Course Resources

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our Syllabus

CS 301U-01 (1856) Critical Theory B: For Futurity: A Clash of Futurisms 
When/Where: Tuesdays, 1-3:45pm. SFAI: 18 Chestnut Street. January 24-May 9
Course Blog:
Instructor: Dale Carrico;
Assigned Tutor: Manny Robertson:

Course Description: Futurity is a register of freedom, "The Future" another prison-house built to confine it. Futurity is the openness in the present arising out of the ineradicable diversity of calculating, contending, and collaborative stakeholders who struggle to make and remake the shared world. "The Future," to the contrary, brandishing the shackle of its definite article, is always described from a parochial present and is always a funhouse mirror reflecting a parochial present back to itself, amplifying its desires and fears, confirming its prejudices, reassuring its Believers that the Key to History is in their hands. This course will stage a contest of futures: Italian Futurism, corporate-military think-tank futurologies, Afro-Futurists, punks, queers, and some competing versions of posthumanism for good measure. Both ranting and raving will be involved. In the end, I will send you out on stage yourselves... and Into! The! Future!

Grade Provisionally Based on the Following: Attendance/Participation 15%; Notebook 15%; Introductory Object Reading (1-2pp.) 10%; Precis (2-3pp.) 15%; Presentation 15%; Final Keyword Mapping Exercise 30% (This is a rough basis for your final grade, subject to contingencies, improvement, etc.) 

Schedule of Meetings (Subject to Change, Check Online Version for Updates)


Week 1             24 Introduction: Futurity Against "The Future" (Object Reading: Post by Sunday, January 29, midnight) 

In this class we will distinguish (while also pressuring these distinctions):

1). Futurity: The quality of openness inhering in the diversity of stakeholders to any political present.
2). The Future: Sites of imaginative investment, a Destiny/Destination at which "We" never arrive.
3). Futurisms: imagined and intentional communities, subcultures, memberships, and fandoms organized and sustained through identification with particular visions or narratives of The Future.
4). Futurology: A parochially profitable pseudo-scientific discipline confusing marketing with understanding, and the quintessential justificatory discourse for white-racist patriarchal extractive-industrial corporate-militarism (ie, "neoliberalism").
Week 2             31 When Is "The Future"? Ancients Against Moderns / Destiny Against Progress
Roland Barthes, "Jet-Man" (scroll down to pp. 71-73)
Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, "Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns"
William Gibson, "The Gernsback Continuum"
Paul Gilroy, "Black to the Future"
Immanuel Kant, "Idea of a Universal History From A Cosmopolitan Point of View"

Week 3             7 Technology Against Politics
PRESENTATION(S): Qian Huang, Elle Carroll
Hannah Arendt, "Prologue" to The Human Condition
Hannah Arendt, "The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man" (this is a .pdf of the whole book, but you need only read the few pages of the Prologue)
David Harvey, "The Fetish of Technology"
Fredrick Jameson, selections on Utopia from Archaeologies of the Future
Walter Benjamin, "Epilogue" from Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility (scroll to the end, but by all means read the whole indispensable essay if you never have before) FT Marinetti, "War, The World's Only Hygiene"
Week 4             14 Eugenics (Fascist, Socialist, Capitalist) and Posthumanisms
PRESENTATION(S): Andrew Boylan
Peter Cohen (dir.), Homo Sapiens 1900 (a documentary about 20C eugenics)
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Race And/As Technology
CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man (scroll to the Third Chapter and just read that one)
Critical Arts Ensemble, Eugenics: The Second Wave
Octavia Butler, "The Evening, the Morning, and the Night" (e-mailing to everybody -- if you have not received this story, e-mail me directly and I'll re-send)
Jennifer Latson, "What Margaret Sanger Really Said About Eugenics and Race"
Amy Goodman interviews Harriet Washington about her book Medical Apartheid: Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Week 5             21 The Italian Futurists and the California Futurists
PRESENTATION(S): Miles Roa, Manu Prasad
FT Marinetti, "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism"
Valentine de Saint-Point,  Manifesto of Futurist Women
Valentine de Saint-Point, "Futurist Manifesto of Lust"
Luigi Russolo, "The Art of Noises" 
Andy Cameron and Richard Barbrook, "The Californian Ideology"
Jedediah Purdy, "The God of the Digirati"
Week 6             28 Postwar Futurology: Canals+Cars+Plastic+Internet (Precis: Post by Sunday, March 5, midnight) 
PRESENTATION(S): Jesse Sawyerr
Marguerite Holloway, New York Squared: The Man Who Mapped Manhattan
Edwin Burrows, Little Short of Madness: A bold dream of a canal
Alana Semuels, "The Role of Highways in American Poverty"
Anthony Paletta, "Jane Jacobs v Robert Moses, Battle of New York's Urban Titans"
Saul Landau, "Reagan and Bottled Water"
Harvey Wasserman, King CONG vs. Solartopia
Virginia Postrel, from "The Future and Its Enemies"
Roland Barthes, from Mythologies, "The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat," "The New Citroen," "Plastic" (for the relevant passages scroll to pp. 65-67, 88-90, 97-99.)


Week 7             7 Future Schlock: Pop Futurism and PR (midterm grading, March 6-10)
PRESENTATION(S): Barry Despenza, Caitlin Moore 
Jenny Anderson, "The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World"
Ted Goertzel, "Methods and Approaches of Future Studies"
Farhad Manjoo, "Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler's Torch"
Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Future Shock Levels"
Daniel Harris, "The Futuristic" (the link has broken, it seems, and I can't find another to the whole piece, so I posted a short excerpt and a link to a discussion on our blog here)     David Graeber, Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit

Week 8             14 No Future! Punks and Queers Against "The Future"
PRESENTATION(S): Annie Hui, Sophie Zlotnicki 
Karen Pinkus, Futurism: Proto Punk
Lee Edelman, "The Future Is Kid Stuff"
Ben De Guzman, "Undocumented and Unafraid: Queer DREAMers"
Susan Faludi, "Death of a Revolutionary: Shulamith Firestone Helped to Create a New Society. But She Couldn't Live In It"
Brock Keeling: "Occupride to Shake Up SF Gay Pride Parade [2012]"
Week 9             21 Spring Break

Week 10           28 Greenback Green in the Anthrobscene: Climate Science and Geo-engineering
PRESENTATION(S): Ariella Robinson, Tanya Lakhani 
Rob Nixon: Slow Violence
Bill McKibben: "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math"
Bill McKibben: "Reversal of Fortune"
Aaron Labaree: "Our Science Fiction Apocalypse"
Mike Davis: "Slum Ecology"
Mike Davis: "Dubai: Sinister Paradise"
Stewart Brand: "How Slums Can Save the Planet"
Naomi Klein: "Why Geoengineering Is Untested and Untestable"
Lisa Hymas: "We Need Birth Control Not Geoengineering"

Week 11           4 Screening Film: "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (dir. Joseph Sargent, 1970)

Week 12           11 Digi-Dystopian: Computationism/Cybernetic-Totalism/Singularitarianism/Algorithmic Mediation
PRESENTATION(S): Eleanor Schnarr, Alexander Newman
Marc Steigler, "The Gentle Seduction"
Katherine Hayles: Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Wiener and Cybernetic Anxiety
Jaron Lanier: The First Church of Robotics 
Vernor Vinge: Technological Singularity  
Nathan Pensky: Ray Kurzweil Is Wrong
Amelia Abreu: Quantify Everything: A Dream of a Feminist Data Future
An Interview with Frank Pasquale about The Black Box Society
Nicole Dewandre, "The Human Condition and The Black Box Society"
Week 13           18 Neoliberal Futurology: Unthought Leaders in the Valley of the Silly Con
Paulina Borsook: Cyberselfish
Evgeny Morozov: The Meme Hustler 
David Golumbia: Cyberlibertarians' Digital Deletion of the Left
Tom Slee, The Sharing Economy's Dirty Laundry
Tressie McMillan Cottom: "Who Do You Think You Are? When Marginality Meets Academic Microcelebrity"
Eric Hughes: A Cypherpunk's Manifesto
Audrey Watters: The Best Way to Predict the Future Is To Issue A Press Release  

Week 14           25 Radical "Tech" Politics: So Many Tech Revolutions, Accelerationism, Platform Co-Operativism
PRESENTATION(S): Yiwei Song, Ben Murray
Trebor Scholz: Challenging the Corporate Sharing Economy
Astra Taylor on Democracy Now: "The Utopian Potential of the Internet"
Jathan Sadowski: Civics for a Digital Age
Karen Gregory: From Sharing to Cooperation: Lessons from Mondragon
Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek: #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO
Bruce Sterling: Maneki Neko

Week 15           2 Afro-Futurism: And If Africa Is The Future? 
PRESENTATION(S): Aurora Daigle
Mark Dery interviews Samuel Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose
Tananarive Due: Afrofuturism: Dreams to Banish Nightmares
Michel Gonzales: What Is Afrofuturism?
Nnedi Okorafor: The Magical Negro
(this one page story is the first in Okorafor's wonderful collection Kabu Kabu, and the easiest way to read it free is just to preview the book at Amazon, and scroll to the story)
Nnedi Okorafor: On Stephen King's Super-Duper Magical Negroes
Week 16           9 Concluding Remarks (Hand in Reading Notebook and Keyword Map)

Other Information:

Academic Resource Center
The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides free tutoring to all SFAI students on any assignment or project. Because everyone benefits from discussing and developing their work in an individualized setting, SFAI recommends that all students make use of the Academic Resource Center.

Students can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting (username is the first part of your SFAI email address; password is your last name). The Center is open throughout the semester (beginning after the add/drop period) from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday in the lower level of the Chestnut Street campus (at the Francisco Street entrance), with extended hours in the Residence Halls and at the Graduate Campus. Students are also welcome to drop by the Center any time during open hours to make use of the ARC’s writing reference library, computers, and study spaces.

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In the case of any complaint related to disability matters, a student may access the student grievance procedures; however, complaints regarding requests for accommodation are resolved pursuant to Section IV – Process for Requests for Accommodations: Eligibility, Determination and Appeal.

The Accessibility Services Office is located on the Chestnut Campus in the Student Affairs Office and can be reached at

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy
The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual, artistic, and personal integrity of SFAI. At SFAI we value all aspects of the creative process, freedom of expression, risk-taking, and experimentation that adhere to the fundamental value of honesty in the making of one’s academic and studio work and in relationship to others and their work. Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic dishonesty. If a student is unclear about appropriate academic conduct in relationship to a particular situation, assignment, or requirement, the student should consult with the instructor of the course, Department Chair, Program Directors, or the Dean of Students.

Forms of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words, ideas, or information. At SFAI academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation (6.1; MLA Handbook, Joseph Gibaldi ch.2). Students are advised to seek out this guideline in the Academic Support Center, to ask faculty when they are in doubt about standards, and to recognize they are ultimately responsible for proper citation. In the studio, appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention complicate attempts to codify forms of acknowledgment and are often defined by disciplinary histories and practices and are best examined, with the faculty, in relationship to the specific studio course.

Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized information including: looking at or using information from another person’s paper/exam; buying or selling quizzes, exams, or papers; possessing, referring to, or employing opened textbooks, notes, or other devices during a quiz or exam. It is the responsibility of all students to consult with their faculty, in a timely fashion, concerning what types of study aids and materials are permissible in their specific course.

Falsification and Fabrication
Falsification and fabrication are the use of identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the faculty involved, or the use of identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the later course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized by their faculty ton do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage
Unfair academic advantage is interference—including theft, concealment, defacement or destruction of other students’ works, resources, or material—for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage.

Noncompliance with Course Rules
The violation of specific course rules as outlined in the syllabus by the faculty or otherwise provided to the student.


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