Cyberpunk

Course Syllabus – Cyberpunk
| Course Outline

PLEASE NOTE: Course content may be revised during the semester. Any changes will be announced during class and edits will be made to this document. Please refer back to this document on a weekly basis.

Professor: Mark Cooley
Spring 2018, M,W 4:30 – 7:10
Office hours: by appointment M,W, 4:00 – 4:30 or T,H 12:00 – 1:30 room 2030
Contact: mcooley(at)gmu.edu

Note: The professor would like to express his gratitude to Professor Kirby Malone, who developed and taught this course for ten years in Mason’s School of Art. Professor Malone generously contributed his time, ideas, conversation and course materials for the 2013 reanimation of Cyberpunk.

Prologue

This course offers an opportunity for an examination of (cyber)culture and the implications of new technologies (and the systems which produce them) through an analysis and critique of cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk science fiction. Students conduct inquiries into the dominant themes and representations pursued in cyberpunk culture through a variety of lenses including philosophy, theory and criticism, scientific inquiry and the creative process. Students are asked to participate in a trans-disciplinary discourse, which attempts, like the best science fiction, to offer insights into where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going.

The Set Up

Cyberpunk is dead, or so the pseudonymous Vincent Omniaveritas took it upon himself to proclaim in the pages of cyberpunk’s critical fanzine Cheap Truth in 1986. Just two years after Gibson’s breakthrough Neuromancer the “revolution” had flat-lined, or so it was said. Perhaps, seeing the inevitable doom of this revolution ending (as revolutions so often do) in the hands and service of those least invested in revolutionary values, Bruce Sterling writing as Omniaveritas, decided it prudent to abandon the farm and set the horses out on the open range before the big shopping mall moved in.

We are now living in The Future, in the epicenter of the east coast sprawl no less. The malls moved in and out, but we get all our day-to-day post-apocalyptic supplies from Wal Mart. Some say that soon after making it big in the states cyberpunk moved to Japan, leaving most of the writers here to continue with their experiments and the U.S. entertainment industry to routinely reanimate Cyberpunk™ – a lifeless body of media tropes tuned to the key of dark, disturbed, dystopic, and techno-fetishistic. Reanimations often suffered the fate of poor Frankenstein’s 1931 monster, having had the original literary brain traded out for the Hollywood one. For some, cyberpunk is a cliché, a hollowed out style, a techno-sublime backdrop or edgy sci-fi vehicle for an exceedingly small collection of regurgitated narratives done up in black leather, mirrorshades and enough CGI ass kicking to make your head spin. And that’s exactly how they say the masses like it, an inch deep and a million miles wide. But that’s not the whole story, as we’ll see.

Out here in the sprawl the tchotchke-tech invasion runs at full-tilt. We do our entertainment/infotainment on the go now. It’s mostly about us. What we ate for dinner, what we “like”. God gave us opposable thumbs and we’re finally beginning to discover their full potential. Tapping on screens we (re)construct ourselves in a parallel world where everything exists in quotes, where friends become “friends” and so on. And though our virtual worlds seem infinite, even transcendent, the “infinite” is always inextricably tied to the finite. The ipad battery dies and the world is flat, a thin piece of glass reflecting us as we are. The movie ends, the lights come up and we shield our eyes from the sun as we leave the theater. But the dream lingers on. We check our messages, maybe check-in on fb® on the way to the car, “like” the movie, and so on.

And meanwhile offworld, the cyborgs making the gadgets through which our dreams are made, jump from factory rooftops in an effort to test the limits of their programming and kill themselves in the process (recently, factory owners have attempted to retain the loss of valuable wetware by installing nets around the perimeter of the factories). In short, the spectacle abides (at least on this end of the rainbow) and converting the (digital) natives has never been so much fun, or profitable. The desire for an unconscious consciousness is stronger than ever it seems – as flesh-eating zombie hordes scuff big box store tile for the latest release of franchised dreams.

…And, all this built on the ground where revolutionary battles were once fought.

But maybe, just maybe, right now, somewhere in the sprawl or out beyond the wall, a group of shadowy figures raise their fists to a sky the color of television, tuned to a dead channel (which now days would be bright blue) and yell, “Cyberpunk is Dead, Long Live Cyberpunk!”

Abandoning Definitions in Favor of Tendencies.

Definitions are always the subject of great debate (or at least they should be). I will refrain from using definitions for the time being. The following outline touches on some of the dominant tendencies (as I like to call them) of cyberpunk.

>Envisioning a globalized future characterized by multiculturalism, combined with extreme class division and the hegemony of a corporate state. Stories often focus on street-level disenfranchised or disaffected characters who are often compelled to engage in dangerous border crossings of one type or another. Whether their travels be in geographic space, cyberspace, or psychological space, crossing over into forbidden zones is always met with intense danger and hostility.

>Engaging with info-tech, biotech, and nanotech by suggesting how the human body, the psyche, and society will transform with the development and use of invasive technologies, while insisting that these changes won’t likely be dropped from the sky for the “benefit of all mankind,” but rather, engineered and disseminated inside systems of tight economic, political and social controls.

>Using the human-technology interface as a way to explore how the conditions of post-modernity challenge deeply embedded paradigms of western thought; in particular, binary oppositions such as reality/illusion, originality/duplication, life/death, human/inhuman, male/female, organic/inorganic, artifice/nature.

>Critiquing The CorpoState by depicting bleak and ecocidal post-industrial quasi-fascist states where tyrannical corporations wage war on public and individual interests for the benefit of powerful private parties. Particularly of interest is the way in which the rational society uses invasive technologies and city and social planning as apparatuses of control through surveillance, propaganda and overtly hostile acts.

>Pushing DIY & DIWOism in the punk and hacker traditions with an ambivalent stance toward technology as both a tool of dominance and liberation, ecstatic pleasure and unrivaled pain. Characters often work toward changing the beneficiary of technology by turning oppressive technologies against the interests that they were designed to serve.

Goals

To provide a supportive group context for investigating the issues, ideas, aesthetics, theory and criticism, in and around cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction.

To engage with the fictions of nonfiction and the nonfictions of fiction. That is to say, inspect the reciprocity of art and life.

To communicate, through text and dialog, careful, deep and rhizomatic readings and viewings of the course materials.

To practice critical thinking and an openness to the world of ideas, actions and potentialities.

Texts / Media

Nonfiction texts will be provided by the professor through a direct link located in the syllabus or via google drive here.

Fiction. Students must select one of the following books and read it as a basis for the final project.

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, 1956
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
, Philip K. Dick, 1968
The Girl Who Was Plugged In, James Tiptree, Jr., 1973
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, edited Bruce Sterling, 1986
Neuromancer, William Gibson, 1984
Synners, Pat Cadigan, 1991
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson, 1992
Tea from an empty Cup, Pat Cadigan, 1995
Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan, 2002

Course Requirements

Student websites: Each student is required to start and keep a dedicated website (on a blogging platform of choice) to which all coursework will be posted. It is preferable that the site be private and password protected with an invitation going to the professor. All coursework is to be documented on the site and posted on or before the due dates provided in the syllabus. Work will not be considered complete until it is posted.

Assignments: Students are expected to produce text responses to the assignments presented in the course outline. Student texts should be completed with the intent of defining and applying key concepts delineated in the assignments and are evaluated on the degree to which they are successful in this regard. Texts should also serve as preparation for an informed and expanded classroom dialog. Successful writing for this course is characterized by clear and functional copy edited language that expresses a thorough engagement with course materials through the application of key concepts (represented through required readings/viewings/lectures in theory, criticism and journalism) to the films and literature assigned in the course outline. A note on would-be trollish writers: We’re not here to write dismissive mini-manifestos (as witty as they may sometimes be) meant to slice, dice and roast our intellectual enemies. We’re looking for ideas and opening our brains long enough to absorb them. And as we know, any agreement or disagreement should at least start with a thorough understanding of the ideas at play. Remember, assignments must be submitted to course blogs before being considered complete.

Final Paper: Students are responsible for writing a final paper or making creative project as a response to one of the required novels (listed in Texts/Media):

Final Paper/Project outline due 3/19
Final Paper due  5/14

Participation: Discussions offer an important time for exploration, analysis and critique of course materials as well as a time for connecting course content to personal experience and current worldly events. As we all probably know, class discussions can be difficult to initiate and sustain, but when successful, they add immeasurably to the classroom experience. Attending class both prepared and engaged will help make this course a success. And please remember this is a flesh congregation. Students telepresently or virtually engaged during class meetings are counted absent or asked to leave if they wish to continue their remote engagements. Phones should be shut off during class. Laptops should only be used to take or retrieve notes. No, you don’t need to check that email. Remember, you should control your technology; your technology (or the people on the other end of it) should not control you. This is a basic tenant of cyberpunk and also of this class. Your phone is calling you even as you read this… refuse, resist… Your friend, your boss, the NSA can all wait! Let them feel the power of your will, and reject complete allegiance to the network.

Attendance: Only extraordinary circumstances should prevent students from attending class. Two absences are allowed. A letter grade reduction is made to final grades for each additional absence (unless excused for extraordinary reasons). Arriving late or leaving early more than twice results in an absence.Students spending class time on social media, video games and other distractions are counted absent. In the event of an absence, students are responsible for getting all missed information from their classmates unless extraordinary circumstances require a meeting with the professor during office hours. Class time is not used to review previously covered material in order to compensate for student absence or inattentiveness. In addition, email concerning information missed or misunderstood because of absence or inattentiveness will likely go unanswered. In short, instruction is not conducted by email. Students who make a habit of being unprepared, inattentive, or absent do not pass this course. Students may schedule an appointment during the professor’s office hours if additional instruction is needed outside of studio hours.

Deadlines: Unless extraordinary circumstances occur, tardy work will be dropped a letter grade for each class day that it is late. All work, submitted to the professor on-time, may be reworked and resubmitted as many times as necessary until a satisfactory evaluation is received.

Evaluation

A | Work that demonstrates excellent understanding of ideas presented through the course materials.

B | Work that demonstrates commitment to expanding one’s vocabulary and a good understanding of the ideas presented through the course materials.

C | Work that demonstrates a fair understanding of ideas presented through the course materials.

D | Work of below average quality that suffers from a poor reading and/or expression of ideas presented in the course materials.

F | Work that demonstrates neglect of course materials and requirements, nonexistent work, late work, or very poor application.

Weekly Papers 80%
Participation 10%
Final Paper / Project 10%

University and School of Art Policies

Important University Dates

Visual Voices Lecture Series Spring 2018: Visual Voices is a year-long series of lectures by artists, art historians and others about contemporary art and art practice. Visual Voices lectures are held on Thursday evenings from 7:20- 9:00 p.m. in Harris Theater: http://soa.gmu.edu/visualvoices/

January 24 – Brian Noyes
February 1 – Teresa Jaynes
February 22 – Sharif Bey
March 1 – Juliet Bellow
March 8 – John Henry

ArtsBus Credit and Policies:  
You are responsible for knowing and following Artsbus policies and rules.
Please go to the ArtsBus website: http://artsbus.gmu.edu “Student Information” for important information regarding ArtsBus policy. For credit to appear on your transcript you must enroll in AVT 300. This also applies to anyone who intends to travel to New York independently, or do the DC Alternate Assignment. * If you plan/need to go on multiple ArtsBus trips during a semester and need them towards your total requirement, you must enroll in multiple sections of AVT 300* Non-AVT majors taking art classes do not need Artsbus credit BUT may need to go on the Artsbus for a class assignment. You can either sign up for AVT 300 or buy a ticket for the bus trip at the Center of the Arts. Alternate trips must be approved by the instructor of the course that is requiring an ArtsBus trip.
ArtsBus – Dates for Spring 2018:
February 24
March 24
April 14

Students with Disabilities and Learning Differences If you have a diagnosed disability or learning difference and you need academic accommodations, please inform me at the beginning of the semester and contact the Disabilities Resource Center (SUB I room 234, 703-993-2474). You must provide your instructor with a faculty contact sheet from that office outlining the accommodations needed for your disability or learning difference. All academic accommodations must be arranged in advance through the DRC.

Cell Phones: School of Art Policies in accordance with George Mason University policy, turn off all beepers, cellular telephones and other wireless communication devices at the start of class. The instructor of the class will keep his/her cell phone active to assure receipt of any Mason Alerts in a timely fashion; or in the event that the instructor does not have a cell phone, he/she will designate one student to keep a cell phone active to receive such alerts.

Commitment to Diversity: This class will be conducted as an intentionally inclusive community that celebrates diversity and welcomes the participation in the life of the university of faculty, staff and students who reflect the diversity of our plural society. All may feel free to speak and to be heard without fear that the content of the opinions they express will bias the evaluation of their academic performance or hinder their opportunities for participation in class activities. In turn, all are expected to be respectful of each other without regard to race, class, linguistic background, religion, political beliefs, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, veteran’s status, or physical ability.

Statement on Ethics in Teaching and Practicing Art and Design: As professionals responsible for the education of undergraduate and graduate art and design students, the faculty of the School of Art adheres to the ethical standards and practices incorporated in the professional Code of Ethics of our national accreditation organization, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Open Studio Hours: SOA teaching studios are open to students for extended periods of time mornings, evenings and weekends whenever classes are not in progress. Policies, procedures and schedules for studio use are established by the SOA studio faculty and are posted in the studios.

Official Communications via GMU E-Mail Mason uses electronic mail to provide official information to students. Examples include communications from course instructors, notices from the library, notices about academic standing, financial aid information, class materials, assignments, questions, and instructor feedback. Students are responsible for the content of university communication sent to their Mason e-mail account, and are required to activate that account and check it regularly.

Attendance Policies Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important not only to the individual student, but also to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of nonparticipation. Students who miss an exam with an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor’s grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.

Honor Code Students in this class are bound by the Honor Code, and are responsible knowing the rules, as stated on the George Mason University website’ Academic Integrity page (http://oai.gmu.edu/the-mason-honor-code-2/). “To promote a stronger sense of mutual responsibility, trust, and fairness among all members of the Mason community, and with the desire for greater academic and personal achievement, we, the student members of the university community, have set forth this honor code:
Student members of the George Mason University community pledge not to cheat, plagiarize, steal, or lie in matters related to academic work.
Mason’s Commitment: To create an environment that is innovative, diverse, entrepreneurial, and accessible-helping you avoid accidental or intentional violations of the Honor Code.”

Writing Center Students who are in need of intensive help with grammar, structure or mechanics in their writing should make use of the services of Writing Center, located in Robinson A116 (703-993-1200). The services of the Writing Center are available by appointment, online and, occasionally, on a walk-in basis. The Collaborative Learning Hub Located in Johnson Center 311 (703-993-3141), the lab offers in-person one-on-one support for the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Blackboard, and a variety of other software. Dual monitor PCs make the lab ideal for collaborating on group projects, Macs are also available; as well as a digital recording space, collaborative tables, and a SMART Board. Free workshops are also available (Adobe and Microsoft) through Training and Certification; visit ittraining.gmu.edu to see the schedule of workshops and to sign up.


Course Outline, Resources & Assignments | top of syllabus

NOTICE: Additions, subtractions and reorganization of course content are likely to be made in response to particular class needs. Changes will be announced during class meetings or sent to student GMU email. This webpage will be updated as changes are announced.

Class Dates | M 1/22 | W 1/24 | M 1/29 | W 1/31 | M 2/5 | W 2/7 | M 2/12 | W 2/14 | M 2/19 | W 2/21 | M 2/26 | W 2/28 | M 3/5 | W 3/7 | Spring Break 3/12 – 3/18 | M 3/19 | W 3/21 | M 3/26 | W 3/28 | M 4/2 | W 4/4 | M 4/9 | W 4/11 | M 4/16 | W 4/18 | M 4/23 | W 4/25 | M 4/30 | Last day of class W 5/2 |

Welcome to the Machine
| M 1/22 | W 1/24 | M 1/29 | W 1/31 | M 2/5 |

Keywords

The CorpoState, (Post)Industrialization, Neoliberalism, Alienation, Reification, Machines vs. Tools, Living vs. Dead Labor, Automatons, Robots, Androids, Cyborgs

Films (must see films in Bold)

Metropolis dir. Fritz Lang (1927).
Modern Times dir. Charlie Chaplan (1936).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982).
The Matrix dir. The Wachowskis (1999).
Sleep Dealer dir. Alex Rivera (2008).
Black Mirror: Fifteen Million Merits (S1, Ep 2) (2012).

Theory / Criticism

The Labour Process and Alienation in Machinery and Science. Karl Marx. Available here.
Causes of Alienation From The Marxist Theory of Alienation. Ernest Mandel and George Novak. Available here.
Replicants and the Commodity Form. J. Eric Lambert. Available here.
Marx and Metropolis: The Farce of Religion in the Face of Dystopia. Mary K. Leigh. Available here.
The Corporation dir. Jennifer Abbott, Mark Achtbar
Disposable Life, Slavoj Zizek

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due M 2/5

 

Law & Order Ltd. 
| W 2/7 | M 2/12 | W 2/14 | M 2/19 |

Keywords

Police States, Profiling & Pre-Crime, Prison Industrial Complex, Surveillance / Sousveillance / McVeillance, Data Mining/Intelligence Industry, Panopticism, Power of the Gaze

Films

Alphaville dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1965).
Fahrenheit 451 dir. Francois Truffaut (1966), from the Ray Bradbury 1953 novel.
THX-1138 dir. George Lucas, co-written, edited and sound montages Walter Murch (1972).
Escape from New York dir. John Carpenter (1981).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982), from the Philip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
1984 dir. Michael Radford (1984), from the George Orwell 1949 novel.
Brazil dir. Terry Gilliam (1985).
Robocop dir. Paul Verhoeven (1987).
Strange Days dir. Kathryn Bigelow, co-written by James Cameron (1995).
Minority Report dir. Steven Spielberg (2002), from the Philip K. Dick 1956 short story.
iRobot dir. Alex Proyas (2004).
Sleep Dealer dir. Alex Rivera (2008).
District 9 dir. Neill Blomkamp (2009).
RoboCop dir. José Padilha (2014). 
Chappie dir. Neill Blomkamp (2015).

More films by theme

Theory / Criticism

What Robocop Tells Us about the Neoliberal City, Then and Now by Keith Orejel
Discipline & Punish (1975), Panopticism III. DISCIPLINE 3. Panopticism, Michel Foucault. 
What does the Panopticon mean in the age of digital Surveillance? by Thomas McMullan, The Guardian

Documentary / Journalism

The Business of Security
Ike’s Warning of Military Expansion, 50 years later
, NPR
The Prison-Industrial Complex
, The Atlantic, Eric Schlosser

Remote Warfare
Dirty Wars
dir. Richard Rowley
Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. Brave New Films
Drone dir. Tonje Hessen Schei (2015).

Domestic Police Issues
Democracy Now: Police Coverage
Fox News: Police Coverage
Interview with Michael Wood

Surveillance
Citizenfour dir. Laura Poitras (2014).
The Program dir. Laura Poitras (2012).
Death By Metadata Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas.
We Live in Public dir. Ondi Timoner (2009).
Steve Mann: AR eyeglass and wearable computing… Surveillance versus Sousveillance
McVeillance: How McDonaldized surveillance creates a monopoly on sight that chills AR and smartphone development, Steve Mann
Interview with Ramsey Orta
Interview with Michael Wood
we cop watch | 5 Rules for Recording Police
P
re-Crime, Doc. Trailer

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper due M 2/19

 

(anti)Social Media
| W 2/21 | M 2/26 | W 2/28 | M 3/5 |

Keywords

Postmodern Alienation, Loneliness, Haunted Media, Media-aided Depression

Film

Videodrome dir. David Cronenberg (1983).
Strange Days
dir. Kathryn Bigelow. Story by James Cameron (1995).
The Entire History of You (Black Mirror, S1, Ep 3) (2012).
Nosedive (Black Mirror, S3, Ep 1) (2016).
Pulse (Kairo) dir. Kurosawa Kiyoshi (2001).
Avalon dir. Oshii Mamoru (2001).

Theory / Criticism

Exploring Facebook Depression, Dr. Romeo Vitelli, Psychology Today
Alone Together, TED, Sherry Turkle
Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective, National Institutes of Health, David D. Luxton, PhD, Jennifer D. June, BA, Jonathan M. Fairall, BS
Hikikomori in Japan, BBC News
Mystery of the Missing Million
The World Unplugged, MultiUniversity Study on Media Addiction

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due M 3/5

 

The Flesh Machine
| W 3/7 | Spring Break 3/12 – 3/18 | M 3/19 |

Keywords

Eugenics, Biotechnology, Implants, Body Mods, Transmutation, Robots/Androids/Cyborgs/Replicants, Surrogates, Avatars

Films

Metropolis dir. Fritz Lang (1927).
The Fly dir. Kurt Neumann (1958).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982), from the Philip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Terminator dir. James Cameron (1984).
The Fly
dir. David Cronenberg (1986).
RoboCop
dir. Paul Verhoeven (1987).
Tetsuo dir. Shin’ya Tsukamoto (1989).
964 Pinocchio dir. Shozin Fukui (1991).
Ghost in the Shell dir. Mamoru Oshii.
Gattaca dir. Andrew Niccol (1997).
Avatar dir. James Cameron (2004).
Repo Men dir. Miguel Sapochnik (2010).
Chappie dir. Neill Blomkamp (2015).
Ex Machina dir. Alex Garland (2015).

More films by theme

Theory / Criticism

The Coming of the Age of the Flesh Machine from Flesh Machine: Cyborgs, Designer Babies, & New Eugenic Consciousness, Critical Art Ensemble. Available here.
Excerpts from The Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway. Available here.

Documentary / Journalism

The Corporation: Advancing the Front, Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.
Read / view at least one documentary / journalism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due M 3/19

 

We Bring Good Things To Life
| W 3/21 | M 3/26 | W 3/28 | M 4/2 |

Keywords

Artificial Intelligence, The Singularity

Films

Metropolis dir. Fritz Lang (1927).
Alphaville
dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1965).
2001: A Space Odyssey
dir Stanley Kubrick, co-written and novel by Arthur C. Clarke (1968).
Westworld dir. Michael Crichton (1973).
Demon Seed dir. Donald Cammell (1973).
Alien dir. Ridley Scott (1979).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982).
Tron dir. Steven Lisberger (1982).
WarGames dir. John Badham (1983).
The Terminator dir. James Cameron (1984).
RoboCop
dir. Paul Verhoeven (1987).
Ghost in the Shell dir. Mamoru Oshii S1Mone (2002) dir. Andrew Niccol (1995).
The Matrix dir. The Wachowski Brothers (1999).
A.I. dir. Steven Spielberg, written by Ian Watson from Stanley Kubrick script (2001).
iRobot dir. Alex Proyas (2004).
Moon dir. Duncan Jones (2009).
Her dir. Spike Jonze (2013).
Transcendence dir. Wally Pfister (2014).
Chappie dir. Neill Blomkamp (2015).
Ex Machina dir. Alex Garland (2015).

More films by theme

Theory / Criticism

Introduction to War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Manuel De Landa. Available here.

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.
Read / view at least one documentary / journalism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Final Paper/Project proposal Due 3/21
Paper Due M 4/2

 

You Are Not Yourself
| W 4/4 | M 4/9 | W 4/11 | M 4/16 |

Keywords

Subjectivity, Identity (re)Formation, Psychological Experimentation, Social Programing, Behaviorism, Social Psychology, Free will, Memory, Memory Implants, False Memories, Time Travel (as metaphor)

Films

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari dir. Robert Wiene (1920).
The Manchurian Candidate dir. John Frankenheimer (1962).
La jetée dir. Chris Marker (1962).
Seconds dir. John Frankenheimer (1966).
The Mind Snatchers dir. Bernard Girard, from Dennis Reardon play The Happiness Cage (1972).
Invasion of the Body Snatchers dir. Philip Kaufman (1978).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982), from the Philip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Thing dir. John Carpenter (1982).
Brainstorm dir. Douglas Trumbull (1983).
Robocop dir. Paul Verhoeven (1987).
Total Recall dir. Paul Verhoeven, from Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1990).
12 Monkeys dir. Terry Gilliam, based on Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée (1995).
Strange Days dir. Kathryn Bigelow, co-written by James Cameron (1995).
Dark City dir. Alex Proyas (1998).
A Scanner Darkly dir. Richard Linklater (2006).
District 9 dir. Neill Blomkamp, Produced by Peter Jackson (2009).
Total Recall dir. Len Wiseman (2012).
The Black Mirror: The Entire History of You (S1, Ep 3) (2012).
Total Recall dir. Len Wiseman (2012).

More films by theme

Theory / Criticism

Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Louis Althusser (1971).
The Interpassive Subject, Slavoj Žižek
Milgram’s Obedience Experiments
Stanford Prison Experiment
The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein (history of MK Ultra and its relationship with histroy of US foreign policy.
Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture. Stuart Ewen. Available here.
Personality, Slavoj Žižek
Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner, Alison Landsberg. 
Epilogue: Cyberpunk and Memory (pgs. 204-214) Cyberpunk and Cyberculture: Science Fiction and the Work of William Gibson. Dani Cavallaro. Available here.

Documentary / Journalism

RadioLab: No Special Now, (audio)
Meet the Two Scientists Who Implanted a False Memory Into a Mouse
, by David Noonan, Smithsonian Magazine, Nov. 2014.
Evidence-based justice: Corrupted memory, Nature, Moheb Costandi, 2013
False memories of sexual abuse lead to terrible miscarriages of justice, the guardian, Chris French, 2010.
How to install false memories
, Scientific American.

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.
Read / view at least one documentary / journalism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due W 4/16

 

Reality Inc.
| W 4/18 | M 4/23 | W 4/25 | M 4/30 | 

Keywords

Keywords: Consciousness, Ideology, Interpellation, (De)coding, Spectacle, Simulacra, Medium as Message, Simulation, Hyperreality, Media as Message

Films

Videodrome dir. David Cronenberg (1983).
They Live
dir. John Carpenter (1988).
Total Recall
dir. Paul Verhoeven, from Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1990).
Strange Days
dir. Kathryn Bigelow, co-written by James Cameron (1995). 
Dark City
dir. Alex Proyas (1998).
eXistenZ dir. David Cronenberg (1999).
The Matrix dir. The Wachowski Brothers (1999).
Avalon dir. Oshii Mamoru (2001).

More films by theme

Theory / Criticism

The Perverts Guide to Ideology, (with Slavoj Zizek) dir. Sophie Fienne (film stream available on netflix).
The Society of the Spectacle, (text) Guy Debord. Available here.
The Society of the Spectacle (film w/ updated images)
The Medium is the Message, Marchall Mcluhan. Available here.
Simulacra and Simulations, Jean Baudrillard
Fatal Strategies, Rick Roderick on Jean Baudrillard (video – youtube)
RadioLab: The Real Don Quixote (audio)

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.
Read / view at least one documentary / journalism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due M 4/30

 

The End
| M 4/30 | W 5/2 | 

Keywords:

Dystopia, The Integral Accident, Ecocide, (Post)Apocalypse

Films

The Day the Earth Stood Still dir. Robert Wise from short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates (1951).
The War of the Worlds
dir. Byron Haskin. Based on H.G. Wells (1953).
Fail-Safe dir. Sidney Lumet. Based on novel by Eugene Burdick (1964).
The Last Man on Earth
dirs. Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow, based on the Richard Matheson 1954 novel I Am Legend. (1964).
Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
dir. Stanley Kubrick. Script by Terry Southern (1964).
The Omega Man dir. Boris Sagal (1971).
Andromeda Strain dir. Robert Wise. From the Michael Crichton novel (1971).
Soylent Green dir. Richard Fleischer (1973).
A Boy and His Dog dir. L.Q. Jones. Based on a novella by Harlan Ellison (1975).
Mad Max George Miller (1979).
Blade Runner dir. Ridley Scott (1982), from the Philip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Children of Men dir. Alfonso Cuarón, from the P. D. James novel (2006).
Idiocracy dir. Mike Judge (2006).
Mad Max: Fury Road dir. George Miller (2015).

More films by theme

Theory and Criticism

Invention of Accidents, Paul Virilio. Available here.
Accident Thesis
, Paul Virilio. Available here.
Noam Chomsky: The Alien Perspective on Humanity

Assignment

Read/View Course Resources (these will be the references used in your writing):

See at least two of the films listed.
Read / view at least one of the theory / criticism pieces listed.
Read / view at least one documentary / journalism pieces listed.

Write a text applying key concepts derived from the Theory/Criticism reading(s) to the films you’ve seen. 500 word minimum.

Paper Due 5/2

Final Paper/Project due on Scheduled Final Date – M 5/14 – 4:30 – 7:15