Media Theory and/for the Crises of the Present

Course Number: ENGL 238
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 238
Quarter: Winter 2020
Instructor: Raley, Rita
Day(s): T
Time: 12:00 PM - 2:20 PM
Location: TBD
Description:

The premise of this class is that the frustration and paralysis that often attend crisis are best avoided by a kind of working through – in this instance a focused attempt to understand the information architectures that organize and indeed govern our everyday lives in the present moment. If we can accept that we are still living in a society of control, how is control implemented? How are networks and network traffic managed? How, by extension, is our behavior conditioned – how are we nudged, directed, and mobilized – by algorithmic systems? How do recommendation systems, cryptocurrencies, and neural networks actually work, and what would technical understanding, however partial, make possible? This understanding will be facilitated by the work of humanistic researchers and artists whose work reflects their own deep engagement with technological apparatuses and is produced at least implicitly for a public audience, e.g. our principal reading on bitcoin was published recently in Critical Inquiry. Although the thematic of control may suggest a certain pessimism, we will throughout give no small amount of consideration to critical responses and even perhaps alternatives. A crisis, after all, from the Greek krisis ‘decision,’ is a moment to decide, a turning point; to that end, we will begin with the notion of care as a means to “exhaust exhaustion” (Wendy Chun).    

 

Reading by Gilles Deleuze, Alexander Galloway, Eugene Thacker, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Seb Franklin, Orit Halpern, Fenwick McKelvey, Florian Sprenger, Stephen Graham, Antoinette Rouvroy, John Cheney-Lippold, Hito Steyerl, Colin Koopman, Frances Ferguson, Grégoire Chamayou, Safiya Umoja Noble, Jonathan Cohn, Shoshana Zuboff, Bernard Stiegler, Louise Amoore, Luciana Parisi, and others.

 

Art by Zach Blas, Daniel Howe, Trevor Paglen, and others.