Literature in the Age of AI

Denis Tenen

In this course we will consider the long history of literature composed with, for, and by machines. Our reading list will start with Ramon Llull, the thirteenth-century combinatorial mystic, and continue with readings from Gottfried Leibniz, Francis Bacon, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Butler. We will read "Plot Robots" instrumental to the writing of Hollywood scripts and pulp fiction of the 1920s, the avant-garde poetry of Dada and OULIPO, computer-generated love letters written by Alan Turing, and novels created by the first generation of artificial intelligence researchers in the 1950s and 60s. The course will conclude at the present moment, with an exploration of machine learning techniques of the sort used by Siri, Alexa, and other contemporary chat bots.