Fall 15 Spotlight: AMS 311S Technology and the Body

Technology and the Body

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AMS 311S, 29965

Science fiction may not be all that far-fetched anymore. Technology has been advancing at an incredible rate. In recent years, scientists have managed to 3D-print biological material such as bone, stem cells, even organs (think of the world’s first skull transplant), create accurate mugshots using only DNA, and convert electrical muscle signals into movement that has completely revolutionized prosthetics.

The more technology transforms, the more our bodies are affected by it. Andrew Gansky’s new course, “Technology and the Body,” aims to look at the way technologies establish normative ideas about our bodies, both their appearance and behavior. “We think about our bodies through technological metaphors,” Gansky says. “We invite new technologies to modify our experiences,” such as with the new Apple watch and the Fitbit which are used to quantify various aspect of our bodies.

The classic American view usually equates technology with progress, which may not be entirely true. Our bodies are vehicles for communication and characterize our sex, race, and age. New technologies can influence and alter body perception in surprising and sometimes unsettling ways. From eugenics (the social movement which promotes selective breeding and sterilization in humans) to “ethnic” plastic surgery to various body modifications, students will examine ethical, economic, legal and cultural contexts of technology and its impact on the human body.

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The course will be separated into three sections: modernizing the body in the early 1900s, modifying the body, and manipulating the body. In the early days of factory labor with the advent of the modernized assembly line, workers were supposed to move their bodies like machines with precision and little error. Modifying the body, such as through prosthetics or pharmaceuticals, entails introducing various mechanical devices and chemicals to our bodies. Whereas we can manipulate the surface of the body with makeup, and by further trajectory, plastic surgery, creating a completely different experience from what which we were born with.

Gansky hopes that his course will attract a mix of engineering, science and liberal arts majors, and that students will be able to not only engage with new technology, but also think critically about the prevalence of technology in our daily lives and what that means for the present and future.

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This course carries both a Writing flag and an Ethics and Leadership flag.

Fall 15 Snapshots: GSD 341J, REE 325, MEL 321

Contemporary Scandinavian Stories

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GSD 341J (37300)/EUS 347 (35510)/C L 323 (32850)

Ever heard of Stieg Larsson’s famous Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series? Maybe you’ve seen the film version? Scandinavian stories like this one have recently infiltrated American pop culture. This has happened most famously through crime fiction, which has become increasingly significant, but also through other genres. There definitely seems to be a distinct style and influence among such stories, but what exactly makes Scandinavian stories Scandinavian?

This fall, Dr. Jakob Holm plans to answer this interesting question in his course “Contemporary Scandinavian Stories.” During the course, students will analyze important Scandinavian texts and films from the past two decades in order to examine how the arts reflect society. Some topics that will be covered include ethical issues, welfare systems, immigration, history, and identity. If you’re looking for a class with assigned readings and viewings that are likely to thrill, be sure to check it out!

This course carries both a Writing flag and a Global Cultures flag.

Tex Czechs: Cowboys & Kolaches

Kolaches

REE 325 (43755)/AMS 321 (30015)

Have you ever wondered about how kolaches got to Texas? A lot of people might think ‘I don’t know, but I’m sure glad they did.’ When it comes down to it, there’s a really good explanation concerning their journey here in the hands of Czech immigrants. Currently, over 180,000 Texans can trace their ancestry back to Czech immigrants. But who were the Czechs and what circumstances led them to leave their homeland? Also, why did they choose Texas?

This fall, Dr. Christian Hilchey will teach, “Texas Czechs: Cowboys & Kolaches” where students will examine the history and culture of Bohemians and Moravians who made Texas their home during the 19th and early 20th century. This course will look at the unique ways in which the Czech diaspora has manifested in Texas and the contributions that the Czechs have made to Texas culture, and will include trips to Czech communities and restaurants. Consider joining Dr. Hilchey in exploring these influential communities in the state that we are lucky to call home!

This course carries both a Writing flag and a Global Cultures flag.

Graffiti/Poster Art: Islamic World

Graffiti

MEL 321 (40715)/ANT 324L (30520)/ISL 373 (40640)/MES 342 (40915)/ R S 358 (42820)/WGS 340 (46070)

Graffiti oftentimes gets a bad rap, but there can be more to it than just spray cans and tagging. Graffiti is employed by various groups within the Islamic world to project their ideas, especially to record the political and social events within urban areas. It gives a voice to the people living and working within the Muslim world, and the anonymous youth population in Muslim societies is increasingly using it to experiment with ways to test their limits of freedom. These groups also use this “art of the wall” to manifest their identities and personal expression about the world around them.

This fall, Professor Faegheh Shirazi will teach, “Graffiti and Poster Art in the Islamic World,” where students will be introduced to the general principles of Islam in order to study and analyze graffiti and poster art as it relates to social and political events that are unfolding. If you’re looking for a unique and interesting course to take this fall, this could be the one for you!

This course carries a Global Cultures flag.