ENGL 290
Technologies of Friendship
Last Offered Spring 2024
Division II
Cross-listed STS 290
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

Contemporary friendships–whether among roommates, near neighbors, or friends living thousands of miles apart–are highly mediated. We communicate and signal our attachment through Zoom windows, apps, and social media platforms, and we create ambiguous relationships with people whom we “follow” or “friend” without having met in person. Sometimes we text as much as we talk even with intimate friends, and carrying on in-person friendships was complicated in myriad ways by the Covid-19 pandemic. But friendships have always been mediated, and in this tutorial we will examine how writers across centuries have described the tools and technologies of friendship: some perhaps quaint or sentimental (for example the written letter) and others creepy or invasive (for example Apple’s “Find My” app or social media’s “suggestions”). We will ask common and important questions, such as “Can one have too many friends?”; “Are long-distance friendships sustainable?”; and “What health risks do we take for friendship, and what other risks do technologies of friendship carry?” Readings will include works of fiction and journalism, and scholarship from psychology, the history of technology, and science and technology studies. The technologies we will consider include emojis, coffeehouses, memes, letters, telephones, video games, social media, and novels themselves.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3883
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will write essays and critique their partner's essays in alternate weeks. Essays will receive detailed instructor feedback, including writing instruction.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: STS concentrators
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 290 Division I STS 290 Division II

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