My Home
My Courses Directory
English at URI

and the Modern Art Work

J. Jennifer Jones

Course: Honors 319
Spring 2008

Student Writing

Letters by Oleg Duryagin In the twenty-first century, notions of immersion associated with virtuality and digital technology have become deeply significant to the discourse of aesthetics. In the face of computer-generated virtual reality, the term immersion is most readily defined as the collapse of critical distance between the subject and object of the gaze by force of the subject’s sensual involvement with the given object. According to media theorists, the question that needs to be asked is whether there is still any place for distanced, critical reflection in this new world of immersive aesthetics and virtual-reality illusion spaces. Theorists worry that the intellectually-creative mechanism of distance is threatened by the immediate proximity of immersive art.

This preoccupation with the question of what distance (or not) we should assume toward art, and to what degree enjoyment is predicated on distance/proximity are not, however, new questions. This course will study the various ways in which philosophy, literary theory, and artworks themselves have addressed the issue of encounter and relationship between reader/viewer/consumer and artwork. This class will give students the opportunity to take the time to think carefully about the dynamic of text and reader — how we fantasize about that relationship, theorize it, and experience it. Careful study of the relationships among technology, media, and genre will inform our work, such that students can learn to ask questions such as the following: Does it matter whether I consider myself a reader or a viewer or a player? Does it matter whether I am reading lyric poetry, a Shakespeare play, a science fiction novel, watching a film, viewing a painting, reading a graphic novel, or playing a video game? What does it mean to be absorbed by an artwork? What does it mean to be immersed? What does it mean to “lose oneself” in an artwork, and do I want to be lost? What is the pleasure of reading, viewing, or playing? Does an encounter with an artwork become more, or less, pleasurable when the critical act of thinking about that encounter disappears, or is imagined to disappear? Can I love an artwork? What constitutes such a love?

Office & Office Hours

Independence 175B
T 12:30-1:45pm and by appointment

Course Location & Time

Fogarty Hall 120
T/R 2 - 3:15pm

Required Texts

Editor Caroline A. Jones, Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art (MIT Press 2006)
ISBN: 0262101173

DVD: Bladerunner: The Final Cut, Dir. Ridley Scott. Starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young (2007).

Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age; or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Spectra 2000)
ISBN: 0553380966

 William Shakespeare / Editor Peter Holland, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oxford UP 1998)
ISBN: 0192834207

Neil Gaiman / Introduction Samuel R. Delaney, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You (Vertigo 1993)
ISBN: 1563890895

Plato / Translator Robin Waterfield, Phaedrus (Oxford 2002)
ISBN: 0192802771

John Sunderland, John Constable. (Phaidon 1993)
ISBN: 9780714827544

William Gaunt, Turner (Phaidon 1994)
ISBN: 9780714832333

Charles Avery, Bernini: Genius of the Baroque (Thames & Hudson 2006)
ISBN: 0500286337

DVD: Dancer in the Dark. Dir. Lars Von Trier. Starring Björk, Catherine Deneuve. 2000.

Diana Hacker. A Writer’s Reference. 5th Sprl edition. Bedford/St. Martin's P, 2003.
ISBN: 0312412622

Course Requirements

Participation (20%)
Formal Presentation (10%)
3 Short Essays (30%)
Seminar Paper (40%)