Introduction to Language and Technology


ENG1710, D514

TTh 2:15PM-3:55PM



Professor Ellis

Office/Hours: Namm N520, TTh 4:00-5:00PM or by appointment.


Course Description

In this rewarding and challenging introductory class, we will endeavor to understand the deep and complex relationship between language and technology through readings and discussion. You will apply your insights and discoveries to a major research project focused on a single form of technology-mediated communication. What you learn will have important significance to a successful career in technical communication. The catalog course description, objectives, and prerequisites are attached.


Required Texts

Available online by direct link or via the library’s database holdings (requires on-campus network access and/or activated library card account).


Recommended Resources

Required Resources

  • Computer access, word processing software, and a means of saving your work securely.
  • Access to your City Tech email.
  • Activate your library account at the front desk of the City Tech Library for journal access via your library account number.
  • Access and accounts at and other designated website.
  • Flash drive for saving your work and/or having scratch space for in-class project work (always bring to class).
  • Cloud-based storage for saving a backup of all your work.
  • Apps for your phone, tablet, and/or computer that can open digital files for reading.



Assignment Description Percentage of Final Grade
Daily Writing, In-Class Assignments, and Pop Quizzes After each class, students will write a 250-word minimum (writing more is recommended) summary of the reading and discussion in their own words (quoting is acceptable if properly cited but quotes do not apply to the minimum word count). These are due at the beginning of the next class. Any material quoted from the reading should be cited according to APA style (see “Required Format for Papers” for more information). 30%
Final Project Research Paper Proposal Before endeavoring on the final project, students will write a 250-word proposal for a research paper that explores a contemporary technology through the lens of language and technology. The proposal should pose a question to be answered in the research paper, identify and describe the technology being investigated, and attempt to answer the research question with the knowledge already held by the student. On a separate page, students will write alphabetized list of 5 potential library-based sources for their research. 10%
Final Project Research Paper Based on the final project research paper proposal, students will write a 2500-word minimum research essay responding to their research question. This project requires at least 5 library-based, cited sources. In addition to these required sources, students may cite readings from class readings and non-library-based sources. 30%
Final Project Presentation Each student will have an opportunity to present a condensed, professionally delivered presentation based on their research paper. It must be between 5 and 10 minutes in length, and use PowerPoint as the visual component of the presentation. 10%
Final Exam On the last day of class, students will respond in short essays to questions about the class readings, lecture, and discussion. 20%



Policy for Late Work

Assignments submitted late or exams taken late will incur a 10-point reduction for each day that they are late. However, no assignments will be accepted after the last day of class. If a student knows that work cannot be completed on time, he or she should contact me or visit my office hours to discuss.


Attendance and Lateness Policy

The expectation for successful and respectful college students is to arrive on time and attend all classes. Following City Tech’s policy, attendance is recorded and reported for each class meeting. Attendance and class participation are essential and excessive absences may affect the final grade. Students who simply stop attending will receive a grade of “WU” (unofficial withdrawal – attended at least once).

The expectation for successful and respectful college students is to arrive on time and attend all classes. The college permits students to miss 10% of a class (three absences) for whatever reason. In our class, each additional absence will reduce your final grade by 10 points (equivalent of a full letter grade). Missing too many classes will obviously result in failure of the class. Also, an absence does not excuse you from any assignments or exams. Use your absences wisely. Arriving late or leaving early will, depending on the specific situation, count as a full or partial absence.


Required Format for Papers

All formal writing and citations should follow APA guidelines (see the Purdue OWL APA section for more information: Remember in your research paper that quoting is far more persuasive than paraphrasing, and in either case, your use of others ideas or writing must be properly cited to give credit where credit is due and to maintain your own academic integrity.


College Policy on Academic Integrity

Students who work with information, ideas, and texts owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in CUNY and at New York City College of Technology, and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.


Student Success and Time Management

To earn a passing grade, students should budget at least twice as many hours outside of class for studying as spent in class ( This is a four-credit hour class. We meet for four hours per week. This means that you should budget at least eight hours per week outside of class for studying. This studying time might include time for reading, making notes, and doing homework. The readings in our class are challenging. You will need to refer to outside sources (go-to sources include,, and to help you understand some of the basic ideas and terminology before we discuss the reading in class. Many other useful tips that we’ll discuss in class are on pages 4-8 of this PDF:



Tentative Class Schedule



Week Day Date Activities and Due Dates
1 T Jan 30 Introduction to class.


Discuss syllabus, assignments, and readings.


Discuss student success strategies.


Carroll, L. (1871). Jabberwocky. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved from



Th Feb 1 Chiang, T. (2013). The truth of fact, the truth of feeling. Subterranean Press Magazine. Retrieved from


Ted Chiang, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling,”

2 T Feb 6 Fromkin, V. (2003). What is language? In V. Fromkin, R. Rodman, & N. Hyams (Eds.), An introduction to language (pp. 3-28). Boston, MA: Wadsworth. Retrieved from

Alternate link to reading:

Th Feb 8 Wade, N. (2003, July 15). Early voices: the leap to language. The New York Times. Retrieved from


3 T Feb 13 Klein, S. J. (1985). What is technology? Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society, 5, 215-218. Retrieved from:


Th Feb 15 Mufwene, S. S. (2013). Language as technology: some questions that evolutionary linguistics should address. In T. Lohndal (Ed.), In search of universal grammar: from old Norse to Zoque (pp. 327-358). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Retrieved from


Final project topic assignments made during class.


4 T Feb 20 No class. Monday schedule.
Th Feb 22 Ong, W. J. (1986). Writing is a technology that restructures thought. In G. Bauman (Ed.), The written word: literacy in transition (pp. 23-50). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved from



5 T Feb 27 Mazlish, B. (1967). The forth discontinuity. Technology and Culture, 8(1), 1-15. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


Th Mar 1 Derrida, J. (1974). Linguistics and grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). Substance, 4(10), 127-181. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


6 T Mar 6 Haraway, D. (1991). A cyborg manifesto: science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century. In Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature (pp. 149-181). New York: Routledge. Retrived from
Th Mar 8 Hayles, N. K. (1999). Toward embodied virtuality. In How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics (pp. ). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from


Final project proposal due.


7 T Mar 13 McLuhan, M. (1964). The medium is the message. In Understanding media: the extensions of man, New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from


Th Mar 15 Kittler, F. (1987). Gramophone film typewriter. October, 41, 101-118. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


8 T Mar 20 Kostelnick, C. (1990). Typographical design, modernist aesthetics, and professional communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 4(5), 5-24. Retrieved from

Or, download from here.

Th Mar 22 Bolter, J. D. & Grusin, R. A. (1996). Remediation. Configurations, 4(3), 311-358. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


9 T Mar 27 Gitelman, L. (2006). Introduction: media as historical subjects. In Always already new (pp. 1-22). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from:


Th Mar 29 Turner, F. (2005). Where the counterculture met the new economy: the WELL and the origins of virtual community. Technology and Culture, 46(3), 485-512. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


10 T Apr 3 No class. Spring recess.
Th Apr 5 No class. Spring recess.
11 T Apr 10 Manovich, L. (2001). What is new media? In The language of new media (pp. 43-74). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from
Th Apr 12 Galloway, A. R. (2011). What is new media?: ten years after the language of new media. Criticism, 53(3), 377-384. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


12 T Apr 17 McNeill, L. & Zuern, J. D. (2015). Online lives 2.0: introduction. Biography, 38(2), v-xlv. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


Th Apr 19 Dash, A. (2016, Aug. 10). The lost infrastructure of social media. Retrieved from


13 T Apr 24 Nofre, D., Priestley, M., & Alberts, G. (2014). When technology became language: the origins of the linguistic conception of computer programming, 1950-1960. Technology and Culture, 55(1), 40-75. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:


Th Apr 26 Hicks, M. (2017). Introduction. In Programmed inequality: how Britain discarded women technologists and lost its edge in computing (pp. 1-17). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from


14 T May 1 Derrida, J. (1988). Signature event context. In Limited inc (pp. 1-23). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Retrieved from

Alternate link:


Th May 3 Hart-Davidson, W. (2001). On writing, technical communication and information technology: the core competencies of technical communication. Technical Communication, 48(2), 145-155. Retrieved from


Off-campus link:

Or, access the reading here.

15 T May 8 Final Project studio time. (Workshop on APA citations for quotes/cited material and paraphrasing)
Th May 10 Final Project studio time.


16 T May 15 Final Project studio time.

Hand out take-home final exam.

Final exam review.

Th May 17 No class–college follows a Wednesday schedule.


17 T May 22 Final exam.

Final Project presentations delivered during class (half of class)

Final Project research paper due electronically before class. Email your research paper as a PDF email attachment to jellis at


17 Th May 24 Final exam.

Final Project presentations delivered during class (half of class)

Return handwritten take-home final exam.



Leave a Reply