Long before the Internet was around, people were self-directed readers of books. They chose when to start and when to stop, when to skim and when to reread, and when to skip ahead to the end. The Internet, with its hyperlinks, its endless pages, its sheer quantity, and its story-less-ness, has intensified and codified that behavior. But in the end, what we’re doing when we’re using the Internet—and “using” is an appropriate term for a behavior that becomes, for some people, almost an addiction—is reading. Opening pages, turning pages, letting one page lead to the next.

In this course we’ll read the Internet in the same way that you might read a book in a literature course: where “reading” means analyzing and thinking critically about the ways that form and content interact. We’ll treat the Internet as a (huge, messy) work of art, and as a representation of all that is real in our lives. At the same time, we’ll examine how the Internet interacts with and becomes a part of our lives.

We’ll also use the Internet—that beating heart of our “information age”—to explore the problems and complexities of research, and to build toward the research essay that is the culmination of English 2. In considering both the Internet and our own writing, we’ll ask this crucial question: How does information become meaning?