ENGL 4886: Digital Worlds: September - December 2013
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Course description

This course will study the phenomenon of digital worlds. The main focus will be on fictional representations of worlds that are purely digital, such as Gibson’s hyperspace, Stephenson’s metaverse, and The Matrix’s matrix. How are these worlds similar to and different from grounded reality? Can we understand the differences within the context of a critical understanding of our own world? What are the consequences of endowing computers with the power to create/represent these worlds? We will consider the relationship between these digital worlds and the secondary worlds of fantasy (with the help of Tolkien). We will contextualize these worlds within different theories of topias: utopia, dystopia, heterotopia, etc. (with the help of Foucault). We will consider philosophical theories of place and space (with the help of such writers as Bachelard and Baudrillard). In addition to Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and The Matrix trilogy, the course will study other movies, stories, and novels such as the Tron movies, Simulacron-3, and Ready Player One. The course will also consider recent attempts at creating real digital worlds, such as Second Life and other gaming worlds.

Marc R. Plamondon, Ph.D. Department of English Studies Nipissing University