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

David Croke

Doctoral Student

Contact

AMS 311S • Social Construction Of Technol

31095 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm BUR 228
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This course considers a number of peculiarly American passions, from hot-rodding, to jazz, to the space-race, in order to examine the complicated place of technology in modern culture. How does our conception of technology relate to our visions of social progress? Does technology have a gender? How has the figure of the Yankee Tinkerer continued to shape Americans' self-image? How do machines mediate social boundaries, and who has the power to shape technology? Do any of us? Technology is a major constitutive element of modernity. For some, modernity is simply the sum-total of the monumental social changes that were wrought by industrialization. This class will account for technology as a social agent, but we will also focus on the ways in which American culture resisted and shaped emerging technologies, noting that modernity was often characterized by an ambivalent attitude toward technology. This class begins by examining the place of technology in the thinking of the Enlightenment and the emergence of Europe's colonial project, asking, with Michael Adas, how the West came to define technological attainment as a measure of social progress and civilization. Then, we will turn our attention to the ways in which modernism questioned these notions of progress, often by resisting new technologies. We will look at the popularization of the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as the cult of the primitive in modernist art, from Gauguin and Picasso to Josephine Baker and Woodie Guthrie. We will examine the social construction of technology as a gendered and racialized process and consider the role of the individual consumer in the development of specific technological artifacts, analyzing how certain subcultures actively misappropriated mass-produced technologies. Ultimately, we will look at the fate of the individual in a technocratic society, identifying organizational systems, like bureaucracy, as particular types of technology and exploring how modern Americans responded to these forms of social control.

                 

Requirements

Response Papers 55%

(8 responses out of the 13 weeks of reading, student’s choice)

Research Paper 20%

Participation 25%

 

Possible Texts

Kline, Consumers in the Country

Mohun, Laundrymen Construct Their World: Gender and the Transformation of a Domestic Task to an Industrial Process

Welke, Recasting American Liberty

Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New

Boris, Art and Labor: Ruskin, Morris and the Craftsman Ideal in America

Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern

Adas, Machines as the Measures of Men

Friedel, Zipper

Koewenhoven, Made in America

Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs

Winner, Autonomous Technology

Moorehouse, Driving Ambitions: An analysis of the American hot rod enthusiasm

Cowan, More Work for Mother: The ironies of household technology from the open hearth to the microwave

 

Flag(s): Writing 

AMS 311S • Social Construction Of Technol

30735 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am GAR 0.120
show description

This course considers a number of peculiarly American passions, from hot-rodding, to jazz, to the space-race, in order to examine the complicated place of technology in modern culture. How does our conception of technology relate to our visions of social progress? Does technology have a gender? How has the figure of the Yankee Tinkerer continued to shape Americans' self-image? How do machines mediate social boundaries, and who has the power to shape technology? Do any of us? Technology is a major constitutive element of modernity. For some, modernity is simply the sum-total of the monumental social changes that were wrought by industrialization. This class will account for technology as a social agent, but we will also focus on the ways in which American culture resisted and shaped emerging technologies, noting that modernity was often characterized by an ambivalent attitude toward technology. This class begins by examining the place of technology in the thinking of the Enlightenment and the emergence of Europe's colonial project, asking, with Michael Adas, how the West came to define technological attainment as a measure of social progress and civilization. Then, we will turn our attention to the ways in which modernism questioned these notions of progress, often by resisting new technologies. We will look at the popularization of the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as the cult of the primitive in modernist art, from Gauguin and Picasso to Josephine Baker and Woodie Guthrie. We will examine the social construction of technology as a gendered and racialized process and consider the role of the individual consumer in the development of specific technological artifacts, analyzing how certain subcultures actively misappropriated mass-produced technologies. Ultimately, we will look at the fate of the individual in a technocratic society, identifying organizational systems, like bureaucracy, as particular types of technology and exploring how modern Americans responded to these forms of social control.

                 

Requirements

Response Papers 55%

(8 responses out of the 13 weeks of reading, student’s choice)

Research Paper 20%

Participation 25%

 

Possible Texts

Kline, Consumers in the Country

Mohun, Laundrymen Construct Their World: Gender and the Transformation of a Domestic Task to an Industrial Process

Welke, Recasting American Liberty

Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New

Boris, Art and Labor: Ruskin, Morris and the Craftsman Ideal in America

Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern

Adas, Machines as the Measures of Men

Friedel, Zipper

Koewenhoven, Made in America

Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs

Winner, Autonomous Technology

Moorehouse, Driving Ambitions: An analysis of the American hot rod enthusiasm

Cowan, More Work for Mother: The ironies of household technology from the open hearth to the microwave

 

Flag(s): Writing

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