Sample of Courses

 

Graduate Level:

 

Planetary Futures

December 24th 1968, outer space. Williams Anders, a member of the Apollo 8 mission, photographs the Earth rising on the lunar horizon: Earthrise. The picture becomes instantaneously famous, permeating every corner of popular culture. For the first time in its history, humanity can contemplate the unambiguous finitude of its habitat. Thus, a new consciousness is born: this limited planet might not be able to sustain unlimited growth. The expanding occupation of territories and the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, intensified by technical progress and the competitive logic of capitalism, might not lead to global happiness, but to global crisis. In our present this crisis appears to have arrived. Loss, extinction, disaster, catastrophe, seem to define our situation in relationship to the environment, each other, and the other species inhabiting our earth. This workshop will use the space of Montréal and Québec to begin asking how we might imagine, and design, a future earth without escaping or denying the ruins of the one we inhabit? How shall we design and encounter the ineffable without denying history, colonialism, or normalizing violence? What forms of knowledge and experiment might produce non-normative ecologies of care between life forms? How shall we inhabit the catastrophe? This workshop will bring together the disciplines of the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences to collectively investigate this question of how we shall inhabit the world in the face of the current ecological crisis and to rethink concepts and practices of environment, ecology, difference, and technology to envision, and create, a more just, sustainable, and diverse planet. The course will include field visits to extraction sites, energy infrastructures, earth science installations, and speculative architecture and design projects.

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Furnishing the Cloud

“Furnishing the Cloud” emerged from conversations between members of the New School for Social Research, Eugene Lang College, the Parsons School of Design, and the New School for Public Engagement.The work emerged from two seminars taught by Orit Halpern and Kimberly Ackert. From March 9-22nd, we created an exhibition that sought to creatively interrogate how media and infrastructures integrate into lived environments and experiences. Throughout the site you will find information about the exhibit, the process of designing and researching infrastructures, and the conversations that emerged at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, and design. We sought to create links between this virtual space and the built environment.

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Infrastructural Futures

This class is aimed to be an intensive seminar and “studio” in developing methods to map and engage withbuilt environments, design, and infrastructure as contemporary practices of making territory and producing political and governmental action. We will examine how infrastructures shape politics, economics, and society, and how design impacts the future of the planet and human life. Your job is to be mischevous, entrepreneurial, devious, and what ever other adjective you can imagine to find ways to represent and mis-represent infrastructural logics. This course will meld theory with a series of practical exercises by which you are to learn from example and interrogate your objects of historical and anthropological study. Every student must develop a project, either ethnographic or historical concerning a infrastructure of their choice. The project can be either web based, or it can be a standard paper, however it must include original documentation. This means for ethnographies you must interview someone related to the infrastructure--this could be an administrator, designer, lawyer, human rights group, etc. for the project. If its historical you must access primary (as in archival resources) aspect to the project. Each project will be done in consultation with myself. You may also work with me to develop other models.

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Making Sense

This course will be an introductory survey of historical and anthropological methods in the study, narration, and display of visual and media culture. Working with curatorial exhibitions, multi-media projects, and different archives we will explore the relationship between design, art, technology, science, and society. Questions that guide our study will include whether our contemporary forms of attention and economy have a history? How might the study of design, broadly conceived, help us to rethink our present, produce new methods in the social sciences, and critically examine the relationship between technology, media, politics, and governance? How can we explore new methods in ethnography and history that engage these questions? How does one write, and more importantly show histories of sentiments, senses, and technicity? The class will be structured as a lab, and students will be encouraged to experiment with different forms of documentation, media, and data collection as part of their practice. We will also be working with the Parsons Design and Technology Department to develop and use a new digital humanities mapping and data visualization platform.  

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The Eye Through Time

This course will interrogate historical approaches to the study of perception—concentrating on vision and visuality. We will integrate histories of science, art, technology, and media. The course will focus on developing new methods for historical and ethnographic research on topics such as aesthetics, space, design, architecture, and media. The course will be particularly focused on fostering independent student research and projects.   Readings may include such figures as: Rancière, Deleuze, Foucault, Latour, Panofsky, Daston, Gunning, Crary.

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Time, Life, and Matter:

This course is a methodology and research seminar introducing students to contemporary methods in the history, sociology, and anthropology of science, technology, and media. Focusing on the historical study of new political and social formations such as networks, new social movements, and  the environment; readings we will concentrate on three approaches: Foucauldian, Deleuzian, and Deconstructionist. Readings may include: Peter Galison, Lorraine Daston, Bruno Latour, James Siegel, Keller Easterling, Michael Callon, and others.

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Becoming Other:

This course explores how genealogies of time based media might serve as critical tools to think about difference. The focus of the course is two fold: First, to explore methodological approaches to the history of technology, media, and subjectivity. Second, to inquire into the ethical possibility such historical inquiry might offer for rethinking subjectivity, difference, and politics.

Readings and screenings may include Artaud, Walter Benjamin, Michael Taussig, Susan Buck-Morss, Elizabeth Grosz, Jonathan Crary, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Paul Virilio, Bruno Latour, Friedrich Kittler, and Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, Harun Farocki, Trinh T. Minh-Ha

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Undergraduate Level:

 

Power+Knowledge:

Introductory Topics in the History of Science

In this class we will be taking up some of the most pressing questions facing society today—from ecology, to technology, to medicine, to genetics—and asking what history can tell us about the present, and how historical study can inform our ability to act upon these issues. Together, we will come to have a better understanding not only of science and society, but also about history. This class is an introduction to why history matters, even to those things that sometimes don’t seem to have a history like our biologies, our bodies, or ourselves. 

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Introduction to Cybercultures

Today we live in a world that is fully visual and sensory: inundated by images, sounds, and interactive experiences and saturated by digital media that shapes minds, bodies and our daily habits. From terrorist events such as 9/11 to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, the mediated world of representations radically effects pour understanding of the world; ideas about our environment and the globe; as well as our political and social actions and imaginaries. How did these set of conditions –– taken for granted so as to not be considered –– come about? This course will examine this new landscape of society by providing a historical and theoretical investigation of the relationship between aesthetics, power, knowledge, and digital media: from the birth of modernism and modernity in the nineteenth century to the digital era. The course takes an experimental and interdisciplinary approach rather than a comprehensive overview, integrating the history of science, media studies, and the history of art. Examining the history of technology and theories of perception alongside critical developments in modern and contemporary artistic and cultural practices, the course follows two thematic thread: the relationship between power and perception, and the relationship between power and representation. Within these broad subject areas, weekly lectures cover a range of topics and case studies, among which include: new forms of spectatorship and attention; the politics of visuality; the representation of race, gender, and sexuality in scientific discourse and media practices; the relationship between digital media, surveillance, and terror; and the effects of globalization upon concepts of territory and space.  

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Design, Politics, Society

Whether by providing agitprop for revolutionary movements, an aesthetics of empire, or a language for numerous avant-gardes, design has changed the world. But how? Why? And under what conditions? This course proposes a consideration of design as an historical agent, a contested category, and a practice. Casting a wide net, the course will consider a range of geographical locations (“West,” “East,” “North,” South,” and contact zones between these constructed categories). We will examine not only designed objects (e.g., industrial design, decorative arts, graphic design, fashion) but also spaces (e.g., architecture, interiors, landscapes, urban settings) and systems (e.g., environment, economy, communications, services, governments). Together we will ask: What is design? How does it relate to society, history, economy, and politics? Students will get to engage with how histories of the past inform our contemporary media saturated lives, and experiment with new ways to do history through use of digital media, visual materials, and aesthetic practices.  

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Origins of Contemporary Visual Culture

This course explores a history of vision, visuality, and the screen since the 19th century.  It investigates how machines, life, and knowledge are historically reformulated and organized. The investigation traverses avant-garde art practices, scientific experiments, and factory floors, including new ways to approach the history of representation, media, and the body.

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Cold War/Hot Mediums

This course examined the relationship between technology, subjectivity, and culture between the end of World War II and the present; focusing on tracing the emergence of digital technologies and mapping transformations in the relationship between bodies, machines, and minds.

Topics included : psychopharmacology, the emergence of “information” as the dominant paradigm for both economy and biology, and the legacy of Cold War obsessions with control, communication, and security.

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Feminist Screen Theory

The course was organized around the question: What is the relationship between feminism and the screen? This course is an investigation of this question;  inquiring into what feminism can offer our imagination of media technologies and practices. And how  feminist art and media practice informs, contests, and re-creates the interface.

 

The course was taught combining histories of science, cinema, and colonialism with contemporary feminist theories of vision and visuality.  This course was the departments introductory general survey to feminist approaches to visual culture.

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