Seminar: Code and Contagion

Course Description

With the rise of digital code and new technologies of mediation, significant social relations now exist above and below the individuations of customary political representation. On the one hand, new interfaces of control treat information as signals instead of signs and physics instead of semiotics; while on the other, media cultures produce original rhetoric, ideologies, and tactics of resistance. This class begins with a genealogy of signification and its mediums of transmission, continues by mapping forms of control enabled by informatization, and ends with possible lines of flight immanent to new digital forms.


Learning Outcomes

Through our historical genealogy, students explore how the changing material practice of language constitutes a shifting ontology of ourselves. By mapping informatized control through media archaeology, students acquire tools for challenging the early greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts celebration of networks by studying how decentralization becomes a new apparatus of capture. And in following lines of flight in new media art, students learn how to identify and theorize the revolutionary potential of current media technologies.

Select Readings

–Giorgio Agamben, "What is an Apparatus?"
–N Katherine Hayles, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis
–Jussi Parikka, Tony Sampson, et al., The Spam Book
–Rita Raley, Tactical Media
–Tony Sampson, Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Network
–Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age