Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome to our Class!

Epistemology is the site from which we pay attention to our own stories, wondering: where they came from? if they belong to us or we to them? how they mean differently to others? what would happen if they got tweaked by us or somehow shifted outside our control? which possible worlds they assume? how they get made in greater and greater detail? what sorts of powers they enable or disable? and what they assume about communication, sociality, flourishing, assemblage and infrastructure?

We will start off the class with two amazing storytellers: Anna Tsing and Donna Haraway, who, for several years, have collaborated in a trans media, trans worlding set of practices of connection. Tsing’s mushrooms allow us to glimpse fungal maneuvers that include us and our knowledges in travels we begin to follow out, while Haraway’s seed bag for terraforming asks us to open up our stories to relentless diversity and urgent troubles.

From there we will work with our materials and each other, with honor, as instantiating and embodying some of the most exciting thinkers, thinking moments, thoughts of consequence, and hopes for “symbiogenetic counterpoint.”

Sensitizing, feeling, and laboring with materialities helps us acquire new body parts, new companions, new outlooks, as well as offering tools for reexamining pasts, critique itself, and processes for unlearning. Women’s Studies hosts its own reweavings – first warping technologies, bodies, power, agencies, then weaving communities, practices, and transdisciplinary knowledges. And we are there! 

Required books, ordered at campus books and on reserve:

You are required to read these, not to buy them, or even to own them. All are on reserve at McKeldin and many are available at other libraries. Share them, rent them, borrow them, xerox them, scan them. Fair use means producing copies for your own private research use. Of course you can help others in obtaining originals for such fair use copying. I will create links on the blog to the google books versions of these, but of course, that is not a sufficient way to read them. Be sure to locate them long before you need to read them. ISBN numbers are included to make ordering them easier if you wish to buy them.

You might notice that three of the books are/will be available on the Kindle. These three are: Hekman, Keeling (already available) and Weston (will be on 20 Sept. I think!). I will be reading Hekman on the Kindle myself. Note that you do not need the Kindle itself to read these as Kindle books. I have been reading Kindle books using Kindle for the Mac and also Kindle on my iPhone and iPod Touch. You may wish to use an appropriate ap for devices you already have, if you are not already a Kindle user. 

• Tsing. 2005. Friction: An ethnography of global connection. Princeton. 069112065X
• Hekman. 2010. The Material of Knowledge: Feminist disclosures. Indiana. 025322196X [Kindle: B003N64YDM]
• Keeling. 2007. The Witch's Flight: The cinematic, the Black femme, and the image of common sense. Duke. 0822340259 [Kindle: B003DSI2TM]
• Weston. 2002. Gender in Real Time: Power and transience in a visual age. Psychology. 0415934532 [Kindle: B001CUBHD6]

There will also be a variety of short articles -- mostly read in companionship with these books. Some are up to the moment manuscripts, unpublished or just about to be published. A few are difficult to obtain (not at our library) and a couple are online. To be emailed: unpublished manuscripts by Anna Tsing, Donna Haraway, Eva Hayward, Bailey Kier and others. Difficult to obtain materials by Vinciane Despret, Adele Clarke and Susan Leigh Star.

Find online materials at:
• Haraway. 1991. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." (pp.149-181.) In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge. Available online at: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/CyborgManifesto.html
• Klein. 2004. Disciplinary origins and differences, from the 2004 FENNER CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT, “Understanding the population–environment debate: Bridging disciplinary divides”; The Shine Dome, Canberra, Australia, 24-25 May. Available online at: http://www.science.org.au/events/fenner/fenner2004/klein.htm 

• Despret. 2010. “Ethology between Empathy, Standpoint and Perspectivism.” Available online at: http://vincianedespret.blogspot.com/2010/04/ethology-between-empathy-standpoint-and.html
• Despret. 2010. “Responding and Suffering Bodies in Human-Animal Worlds.” Available online at: http://vincianedespret.blogspot.com/2010/04/responding-and-suffering-bodies-in.html

class procedures

This will be a media and technology intensive course. You are encouraged to bring your own laptop if possible, to connect with social media, to become increasingly savvy about internet resources, and to use data visualizations and virtual environments for cognition and collaboration. •The first weeks of the course will offer resources for such practices. Katie will be using Blogger to present her course materials and multimedia, and your assignments will include creating handouts, posters, and other presentation media, both “high” and “low” tech.

Thus so-called constructionist learning and collaboration will also be important, and will be opened up to analysis for interconnections among knowledge worlds. •The first half of each class will be devoted to discussions initiated by twenty minute presentations by student teams, exploring assumptions the materials require us to reexamine. •The second half of each class will work off of Katie’s blogger presentations to collectively work out how we might work with the stories these knowledges tell. •In the middle of the semester we will conduct two roundtable presentations in which you will have posted a paper online, read the papers of others, present a five minute recap of your work with presentation media, and participate in collaborative discussion. •On the final day of the course we will conduct in one class period two poster sessions, conference style, where you can work individually or with a partner or team to consolidate how you put these materials together with your own work.

Creating robust, transdisciplinary knowledges will be one of the goals of the course. We will be experimenting with protocols for integrative knowledge processes, working to scope out their possibilities, limitations and situation in forms of accountability and accountancy. •Julie Thompson Klein’s toolkit for “Negotiating, brokering, and leveraging knowledge” will help us out here. 

summary of assignments

Note that each includes presentation itself as well as any written or spoken products, and also includes participation with the work of others:

• two 20 min group presentations on assumptions the materials require us to reexamine with handouts for whole class, and active engagement with such presentations by others. 

• participation as member of roundtable event and as lively member of discussing audience, including posting as google doc two days earlier on class blog a 10 pg paper, reading all the papers of other class members, offering at the event a 5 min. summary of own work with handout or presentation media and engaging in discussion.

• a research poster, with attention to non-traditional media and technology sources, can be individual or team presented, with one-on-one discussion with various class members during poster sessions, both concerning one’s own poster and those of others. You will work with course materials and your own projects, synthesizing these and re-presenting the results in poster formats. Don’t bother to print out or create expensive versions of these. Crafty posters are appreciated, and electronic versions can be simply printed out and displayed on your own laptop during poster sessions. 

course schedule

•Be sure to scope out whole books, but we will concentrate intensively on specific parts each class time, connecting across readings. •If you wish to use presentation media for your presentations, for the roundtables, or for the poster sessions, you must bring your own laptop or borrow one from the department, ARHU, or friends. We will need multiple laptops for poster sessions and roundtables. Be sure to know what connectors or adaptors are needed too. My laptop will not be available for this use or to host flashdrives. I use blogger myself and other web based delivery systems, and suggest becoming familiar with these.


Tuesday, 31 August – KATIE AT UK CONFERENCE – no class but there is work to begin with
• read all online materials, • all links in syllabus, and • 2 articles emailed out (Tsing’s “Mushrooms,” and Haraway’s “Sowing Worlds”).  • Also “How to Read” from our blogsite.

Prepare to come to our first class with specific ideas about HOW – that is, in what ways – these materials require each of us to ponder and reexamine our own assumptions. What ARE the assumptions we have ourselves that these materials reveal to us as we engage them?

Tuesday, 7 September – Welcome to our course!
• Tsing, “Mushrooms,” Haraway, “Sowing Worlds” (emailed)
• Online: Klein, Haraway, Despret, How to Read (link on blogsite)
• All links from online version of syllabus (and syllabus itself of course!)

Introductions to each other as resources, to the class, readings and procedures, and to the stories knowledges tell. Signups for presentations: How will you do these? How do you want to do them? What do you want to learn from these?

Paying attention to our own stories and sowing worlds: where do our stories came from? do they belong to us or we to them? how is it that they mean differently to others? what would happen if they got tweaked by us or somehow shifted outside our control? which possible worlds do they assume? how do they get made, in greater and greater detail? what sorts of powers do they enable or disable? and what do our own stories assume about communication, sociality, flourishing, assemblage and infrastructure?

Tuesday, 14 September – friction, critique, storytelling: habits of restraint and care
• Tsing, Friction: Preface, Intro, Chaps 1-3

Working with an amazing storyteller in a trans media, trans worlding set of practices of connection: Tsing’s explorations of misunderstandings that actually allow folks to use diversity as well as possible. Friction is “the grip of worldly encounter.” 

Tuesday, 21 September – shock: making the contours of distress as vivid as possible
• Tsing, Friction: Chaps 4-7, Coda

Freewheeling stories meld activist courage, solidarity and agency growing, the uses of alliance. Using scholarly skills such as “the ability to tell a story that both acknowledges imperial power and leaves room for the possible….” Passion taking us out of “the shadow of inevitability….”

Tuesday, 28 September – the colonization of the senses, and their re-sensitizations
• Keeling, Flight: Intro, 1, 2, 5, 7
• Hayward, “Spider City Sex” & “Cut Sex Animal” (emailed)

Sensitizing, feeling, and laboring with materialities helps us acquire new body parts, new companions, new outlooks, as well as offering tools for reexamining pasts, critique itself, and processes for unlearning. 

Tuesday, 5 October – generations of material feminisms: the new and the on-going in critique
• Hekman, Material: Chaps 4, 5 (“the fourth settlement”)
• (xerox)
• explore online the reviews of Hekman’s book and of the earlier edited collection Material Feminisms.

What is at stake in the varying chronologies of innovation, disciplinary travel, constructions of multiple materialities, bodies, and the new circulating around the so-called “new materialist theorists.” Investigate the debate opened up by Sara Ahmed in the European Journal of Women’s Studies and a reply by Davis the following year. What transnational issues are indirectly involved? How are feminist concerns put into conflict with each other? Why are these feminist politics “the fourth settlement”?

Tuesday, 12 October – zero degrees? salience and starship gender?
• Weston, Gender (whole book)

What role does space-time play in gender constructions, interventions, and deployments? What sort of critique of one’s own field does Weston model here? How is it related to the self-critiques of anthropology as a field? How does Weston operate time-claims in a queer analysis?

Tuesday, 19 October – settlements and the postmodern
• Hekman, Material: Chap 3 (“the third settlement”)
• Star, “Onions” (emailed)
• Clarke, Obit Star (emailed)
• Clarke, Situated: “Doing Situational Maps” (83-144) (xerox)

Biopower: what is it? how indebted to Foucault? how at stake for feminist thinking? where does never been modern come from? why here “never been postmodern”? what does Hekman mean by “settlement” anyway? How do you put this stuff into play with what you already know about feminist theory? What insights might we gather from Star’s “Onions” essay about generalization, standardization, articulation, assemblage and conceptual infrastructures? What role has Star played in connecting feminist postmodernism, Latour and Foucault, and issues of methodology?

Tuesday, 26 October – defamiliarizing frameworks of connection
• Povinelli, Empire (whole book)

What are “Empires of Love?” How are each of the sections of the book about these? What is rotten in “Rotten Worlds?” How can radical fairies in the US belong in a book together with folks from Oenpelli, Australia? How can you connect this analysis with Tsing’s around the frameworks of settler societies? And what is Public Plant Books? What sort of political and intellectual project is it?

Tuesday, 2 November – Roundtables

Today we will participate in two roundtable events. You should have posted a 10-12 pg paper on the class blog as a Google document by Sunday 5 pm. Everyone should have read all the papers by class time today. We will draw straws to determine which roundtable you will be part of, either first or second half of class. Each author will present a 5 min version of their work, with a handout or with a very short presentation media display in turn, and then everyone will contribute to lively discussion.

Tuesday, 9 November – narrating the second wave’s relationships to race, scenes from DC
• Valk, Radical: Intro, Conclusion, & pick 3 more chapters as you like

Make a point of visiting some of the sites of events and circumstances described in Valk’s book. What conflicts today are addressed in this narration of a particular feminist past? Who is likely to care about it and for what reasons? What interventions does this book intend? What about the unintended? Why do we need a “more nuanced take on the era”?

Tuesday, 16 November – mapping disciplinary trajectories
• Hekman, Material: Chaps 1, 2
• Clarke, Situated: Chaps 1, 2 (1-81) & “Mapping Historical Discourses” (261-291) (xerox)
• Star, “Knowledge weaving” (emailed)

Situate, contrast and assemble the sorts of methods in display and use among these authors and their respective communities of practice and interest. Why mapping? Consider possible mappings across and with some of the materials we have worked with and worked out so far.

Tuesday, 23 November – THANKSGIVING BREAK
• (optional): read Haraway, Companion Species Manifesto

Tuesday, 30 November – caring, for bodies, senses, feelings, ecologies
• Despret, “Body” (emailed)
• Kier, manuscript (emailed)
• Hayward, “FingeryEyes” (emailed)

How might we sensitize among worlds? whose worlds? with what tools? for which purposes?

Tuesday, 7 December – LAST CLASS! – Posters

Today we will have two consecutive poster sessions. You will work with materials gathered from research for and from presentations and readings already covered – consolidating the materials generated, filling in gaps with small amounts of additional research, and re-presenting the results in poster formats. These can be individual or collaborative, and you may choose your own approach for re-presentation. You will informally discuss posters with folks wandering from one to another in interactive engagements.