Summer 2018 - IAT 885 G100

Special Topics V (3)

Digital Disparities:New Media in the Anthropoc

Class Number: 6456

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 10:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    SUR 2710, Surrey



Digital Disparities: New Media in the Anthropocene

In this graduate seminar, students will explore a series of artworks, films, sounds and texts that are defining critical pathways for thinking about the intersections of the Anthropocene and new media, and how these intersections are producing economic, political, social and environmental disparities. In 2000 scientists Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Strommer popularized the term "Anthropocene" to define our current geological epoch in which humans are considered to be the main drivers behind global geological and environmental change in our planet. Since then, critiques to the anthropocentrism of the term, have made visible the political implications of the term. In this seminar, students will be asked to focus on how new media intersects with the "Anthropocene" to produce disparities and maybe possibilities. As Howe and Pandian propose perhaps what we need is a "Betacene: a time to test, engage, and experiment with new ways of being in the world and with the world." (Pandian and Howe 2016).

More specifically, students in this seminar will be asked to think about: What are the relationships between geopolitics, conflict and climate change? How are notions of race, gender, and class embedded in and enacted by algorithms? How are social, economic, cultural, environmental and political disparities reproduced in cyberspace? What are some of the ethical questions faced by designers and programmers in the Anthropocene? And, how are new media artists and activists responding to these questions?

Throughout the course, students will be required to write individual weekly summaries of readings and lead weekly discussions in teams. The weekly reading discussions will take the form of oral presentations in which students will demonstrate a deep engagement with the weekly theme and lead the seminar discussion.

The final project will consist of a review essay of an artwork or a new media exhibition using one or more of the texts discussed in the seminar as a lens of analysis.


The student will be able to:

  • Identify key theoretical and historical approaches to New Media and the Anthropocene.
  • Apply these key approaches in the description and analysis of New Media and the Anthropocene works in their own field of research.
  • Prepare, guide and participate substantively in discussions across the range of texts included in the course readings.
  • Deliver short oral and written presentations summarizing how New Media and the Anthropocene relate to their specific field of research. 
  • Engage in scholarly writing more effectively.


  • Seminar Discussion & Presentation 25%
  • Weekly Reading Summaries 25%
  • Final Project 40%
  • Attendance and Participation 10%


Assignment and Evaluation*
*  This is a draft of assignment and grade distribution; final assignments, grade distribution and due dates will be confirmed during the first week of class.

A. Seminar discussion and presentation - 25%

Each week a student (or group of students) will be responsible for leading the seminar. 

B. Weekly Reading Summaries - 25%
At the beginning of each seminar, all students will submit a blog post summary of the readings assigned for that week. 

C. Final Project - 40%
1.     Proposal Presentations (10%)
2.     Peer Reviews (10%)
3.     Final Essay (20%)

D. General Attendance and Participation – (10%) 
In a discussion based graduate seminar like this one, attendance and participation in class discussions, gallery visits, and workshops are of crucial importance. If you face any difficulties attending class, please be pro-active and speak to me in advance to make other arrangements for your participation. If you miss more than one class, you will jeopardize your standing in the seminar.


Weekly readings will be available online via SFU library databases or placed on reserve at SFU Surrey Library.

Readings may include texts by Elizabeth Povinelli, Isabelle Stengers, Jennifer Gabrys, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook, among others.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.