CCTP-648 Emerging Technologies and the Human Body
Spring for 2016-2017

*Fulfills Core Methods requirement.

This course analyzes our contemporary understanding/s of the human body, in light of emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to genomics to virtual reality.

Human bodies have always served as social constructions on which contests over power and meaning may be waged, and science and technology have always informed that discussion. A backward look at modern history makes it clear that bodies have also served as metaphors of the scientific and technological concerns of the day, whether an Enlightenment concern to catalogue the natural world (and the humans in it), or the Industrial Age interest in bodies as mechanical objects. These metaphors, in turn, have had concrete effects on social norms, economic organization, legal frameworks and, not least, on how people have experienced their own bodies.

As our current technological era races ahead in nearly every endeavor, new contests and metaphors are being forged in diverse ways by different societies and groups. They raise significant questions for all of us about what distinguishes humans from our technologies, and what we want them to mean. These are not only theoretical questions, but have practical import for those who work with bodily representations (such as media and artists); public policy makers and educators responsible for shaping our future societies; the medical profession; and those who shape our sensibilities and tastes, from the engineers behind the scenes to the marketers and retailers who set (and sell) the scene.

Not least, we will need citizens and thinkers who are alert to the questions of what the human body is and can mean in an era suffused with emerging technologies.

This course will rely on reading and discussion, some use of multi-media materials. Participation and reasonable amounts of written work will be important elements of your work in the course.

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

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Spring '17: Zalman, A. (description, file download)
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