Syllabus: Time, place and technologies

Introduction to Liberal Studies:: Time, Place & Technologies

Fall 2013  Joan Greenbaum:: jgreenbaum@gc.cuny.edu

Wednesdays 4:15-6:15


Week       Topic and Readings

8/28         Discussion and viewings:  technologies in our history

                        technologies we love to hate; intro to course

9/11          Then & now:  Kern, The Culture of Time and Space , (Intro & chap1 pdf)

Fahmi, “Bloggers’ Street movements (http://joansplace.ws.gc.cuny.edu/)

9/18           Then & now: Adas, Machines as the measure of men, (Intro pdf)

Schivelbush, The Railway Journey, (chap 3 pdf)

*project kick-start–choosing technologies & places in everyday life

9/25           Then & now: Hughes, Human Built World (book)

10/2            Approaches to participatory research (selections & actions)

**Paper I: Then and now: embedded assumptions in technologies

10/9           Place & time:  Harvey “From space to place and back again ( 292-326 pdf)

Tuan, Space and Place the perspective of experience, (pdf)

10/16           Streeter, The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism and the                                        Internet (book)

10/23            Streeter, continued

* Preliminary project preview presentations

10/30           Interactions: McCarthy & Wright, Technology as Experience, Chap. 3 ” A pragmatist approach to technology” pp. 49-78.

*Preliminary project preview presentations (continued)

11/6            Manovich The Language of New Media, ( Intro & chap 1-2 p 43-114) avail as pdf online


                  **Paper II: Interactions in Place & time

11/13          Interactions: Haraway, “The Cyborg Manifesto” (pdf)


11/20         Work & technology:  Greenbaum, Windows on the Workplace,                            technology, jobs and the organization of office work, (book) 

12/4           Selections from classics (fiction & non/film & interactive)

12/11          *Project presentations

                  **Paper III:  Situated technologies in everyday life

12/18            * Project presentations

Papers and Projects and short presentations:

There are three short ‘papers’ (3-5 ‘pages’) this semester which are due on the dates indicated.  As the course progresses there will be more information about what is expected and the range of choices you have for topics.  Here are the basic assumptions about what is expected:

Paper I: “then and now: embedded assumptions about technologies“–Choose one or two of the authors and focus on what they say about how one or two specific technologies were shaped by political, ideological, cultural beliefs of their times.  Reflect on how that shaping might still be with us now.

Paper II: “interactions in place and time”–Reference two or three of the authors you have encountered thus far, engage with a specific topic that addresses a place and time and a specific technology. Continue to reflect on how the ideas they discuss may be applicable in some form to an example of an interactive technology now.

Paper III: “Situated technology(ies) in everyday life”–Focus on the project you have chosen this semester, and use the specifics of what you found out to reflect back on  two or more of the themes from the previous authors/sources.  Or, focus on a particular current topic about use of technology that is documented in recent newspaper/website/tv/radio/media reports and use that topic to reflect back on ideas expressed by the authors you read in the course.


Project:  technology in use and design in everyday life

Working either individually or in groups, choose a specific digital app, site, mobile technology, device, blog or place where it (they) are in use… that intrigues you and that you are familiar with.  Using participatory research method(s), carry out a small field project to better understand how it is used in everyday life.  This is a short bit of empirical research that will be further defined based on interests and experience of students.  This project should be addressed in your third paper and will be presented informally at the end of the semester.

 Grading (the ugly side of graduate work, but not too ugly!):

Please think of your papers as iterative,  each builds on the earlier one.  Each will be graded but if you improve and/or wish a ‘do-over’ on the first one, the more recent grade will count more.   Students will also be expected to participate in all seminar sessions as well as summarize/present an author/media/site in at least one session.   Project research will also count, although you do not have to be graded on your presentation style.

Overview:  papers :  60%/ participation : 20%/ research 20%

General information:  While this Introduction to Liberal Studies seminar focuses on traditions of graduate education (reading, citing authors, writing and discussion), we are also interested in expanding our understanding of teaching and learning by engaging in all forms of media including images, sites, videos, clips, films, etc.  Think broadly of sources/media you would like to include (or see included) in this seminar.  In addition to the works cited on the syllabus, please read an article of your own choosing each week about current technology (newspaper/sites/blogs–your choice).  Keep in mind the perspective of the author and their interpretation of what is happening now with a given app, product, device, service, etc.  “Reading” images, film, cartoons, video that reflects on current technologies is also expected in order to keep up to date.

Books: (to buy or borrow: in order of appearance in course syllabus)

Hughes, Thomas, Human-built work, How to think about technology and culture,          University of Chicago, 2004.

Streeter, Thomas, The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet, NYU Press, 2011.

Greenbaum, J, Windows on the workplace, technology jobs and the organization of office work,   Monthly Review Press, 2004

Selected articles, book chapters and essays (available through Academic Commons)

Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men, Introduction and Chap. 1

Fahmi, Wael Salah ,”Bloggers’ street movement and the right to the                   city. (Re)claiming Cairo’s real and virtual”, Environment and                                     Urbanization, 2009 21: 89

Haraway, Donna, “The Cyborg Manifesto”, and “Situated Knowledges” (         pdf essays)

Harvey, David., 1993, “From Space to Place and Back Again: Reflections          on the Condition of Postmodernity” in Bird, J., et al., eds. Mapping          the Futures. Routledge,   (available digitally)

Manovich, Chap. 1 What is new media +  ch 2 The Interface (website)

Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, Intro & Chap. 1 (pdf)

McCarthy and Wright, Technology as Experience,  Chap. 1 & Chap. 3 (pdf)

Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey  , Chap. 3 (pdf)

Tuan, Y.F., Space and Place, The Perspective of Experience, University of Minnesota, 1977  chap. 13 “Time and Place”  (pdf)

Further sources:

From time to time as topics arise we will review articles/media that come up, including materials that you post on the Academic Commons site to share with others.  In addition, we will look at short pieces about doing participatory research, with the emphasis on practice; as you will encounter more detailed methods courses later in your graduate study.   We will have at least one seminar session devoted to reading selected ‘classics’ about technology, where students (in groups or individually) will read/view/experience a classic and tell us about it on the course site as well as in class.  Some so-called Classic people to consider, in addition to films and other media you suggest, include:

Walter Benjamin/ Charlie Chaplin/ Siegfied Giedion/ William Gibson/ Donna Haraway

Karl Marx/ Kevin Lynch/ Marshall McCluhan/ Seymour Melman/ Norbert Weiner

course web materials:  https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/

Joan Greenbaum: http://joansplace.ws.gc.cuny.edu/

office: 6304.25   jgreenbaum@gc.cuny.edu

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