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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2021-22

GERM 42.05 Material Realities, Material Matters: A Brief History of Paper & Other Writing Surfaces (in English)

The age of paper is said to be over because so much data are digital now. Yet we are far from being a paperless society. Paper is still everywhere in our everyday lives (think money) and even in our language (“I have to write a term paper”). In this course, we will trace the media history of paper and other writing surfaces—from clay tablets, to papyrus, to Gutenberg’s letterpress, to the industrial age of newsprint, to the pdf—to find out how paper permeated modern culture and civilization as deeply as it did. Combining media-historical and literary readings, we will study the impact that paper had on literary and intellectual production. How might the choice of writing surface both enable and restrict the writer’s creative possibilities? Theoretical readings by McLuhan, Foucault, Kittler, and Johns; selected literary writings by de Pizane, Diderot and D’Alembert, Defoe, Lichtenberg, Dickens, George, and Sudjic. Parts of the course will be taught hands-on with print objects from Rauner Library.


McGillen, P

Cross Listed Courses

COLT 40.05

Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.