|
Return to the MLA Commons
Concepts, Models, and Experiments

Future(s)

André Carrington

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Drexel University | <http://www.andrecarringtonphd.com>

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The official reviewing period for this keyword has ended, and commenting is closed. You may also wish to read the description of the anthology, guidelines on how to comment, and the list of keywords.

CURATORIAL STATEMENT

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The first artificial satellite to enter the Earth’s orbit, Sputnik, inaugurated the space age in 1957. It expanded the frontiers of human knowledge forever. In its aftermath, the United States founded an agency with the mission to “prevent technological surprise” in the future. That agency, which is now called DARPA, fostered the invention of the internet, and its mission has grown in the information age with the additional aim “to create technological surprise for [U.S.] enemies” (DARPA 1). The humanities have always played their part in mapping zones of encounter, and the rhetoric of the American state echoes the humanities’ role in defining the antagonisms that drive historical progress. In the digital age, our scholarship models the circumstances under which technological surprise takes place and anticipates its possible implications. Computer-assisted learning also provides us with tools for reckoning with the unforeseeable consequences of innovation.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The work of pedagogy in the digital humanities encompasses the use of information technologies to envision, prepare for, and cultivate dispositions toward the future. We can use emerging technologies to instruct in ways that enable students to alter the circumstances in which learning will take place. Rather than setting up an opposition between the practical and the ideal, we can conceptualize the future as the dawning horizon on which applications for our cutting-edge theories and newly-fashioned tools will appear. Humanities instruction raises fundamental questions about what knowledge is desirable and how we might go about attaining it, and adapting our tools and methods of instruction allows us to approach future moments secure in the knowledge that “the only lasting truth is Change” (Butler 3).

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Anxiety and opportunity alike characterize the future of the humanities. The turn toward “born digital” resources and pedagogical techniques for the rising generation of “digital natives” requires educators to keep critical lessons from various traditions of speculation about the future in play. For example, as philosophers and cultural theorists reconstruct our knowledge of the world in terms of space, surface, and objects, we are tasked with inventing ways to represent information while also thinking critically about the epistemologies that make data visualizations intelligible. Studying the world and its changes entails revisiting “developments in the gridding of time and space, the proliferation of registers, filing and listing systems, the making and remaking of categories, the identification of populations, and the invention of logistics” (Lury, et al 8). This reflexivity equips us to understand and keep up in a changing world while constantly reaffirming a key principle of humanities training: “education creates opportunities beyond what’s envisioned for it” (Macharia). As Keguro Macharia writes, “Training in the humanities teaches how to ask difficult, necessary questions: How does the past influence the future? How can we live together? What is the good life? What is an ethical life? What values are worth promoting?” These questions are just as urgent to decolonizing societies across the globe as they are pertinent in the everyday speculation that makes education a utopian endeavor.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 The materials below have been assembled by scholars, artists, activists, and public intellectuals working within and sometimes against the university. They converge on a critique of the present in which higher education plays a decisive role. These curated artifacts will stimulate discussions, introduce “possibility models” (Cox), demonstrate modes of dissemination, and inspire emulation. The selections represent the ongoing negotiation between speculation and objectives identified with the public good—social mobility, literacy, cultural competence—that the enterprise of higher education entails. As the institutions where we teach increasingly prioritize innovation, we can promote approaches to technology that encourage students to treat their education as the point of departure for an as-yet uncatalogued array of applications rather than a guarantee. An outlook on innovation that learns from the concrete instances in which necessity gives rise to invention affords humanities thinkers a critical role in the future of knowledge production. These resources are meant to illustrate how pedagogies concerned with the future(s) of the humanities can turn toward technology with a sense of inspiration rather than a sense of crisis. This orientation toward new methodologies and tools transforms indeterminacy into “educated hope,” a sense of openness through which cultural criticism can light the way toward the “concrete utopias” named in social movements and other emergent collectivities animated by the unmet needs of the present (Muñoz 3). Digital pedagogies without guarantees temper the imperative to “make it new” with the kind of questions that inspire speculative fiction: “What if…? If only…?” and “If this goes on…” (Gaiman xi). Instead of preparing students for a future that is already written, we can prepare them to surprise us.

CURATED ARTIFACTS

#FutureED

#FutureED

#FutureED

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Participants in the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) gather in person and virtually on a regular basis to share ideas for the advancement of humanistic education in the digital era. The #FutureED initiative translates efforts that began with questions about the place of the Humanities “in the contemporary university” into the questions about the place of the Humanities in the future (Davidson and Goldberg). #FutureED builds on “courses, workshops, events, and reading groups, in different locations and online, all open to the public… created by members of the HASTAC alliance on ‘The History and Future of Higher Education.’” The initiative’s online presence includes a crowdsourced bibliography annotated with keywords (funding, assessment, peer learning), reflections on ongoing changes to institutional structures, and innovations in teaching, all of which are open to further contributions in wiki format.

Syllabus as Cultural Artifact: MIT Introduction to Media Studies

Introduction to Media Studies-1997

Introduction to Media Studies-1997

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Appropriately for a pedagogical conversation initiated by the author of Convergence Culture, this artifact represents the convergence of multiple iterations of a syllabus: as text, analytical object, and archive. In 1999, the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, for which this course was a cornerstone, began with a mission “that was humanistic to its core and expansive in its understanding of what constituted media.” Two years later, that university introduced Open CourseWare as a comprehensive effort to publicize its curriculum online. Then and now, the methods and materials used for instruction inflect the syllabus with the priorities of the moment as well as unpredictable implications for the future. This colloquy provides a genealogy of critical vocabularies in the field and rehearses perspectives on teaching with technology. The reflexive approach to framing the subjects of humanistic inquiry and assessing instructional approaches modeled here will prove useful in a variety of disciplines as well as extramural locations.

Big History Project: The Future

Big History Project: The Future

Big History Project: The Future

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 The notion of “deep time” cuts across disciplinary boundaries to enable Humanities scholars and teachers to conceptualize the thousands-of-years duration of human species being unfolding against the backdrop of the planet: a time and place situated by the natural sciences on scales that are many orders of magnitude larger than history as we know it (Dimock 6). A similar approach animates Big History as a pedagogical intervention that puts astronomical, geological, and ecological processes into narrative and other forms that modern technology makes accessible to individual learners. Video, interactive data visualizations, and quizzes that accrue credit toward Digital Badges engage the user with the aggregate subjects that characterize modernity and focus contemporary intellectual and technological efforts to project human habits into the future. Whereas other Big History lessons might serve as prerequisites for understanding particular texts, periods, places, and practices, the contemporary and future dilemmas invoked by this setting lend themselves to speculation and problem-solving exercises.

Mapping the Futures of Higher Education

Mapping the Futures of Higher Education

Mapping the Futures of Higher Education

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Mapping the Futures of Higher Education at the City University of New York supplements the cultural and political geography of the metropolis with student-centered timelines and genealogies. The course “emphasized student-centered pedagogies and digital innovation and its practical application within diverse undergraduate classrooms at CUNY.” Crucial to its success, and integral to its potential implications for future projects that use digital tools to enhance and represent spatial knowledge, were measures meant to empower undergraduates and graduate student instructors. These measures included allowing students to devise their own syllabus, cultivating opportunities for graduate student instructors invest in their own pedagogical training, and according priority to formative rather than summative assessment. While evaluators noted that workshops on mapping software and data management would have facilitated the course, the resources produced by MFHE students are object lessons in how the acquisition of new technological skills and teaching strategies can work hand in hand with contributions to knowledge that meet local demands.

Undercommoning

Undercommoning: Revolution Within, Against, and Beyond the University

Undercommoning: Revolution Within, Against, and Beyond the University

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The Undercommoning Collective looks forward to the unwinding of institutional arrangements that make professional careers in academia scarce, expensive, and seemingly inexorable. Like anticapitalist critics who point out that recurring crises—climate change, unemployment, market failure—are an unrelenting consequence of an economic system premised on endless growth, Undercommoning insists that the academic profession and the university itself form “part of an archipelago of social institutions of neoliberal, free-market racial capitalism.” Undercommoning advocates the abolition of the present social order in the interest of new ways of life founded on knowledge practices already taking place within, against, and beyond the university-as-such. Though its language derives from a book by radical critical theorists Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, the Undercommons is not a group, a tendency, a party, or a platform. The site aims to instigate and draw attention to subversive teaching and learning practices that steal (away) from the university, rather than critiques that all too easily become institutionalized as professional achievements.

Africa Is A Country

Africa Is A Country

Africa Is A Country

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 In the aggregate, the content on Africa Is a Country exemplifies the ambition of decolonial theorists (Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo): to work through “a spatialization in which the whole planet is involved at every stage in history,” rather than organizing knowledge and meaning through unreconstructed concepts of nation and language that recapitulate the legacy of colonialism (Alcoff 84). I came to view this blog as the best on the internet when I taught a course on African Cultures for an undergraduate liberal arts core curriculum program. Africa Is A Country redresses the meme of “Africa Rising” with a kaleidoscope of contemporary African and Black Diasporic thought. Most of the site’s short and long reads, which come from writers with diverse cultural backgrounds, expertise, and political perspectives, are intensely hypertextual, reflecting its contributors’ and editors’ immersion in the web as an environment where global communication takes place through “flows and contra-flows” of information (Thussu 5). The site’s extensive archives furnish plentiful examples for nuanced, topical discussions. Its selection of podcasts and music, academic symposia and interviews, and sports and media commentary offer myriad points of access.

Notes Towards a Feminist Futurist Manifesto

Notes Towards a Feminist Futurist Manifesto

Notes Towards a Feminist Futurist Manifesto

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Sarah Kember marks the moment for the launch of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology by unsettling readers who might think existing scholarship has exhausted “the complex relation between technology, politics and the social.” Taking gender as one axis in a multidimensional rendering of “a future that isn’t (and never was) all about technology,” the manifesto returns issues of desire, intelligence, consciousness, and objecthood to the agenda of humanistic inquiry. The subject of this endeavor is no longer necessarily human, but “post-cyborg.” In the course of raising questions that would occasion lively debate to initiate any course or module—to what ends do we submit ourselves to emergent surveillance practices? what are the priorities of a new academic journal?—the article posits writing persisting into the future as an extension of feminist critical genealogies.

America and the Utopian Dream

America and the Utopian Dream

America and the Utopian Dream

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 As an alternative (or supplement) to endeavors like the Text Encoding Initiative and Project Gutenberg that reproduce print culture in digital form, America and the Utopian Dream models the digital exhibit as a point of departure for students and the wider public to conceptualize primary documents and the research agendas in which they are implicated without encountering them directly or by approximation. It also functions as an index for the proverbial “text” in relation to which students and scholars can situate later versions—including digital copies—of materials they access through other means. The exhibit’s presentation of materials from Beinecke’s collections orients explorers to the utopian tradition in political philosophy and literature along with anti-utopian/dystopian and apocalyptic narratives. Scans from first editions and manuscript texts bring users closer to sources in utopian studies. A catalog of utopian communities in the United States displays maps, periodicals, photographs, and other artifacts from experiments in social formation prior to the digital era.

Blackness & Utopia

Blackness & Utopia

Blackness & Utopia

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 In 2013, I taught Blackness & Utopia as an undergraduate Special Topics in African American Literature course in a department of English. The course was an orientation to the utopian tradition in African American writing, but it also introduced students to the place of utopia in the popular imagination and the role of a utopian outlook in criticism. Primary sources used in the course mine Black and American political, cultural, and technological history in order to reconstruct the infrastructure that shaped each generation’s respective critique of the present. This retrospective gaze provides a point of departure for students to conceptualize the factors that make their own moment distinctive, and it encourages them to imagine how race thinking might progress or become obsolete in the future. The syllabus indexed here is modular, all sources are available in electronic formats, and the flexible schedule accommodates the prospect of teaching online and/or in person.

The BYP100 Agenda to Build Black Futures

Agenda to Build Black Futures

Agenda to Build Black Futures

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 The Black Youth Project is a US-based membership organization for Black people ages 18–35 committed to a transformative, intersectional agenda for racial justice. The hashtag #BuildBlackFutures articulates an imperative to redirect our society’s shared resources, e.g. city and state spending, space, planning, away from incarceration and surveillance and toward the reparation and self-determination for Black communities. While direct actions that disrupt the status quo are an instrumental part of the BYP strategy, the Agenda to Build Black Futures marshals data, speculation, and narratives toward a powerful declaration of what is necessary to make Black communities thrive in the 21st century. The agenda is meant to inspire informed action. Some of the resources you can use inside or outside the classroom, for teach-ins, and online include videos about what #BuildBlackFutures means and invitations to add your own content, editorials, shareable graphics for social media, and links to the intertexts that dialogue with the Agenda.

RELATED MATERIALS

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Baker, Miyuki. “Beyond the Ivory Tower: Interviews with Academics #1 with Juana María Rodríguez.” heymiyuki.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/beyond-the-ivory-tower-interviews-with-academics-1-with-juana-maria-rodriguez.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 Gómez-Peña, Guillermo. La Pocha Nostra: Live Art Lab. www.pochanostra.com/home.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is Not A Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society vol. 1, no. 1 (2012): 1–40.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Von Ruff, Al. Internet Speculative Fiction Database. www.isfdb.org.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Womack, Ytasha. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013. www.iafrofuturism.com/book.

WORKS CITED

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Alcoff, Linda. “Mignolo’s Epistemology of Coloniality.” CR: The New Centennial Review, vol. 7, no. 3, 2007, pp. 79–101.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. New York: Warner, 2000.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Black Youth Project. Agenda to Build Black Futures. agendatobuildblackfutures.org.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 Cox, Laverne. “Interview with Katie Couric.” Katie. ABC, 6 Jan. 2014.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Davidson, Cathy and David Theo Goldberg. “A Manifesto for the Humanities in a Technological Age.” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 50, no. 23, 13 Feb. 2004, pp. B7-B9.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Bridging the Gap Powered by Ideas. Arlington, VA: DARPA, 2005.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 Dimock, Wai Chee. Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Gaiman Neil. “Introduction,” in Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451. 60th Anniversary Edition. New York: Simon & Shuster, 2013.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 Grant, Sheryl. “Digital Badges.” HASTAC. 6 Mar. 2013. www.hastac.org/collections/digital-badges.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 Jacobs, Sean, et al. Africa is a Country. africasacountry.com.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: NYU Press, 2008.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 ———. Syllabi as Cultural Artifacts: MIT’s Introduction to Media Studies (Part One). USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. 8 Mar. 2016. www.annenberglab.com/blogs/hjenkins/2016/03/syllabi-cultural-artifacts-mit-s-introduction-media-studies-part-one.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Kember, Sarah. “Notes Towards a Feminist Futurist Manifesto.” Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, no. 1, 2012.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Klink, Flourish and Kim Vaeth. Flourish Klink, and Kim Vaeth. CMS 100 Introduction to Media Studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, ocw.mit.edu/courses/comparative-media-studies-writing/cms-100-introduction-to-media-studies-fall-2014.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 Lury, Celia, Luciana Parisi, and Tiziana Terranova. “Introduction: The Becoming Topological of Culture.” Theory, Culture, and Society, vol. 19, no. 4/5, 2012, pp. 3–35.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Macharia, Keguro. “Humanities and Higher Education in Kenya.” Gukira. 25 Feb. 2016. gukira.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/humanities-higher-education-in-kenya.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Moten, Fred and Stefano Harvey. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. New York: Minor Compositions, 2013.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: NYU Press, 2009.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 Thussu, Daya Kishan. “Introduction,” in Media on the Move: Global Flow and Contra-Flow. New York: Routledge, 2006.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 Undercommoning Collective. Undercommoning: Revolution Within, Against, and Beyond the University. undercommoning.org.

Page 26

Source: https://hcommons.org/keywords/futures/