Digital technology is a key component of culture. Looking at popular media, science fiction, computer games, and artists' projects, students will learn important approaches to digital culture including: the history of the computer as a medium; the conceptual history of interactivity; the development of film, design, extended reality, and hypermedia; the history of artificial realities; and how visions of the future may change our sense of identity and what constitutes our physical bodies.This course will explore what it means for something to be digital beyond the reductive definition that it comes from a computer. The spine of the course will test the early promise of the Internet era–that "information wants to be free"–and examine how that idea has been reflected in the art and culture we have produced, where the notion has succeeded and failed, and how the tension between open and closed communities has become a key framework for participating in the digital world.
How does authority reach the ear? What are the sonic features of speaking truth to power? Who shapes the ways we hear, and where might we learn to listen differently? This course sounds out displays of authority as well as how we can act against such structures by turning to representations of the auditory in both literature and cinema. As we consider questions of sound and its reproduction, we will work across geographical contexts to determine which concerns resonate widely and what role acoustics, or the specific properties of a space, might play. Readings will come from writers such as Valeria Luiselli, Maria Sonia Cristoff, Franz Kafka, Frantz Fanon, and Severo Sarduy, while films will range from Fitzcarraldo to Sorry to Bother You.