Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


CS-500P-01 Biopunk!
Spring 2016
Tuesdays, 1-3.45, 3SR2

Course Blog:
Instructor: Dale Carrico,
Office Hours: Before and after class, and by appointment. (I will also be available on Chestnut Street on Wednesdays)

Course Description:

"Biopunk" is well-known as a genre of speculative fiction taking up many of the characteristic themes and gestures of cyberpunk literature but reinvigorating them through a focus on the emerging and ongoing pleasures and dangers of genetic science and medicine, bioinformatics, biotechnology, and biowarfare. In this course we will mobilize key figures and themes from biopunk fictions to engage and elaborate transgenic and bioart practices, insurgent technocultures and lifeway practices, and performative resistance to biopiracy, eugenics, and resource war.

Required Texts: Bruce Sterling, Holy Fire; Octavia Butler, Dawn and Adulthood Rites; Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; in-class screenings of films. All other required readings will be linked in the syllabus online or made available to you otherwise.

Course Requirements:  In-Class Report (10 mins.), Short Scene Reading (2-3pp.), Short Issue Precis (2-3pp.), Seminar Paper (18-25pp.)
Attendance Policy:  Attendance and punctuality are expected. Necessary absences should be discussed in advance whenever possible.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes:
1.      Elaborate intersections of biosciences, bioethics, and bioart theories and practices.
2.      Explore a host of textual analytic modes: epitome, close reading, interrogation, brainstorming, guided discussion, extended research. 

Provisional Schedule of Meetings
Week One | 19 Introductions
Week Two | 26 CS Lewis -- The Abolition of Man; Hannah Arendt -- Prologue to The Human Condition; Greg Bear -- Blood Music
Week Three | 2 Donna Haraway -- The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies; Pedro Almodovar -- All About My Mother
Week Four | 9 Michel Foucault -- Docile Bodies; Mia Mingus -- Hollow
Week Five 16 | Michel Foucault -- Right of Death and Power Over Life; Octavia Butler -- Bloodchild
Week Six | 23 Bruce Sterling -- Holy Fire, chapters 1-3
Week Seven | 1 Bruce Sterling -- Holy Fire, chapters 4-6 (Midterm grades this week)
Week Eight | 8 Paul Di Fillipo -- Ribofunk: The Manifesto; Katsuhiro Otomo -- Roujin Z
Week Nine | Spring Break
Week Ten | 22 Octavia Butler -- Dawn
Week Eleven | 29 Octavia Butler -- Adulthood Rites
Week Twelve | 5 Valerie Solanas: The SCUM Manifesto; Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra -- Y: The Last Man, one
Week Thirteen (MFA Reviews)
Week Fourteen 19 | Critical Art Ensemble -- Eugenics: The Second Wave; Margaret Atwood -- Oryx and Crake
Week Fifteen 26 | Margaret Atwood -- Oryx and Crake
Week Sixteen 3 4 Concluding Remarks; Final Papers Due

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