Fall 2011 Course: Topics in Advanced Theory: Posthuman Media

Ah, the posthuman. We all want to be it. But I doubt we are it or ever will be it. That’s just the way it is. We’re too comfortable with being human, with thinking in a human manner. We are so good at being ourselves and recognizing ourselves wherever we go and I doubt that can or will change.

Of course, that won’t stop me from teaching a class about what media might be like outside of a human or humanist context.

I am still not certain about everything I will be dealing with, and therefore no course documents yet. But here is the course description. I would love comments and feedback. Oh, and a big shout out to this bibliography from Eileen Joy, which has helped me remember things I would have otherwise not remembered and has drawn my attention to things I would not have otherwise found.

ENGL 3116: Topics in Advanced Theory
Posthuman Media: Life, Animals, Nature, Things

Marshall McLuhan famously calls media “extensions of man.” In other words, media is that which exists in a relationship with the human and must be understood from a humanistic point of view. This course will challenge these assumptions and consider media outside of the context of the human.

Is not air a medium for sound? Does not what we call nature extend the insect beyond itself? Does not our own, which is to say “human,” media evolve in relationships with things beyond the strictly human? Do you know what is going on inside your computer right now or what it “feels” like to travel through a wire? Are we even sure that we know what it means to be human?

We will address these and other questions through a consideration of several figures or concepts, among them: life, the animal, nature and ecology, and the thing or matter.

Partial/potential reading list:

  • Giorgio Agamben: The Open
  • Karen Barad: from Meeting the Universe Halfway
  • Jane Bennett: from Vibrant Matter
  • Ian Bogost: “Alien Carpentry”
  • William Burroughs: from Word Virus: The William Burroughs Reader (fiction)
  • Octavia Butler: Adulthood Rites (novel)
  • David Cronenberg: The Fly (film)
  • Manuel DeLanda: from 1000 Years of Nonlinear History
  • Gilles Deleuze: “Ethology: Spinoza and Us”
  • Roberto Esposito: from Bios
  • Elizabeth Grosz: “The Thing”
  • Félix Guattari: from The Three Ecologies
  • Donna Haraway: from When Species Meet
  • Timothy Morton: from The Ecological Thought
  • Jussi Parikka: from Insect Media and The Spam Book
  • Ridley Scott: Blade Runner (film)
  • Steven Shaviro: from Doom Patrols
  • Bernard Stiegler: from Technics and Tim, Volume I: The Fault of Epithemeus
  • Eugene Thacker: from Biomedia and After Life



2 Responses to “Fall 2011 Course: Topics in Advanced Theory: Posthuman Media”

  1. This course looks fantastic, and good luck with it!

  2. […] a discussion with Marc Weidenbaum via Twitter, here is the syllabus for an old course: Posthuman […]

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