Digital technologies and digital media continue to become an ever greater part of contemporary individual and social life. There appears to be a consensus that this process is inevitable, but there is next to no agreement with respect to the ways in which individuals and society are affected by it. Responses range from euphoria and enthusiasm on the one hand, to dystopian visions of a future societies totally under surveillance and control. Contradictory assessments of contemporary situations, and contradictory expectations about future developments can be found in the leading media of fictional narratives – the novel and the TV serial – as well. Our course will offer an opportunity to engage with these issues through the analysis of a range of fictional narratives representing worlds which are shaped and informed in various forms by digital technologies. We will focus both on ‘dystopian’ and on ‘realistic’ representations of digital worlds, and analyse two novels as well as (selectively) work on two TV series whose evolving engagement with digital technologies and media may help us also to historicise the evolving perspectives on the digital over the past two decades. The two novels in question are: Hari Kunzru, Transmission (2004), and Lauren Beukes, Moxyland (2008). These are available in the University bookshop. Please purchase and read these as early as possible. The two TV series chosen for this course are Black Mirror (4 seasons, 2011-2017) and South Park (22 seasons, 1997-2018). Please view as many episodes of these series as possible in preparation for the course (South Park is free in Germany on www.southpark.de; Black Mirror is on Netflix; both series are on DVD as part of a Handapparat to our course in the university library). I will suggest a selection of episodes for us to analyse but am happy to discuss suggestions. It may be helpful to use online resources giving short summaries of the episodes (such as, for instance, en.wikipedia.org) in order to pre-select relevant episodes. Credits are obtained by participating in an oral presentation and producing a written term paper based on one aspect of this presentation (6 or 9 KP, depending on your course of study). M.A. students will be required to submit an additional ‘project’ (3 KP). This can take a variety of forms (but you cannot write a second term paper). The general requirement is to take one aspect of the seminar as a point of departure, and pursue some form of empirical research which takes you beyond the scope of the seminar. Details to be discussed individually.
The course is part of admission "Anmeldung gesperrt (global)".
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