Feminist Digital Humanities (DHSI)

Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2016

Feminist Digital Humanities: Theoretical, Social, and Material Engagements around Making and Breaking Computational Media

Elizabeth Losh, William and Mary University
Jacqueline Wernimont, Arizona State University

Although there is a deep history of feminist engagement with technology, projects like FemTechNet argue that such history is often hidden and feminist thinkers are frequently siloed. In order to address this, the seminar will offer a set of background readings to help make visible the history of feminist engagement with technology, as well as facilitate small-scale exploratory collaboration during the seminar.

Our reading selections bring a variety of feminist technology critiques in Media Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, Science and Technology Studies, and related fields into conversation with work in Digital Humanities. Each session is organized by a keyword – a term that is central to feminist theoretical and practical engagements with technology – and will begin with a discussion of that term in light of our readings. The remainder of each session will be spent learning about and tinkering with Processing, a programming tool that will allow participants to engage in their own critical making processes.

Pushing against instrumentalist assumptions regarding the value and efficacy of certain digital tools, we will be asking participants to think hard about the affordances and constraints of digital technologies. While we will be engaging with a wide range of tools/systems in our readings and discussions, we anticipate that the more hands-on engagement with Processing will help participants think about operations of interface, input, output, and mediation. In addition to the expanded theoretical framework, participants can expect to come away with a new set of pedagogical models using Processing that they can adapt and use for teaching at their own institutions.

The syllabus is organized around a series of keywords. Our daily schedule will involve 1-2 hours of discussion of the readings in light of our keyword of the day, discussions of the making/breaking sessions of the previous day, a short intro to a technology or tool and then some tinkering. The “reference texts” are not included in the reader – we will bring copies of these for participants to refer to as needed.

Day one: Code, Feminist Critiques of Code Culture

Reference Texts:

Getting Started with Processing
Critical Code Studies – Basic Language Rules in Processing
Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists

Day Two: Play, Feminist Game Studies

  • Lisa Nakamura – “Queer Female of Color: The Highest Difficulty Setting There Is? Gaming Rhetoric as Gender Capital” http://adanewmedia.org/2012/11/issue1-nakamura/
  • Janine Fron, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce,  “The Hegemony of Play” http://lmc.gatech.edu/~cpearce3/PearcePubs/HegemonyOfPlayFINAL.pdf

Reference Text:The Nature of Code: Simulating Natural Systems with Processing

Day Three: Discipline/Access, Feminist Critiques of Technoculture

Reference Text: Arduino Cookbook

Day Four: Archive

Reference Text: Visualizing Data: Exploring and Explaining Data with the Processing Environment

Day Five: Media/te Feminism and Theories of the Media Apparatus

  • Irma van der Ploeg “The Body as Data in the Age of Information” Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies
  • Simone Browne “Race and Surveillance” Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies
  • Lucy Suchman, “Human/Machine Reconsidered,” published by the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University at http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc040ls.html
  • Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish “Contextualizing Ubiquitous Computing,” in Divining a Digital Future

Reference Text: Making Things See: 3D vision with Kinect, Processing, Arduino, and MakerBot

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