Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome to 585!

This is the blog for CTCS 585.  Welcome!  From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, the last decade has seen a variety of competing claims about the role digital media might play in activist struggles for social change.  Through a series of case studies that will center on issues of race, gender, sexuality, privacy, and class, the course will explore the ways in which digital media intersect with and possibly reconfigure activist practice in the twenty-first century.  This class is also a practicum of sorts, so students will be asked to engage with media making tools and exercises in a variety of contexts.  Theory and practice will be integrated across the semester, and each mode of expression will be valued.  Throughout the semester, the guiding frameworks of the class will be those of cultural theory, digital media studies, feminism, and critical race theory, and we will constantly link our exploration of old and new technologies to investigations of social change, aesthetics, and efficacy.

As we collectively shape the contours of the class, I hope that we will address questions like the following: "How do technologies shape our sense of self and other?", “How does technology impact social organization and forms of community?”, "What continuities exist between activism before and after the web?", "What potential do tactical media offer activists?", "How do digital activism and other forms of activism intersect?", and "Do digital media enable new ways of imagining social change?".

We will also explore the impacts of digital media on strategies for organizing through the exploration of concrete case studies. In order to explore issues of organizational strategy, consensus building, and deliberation, several weeks of the semester are as yet unmapped.  Students in the course will collectively author the contours of these sessions, deciding upon four case studies, assigned readings, hands-on activities, and other materials. We’ll talk more about this process in the next few weeks.

Finally, the course takes seriously the notion that digital media are re-jiggering the relationship between theory and practice, illuminating new possibilities for activism, art, and daily life.

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