R1B - 002 | CCN: 36518

The Craft of Writing

Embodiment and Technology: Questions of the Body in the Age of New Media

Instructor: William Morgan & Katherine Brown

4 Units

As Merleau-Ponty claims in The Visible and the Invisible, “the flesh is at the heart of the world.” In this course, we will consider the centrality of the body alongside our increasingly mechanized world. In service of this task, we will look to a range of philosophical texts—from Merleau-Ponty to Heidegger to Deleuze—in order to ask how new technical developments shape and impact our embodied, worldly interactions. Further, we will look critically at the instrumentalization of technology as a means of control or oppression by organizations of power. We will ground this work in historical and political examples while developing a language and a theoretical framework for expressing how the proliferation of technology changes our world, while also examining the embodied and intersubjective ways through which we experience this world. The course will conclude with readings concerning our current political atmosphere and the contemporary deployment of technology, so that we may ask how, in light of our previous theoretical work, one considers embodiment in an age of information and algorithms.

In accordance with the Reading and Composition (R&C) 1B requirement, we will focus on developing rigorous reading, writing and research skills, building from those established in the 1A. As this is the second course in the Reading and Composition series, the syllabus also places an emphasis on the acquisition of the skills required for researching and writing a successful 10-12 page undergraduate term paper. Three modules will guide us through the process of turning a vaguely defined research topic into a well-researched argument about a topic. In addition to building the methodological, organizational, and literary capabilities required for composing a research paper, we will develop the following skills: How do we find sources that help us see beyond readily-available, common sense knowledge? How might the study of theoretical and philosophical texts allow us to work through political and cultural concerns?