ENGL 3246 Topics in Popular Culture
Darija Medić, GPTI
About the Course:
This class will explore the space where fiction, speculation and regulation around media meet. From classic works of science fiction, to folk and conspiracy theories to contemporary advertising narratives of high tech and speculative design, students will learn about futurist discourses and practices around technologies old and new. We will tie these tropes with specific digital policy and ethics issues around technology today as a means to encourage ethical and thoughtful design and use of new technologies. How do these works foresee the future, the past and alternative realms, and how do they portray hopes and fears for the promises and limits of technology? How can fiction help us better understand current complex technical infrastructure and inspire ways of being and living other than our present and past, creating alternate realities and better futures?
The objectives of this course are to provide students with fundamentals of understanding the role and application of fiction as a cultural analysis tool, its tight connection to the development of past and present technologies and its potential applications in creative and policy work.
By the end of the course you will:
- Demonstrate understanding of the role of fiction as a cultural analysis tool
- Examine science fiction’s tight connection to the development of past and present technologies and policies
- Analyze fundamental digital policy issues
- Recognize which features play a role in dystopian fiction, versus utopian fiction and illustrate how these concepts inhabit current public discourse, such as around AI
- Question inherent ideas about power structures and the development of technology as inferred from the course material
- Relate the affordances of different modes of expression and media in building fictional narrative
- Practice recognizing authorship canonization and positionality within genre
- Experiment with speculative narrative in a multimodal setting
- Develop and design their own fictional formats, applying the methods learned in the course