Tag Archives: Feminism

Midterm Paper Topics

Write a five to ten page paper on ONE of the topics listed below.

1. We began this semester by reading Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and watching Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Write a critical comparison of the book and the film, making certain to incorporate insights and analysis about notions of cyborgs, embodiment, and technological change from Haraway, Hayles, and Nakamura and/or Thompson and Schivelbusch in your analysis.

2. Trace one keyword, such as “cyborg,” “body,” “network,” “tool,” “machine” or “technology” across three or more of the readings we have completed so far this semester. How does each author you have chosen to analyze treat that concept? What concerns seem shared? Which author’s version of the keyword do you find most useful and/or provocative? Why?

3. Reflecting on historical perspectives of technological change, consider Marx’s, Thompson’s, Schivelbusch’s, and Rosenzweig’s analyses of particular events in the history of technology.  Discuss the theories and conclusions of these writers, paying particular attention to the ways each depicts people’s actions and responses to technologies in the past and, with the notion of human agency in mind, how their perspectives might inform our responses to new and future technologies.

4. Write a bibliographic review essay that sketches out a critical dialogue about one of the key texts we have read this semester. You might, for instance, examine the critical reaction to Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” OR research the influence that a figure like Marx has had on subsequent theorists of technological change (such as Thompson, Schivelbusch or Rosenzweig), OR consider the ways neuroscience and/or gaming have helped reshape approaches to pedagogy.  Your essay should work towards a synthesis of the critical discourse, making clear what kinds of debates, concepts, and terms delimit and define that discourse.

5. Write an essay comparing the histories of technological development (as outlined by Rosenzweig and Bush) and the American university system (as outlined by Brier, Kerr, Christensen, and Bousquet) since 1945. What are the forces that shape change in these fields? How are they alike or dissimilar? What do these histories portend for the present and the future? What do they mean for your own work, which necessarily must engage both trajectories?

6. Write a manifesto in which you argue for a more sophisticated relationship with technology than a technophilic/technophobic binary.

7. Design your own topic. You will need to have the topic approved by Lisa and Michael before you begin work.

Rationale and Guidelines
There are four main reasons why scholars write papers: 1) to develop and improve their thinking on a subject; 2) to contribute to their fields; 3) to earn all the benefits that come from publication (mercenary, but true); 4) any combination of the aforementioned. As a scholar, it is perfectly legitimate for you to write this first paper simply with the goal of improving your thinking about interactive technology and pedagogy, but we strongly recommend that you consider this an opportunity to contribute to your field and to enjoy the benefits that accompany publication.

We therefore ask you to consider exploring several journals in your field. Look at their publication guidelines and any current calls for articles they have, and look at our prompts in relation to them. If none of our prompts coincide with your interests and/or their calls, construct your own topic that does. Write with an eye toward submitting the paper to one or more of these journals. Save yourself some time now and format your papers according to their guidelines (e.g. if they want APA style, use APA style now). Consult with us for suggestions about where you might submit your work.

Unless you are submitting to a journal with different citation/formatting requirements, please default to the following formatting guidelines: double-spaced, 1″ (2.5cm) margins on all sides, 12-point Times New Roman font, and appropriate citations using MLA or Chicago 16 style (the guide to which you can find on the Mina Rees Library website). Please submit your paper as a Word document to BOTH Lisa.Brundage@mhc.cuny.edu and MMandiberg@gc.cuny.edu and upload it (if you want your fellow students to read it) to the course Group site under “Files.”

Haraway (reposted)

Hi ITP crew-

I posted this in the Forum, but thought perhaps I ought to put it here. (The internet is for redundancy? Or at least forgives it to an alarming degree?)

Art attribution… somewhat difficult to track. The image is linked to its url, but I pulled this off a google search and found it floating around a number of sites.

“This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism” Donna J. Haraway (149).

Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto (first published in Socialist Review in 1985, then included as a chapter in 1991) is a great place to start deepening our conversation from last week. Not only do her concerns express fundamental conditions of current trends in theorizing the digital, her writing style manifests the blurred boundaries of the organic and the mechanical she describes.

The way Haraway so fluidly metastasizes metaphor and science corresponds with her mission of myth making. She writes in images and with wry allusion (“other than a shroud for the day after the apocalypse that so prophetically ends salvation history” (158)). The politics Haraway argues for reorganizes “world-wide social relations tied to science and technology” (161), identifying dichotomies that mark the transition from “comfortable old hierarchical dominations” to “scary new networks” she calls “informatics of domination” (161). Choosing to list and categorize concepts and classifications, she highlights the role of language in paradoxically establishing and transgressing boundaries.

I pose, as a reaction to this reading, a few questions about the cyborg made manifest. Have we reached a point at which the materialism of digital tools has superseded our theoretical concerns? Do these metaphors still work? What function does the cyborg serve as we become more and more connected to our smartphones?

Haraway discusses the shift in world ideological frameworks and I am curious whether we have dissolved even further since her claim that “boundary-maintaining images of base and superstructure, public and private, or material and ideal never seemed more feeble” (165). Has the omnipresence of technological redundancy further diluted our attempts at unifying ideas or movements?

“‘Networking’ is both a feminist practice and a multinational corporate strategy — weaving is for oppositional cyborgs.” (170) Haraway looks for new coalitions within the loosened picture of women in society that no longer relates solely to the private/public dichotomy. As Haraway describes the shifting realm and power of women, “the task,” she states, “is to survive the diaspora”(170). As the internet continues to expand these consortia, how do movements coalesce? Is Amy Schumer really the face of new feminism? “Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control” (175). Do new representations of women succeed to any extent of Haraway’s mission? What will we include in our “powerful infidel heteroglossia” (181)?

I look forward to hearing how each of the disciplines represented in class approach the vast political, economic, gendered reaches of this text. Irony seems to be an excellent adhesive for cohering these extremes. Lean on the opposite to assert your position. What ironies are most notable in Haraway’s text? Does irony ultimately hold? Or do we all become mustaches on coffee mugs?

ironic mustache mugs. as labelled by the internet.




Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto:  Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, 1991, 149-81.