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Media & Materiality
ENGL 236 - Fall 2007,  Rita Raley

The overarching premise of this course is that the dematerialization theses of the network, computer, information and/or post-industrial ages those that tell us that money capital has lost its material weight and become pure image, that information is equally spectral, and that bodies are mere containers to be transcended have less to tell us about actually existing media and socio-cultural systems than we might otherwise believe. There is a certain allure to totalizing theses of structural change: to say that we have entered an era of liquid modernity, for example, is to suggest a temporal rather than spatial logic of power, a shift away from the management of material things to the management of mobility and speed. But any critical paradigm, however useful, that posits a radical epistemological shift from materiality to immateriality must necessarily be untenable. To manage a network, after all, is to regulate both speed and a material entity. Discussions of computational media tend primarily to focus on issues of affect an important area of research but not one that should preclude investigations of materiality, as we will see in our discussions of embodiment. After all, a virtual environment is not simply a product of conceptual machinery but also a product of machinery with fundamentally material properties. In our reading and discussions this term, we will engage overt matters (waste, objects, the apparatus, framed & unframed media, bodies) and covert ones as well (optical surveillance).


Rita Raley

Office and Office Hours
SH 2703
On leave 2012-2013


SH 2635
R, 5:00 PM7:30 PM

Required Texts

Charles Acland, ed., Residual Media (2007)
Matthew Fuller, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (2007)
Elizabeth Grossman, High-Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxins, and Human Health (2006)
Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things (2005)
Siegfried Zielinski, Audiovisions (1999)
Course reader available from AS Notes

25% Participation & Presentation
75% Final paper/project
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