Option 1: Independent Research Project
The independent research project should reflect feminist analysis of a particular technological phenomenon or cultural representation of technology from a critical perspective with attention to gender, class, race, sexuality, and/or ability.
The final research paper should be 12–15 pages in length, and incorporate no fewer than five scholarly sources as secondary sources, at least two of which should be from course readings.
Your final paper should identify the technology or representation of a technology on which you are focusing as the topic of your paper, but also should clearly articulate an thesis, or argument you wish to make about how that technology functions in a gendered way, or has been responded to by feminists. In framing this thesis statement, be sure to have a central research question you wish to answer.
Limit the scope of your project so you are not attempting to assess broad topics like globalization, or something like technology and development in general; choose a particular example you can analyze in detail, such as a specific form of reproductive or biotechnology, genetic engineering, surveillance technology, usage of mobile technology, a film or literary portrayal of a cyborg, etc. This will enable you to write a more compelling essay focusing on the implications and perhaps the ethical considerations of the ways in which technologies are developed, defined, and implemented, particularly as they impact people of different genders, races, classes, etc.
“Technology” can be interpreted broadly to include actual mechanical devices, computer programs or other forms of information technologies, social networking phenomena, large—scale implementation of agricultural technologies, robotics, gaming, military devices or equipment, visualization hardware or software, and many other things. Representations of technology can include short stories, novels, poetry, art, digital video, TV shows, or film. If you have an idea and are not sure if it is viable, send me an email and ask!
Option 2: Take Home Essays
Length: 2 essays, 6–8 pages each
Feminist response to new technology has fallen into two distinct camps: technophiles and cyberfeminists who see it as a solution to gender inequity, and technophobes who see it as an extension of a patriarchal system of oppression. Explain the origins of these two positions as described by Bray and Wajcman, and give examples of how they have played out in specific technological examples we have discussed this term. Where does Haraway’s cyborg manifesto fit into this dichotomy, and what does the mythic figure of the cyborg offer us in its figuration as a hybrid position between human/animal or human—animal/machine? What are some of the potentials and the limits of technological innovations (biomedical/digital/wearable) to alter and/or transcend the boundaries of the human body?
Digital and ICT technologies have rapidly altered the way we receive and transmit images and information, as well as communicate with each other. Explain what is at stake in the increasingly rapid transmission and replication of digital images, particularly with regard to criminal investigations of cases such as child pornography, sex trafficking, the Steubenville rape case, the sexting photo case in Washington state, and/or the Boston Marathon bombing. How are cameras and mobile phones being used as surveillance technologies, and what role does social networking and crowdsourcing play in the outcomes of such cases? What are the dangers and limits of the uses of these technologies in terms of civil liberties, and what are the potential benefits? How is the digital distribution of sexual content in particular a particularly gendered phenomenon?
Thinking about the definition of technology, establish what historically and stereotypically has counted as technology, and explain how the notion of “unskilled” labor fits into that definition, and why weaving and textiles have been excluded from traditional definitions. Explain the difference between a “feminine” technology and a “feminist” technology, giving examples of each, or arguing that a single technology might be viewed as either or both, in a particular context. What kind of considerations need to be taken into account to assess technologies intended for use primarily by women?