Seminar: The Renaissance:


As social, legal, and political systems scramble to come to terms with the degree to which our world is mediated by artificial intelligence and algorithmic logic, it is increasingly apparent that AI troubles and undermines certain fundamental post-enlightenment categories: subject and object, self and other, individual and collective. This course will trace the history of cultural representations of artificial intelligence in the West to ask how they might help us interrogate such structuring binaries. How might we understand the uncanny, inhuman, relentless instrumentality of artificial intelligence as the absurd limits of late capitalist logic? On the other hand, how might its destabilization of comfortable categories afford opportunities for truly radical reexamination and critique? Covering a wide range of texts from the early modern period to the present day - novels such as Swift's "Gulliver's Travels," Shelley's "Frankenstein," Butler's "Erewhon," films including "Metropolis," "Blade Runner," "Matrix," and philosophical works from Descartes and Leibniz, to Lyotard and DeLanda - this course will trace the ways in which AI, either conceived as machinic automata or as systemic or collective intelligence, has informed our thinking about what it means to be human. The class will prepare students to engage with various emergent strands of contemporary criticism including posthumanism and ecocriticism and to forge an independent research agenda.
Course Attributes: