Digital Media Theory
Professor Leif Weatherby
This course introduces the history and concept of the digital. Digital systems are representation systems, and so engage a wide variety of philosophical sources, literary theory, and media theory. Digital technologies developed from a dense multidiscplinary discourse that included mathematics, language philosophy, logic, and philosophy, reposing the classical metaphysical question of the relationship of representation to reality. The course focuses on three concepts that emerged from this rich overlap: information, computation, and the network. These concepts are associated with Claude Shannon, Alan Turing, and Warren McCulloch, and rely on frameworks from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, and the trajectory from Gottlob Frege and Charles Sanders Peirce through the Vienna School's logical positivism, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and beyond. The philosophical origins of digital technologies form a dialogue with media-theoretical assessments of those same technologies, and the course will give particular weight to the works of Friedrich Kittler, N. Katherine Hayles, Wendy Chun, and, Luciana Parisi, Ramon Amaro, and Sianne Ngai, with a focus on bridging the gap between the origins of digital technologies and their extensive aesthetic and political-economic consequences in the present. This course fulfills a core requirement for the Digital Humanities Certificate.