Faculty of Arts


Writing Technology and Digital Culture

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for COMMS 305.


Writing Technologies examines "writing" in new environments of communication, design and imaginative art. The course examines the proliferation of technologies for understanding, negotiating and fashioning self and world, work and play. Within the contexts of debates about the "invention" of alphabetic writing and its development from page to screen, the multifarious cultural and place-based forms that writing takes, the encoding of the built environment and intelligent architecture, and the advent of software life, or algorithmic culture, the course considers the role of writing in everyday contexts of communication. What do we do with writing technologies, and what are such tools making of "us"?

The course considers digital literacy to be a writerly capacity that enables us to both exercise and reflect upon computer functions.The premise of the course is that writing and reading and practices cannot be understood without attending to the technologies and history of those same practices, and that users both write with media and are written by them.

A three-hour interactive lecture and tutorial in one addresses technological modes, contexts and practices of writing, intermixing course readings, writing activities and in-class discussion. Readings include texts on the history, theory and practice of writing technologies by Roy Harris, N. Katherine Hayles, Alison Jones and Te Kawehau Hoskins, Johanna Drucker, Bernard Stiegler and Benjamin Bratton, among others.

Learning aims

  • The ability to reflect upon writing as an object of theory, analysis and practice
  • To understand the provenance of writing, and its relation to social practices
  • To be able to pose questions of writing technologies, and to construct critical and creative responses
  • To be able to address writing environments as an object of critical analysis, and to manipulate them as a matter of design
  • To understand the procedural "rhetoric" of digital writing and desktop orthography
  • To be able to understand and use the post-critical language of criteria and menus
  • To understand the role of software and aggregation of data in environments of work and play 

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Stephen Turner


COMMS 305: 15.0 points


15 points from COMMS 200-206 and 15 points in BA courses



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