STS 236
Aesthetics of Automation: From the Mechanical Turk to A.I. Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

In this course we will study the changing aesthetics of automation in European and North American cultural contexts from the 18th century to the present. We will also explore the wider cultural and material effects of automation (as imagined and as implemented) upon public and private spheres, craftsmen and courts, wage-laborers, artists, and inventors. The objects we examine will be as various as the dulcimer-playing android presented as a gift to Marie Antoinette, IBM’s Deep Blue, and singer-actor Janelle Monae’s android alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather. Our primary sources will consist of visual representations in print and film as well as literary and commercial writing; our secondary sources will consist of essays in aesthetic theory, cultural studies, science and technology studies, and the history of technology.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 1059
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: mid-term and final essays, an annotated bibliography, discussion participation, and brief in-class writing exercises.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: STS concentrators
Distributions: Division II

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