The Real and the Virtual in Literature and Film (Fall 2020)
In the age of reality TV, social media, and fake news, our relation to the world and to others is increasingly mediated by virtual images and spaces, a condition that postmodern theorists have called hyperreality. Our course asks: Is it possible to maintain a confident sense of what’s real when we are constantly inundated by powerful, highly produced versions of reality? How do various media shape our idea of what counts as real, true, or authentic?
Designed as a writing-intensive sophomore seminar, our course explores the changing relationship between the real and the virtual as it is reflected in twentieth century literature and film. We consider what consequences our being surrounded by images and media has not only for art, but also for modern subjectivity and for politics. Our travels in hyperreality will take us from postmodern theories of simulation to the labyrinthine fictions of Borges and Calvino to cyberpunk films such as The Matrix and, finally, to contemporary speculative fiction and TV.
Sophomore Seminar: Registration preference to sophomores. Not normally open to first-year students.