ENGIN 184 | Writing Robots

2024 Spring | M 9-11 am, W 10-11 am | COURSE #33578 | UNITS: 3

Margaret Kolb

Recent breakthroughs in AI have put how we write—and how we conceptualize writing—into flux. This writing-intensive course surveys and analyzes accounts of AI-generated writing, while reflecting on the ramifications of AI for human writing practices. In other words: how do we write about—as well as with—writing machines? How are emergent AI writing technologies reshaping human writing cultures in STEM fields and beyond? How, in turn, do accounts of and interactions with writing machines shape cultural conceptions of human writers and thinkers, as well as technological frontiers for AI developers? What does it mean to write for someone else, or to let someone or something else write for us?

To address these questions, we analyze a broad range of texts, including chat transcripts, essays, and journal articles, alongside novels, plays, and podcasts. Students track and research sub-topics of their choosing through a cumulative series of summaries, essays, and opinion pieces, while chronicling their developing writerly identities by reflecting on readings and assignments in a course journal. At semester’s end, they revise and present a writing portfolio reflecting their strongest work. 

(Note: This course satisfies the Arts & Literature and Philosophy & Values breadth requirements.)