Contemporary Media Theory

This is a seminar style course based on close readings of selected texts in contemporary media theory. Through a critical engagement with thinkers such as Mark Hansen, Kathryn Hayles, Benjamin Bratton, Wendy Chun, and Jennifer Gabrys students will gain the abstract conceptual tools to think rigorously about 21st century technology. Grades will be based on seminar participation, reflection upon the texts (both written and aural) as well as a final essay. IMA students, in particular, will be encouraged to combine theory with practice in their final essay.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course students will be able to:
a) carefully read and critically analyze challenging texts in media theory;
b) reflect upon the ideas presented in these texts both aurally and in writing;
c) write a research essay that links media theory with practice.

Required Media (readings, screenings, artworks, etc.):

Hayles, N. Katherine. Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. University of Chicago Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780226447889
Hansen, Mark BN. Feed-forward: On the Future of Twenty-first-century Media. University of Chicago Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780226199726
Peters, John Durham. The marvelous clouds: Toward a philosophy of elemental media. University of Chicago Press, 2015. 9780226253978
Bratton, Benjamin H. The stack: On software and sovereignty. MIT press, 2016. 978-0262029575
Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. MIT press, 2016. 9780262333764
Gabrys, Jennifer. Program earth: Environmental sensing technology and the making of a computational planet. University of Minnesota Press, 2016.9780816693146

Week 1:

09/04: Introduction
09/06: Hayles, N. Katherine. Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. Prologue: Transforming How We See the World

Week 2:

09/11 Hayles, N. Katherine. Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. 3. The Cognitive Nonconscious and the New Materialisms
09/13 Hayles, N. Katherine. Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. 5. Cognitive Assemblages: Technical Agency and Human Interactions

Week 3:

09/18 Unthought Presentations
09/20 - Make up class: 9/22 Lecture by Kathryn Hayles at the Shanghai Theater Academy.

Week 4:

09/25 Hansen, Mark BN. Feed-forward: On the Future of Twenty-first-century Media. Introduction: Whitehead as Media Theorist?
09/27 Hansen, Mark BN. Feed-forward: On the Future of Twenty-first-century Media. 1. Prehensity

Week 5:

10/9 Hansen, Mark BN. Feed-forward: On the Future of Twenty-first-century Media. 4. Sensibility
10/11 Feed Forward Presentations

Week 6:

10/16 Peters, John Durham. The marvelous clouds: Toward a philosophy of elemental media. Introduction

Week 7:

10/23 Peters, John Durham. The marvelous clouds: Toward a philosophy of elemental media. 1. Understanding Media 10/25 Peters, John Durham. The marvelous clouds: Toward a philosophy of elemental media. 5. The Times and the Seasons: Sky Media 11 Kairos

Week 8:

10/30 Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Introduction
11/1 Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Always Searching, Never Finding; 1. Habitual Connections, or Network Maps: Belatedly Too Early

Week 9:

11/6 Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media The Friend of My Friend Is My Enemy (and Thus My Friend), The Leakiness of Friends, or Think Different Like Me
11/8 Updating to Remain the Same Presentations

Week 10:

11/13 Bratton, Benjamin H. The stack: On software and sovereignty Introduction
11/15 Make -up class. Sinofuturism: Screening & Discussion with Lawrence Lek and Steve Goodman at All

Week 11:

11/20 Bratton, Benjamin H. The stack: On software and sovereignty Platform and Stack, Model and Machine
11/22 Bratton, Benjamin H. The stack: On software and sovereignty User Layer

Week 12:

11/27 The Stack Presentations
11/29 Gabrys, Jennifer. Program earth: Environmental sensing technology and the making of a computational planet Introduction

Week 13:

12/4 Gabrys, Jennifer. Program earth: Environmental sensing technology and the making of a computational planet 2. From Moss Cam to Spillcam: Techno-Geographies of Experience
12/6 Gabrys, Jennifer. Program earth: Environmental sensing technology and the making of a computational planet 6. Sensing Air and Creaturing Data

Week 14:

12/11 Program Earth Presentations
12/13 Essay Workshop