Gender Hack

The gender hack is a critical and creative project that attempts to transform, undo, subvert, or challenge some conventional aspect of gender and technology. The project can take many forms. It might be entirely digital (for example, a remixed video). It might be totally analog (for example, refashioning a gendered object into a gender-neutral object). It might be a combination of the two (for example, a shirt with embedded circuits, a Barbie doll transmogrified into a cyborg). Clothes and toys are especially rich artifacts to work on. One reason for this is that clothes and toys often function as boundary objects, operating simultaneously in multiple contexts and imbued with both personal and shared meaning.

As you design your project, consider the multiple and sometimes contradictory meanings of the word “hack.” Hack can mean taking something that is broken and making it work again. Or hack can mean taking something that is working and making it work differently. In this context, hack might refer to a reworking of some existing social or technological trope—a kind of oppositional reading of some artifact related to gender. Or hack might refer to gender itself—as in hacking/dismantling/reassembling the very idea of “gender.” And of course, keep in mind that “hack” itself is a very gendered term.

The hack will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Unexpectedness (the extent to which the project defies expectations or produces surprising results or reactions)
  • Craft (the degree of mastery of the mode of composition or representation)
  • Intention (the sense of intentionality and deliberateness of the work)
  • Theme (the level of engagement with ideas from this class and with the broader cultural conversation about gender and technology)
  • Argument (the degree to which your project makes a hypothesis or claim about the world, both implicitly and explicitly—especially in the written critical analysis)

Whatever form your gender hack takes, it will be accompanied by a written critical analysis, about 1,200-1,500 words. The gender hack and analysis is worth 20% of the final grade. It is due Thursday, March 12.


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