ENGLGU 4911 Technologies of Dissent

D. Tenen

Our engagement with technology entails political, not just instrumental choices. Email clients, social networks, and word processors have a profound effect on the way we relate to each other: work, organize, relax, or make art. Yet, we rarely have a chance to reflect on the civic, cultural virtues implicit in numerous everyday acts of computation: connecting to a wi-fi access point, sending a text message, or sharing a photograph online.

This course will introduce students to foundational concepts in computer literacy. We will pry open many “black boxes”---personal computers, routers, mobile phones---to learn not just how they work, but to interrogate them critically. Readings in ethics, philosophy, media history, and critical theory will ground our practical explorations.

This course advances research in computational culture studies understood both as the study of computational culture and as computational approaches to the study of culture and society. In addition to traditional reading, discussion, and writing components of the class, participants are expected to work on a semester-long data-driven lab-based research project. Students and scholars from any field, at any stage of their academic or professional career, and at all levels of technical and critical proficiency are welcome to attend.