Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2014

  • The Craft of Writing: Technologies of Time: the Mediation of History, Memory, and Narrative

    R1B - 001 | CCN: 31603

    Justin Vaccaro

    4 Units

    Can we know time without the help of a medium?
    This is the second part of the Reading and Composition requirement. We will continue to work on writing analytical, argumentative papers but with an added emphasis on research. Both doing research – from generating research topics to locating and evaluating sources – and writing research papers which will integrate and correctly cite sources in support your own original and provocative claims. Our subject for this spring is the mediation of time. We rely on a variety of technologies and techniques to understand our world and ourselves as existing in time. To plan for the future or learn from the past, from hunting game in the pre-historic era to modeling the global climate of the coming century, we continually, incessantly mediate time. Photos, stories, hash marks, clocks, records, artifacts, scars, archives, memories, predictions, extrapolations, and physical laws are some but not all of the ways we have of knowing and mastering time. This course examines various technologies of time and how they affect how and what we know about our past, present, and future.
    We begin with the most basic of media, the world and the traces left on it. We will then jump to the simplest of narratives, cause and effect. We then consider the alphabet, the scroll, chronologies, the epoch making influence of the clock and the radical reorientation brought on by photographs and phonographs. Throughout we will be putting these older temporal devices in dialogue with the most important time-based media of the past 150 years – film, television, and the computer. We will ask not only how have we mediated time but also if time can only be known through mediation.
    Possible readings:
    Wartime and The Great War and Modern Memory By Paul Fussel, From Hitler to Heimat: the Return of History as Film by Anton Kaes, Digital Memory by Wolfgang Ernst, History and Narrative by Paul Ricoeur, “Behavior, Purpose, and Teleology,” Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener, and Julian Bigelow. Emergence of Cinematic Time by Mary Ann Doane, The Audible Past by Jonathan Sterne, Metahistory by Hayden White, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” by Karl Marx, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture by Lisa Gitelman.
    Possible Films:
    Documentaries by Adam Curtis (All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011), The Trap (2007), The Power of Nightmares (2004)), Germany in Autumn (Kluge, et al., 1978), La Commune (Paris, 1871)(Watkins, 2000), Moon (Jones, 2009), Night and Fog (Resnais, 1955), Stone Tape (Sasdy and Kneale, 1972), Sans Soleil (Marker, 1983),