Cultural Artifact Analysis and Presentation

Three of our goals for DIG 340 are the following:

  • Critique representations of women and technology using historical and social evidence
  • Analyze gendered associations of various forms of technologies
  • Evaluate assumptions about disability, race, class, gender, sexual orientation and identification embedded in social media platforms and algorithms

To this end, you will offer up an analysis of a cultural artifact that somehow intersects with the theories, histories, and examples we cover in class.A good way to think about this project is: it’s your chance to be a killjoy, pointing out problems that one’s natural inclinations might be willing to forgive in the name of entertainment or pleasure. To give yourself some traction on questions to ask of the artifact, I strongly encourage you to read Michael Sacasas’s “Do Artifacts Have Ethics,” where Sacasas poses 41 (!) questions we ought to ask of the artifacts in our lives.

What counts as a “cultural artifact”? Some possibilities include:

  • Television shows, movies, YouTube videos
  • Novels, fiction, drama, and performances
  • Advertisements, promotional materials, institutional documents
  • Songs, music videos
  • Videogames, apps, and digital platforms
  • Hardware, devices, tools

Presentation Format

  • Timed 5 minutes presentation
  • At least 10 slides
  • No more than 3 words per slide

The cultural artifact presentations will start on Wednesday, March 11and continue through April.

Analysis Format

On the day you present you will also hand in a polished analysis that goes into greater depth than the presentation allows. This will be a 1500-2000 word essay. In that essay you’ll provide a bit of background, situate your analysis within a larger conversation about the artifact (or artifacts like that), and then spend the bulk of the essay offering a “close reading” of the artifact. Think of Lisa Nakamura’s close reading of the Fairchild brochure as a model for what this kind of close reading looks like. You’ll naturally want to integrate the scholarship of at least three scholars. You’ll also include a formal Works Cited in either Chicago, APA, or MLA format.

Criteria

  1. Theme (how well your artifact addresses themes of gender and technology)
  2. Craft (your attention to design and delivery)
  3. Argument (the case you make for why understanding your artifact matters)
  4. Analysis (the depth of analysis of your artifact and how well you execute your argument)
  5. Unexpectedness (how much your argument is unexpected or surprising)

You’ll receive separate grades for the presentation and the analysis. Together they will comprise 30 percent of your final grade for DIG 340.