Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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Look Who's Computing

Level 6 (15 credits)

This module focuses on critical approaches to digital subjectivity to think about how human and non-human subjects have been articulated in the digital imaginary of everyday life since the first digital computers were built in the 1940s. How do we understand ourselves as digital subjects? How does the digital understand "us"? In this module we will turn to Histories of Computing, Software Studies, Cyber-Feminist and Marxist critique, Ethnographic and Anthropological studies of online culture and computer use, and Media studies and New Media Studies, to help us answer these questions. This module will be an opportunity to work with this material, as well as literary, visual and popular culture, to trace connections between the first computers (not the machines, but rather the name given to the women who operated the first electronic digital computing machines) and our own "user" subjectivity today.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Primary texts which you may wish to read/view prior to the module:

  • Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race (William Morrow 2016)
  • Eugene Lim, Dear Cyborgs (2017)
  • Conceiving Ada, dir. Lynn Hersman Leeson (1999)*
  • The Imitation Game, dir. Morten Tyldum (2005)*
  • The Last Angel of History dir. John Akomfrah (1996)*
  • Black Panther, dir. Ryan Coogler (2018)*
  • Mr Robot season one (2015)*

* Films and TV shows will be available to borrow as DVDs from the QMUL library. Screenings on campus will be arranged throughout the module, room and timetable availability permitting.

Primary texts costing approx. £40 if purchased new. Note that these costs can be often be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library. No additional costs are anticipated for this module. 

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 1

1. Seminar Presentation (5-7 minutes), 25%
2. Essay (3,000 words), 75%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Zara Dinnen