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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Andrew Gansky

Doctoral Student



Andrew Gansky is a PhD student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation is a history of how computer technologies became a significant force in U.S. educational reform. He is especially concerned with technologists' pervasive attempts to challenge teacher autonomy, often on the grounds that teachers' inefficient practices and personal biases exacerbated the marginalization of vulnerable students. He examines why technologists chose to focus on teachers rather than school bureaucracies as the primary source of educational disparity. His dissertation considers how these historical trends shape future possibilities for educational technologies to shape reform movements.

Andrew has previously published work in Photography & Culture on postindustrial ruins photography, and an article related to his dissertation project is forthcoming in a volume on immersive media from the Routledge New Agendas in Communications series. His dissertation research has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship.

At the University of Texas, Andrew serves on the editorial board of The End of Austin, a digital humanities project that explores urban identity in Austin. From 2012-2014, he was a Graduate Intern at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, where he worked on special projects on copyright and intellectual property. He has served as a Supplemental Instructor in the Department of American Studies, and will teach a course of his own design, Technology and the Body, during the 2015-2016 academic year.



'''Ruin Porn' and the Ambivalence of Decline: Andrew Moore's Photographs of Detroit." Photography & Culture 7.2 (2014): 119-139. doi: 10.2752/175145214X13999922103084.


Educational history, critical pedagogy, history of technology, race and gender studies, surveillance, digital humanities, cybernetics

AMS 311S • Technology And The Body

29965 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am BUR 436A
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Perceptions and understandings of bodies significantly affect social and individual experiences, sometimes imperceptibly and sometimes viscerally. We commonly experience our bodies as containers and communicators of meaning, whether through visible characteristics such as gender and skin color or invisible codes such as genetic predispositions. Americans recognize, define, and interpret these embodied characteristics in historically and culturally contingent ways. While some features may appear immutable, technologies promise to remake bodies in surprising and sometimes unsettling ways. This course asks how some bodily features come to matter in U.S. culture, emphasizing various technologies’ significant role in shaping bodily perception. From mug shots and fingerprinting to makeup and hair products to “ethnic” plastic surgery, the peoples of the United States have used many technologies to control, manipulate, and alter bodies, often in order to negotiate the norms and boundaries of social categories such as gender, race, ability, health, sexuality, and beauty.


In this course, students will take a critical stance on how technologies help establish and subvert normative ideas about bodily behavior or appearance. We will examine historical and contemporary ideas about bodies in realms as diverse as medicine and genetics, law and security, fashion and style, health and fitness. Questions that guide the course include: Who gets to make bodily technologies, and who determines how they are used? How do economic, legal, and cultural contexts shape technological developments? How does gender, race, class, sexuality, or ability affect experiences of technology and the body? What are the ethics of technological modifications to the body? We will approach these questions through examinations of technologies, scholarship, fiction, art, film, popular culture, and technological hacks. Students will develop tools for recognizing and critiquing how technologies subject the body to political, cultural, and economic demands. We will also explore opportunities for using bodily technologies in independent, engaged, and creative ways.


Possible texts:

Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell. VAS: An Opera in Flatland.

Rene Almeling. Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm.

Harry Bruinius. Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America’s Quest for Racial Purity.

Alex Rivera. Sleep Dealer.

Alison Bechdel. The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For.

Tanya Sheehan. Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America.

Kathy Davis. Dubious Equalities & Embodied Differences: Cultural Studies on Cosmetic Surgery.

Eugenia Kaw. “Medicalization of Racial Features: Asian American Women and Cosmetic Surgery.”

Lily Cho. “Citizenship, Diaspora and the Bonds of Affect: The Passport Photograph.”

Kelly Gates. Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance.

Simone Browne. “‘Everybody’s got a little light under the sun’: Black Luminosity and the Visual Culture of Surveillance.”

Jacqueline Goss. Stranger Comes to Town.

Allan Sekula. “The Body and the Archive.”

Kathy Peiss. Hope in a Jar: The Makings of America’s Beauty Culture.


Assignments (include % of grade):

Attendance and Participation (20%)

Reading Responses (10%)

Short Essay (15%)

Final Paper Proposal and Bibliography (10%)

Final Paper/Project (25%)

Collaborative Project (20%)


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