Universität Wien FIND

233043 SE Bodies & Data (2019W)

Exploring the intersections of biology, identity and technology

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 23 - Soziologie
Continuous assessment of course work

Registration/Deregistration

Details

max. 25 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Wednesday 08.01. 09:30 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Friday 10.01. 12:00 - 15:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 13.01. 14:30 - 17:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Wednesday 15.01. 10:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 16.01. 09:00 - 11:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 20.01. 14:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Tuesday 21.01. 11:30 - 14:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Friday 24.01. 09:30 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

In contemporary societies the body is increasingly imagined as the interface between information and biology. Genetics, ultrasounds, wearable computing and MRIs are all examples of technologies that play a role in this translation. As these technologies become more pervasive, they shape us, our identities, and our reality. This course explores the ways in which technoscientific representations of the body are reshaping of the boundaries between technical and biological, thus giving rise to ‘new’ conceptualizations of the human body.

The course’s goal is to find new ways to think with and about the interactions of bodies, technology, and data. To do so we will utilize an interdisciplinary body of theory - drawn from sociology, sociology, feminist technoscience, communications, and science and technology studies - so as to explore, with a critical lens, how identities are created and deployed, the social and political arrangements they require and help create, the kinds of articulations with technology and data they draw upon, and how too often bodies, technologies and data are experienced and enacted as being neutral, unproblematic, and inevitable.

The course is designed as a ‘tower’ and our task is to piece it and build it together. To do so, we will use different technoscientific case studies - such as genetics, wearable computers, quantified self, AI, cybernetics - to explore both their workings and the distinct STS approaches that we can bring to bear in their analysis. Much of our time will be dedicated to exploring how different theoretical approaches and theorists build upon or differ from one another, what we gain/loose from each of these approaches, but also what social and historical conditions gave rise to specific approaches and subjects within and outside of academia. Some questions we will critically address are:
· What kinds of persons and bodies are being imagined and emerging within these initiatives?
· What does it mean to be human and how is this category constructed?
· How should we think about our interactions with technology?
· How can technology change the way in which we perceive and are perceived by those around us?
· What is the role of data in the process of identity building?

Assessment and permitted materials

To pass the seminar, students are expected to complete the following tasks:
1. Reading questions: Each student will submit two questions pertaining to the sessions’ readings. These must be submitted by email (ana@anaviseu.org) by 6 pm the day before the session is to be held.
2. Leadership of class discussion (oral & written): Students will be asked to lead one class discussion on the session’s readings, this will be done alone, in pairs, or in groups, depending on class size. The week’s presenters should come to class prepared with a one-page handout for the other students that synthesizes the key themes of the session’s readings and how the readings relate to those themes. They should be prepared to engage the class in a robust discussion of those themes. The day of their presentation students will not be required to submit ‘reading questions’.
3. Conference Proposal: To get you started on your paper, you should write a 250 to 300 word conference proposal. Although you do not have to submit your paper, I ask that you find an actual conference (and that you attach the CFP to your proposal). You are encouraged to submit your proposal, but you are under no obligation to do so. This is intended to help you choose a topic but also, to start getting acquainted with academic practices. Your proposal may be on any subject, but it must be related to the topics of the course. In class, and based on your interests, I will provide resources for distinct conferences.
4. Course paper: To complete the course, students must submit a 10-page final paper (plus bibliography; no need for cover page) addressing a theme related to the course. This can relate to the oral presentation (and feedback) but must be done on an individual basis. The essay topic must be agreed with the instructor before the end of the first week of the course. The essay should clearly state the chosen question, its relevance to the course, and the conceptual framework for the analysis. It should also reach a clear set of conclusions regarding the academic and/or policy-related significance of the paper. It must include a bibliography. Papers will be due on 01 March 2020. Papers must be double-spaced, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins on all sides.

'This course uses the plagiarism-detection service Turnitin for larger assignments.'

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The grading scheme is based on a total of 100 points. These points will be awarded in relation to students’ performance in meeting the course learning aims in the different obligatory tasks.
The maximum number of points to be acquired for each task is:

Participation: 15 percent, assessed individually, feedback on request;
Reading daily questions: 10 percent, assessed individually, feedback on request;
Conference proposal: 10 percent, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;
Leadership of class discussion: 25 percent, assessed as group,
feedback on request;
Written handout: 10 percent, assessed as group, feedback on request;
Course paper: 30 percent, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;

Minimum requirements
A minimum of 50 points is necessary to successfully complete the course. Failure to meet the attendance regulations, to deliver course assignments on time or to adhere to standards of academic work may result in a deduction of points.

Grades
100-87 points Excellent (1)
86-75 points Good (2)
74-63 points Satisfactory (3)
62-50 points Sufficient (4)
49-0 points Unsatisfactory (5) (fail)

Attendance
Presence and participation is compulsory. Absences of four hours at maximum are tolerated, provided that the lecturer is informed about the absence. Absences of up to eight hours in total may be compensated by either a deduction of grading points or/and extra work agreed with the lecturer. Whether compensation is possible is decided by the lecturer.
Absences of more than eight hours in total cannot be compensated. In this case, or if the lecturer does not allow a student to compensate absences of more than four hours, the course cannot be completed and is graded as a ‘fail’ (5), unless there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfil the attendance requirements on the student’s side (e.g. a longer illness). In such a case, the student may be de-registered from the course without grading. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this in a timely manner, and to provide relevant evidence to their claims if necessary. Whether this exception applies is decided by the lecturer.

Important Grading Information
If not explicitly noted otherwise, all requirements mentioned in the grading scheme and the attendance regulations must be met. If a required task is not fulfilled, e.g. a required assignment is not handed in or if the student does not meet the attendance requirements, this will be considered as a discontinuation of the course. In that case, the course will be graded as ‘fail’ (5), unless there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfill the task on the student's side (e.g. a longer illness). In such a case, the student may be de-registered from the course without grading. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this in a timely manner, and to provide relevant evidence to their claims if necessary. Whether this exception applies is decided by the lecturer.
If any requirement of the course has been fulfilled by fraudulent means, be it for example by cheating at an exam, plagiarizing parts of a written assignment or by faking signatures on an attendance sheet, the student's participation in the course will be discontinued, the entire course will be graded as ‘not assessed’ and will be entered into the electronic exam record as ‘fraudulently obtained’. Self-plagiarism, particularly re-using own work handed in for other courses, will be treated likewise.

Examination topics

Reading list


Association in the course directory

Last modified: Th 19.09.2019 12:08