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7AAICC41 Cultures of Technology

Module Convenor: Dr Ricarda Vidal

Credits: 20

Teaching pattern: 10 x 2 hour workshops and 1 x 2 hour essay workshop in small groups

Module description: This module explores the relationship between technology and culture. We will examine cultural theories, artistic practice and social ideologies which engaged with technology and the idea of progress from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.

Module aims

The module will draw on a variety of disciplines from literary to cultural studies, gender studies, history and art history to social sciences. We will examine key moments in the cultural history of the last 110 years, such as the Great War, mass production and the assembly line, the Space Race, the birth and proliferation of television and eventually digital technologies (computer simulation, virtual reality, social networking, video games and remote-controlled weapons technologies). We will pay attention to the interplay between gender and technology and explore how technology challenges and potentially redefines the concept of humanity itself.

Taking a comparative as well as a chronological view of technological development, we will examine how the changing attitudes towards technology and concepts of progress within society at large are reflected in as well as propagated by culture (e.g. in art, film, museums and galleries, online platforms, VR-environments, etc.).

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will have gained an awareness of

  • the ethical, moral and philosophical dimensions of technology (whether heavy machinery or digital media) and its impact on culture and society
  • how cultural production and technological development have influenced and shaped each other
  • how the critical analysis of this relationship can be employed to interrogate historical events and attitudes as well as contemporary developments within society
  • They will be able to employ a variety of disciplines as well as a multidisciplinary approach to critically examine cultural and social phenomena and to interrogate cultural policies in a regional as well as national and international context. 

 Core reading

  • Jean Baudrillard, Screened Out, trans. Chris Turner (London and New York, Verso, 2002)
  • Megan Boler, (ed.), Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times.(Cambridge MASS, London, UK: MIT Press, 2008)
  • Beryl Graham (ed) New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences After New Media Art. 2010.
  • Paul Dickson, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century (New York: Walker and Co., 2001)
  • Lindsey A Freeman, Nienass, B. and Daniell, R., eds, (2014) Silence, Screen and Spectacle. Rethinking Social Memory in the Age of Information and New Media, Oxford: Berghahn Books
  • Mauro F. Guillén, The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical: Scientific Management and the Rise of Modernist Architecture, (Princeton UP, Princeton, 2006)
  • Donna J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).
  • Ken Hillis, Michael Petit, Kylie Jarrett, Google and the Culture of Search (New York and London: Routledge, 2013)
  • Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia. (New York, London: Routledge, 1995)
  • Martina Leeker, Imanuel Schipper, Timon Beyes (eds) Performing the Digital: Performativity and Performance Studies in Digital Cultures. (de Gruyter, 2016) 
  • Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (London and New York, Routledge, 1964).
  • Technology and Culture, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (New York: Penguin, 2015).
  • Ricarda Vidal, Death and Desire in Car Crash Culture: A Century of Romantic Futurisms. (Peter Lang, 2013).
  • Virilio, Paul, The Aesthetics of Disappearance, trans. Philip Beitchman (New York, Semiotext(e), 1991)


4,000 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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