Broadview 2008 – ISBN – 978-1551116006)

-John Keats, Keats’s Poetry and Prose, (Norton 2008 – ISBN 978-0393924916)

-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, (Penguin 2003 978-0141439792)

-Mary Hays, Memoirs of Emma Courtney, (Oxford 2009 – ISBN 978-0199555406)


Weekly Reading Respones ( 1 original post + 1 response to a classmate’s 20%
Reading Quizzes 10%
Group Assignment 15%
Midterm Paper  25%
Final Paper 30%


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