- Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
- Thur., 9/28 (6:00 pm-8:00 pm)
UNC Charlotte Center City
- IFest: International Festival (this is quite a good time)
Sat., 10/14 (all day)
Barnhardt Student Activity Center
Plan for the Day
We’ve got a few things to do today, so below is a list:
- Chelsy will lead class discussion on Oudshoorn
- Barker & Jane, Ch. 6
- Prose Revision Strategies (time permitting)
- Technology and You Essay workshop–must have something to exchange
Nelly Oudshoorn’s “The Decline of the One-Size-Fits All Paradigm”
Oudshoorn is talking about the social construction of technology and science, so she’s a good crossover between the rhetoric of technology and the rhetoric of science subfields within Science and Technology Studies.
- Gynecology developed after a medical “shift in focus from similarities to differences” (p. 326)
- Women seen as “complementary opposites,” which “was meant to keep women out of competition with men, designing separate spheres for men and women” (p. 326)
- Female body as “the medical object par excellence” (p. 327)
- 19th Century understanding of the essence of women: uterus, ovaries, gynaecology (or gynecology)–p. 327
- Because women were responsible for birth, they’re responsible for birth control (p. 328-29)
- Equation, very positivist, 8133 menstrual cycles = 635 woman years (p. 329)
- Technology doesn’t fail; women do (p. 331)
[Or, more broadly, users do…or do they? Why do they?]
- Social Constructivist view of Technology “every technology contains a configured user” (p. 332)
- Interesting cultural differences between the West and the “two-thirds world” (p. 333)
- “Men have a much longer fertile life than woman (Spilman et al. 1976: 2, 3)–p. 335
- “The cafeteria discourse acknowledges the diversity of users, whereas the one-size-fits-all discourse emphasizes the universality of women and their bodies, a discourse which largely erased diversities” (336)
- Erosion of subject-object dichotmies. Men are no longer the only authorities (the subjects) that get to study the female object (p. 336)
- Reproductive choice (industrialized countries) vs. population control (developing world)–p. 337
Questions for this article:
- What are the possible social consequences that may result from the ideological belief that women are complementary opposites to men?
- Where does the male as the standard human body type come from?
- What are the consequences of men determining the medical “truth” of women’s bodies?
- What are the consequences of viewing reproduction as mainly a woman’s concern?
- For that matter, what are the consequences of viewing sexual intercourse as mainly a reproductive activity?
We will return to this discussion–the science of women’s bodies being determined by men–throughout the semester. Please be familiar with the arguments.
Feminism is the political and social philosophy based on principles of equality for all peoples and specifically promotes ideas of gender equality. But what are connotations of feminism?
If you want another perspective, read over this introduction of a webpage from a previous class.
Barker & Jane Ch. 6: Enter Postmodernism
Obviously, the topic of postmodernism could be an entire semester in and of itself. Even though Barker and Jane are giving an overview, they do provide a really thorough overview. It’s impressive to be able to explain the key aspects of postmodernism, starting with a brief look at modernism, and provide background on the conflicts and debates surrounding the time period, condition, project, etc.
That being said, I don’t think Fredric Jameson gets enough attention, but this page from a previous semester will help fix that. We’ll start with Modernism, and I have a couple quotations to help us:
- What is called Western or modern civilization by way of contrast with the civilization of the Orient or medieval times is at bottom a civilization that rests upon machinery and science as distinguished from one founded on agricultural or handicraft commerce. It is in reality a technological civilization….If the records of patent offices, the statistics of
production, and the reports of laboratories furnish evidence worthy of credence, technological civilization, instead of showing signs of contraction, threatens to overcome and transform the whole globe. (Beard 1928/1999, p. 97)
- The great nineteenth-century positivists…imagined that the statements of science were going to replace opinions and beliefs about all things….Our century has been the graveyard of positivist ideas of progress. (Alain Badiou 2005, p. 84)
Modernity, Modernism, Modernist
- p. 223: “Enlightenment thought is marked by its belief that Reason can demystify and illuminate the world over and against religion, myth and superstition.”
- p. 214: “Modernity is a historical period following the Middle Ages.”
- p. 215: “There was a shift from domestic production for immediate use to mass consumer goods production for exchange.”
- “The workshop and factory were utilized as a means of exerting discipline and the creation of new work habits.”
- From Giddens: “‘who says modernity says not just organizations, but organization–the regularized control of social relations across indefinite time-space distances’ (1990: 91).”
- “Capitalism is restless in its search for new markets, new raw materials, new sources of profit and capital accumulation. It is inherently globalizing” (italics mine).
- p. 216: “the development of money and professional knowledge allows social relations to be stretched (or distanciated) across time and space.
- “reflexivity refers to the constant revision of social activity in the light of new knowledge.”
- “Nations are not just political formations. They are also systems of cultural representation by which national identity is continually reproduced through discursive action. National identity is a form of imaginative identification with the nation-state.”
- National identity solidarity…
- pp. 216-217: “industrialism, capitalism, surveillance, and the nation-state….’Modernism’ refers to the human cultural forms bound up with this modernization.”
- p. 216: Modernists have typically displayed an optimistic faith in the power of science, rationality and industry to transform our world for the better….the perpetual revision of knowledge.”
- From Giddens: “All knowledge is formed as a hypothesis that is open to revision.”
- See quotations from Beard and Badiou above.
- Why are these statements important for a class on the Rhetoric of Technology?
- p. 219: “Simmel (1978) argued that, while, on the one hand, individual liberty increased, people have also been obliged to submit to a rigorous discipline and urban anonymity.”
- “rational decision-making procedures….[are] based on calculability, rules, and expert knowledge.”
- “modernism as a ‘structure of feeling’ involves pace, change, ambiguity, risk, doubt and the chronic revision of knowledge.” (and Giddens on p. 225)
- The above could be considered the modernist condition.
- Voltaire’s: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
- p. 220: “Modernism rejects the idea that it is possible to represent the ‘real’ in any straightforward manner.”
- However, “modernist literature…[attempts] to capture the ‘deep reality’ of the world.”
- “Modernism accepts the meaningfulness of a reality that lies beneath or beyond appearance.”
- p. 223: “Whatever the differences between Lukacs, Adorno, Brecht, Godard, Joyce and Sergei Eisenstein, they do share the modern conception that the world is knowable and that true knowledge of it is possible.”
- But they might not agree that true knowledge is probable…
- pp. 223-224: Taylorism (see last week)
- p. 225: “The confidence of modern science allows it to hail itself as ‘progress’ symbolized by medicine, despite threats such as nuclear annihilation.”
- “The very impulse to control nature through science and rationality is…an impulse to control and dominate human beings.”
But no discussion of modernism is complete (if it ever could be…how about generalized well enough) without a discussion of (at least one) historical avant-garde. Let’s go back to the Futurists because it has much to offer discussions on the Rhetoric of Technology.
Postmodernity, Postmodernism, Postmodernist
- p. 226: “reason and truth are ‘nothing more that the expediency of a certain race and species–their utility alone is their truth’ (Nietzsche, 1967: $515).”
- p. 226: Foucault tells us “Different historical eras are marked by different epistemes, or configurations of knowledge, that shape the social practices and social order of particular historical periods.”
- p. 228: Foucault believes “Knowledge is not metaphysical, transcendental or universal. Rather, it is specific to particular times and spaces.”
- p. 229: “[Foucault] rejects any notion of telos or the inevitable direction of human history.”
- p. 229: “Lyotard argues that truth and meaning are constituted by their place in specific local language games and cannot be universal in character.”
- “For Lyotard, modern knowledge rests on it appeals to metanarratives, that is, grand historical stories which claim universal validity.
- What are the appeals made to metanarratives of technology?
- More on Lyotard
- p. 230: From Rorty we learn “The notion of truth refers at best to a degree of social agreement within a particular tradition.”
- “Kenneth Gergen (1994) agrees that no epistemological position is able to give universal grounding for its own truth claims.”
- p. 231: Rorty claims “we are always positioned within acculturalized knowledge, so that the true and the good are what we believe….Such judgements can only be made by reference to our values and not to a transcendental truth.”
- Past discussion on irony (9/05).
- p. 232: Giddens–“relativity, uncertainty, doubt and risk are core characteristics of late of high modernity.”
- pp. 233-234: Habermas and the public sphere.
- pp. 234-235: being reflexive, “someone whose mind watches itself” (Camus)
- p. 235: “postmodern culture invites the ‘other’ of modernity, those voices that had been suppressed by the modern drive to extinguish difference, to find ways to speak.”
- p. 236: Postmodern culture is marked by the blurring and collapse of the traditional boundaries between culture and art, high and low culture, commerce and art, culture and commerce.
- If something is mass produced, is it art?
- The prosumer…remixes, mashups, and cut & paste.
- p. 237: “Postmodern culture is marked by a self-conscious intertextuality, that is, the citation of one text within another.”
- What’s the difference between remix and homage?
- p. 238: “Identity projects and the aestheticization of daily life are linked together within consumer culture through the creation of lifestyles centered on the consumption of aesthetic objects and signs.”
- How do we construct identities? What are markers of ‘hipster’ identity (aka the faux avant-garde)?
- p. 239: The Sopranos
- p. 241: “Culture jams seek to resist consumerism by refiguring logos, fashion statements and product images in order to raise concerns about consumption, environmental damage, and inequitable social practices.”
- Is it possible to subvert the power of multinational corporations through culture jamming?
- p. 243: Depthless culture and “the consumption of signs.”
- p. 243: Baudrillard on hyperreality–more real than real.
- Jean Baudrillard is a major contemporary philosopher (although he died in 2007). His theories would fall under a postmodernist classification. Although he has capitalist critiques, his later work focused on media and culture more broadly. In “Simulacra and Simulations,” Marshall McLuhan’s ideas of mass communications is in the background. Baudrillard argues that forms of communication mediate social relations (on a broad societal plane).
- p. 244: From Jameson–“postmodernism is the expressive of a world system of multinational or late capitalism. It represents the cultural style of late capitalism operating in a new global space.”
- p. 246: In contrast to Jameson, “Chambers (1987, 1990) argues that rather than being the core of a ‘depthless culture,’ commodity-signs are the raw material by which active and meaning-oriented consumers construct multiple identities.”
- So has postmodernism ushered in a new form of democracy?
I’ll be up front with my position on the attempt to name the next thing. I find such attempts to be the height of hipsterism, trying to be first to establish a neologism. I think postmodernism provides us questions to ask about culture that we still can ask. We still need to critique the political situations that convince us to be consumers rather than citizens. In fact, I think there’s a good debate to be had whether or not modernism is over (read as no longer able to provide useful questions to ask about culture). Maybe modernism and postmodernism are able to exist together? Maybe we need to revise the assumed dates for modernity and postmodernity?
What would it take to end the post-postmodernism name game? The answer is quite simple. Think about Thomas Kuhn and paradigm shifts.
We’ll be reading Thomas Kuhn’s “The Route to Normal Science” and James Fallows’s “The American Army and the M-16 Rifle” for next class. Seth will lead class discussion on Kuhn, and Alli will do Fallows.
Of course, you’ll also have presents for me!
Badiou, A. (2005). Metapolitics. London: Verso-New Left Books.
Beard, C. A. (1999). The inevitability of the machine. In R. Rhodes (Ed.), Visions of technology: A century of vital debate about machines, systems and the human world (p. 97). New York: Touchstone. (Original work published in 1928).