taught courses

Transhuman Worlding:
How to Abandon the Earth & Change the World

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2018 |     HDCC 106

The year is 2018. Recent wars and human-made ecological disasters have motivated a successful fund-raising campaign to temporarily send a small group of Millennials off-Earth in order to rethink what it means to be human.

In this trans-disciplinary course, we are those Millennials, and we will be researching, developing, and designing the cultural futures of human space exploration and off-planet world-making. We will use hands-on practices, from sketching and visual media, to electronics, code, and installation art, alongside justice-focused design practices to re-conceive what ‘civilization’ is, and can be.

Human space exploration has used near-Earth space to study Earth itself: weather, navigation, and communications amongst other concerns. Yet space travel and the potential ‘colonization’ of other planets and asteroids should also include understanding the social and physical effects of embedded histories of racism and bias, inequitable distributions of wealth, food and water, and colonization of land and people. Therefore, in this course, we will focus on designing and developing the techno-social aspects of a spaceship, a ‘colony’ on Mars, and new ways of governance in order to create a more just world, here on Earth.

Art Networks & Media Ecologies:
Monsters and Ghosts of the Anthropocene

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2018 |     HDCC 106

Welcome to the Age of Humans. The monsters are never who you think they are. The ghosts cross boundaries and confuse time. Monsters and ghosts will play an important role in understanding the extra-ordinary ecologies of multispecies entanglement.  From radioactive fingerprints that span decades, to horseshoe crab blood becoming medical dye, we are now in the age of the Anthropocene.

This recently designated geologic period refers to the ways in which human activities have dramatically impacted and altered every ecosystem on Earth. We will investigate the ways in which species extinction, water scarcity, and ‘natural’ disasters are entangled with histories of racism, sexism, ableism and economic disparities. We will explore how more-than-human ecologies of networked trees, fungi and flora enable us to understand our own networks and systems in order to rethink our human cultural practices.

This team-taught class takes a transdisciplinary approach toward environmental justice with particular emphasis placed on art and design methodologies. These hands-on approaches may include photography, video, clay, basic electronics and code, generative art, sound, and other mixed-media. Focus is placed on the development of creative projects that blur boundaries between physical and digital media and integrate field-based research to expand our cultural imaginations to create different futures/worlds.

Designing the Post Apocalypse

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Fall 2017 |     HDCC 208

From Noah’s Ark to pop culture, the post-apocalypse has been spoken, written, and sung about, has been painted and drawn, and lives within our current structures of feeling. These apocalypse narratives generally focus on impending doom and what happens immediately afterwards, from the world-in-ruins to fighting zombies. What about the real-life apocalypses that have already happened, or are currently happening to particular groups of people? In this course we will first investigate the histories of the apocalypse, followed by interpreting/analyzing current pop culture understandings. Then we will look to those who are already living in a post-apocalyptic world, from lands laid to waste by so-called ‘natural’ disasters, to those apocalyptic presents legislated into being through the limits of care.

You will learn to use design practices to consider different outcomes of various apocalypses, and then create responses across a range of media, from designing (fictional) tools and other resources, to narrative storytelling and game design.

Fleshy Futures: Technologies and the Body

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Fall 2017 |     HDCC 208

Humans use their bodies for labor: for obtaining food and water, for dancing, singing, exercising, moving, sleeping, and stillness. Yet various technologies mediate our experiences with the world around us, from our commercial farming practices and god’s-eye camera surveillance, to fitness trackers and video games. Drawing on the relationships between embodiment and design, this course will investigate how bodies are constructed through the use of technologies in space over time. We will look first to the ‘essentialized’ medical body to understand its physical anatomy and the constructed spatial histories of sex, gender, race, and ability. In doing so, we will investigate the relationships between hearing-listening-sound, seeing-watching-surveillance, and eating-digesting to understand how technologies mediate various bodies through cultural notions of whose bodies count and how. Using design methodologies, we will explore how we come to know our bodies through various modes and technologies. We will then experiment with multiple forms of media and methods to design new interfaces and relationships between bodies and technologies.

Practicum in Design Cultures + Creativity

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2015 |     HDCC 209

In small, seminar-sized groups, students will meet regularly with a project advisor in a research practicum that culminates in a research project or major creative effort. Students work on a project of their design that engages with DCC’s curriculum, challenging students to think outside disciplinary boundaries, take creative risks, and approach problems from multiple perspectives. This project begins in the fall with students creating a proposal of their project similar to any proposal that they would write for a professional research grant they may apply for in the future.

Perspectives on Design Cultures + Creativity

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Fall 2014    |    HDCC 105
team-taught with Krista Caballero

As the introductory class to the Digital Cultures & Creativity Program, this course is designed to familiarize students with a variety of perspectives on digital media, emerging research in the field, and ways in which the DCC program can augment and extend chosen majors. Throughout the semester some of the best scholars in the region (from established practitioners to up-and-coming researchers) are selected to come and share their perspectives. Coupled with lectures, as a class we engage these ideas through hands-on explorations such as collective fan fiction in the UMD library, the creation of a flash mob, and learning code through dance. Particular emphasis is placed on thinking beyond disciplinary boundaries and approaching problems from multiple perspectives via collaborative projects.

Refracting Digital Humanities:
Critical Race, Gender, & Queer Theories
as (Digital Humanities) Methods

Trained humanities faculty in digital social justice//intersectionality and emerging media for Humanities Intensive Learning and Training (HILT)
Summer 2014    | HILT

Archived course pages:
course overviewschedule  |  software list  |  reading list  |  about HILT

The methods and tools used and produced by Digital Humanists function as organizing principles that frame how race, gender, sexuality, and ability are embodied and understood within and through projects, code-bases, and communities of practice. The very ‘making’ of tools and projects is an engagement with power and control. Through a critical theoretical exploration of the values in the design and use of these tools and methods, we begin to understand that these methods and practices are structures which are themselves marginalizing, tokenizing, and reductionist.

By pairing hands-on learning/making with Critical Race Theory, Queer, and Gender Theories, we will interrogate the structures of the tools themselves while creating our own collaborative practices and methods for ‘doing’ (refracting) DH differently. To accomplish this, each day will focus on one tool or method. Mornings will be a combination of reading-based discussion and experimental structural/tools-based exercises, while afternoon sessions will focus on pulling it all together in collaborative analytical projects.

While no prior technical experience is necessary, you will be experimenting with, and creating your own theoretical practice that incorporates key themes in critical race, gender and queer theories with digital humanities methods and tools. Therefore, the key requirement for this course is curiosity and a willingness to explore new ideas in order to fully engage with the materials. Students are also encouraged to bring their own research questions to explore through these theories and practices.

Performing the Virtual: Intro to Digital Cultures & Creativity II

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2013    |    HDCC 106
team-taught with Krista Caballero, Jason Farman, Leah Flake

In a digital culture where we are increasingly communicating through asynchronous forms, what is the value of live events? Does technology enhance or disrupt the practices of face-to-face gatherings? Why are we drawn to virtual experiences? Answers to these questions require us to examine the major themes, issues, and questions that arise between the relationship of the “virtual” and the “real.” This course will study the idea of virtuality by exploring the long history of the word’s usage, from its Latin roots to later uses in computing culture. We will trace the development of “the virtual” beginning in the 1400s (when it was understood as external forces and powers) through the 1600s (when religious communities used the word to stand in for a link between the physical world and the metaphysical world of the afterlife). Looking at our contemporary practices through this historical lens, we will see that these practices of virtuality are founded on an experience of layered reality.

This team-taught course is heavily dependent on an interdisciplinary approach, coupling hands-on experimentation with a curriculum designed to focus awareness on the historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts in which digital creativity happens. Therefore, the questions and ideas raised above will be explored in tandem with creating a large-scale digital production. As a class, you will collaborate from inception to production to develop one vital component of this larger production. The outcome might range from live performance to game design but will focus on the major themes of the course.

Digital Queers:
Public Space, Art + Performance in the Digital Age

LGBT Studies
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2012    |    LGBT 298D

Digital Queers is first and foremost about the creative exploration and practice of queer theory in everyday digital life. You will be introduced to a broad but considered range of topics, including queer theory, public space, digital media, art, and (net) activism. We will be exploring what it means to have a digital body, to be digitally queer, through multiple methodologies and approaches, from reading and discussion, to making art and performance pieces, such as games, live mapping, time-based art (video, sound, installation) and performance.

Most importantly, you will be experimenting with, and creating your own theoretical practice that incorporates key themes in queer theory, the production of space, and performance/performativity with your own activist digital art. Therefore, the key requirement for this course is curiosity and a willingness to explore new ideas in order to fully engage in this course. A commitment to critical thinking, and active engagement with the material to re-think assumptions and theories is also necessary.

Note: no prior ‘technical’ knowledge is needed in this course. Basic skills will be obtained through in-class workshops and out-of-class projects.

Intro to Digital Cultures & Creativity II

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2012    |    HDCC 106
Team taught with Krista Caballero, Evan Golub, Leah Flake

Intro to Digital Cultures & Creativity I

Honors College, Design Cultures + Creativity
University of Maryland, College Park
Fall 2011    |    HDCC 105
Team taught with Krista Caballero, Evan Golub, Leah Flake

This required introduction to the Digital Cultures and Creativity program will examine the history of creative digital expression from the invention of computers in the mid-20th century through the “Web 2.0” landscape of today (and beyond). This is part one of a two-course sequence that will be completed by all DCC students during their first year. You will learn to use new media technologies, explore the cultural context in which they were first imagined, and explore examples of creative works that exploit the unique opportunities the digital medium offers. Historical and theoretical insights will be applied by actively considering issues of ethics, aesthetics, and community as they are manifest in the contemporary globalized cultures of the Web, including popular social networking sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter, virtual worlds such as Second Life, computer games, and online reference tools such as Wikipedia. This will be coupled with a practical introduction – also to be continued in the second semester – to developing new tools and applications for platforms such as PCs or phones or tablet computers. This team-taught course is therefore aggressively interdisciplinary, coupling hands-on experimentation with a curriculum designed to focus awareness on the historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts in which digital creativity happens.

Feminist Social Media Activisms

Department of Women’s Studies
University of Maryland, College Park
Spring 2011    |    WMST 488A
Team taught with Katie King

Social media as play, play as learning, learning as movement, movement as social change, social change in social media, social media as play, play as learning, learning as movement … it’s time to join this circle of scholarship and practice with feminist visions in hand and heart!

Commerce and knowledge work today backdrop so-called transmedia stories, those told across technology platforms, as well as the making, sharing and patterning of knowledges across economic and social sectors, making up what some call the transdisciplinary. In this class we will be studying this context as well as the practices of social media and the possibilities it offers for feminist activisms, learning and play. Where do you come in? Where do I come in? This women’s studies senior seminar is going to be your chance to share scholarship and practice with two feminist thinkers about media possibilities today and how feminists might move and shape them.

Women and the Media

Cross-listed Departments of Film & Media and Women and Gender Studies
Spring 2009    Media / WGS 384
Hunter College

The course explores the representation of women across television, film, magazines and advertising, looking at how media creates and challenges stereotypes, and creates ideas of difference, including exclusionary representations of minority and queer women. In addition to lecture, show screenings, and discussions, this course will introduce a survey of theoretical texts which will form the foundation for critical analysis of women in the media, not only through representation, but as active producers and consumers of media.

Television & Society

Visual and Performing Arts, Theater and Television Department
Fall 2008    |    21&62:965:253
Rutgers, Newark

Television occupies a central role in American culture. How does television shape our perceptions and beliefs?  What effect does television have on our behavior as individuals and in the public sphere?  Do mass consumed narratives have a significant impact on forming our cultural values?

This course will examine the relationship between television and American culture from its inception to its current proliferation on mobile phones, iPods and broadband.  We will examine how television positions its viewers and how it constructs our ideas about our own identity and that of others.  An analysis of television genres and their relationship to cultural values will also play an important roles.  A variety of critical perspectives will be explored from cultural theory and the social sciences.

Web Programming

Department of Film & Media
Fall 2008        |    MEDP 341
Hunter College

This course explores the concepts and principles behind dynamic content on the web. It is a hands-on introduction to server-side web programming, using PHP and mySQL; through which students will learn the framework for storing, managing and retrieving data.  Throughout the class we will focus on creating cohesive websites and applications with effective information architecture, user interface design and useability.  The goal is to enable students to create work related to their long-term goals and interests. Along with weekly instruction in class, students will leave with a larger understanding to research, test and develop new ideas.

Introduction to Digital Media

Department of Film and Media
Spring 2005, Fall 2004, Spring 2004 |    Media 161
Hunter College

This course is a hands-on introduction to the tools, techniques and concepts behind the production of digital media, including basic digital imaging, sound production and animation.

The curriculum in this class emphasizes an integrated and creative approach to digital media production, including concepts in, and detailed instruction and practice of, the technical aspects of production. It is designed to give students a firm grounding in the practical and conceptual tools and techniques necessary in advanced digital media courses and will include the use of digital cameras and scanning, bitmap and vector-based graphics, output for both screen and print, digital audio recording and editing, use of the internet for communication, and animation. The course will also include discussion of contemporary issues related to digital media, issues such as copyright, privacy, identity, and use.