Last week, students in the Filming the Past class read articles written by members of the Illinois Tech Humanities Department. This week, each group of students interviewed a one professor of Humanities in order to create an audio documentary about that person’s work, and its larger impact and importance.
Students: Please post a link to your podcast (host it on Youtube) in a comment, along with a synopsis that briefly describes the subject matter and tells us the larger point or insight your podcast is trying to make. Also feel free to share your work with the rest of the class using #filmpast on twitter.
What one new thing did you learn about the concept of a cyborg from the readings this past week? (B. Woods & N. Watson, “In Pursuit of standardization: the British ministry of health’s model 8F wheelchair, 1948-1962;” D. Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto;” Selected news articles on cyborg culture on Blackboard.)
And, who (or what) has the power in creating the cyborgs discussed in the Woods and Watson article?
Conclude by discussing how the answers to the two questions above relate to each other, in order to shed new light on our concept of a “cyborg.”
Your essay should be 300 to 500 words. Posts are due by 5pm on February 27th.
For your first short essay, briefly define each of the concepts/theories that we’ve discussed in class so far: heterogeneous engineering; soft and hard technological determinism; technological momentum; the social construction of technology (SCOT); and, actor-network theory (ANT). As you define each one, say which author we’ve read is most closely aligned with each idea. Next, discuss which theory seems the most useful to the way you understand the world. Give one example from the readings or your personal experience that shows how one of these theories can help us understand something deeper and non-obvious about one specific technology’s role in society in the U.S. (or another country) in the 20th or 21st century. Be specific about WHERE and WHEN you are talking about.
Post your essay in a comment below. Skip a line between paragraphs (in other words, leave an extra line of white space). Your response should be no more than 500-600 words, and should be submitted by 10AM on 1/31. Your comments will not show up right away (they need to be approved by me, and I will do this after the deadline). You should use formal academic English for this assignment: compose and save your response in a seperate text editor before pasting it into the comments box for submission.
This is a list of resources and guidelines for students that will supplement our class work. It may be added to and updated throughout the semester. Students (and others!) please feel free to leave suggestions for additional resources in the comments, particularly open source or public domain resources.
So the spring term is in full swing and I’m excited to be teaching a new course called “Filming the Past” in addition to my usual STS offerings. Here’s the syllabus, if you’re interested. Filming the Past is a history and digital humanities course that tries to help students understand the process by which history is written and then disseminated to wider, “popular” audiences. In addition to talking about traditional historiography, the course asks how certain historical accounts become popularized as the truth or “common knowledge?” What role do visual media, particularly films and documentaries, play in the process of creating and understanding the past? How can film be a force for uncovering and popularizing “hidden” histories that upset our assumptions about the past?
This course tries to change things up a bit by focusing on less well-known chapters in history, looking at how films and documentaries can be tools for disseminating historical knowledge and how they can also be activist interventions in how we understand the past and its relationship to the society we live in today. Students will learn how to write a short history from primary documents, conduct interviews, and create their own podcasts and short video documentaries on a historical topic.
In today’s class we’re going to be talking about the Magdalene Laundries, and the unusual ways in which their history was kept hidden, and later, the unusual ways in which it started to become common knowledge. We’re going to try to do an in-class audio recording exercise that will hopefully become a class-wide collaborative podcast episode. You can listen to our introductory episode here. It explains why our podcast is called “20/40 vision.” I’m still getting the hang of how to make these audio files–if anyone knows clever ways to amplify Audacity-generated mp3s, I’d love to hear.
If you’re interested in following along with what the class does in real time (or almost real time), check out the class twitter hashtag: #filmpast. We’re using twitter to talk about history since engaging in public conversations about history is part and parcel of this course. Students are setting up their accounts tomorrow and should be tweeting soon thereafter. We also have a list of useful twitter feeds for documentary studies to which we’ll be adding over the course of the semester.
Now that the term’s finally ended, I’m gratified to be able to reflect on what I’ve been up to for the past few months, in terms of conferences and presentations. This Fall was a really interesting time for me, because in addition to presenting at conferences that are old standbys for me, like the Society for the History of Technology, I was also glad to have the opportunity to make new connections in fields ranging from digital humanities to queer studies.
Here’s what I’ve been up to, with some links to available online versions of presentation materials where possible: Continue reading →
Recently our university hosted a prominent member of the Chicago business community whose interest in the humanities has led him to philanthropic giving to our institution. It has also put him in posts of high esteem on national boards and committees designed to discuss how to make the humanities more prominent in our current STEM-heavy media climate and economy. Continue reading →
In a comment of no more than 750-1000 words, discuss the disaster you chose to research and make an argument about its root cause.
Be sure to include answers to the following somewhere within your essay: What type of a disaster is the disaster you chose (i.e. what was its root cause)? What does studying this particular disaster tell us that we wouldn’t have known from simply hearing about the disaster in the news as it was happening? How did your disaster look different when viewed through contemporaneous news sources, versus academic sources that studied the disaster after the fact? How does the disaster you chose fit with in with, or differ from, other disasters that we’ve looked at in class? Why is it (or why isn’t it) important?
Be specific in supporting your argument with evidence—cite your sources using parenthetical citations in the text of your essay, or–if you prefer–by using endnotes. Due by 10pm on Nov 24th. Please leave an extra line of whitespace between each of your papragraphs for formatting (otherwise the paragraphs run together).
Post your final project essays in the comments here by Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 9pm. Prepare the 6 minute oral portion of your project for Thursday’s class. (If you chose to use visuals, remember to include a link to your prezi in your comment–and make sure that your prezi is set to “public” so everyone can see it.) Please leave an extra line of whitespace between each of your papragraphs for formatting (otherwise they run together).
As discussed in class, this phase of the course asks you to start to think critically about multiple historical events in relation to each other. For this blog comment, think about the “disasters” we’ve studied since the midterm–namely the ones we discussed through Nader’s and Carson’s writings, the responses to Bhopal, and the article on the Dalkon Shield.
Write a 600-800 word essay that identifies one similarity shared by all of these disasters, and one difference that emerges. The difference you identify may separate out one disaster from the rest, or it may help you group the disasters into 2 or 3 groups that have salient congruences within each group, and salient differences between the groups. As usual, go for the points of similarity and difference that are less obvious, and therefore more revealing, as you construct your argument. What new insights do your comparisons reveal? Discuss them and how you came to them. Post your essay in a comment by November 3, at 10pm.