Tag Archives: Marx

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Midterm Paper Topics

Assignment
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.”

Lepore and Bosquet

Of course when I responded to Robert last night and mentioned how there weren’t any other posts up, I didn’t realize that I was responsible for provoking this week! So sorry for the delay.

I already summed up some of my thinking about the Bosquet and Lepore readings on Robert’s thread, so rather than repeat myself, I thought I’d cut right to the chase with some questions.

Lepore:

  • Lepore traces the history of theories of change, from divine providence to historicism, progress, evolution, growth, innovation, and now disruption — “a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence.” One historical theory of change that Lepore leaves out is Marx’s, which in some ways borrowed from Darwin’s evolution, but as we know from our reading and David Harvey’s lectures, relied on a dialectic of many other components. How might we use Marx’s ideas about how societies change to help us understand disruption’s popularity, or to help Lepore debunk it?

Bosquet:

I’m making lots of Marx connections today. Bosquet focuses on changing labor relations in the academy, writing: “Late capitalism doesn’t just happen to the university, the university makes late capitalism happen. The flexible faculty are just one dimension of an informationalized higher ed — the transformation of the university into an efficient and thoroughly accountable environment through which streaming education can be made available in the way that information is delivered: just in time, on demand, in spasms synchronized to the work rhythm of student labor on the shop floor” (44). 

  • Bosquet’s notion of disruption is far different then Christensen’s — he’s writing about grassroots actions that adjuncts and graduate students might take to raise consciousness about and organize for better working conditions, higher salaries, and tenure. What role might stronger unions and this form of disruption play as universities seek to address “the crisis of higher ed” through tech innovations, as described in the other readings?
  • We extended Marx’ analogies about the machine, the tool, and the power source to computers a few weeks ago in class. How might Marxist ideas about the role of the machine and technology come in to play in thinking about the mechanization of university teaching and learning? To what extent does the analogy hold? Where might it break down?