R1A - 003 | CCN: 22140

The Craft of Writing

Permeable Boundaries: Art, Embodiment, Activism, and Technology

Instructor: Ryan Ikeda and Bessie Young

4 Units

On the evening of July 7th, 2016, hundreds of Bay Area citizens walked into oncoming traffic on Highway 880 in order to protest the recent killings of African American men by police officers. This was not the first attempt by protesters to shut down a major transit site responding to police killing; in 2014, protesters rendered an Oakland BART station non-operational by, once again, using human bodies to impede the follow of traffic. One way to think about these recent protests is as embodied disruptions to habitual, daily living. And yet the extent and effectiveness of these disruptions outside their immediate communities remains open for debate, as months after these demonstrations, Trump won the projected Electoral College vote.

As this is an R1A course, our emphasis is writing. Students will write a series of critical analysis papers contextualizing, situating, and responding to key theoretical texts. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Alexander Weheliye, Zizi Papacharissi, Catharine Malabou, and Bernard Stiegler, we will consider the philosophical commitments entailed by such activist positions advanced by Black Lives Matters, the Arab Spring, and Occupy—as well other artists, hacktivists, and theorists—about the construction, plasticity, and relation among individuals, collectivity, and technology, but first, we will survey the role of embodiment in contemporary modes of protests through a series of case studies.