This fall, I'm teaching the two courses below at Bennington College.
Digital technology is changing our understanding of what it means to be human, and rewriting our definitions of life, the body, love, death, and other concepts and embodied experiences. Through engaging contemporary narratives like The Circle and Black Mirror, we will explore the theory of technogenesis—the idea that humans have always coevolved with their tools. We will read key works in media studies to historically contextualize contemporary changes within a longer range of technological shifts, from the emergence of written alphabets to the invention of moveable type, from cave paintings to moving images. What effect have these media technologies had on human consciousness, cognition, sensation, and experience? How does digitization preserve or change the meaning of analog archives and objects? Now that scientists have managed to store digital images in strands of synthetic DNA, what is happening to the boundary between digital technology and what we might have previously called “life itself”?
"Hip Hop Archaeology"
Hip hop music producers have long practiced “diggin’ in the crates”—a phrase that denotes searching through record collections to find material to sample. In this course, we will examine the material and technological history of hip hop culture, with particular attention to hip hop’s tendency to sample, remix, mash-up, and repurpose existing media artifacts to create new works of art. We will use a media archaeological approach to examine the precise material conditions that first gave rise to graffiti art, deejaying, rapping, and breakdancing, and to analyze hip hop songs, videos, and films. Hip hop archaeology is a critical and artistic practice that seeks to interpret the layers of significance embedded in the artifacts of hip hop culture. How does hip hop archaeology remix the past, the present, and the future? How do the historical, political, and cultural coding of hip hop artifacts change as they increasingly become part of institutional collections, from newly established hip hop archives at Cornell and Harvard to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture?