Lecture 11: What is technology? What is Sound?

*Noting that Lecture 10 was cancelled

Technology = scientific knowledge + practical purposes 

  • Machinery & devices (computers, cell phones, iPad, toilet paper)
  • Not reserved for nuts & bolts only–> any innovation can be technology
  • Science & innovation create things using development process to solve common everyday problems in the most practical (simplest) way possible
  • Also for interrelation w/ life, society & environment
  • Mutually Constitutive relationship (technology shapes us, we shape technology)

Writing as Technology 

  • restructuring of thought
  • changes what it means to be human from shift of oral culture to analytic thought that is circular rather than linear

The Shift to Literacy 

  • Writing as a second-order function (develops – is taught)

Sound: a particular auditory impression, tone 

  • Can operate as a truth claim–> acknowledgement of “how things are” in the world
  • helps us make sense of the world & locate ourselves
  • Context- dependent
  • Is not silent work, is participatory work is art-political

Lecture 9: What is Art?

Art: Expression of human creative skill & imagination –> for beauty or emotional power –>expresses important ideas/ feelings

History of Human Art 

  • Middle & Upper Palaeolithic Era: cave paintings, figurines, musical instruments
  • Middle Paleolithic : “grave goods”
  • Upper Palaeolithic: Ritual burials & anthropomorphic imagery (cave paintings)
  • Hand Stencils very popular worldwide (3/4 of which are left by women)

Theories of Art 

  • Art= imitation (of nature, human life & action)
  • Plato= skilled craft
  • Art as a lie (re-interpretation)
  • Expression- symbolic expression to add feeling & emphasis
  • Beauty & Form- emulate God’s work (Aquinas)
  • Ritual- ordinary objects now have meaning (transformed) in relation to a specially designated space = symbolic significance
  • Social Institution-for appreciation –> done on behalf of social institution
  • Semiotics: all art is symbolic b/c implies different status, pushes traditional definitions

Medium matters for sheer variety 

Michael’s “Me, Myself, Good” – animal put a handprint similar to what human’s have been doing for centuries


Lecture 8: What is Gender ?

Sex- On the basis of reproductive functions (presence or absence thereof)

  • State of being male/female (but not always binary b/c intersex, genitally ambiguous)
  • Biological


  • Social, cultural, behavioural, psychological
  • Masculinity (e.g. strength) & femininity (e.g. soft) : culturally specific

Margaret Mead :Sex & Temperament in 3 Primitive Societies (1935) 

  • Arapesh: men & women displayed similar attitudes & actions (esp. in feminine traits)
  • Mundugumor Society: Males & females similar (esp. in masculine traits)
  • Tchambuli Society: Gender expectations were the opposite of what we expect in modern societies (women dominant & men submissive)

Take Away: No necessary connection b/w biological sec & gendered behaviour/ norms

  • Gender is culturally constructed (we learn it from normative expectations)
  • Therefore, ppl. also have the choice to reject it just as much as they learn

Judith Butler: “Your Behaviour Creates Your Gender.” 

  • Gender is performed
  • If gender is performed, does that mean it doesn’t exist in the first place and that people are only “acting” to fulfill their role
  • Those that deviate from stereotypes are heavily discriminated (often by violent & traumatizing means) –> creates problem in situations like bathrooms

“The Sissy Boy Experiment.” 

  • The trade off between allowing people to be openly gay or having them be so unhappy that they commit suicide
  • Gender identification should not be something that society could “solve” with therapy
  • People should be free to act how they wish in terms of their masculinity and femininity

Gender Inequality 

  • Right to vote
  • Equal wages
  • Violence

*Gender stereotypes are ultimately destructive & problematic for both men & Women

Lecture 7: What is text?

Text ‘To weave’- involves linguistic structures

  • Written/ printed work (not limited to physical form —> content important as well”
  • “Medium is the message” – McLuhan

Rosetta Stone- key to other texts, used to translate different languages

Cave Painting- way of communicating using symbology

  • “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”
  • Grammatically correct (but with no meaning/ substance)
  • Text is not only grammar
  • Text must portray message

Contrast to “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Has random linguistic structure, but with meaning

‘Text’- not restrained to a single medium (extends across versions of literacy incld. but not limited to novels, scrolls, letter etc.)

Text vs Work

  • Work is a whole product (commutative with a deliberate structure) —> Changes w/ culture
  • Text is within the language (centred around a certain thinking pattern/ message)
  • Capital ’T’ text= all texts written throughout time
  • Doesn’t discriminate against language or form/ style necessarily

“The Author is Dead” 

  • Argues against the intentions & biography of author as important interpretation
  • Author is modern figure & product of middle Ages & English empiricism
  • Writer sought for the e explanation of the text giving it a single, definitive meaning

“Birth of the Reader” 

  • Author & text unrelated so that reader interprets and relays
  • You need to write to be able to understand readings on a different, multidimensional level

Electronic Literature 

  • Written texts on a different medium
  • Still has meaning & tries to portray a message
  • Style is different, but value of text is still equal to printed
  • Meaning is something derived from interaction between reader & text (across time periods)
  • Approach in the context that it is written not necessarily your one opinion/ interpretation of it

Critical Reading 

  • Subjective response to text considering content & feeling associated with

Lecture 5: What is Discourse?

Discourse- Written or spoken communication or debate; a formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing; a connected series of utterances; a text or conversation

Language- exchange of signs, symbols & symbolic meanings

Sign- an object, quality or event whose presence or occurence indicates the probable presence or occurance of something else

Symbol- a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a meterial object representing something abstract

Semiotics/Semiology- the study of signs and symbols & their use or interpretation (founded by C. Peirce & F. Saussure)

  • Signified- object or concept
  • Signifier- sign or symbol created to represent that object
  • Connections are arbitraty & contextually dependent

Arbitrary- based on random choice rather than any reason or system

De Saussure: signs only make sense as part of a generalized & abstract system (only have meaning in relation to other signs)

  • meaning dependent on social, historical & cultural contexts
  • Meaning derived from the larger sign-system itself

Implication 1: We can only think w/i terms of the sign system  (b/c we create meaning through representation)

  • Visual Culture- meanins are “manufactured” to represent abstract
  • Meaning never stable nor universal

Implication 2: There is no “transcendental signifier”

  • Transcendental signifier: A singular, quintessential (representing the most perfect or typical of a class) signifier that gives meaning to all signs
  • Meaning dependent on understanding one sign in relation to all the other signs w/i the relevant system
  • Breaks off into: Like & Kind; Presence & Absence
  • Meaning through Ansence: Sign-sets- signifiers of related, but not identical signified objects

Implication #3: All sign systems are imbued w/ ideologies & therefore carry issues of power & representation

  • Meaning through exclusion reinforces binary organizations of people/ ideas (e.g. women & men bathroom)

Lecture 4: What is Ideology?

System of ideas & ideals- especially one which forms the basis of economic/ political theory & policy: set of beliefs characteristic of a social group/ individual

  • Sets of ideas which give some account of the social world
  • Related to the ways in whic power is distributed socially
  • Insider: seem obviously true, natural & universally applicable
  • Outsider: seem obviously arbitrary, idiosyncratic & false

Hegemony- leadership/ dominance, especially by one state or social group over others

  • Preponderant: having superior weight, force or influence
  • Considered dominant: they influence cultural norms

Cultural Hegemony-Antonio Gramsci- theory that the ruling class of a given society superimposes its values on the lower calsses, therefore persuading those lower classes to accept the status quo, despideologyite this being against their better inetersts

  • How a dominant culture maintains its dominant position (Persuasive & coercive)
  • Facilitated by “Culture Industry” -assosciated identity w/ material goods (implies something constructed/ manufactured)
    • Promotes acceptance & reproduction of norms of a given society
    • Conformity has replaced consciousness (Adorno)

How something is represented matters b/c = power

Lecture 3: What is History?

“Common Sense”
– must be rethinked & evaluated b/c very subjective

History– record of events that took place in the past

  • Counter: “History is a set of lies agreed upon by the victors” b/c:
  • Always Constructed// compiled by who and for what reasons
  • Context- shapes how history is told & whose history is told (dependent on social transmission & construction of knowledge)
  • Objectivity (lack of prejudice)  – nearly impossible b/c can never really “know”

Histography- Writing of history

  • Critical Examination : Must ask who wrote, Unknown.pngwhere and for what audience
  • Selection: Knowing which sources are unbiased
  • Construct a Narrative: puting personals into writing

History- written for needs, outlooks and agendas of the present

  • Age of ‘Discovery” meant license to invade,search out, capture, vanqish and subdue ppl. in new lands

Colonialism- Policy/ practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers & exploitating it economically

  • Patterns of present give insight to effects of the past

Genocide =literal Death – deliberate killing of a large group of people, esp. those of particular nation/ ethnic group

Ethnocide = culture Death- the deliberate & systematic destruction of the culture of an ethnic group (loss of languages, customs, beliefs & practices)

Residential Schools (1883-1998)

  • Compulsory for all indigenous children
  • Removal of children from families
  • outlawing the speaking of native languages
  • Forced Sterilization
  • Many cases of physical/ sexual abuse

Emerging Issue: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Lecture 2: What is Knowledge?

Knowledge-is-PowerEpistomology– Theory of knowledge, specially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion” (Oxford ED )

  • Questions everything about knowledge (W5H)
  • Looks at social biases that influence our view of Epist.
  • Consequences of knowing and of ignorance

Universities Role: Create, Store, Transmit, Examin & Critique knowledge

  • Requires peer-review, re-evaluation & the construction & deconstruction of knowledge
  • Requires Sharing (knowledge & experience)

Critical Thinking: helps become aware of potential limits of knowledge & universalzed truth claims (points out limiting biases)

Imagination: knowing why others may see things differently than us

Knowledge- information processed through a thinking human mind // Obtained through:

1) Somatically-sensory experience

2) Symbolically-Mediated through someone or something (ppl. & edia)

What we know is contextual although we believe some things are common sense, it may be necessary to unlearn to begin critical engagement w/ knowledge