BA History and Sociology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Decoding Inequality: Reimagining Digital Culture

Unit code DIGI10031
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Digital technology is transforming our world, creating both opportunity and inequality. This course introduces students to key debates around digital culture, allows them to create their own digital media projects, and equips them with new tools that are transforming scholarship across the humanities. The module interrogates inequalities of gender, race, and sexuality through the lens of digital culture, media, and methods. Why are search engines and artificial intelligence often biased against people of color? How is gender (mis-)represented in digital media? Why is ‘data’ in the humanities rarely transparent or objective? These are just some of the questions we will be grappling with in this course.

 

Please note: no technical skills are required for this unit.

Aims

This course aims to:

  • Introduce students to new digital methods that are transforming the humanities, new media that allow creative modes of expression, and key debates around the social and political implications of digital culture
  • Offer an overview over the most important debates around (in)equality relating to race, gender and sexuality across the humanities
  • Develop a critical understanding of the potentials and limitations of digital technology

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate digital technologies, their role in the humanities, and how they affect contemporary societies at large
  • Understand when and how digital technologies are useful for humanities scholarship, and when and how their use can be dangerous or limiting
  • Interpret and analyse how digital technology can both remedy and entrench inequalities of gender, class, sexuality, and race
  • Develop their powers of interpretation and argumentation, and of oral and written self-expression in English through seminar discussion, secondary reading, and essay writing

Knowledge and understanding

  • Apply their analytical skills to assess and analyse the potential and limits of digital technologies, and render them meaningful in their various historic and social contexts
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of major academic debates around the digital humanities and digital culture
  • Articulate and explain key concepts about the implications of the digital divide for race, gender, and sexuality
  • Demonstrate an awareness of some of the main digital methods which can be applied to scholarship in the humanities

Intellectual skills

  • Engage in independent reflection and enquiry
  • Read, apply, and critically evaluate literature on structural inequality and the digital humanities 
  • Engage in discussion and critical evaluation of various digital tools and decide when a digital tool can be useful

Practical skills

  • Engage in oral and written debates
  • Build argumentative frameworks for the analysis of inequality and digital culture
  • Use analogue and digital research resources
  • Follow correct citation procedure for the professional presentation of academic writing
  • Carry out individual research and select material judiciously

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience
  • Participate constructively in group activities (e.g. class discussions)
  • Assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others
  • Demonstrate powers of analysis
  • Demonstrate critical skills regarding the deployment of digital technology in the humanities

Employability skills

Analytical skills
This course enables you to critically read and evaluate digitally-enhanced scholarship. You will learn to recognise biased, misleading, or oversimplifying uses of digital technology and to act on that criticism.
Other
With its combined focus on digital culture, creativity, and criticism, the course allows students to develop skills and the confidence needed to thrive in a variety of non-academic workplaces, including marketing and communication, journalism, digital media, libraries and museums. Visualising and Telling Stories with Data By the end of this course students will be familiar with digital technologies that are used across the creative industries. You will be able to present information and arguments orally, verbally and visually with due regard to the target audience

Assessment methods

Creative reflection on one of the topics discussed 20%

Final project summative 60%

In-class presentation 20%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Detailed oral feedback on presentation.

Formative

Detailed written feedback on creative essay and final project, designed to include advice on improving future performance. Additional one-to-one feedback during the office hour or by making an appointment.

Summative

Recommended reading

Ahnert, Ruth, Sebastian E. Ahnert, Catherine Nicole Coleman, and Scott B. Weingart. The Network Turn: Changing Perspectives in the Humanities. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Broussard, Meredith. Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2018.

Drucker, Johanna. Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2014.

Eve, Martin Paul. Close Reading with Computers: Textual Scholarship, Computational Formalism, and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Stanford University Press, 2019.

Kaiser, Brittany. Targeted: My Inside Story of Cambridge Analytica and How Trump, Brexit, and Facebook Broke Democracy (2019)

D'Ignazio, Catherine and Lauren F. Klein, Data Feminism (2020).

Knowles, Anne Kelly, Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, and Eric B Steiner. Geographies of the Holocaust. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

Loukissas, Yanni Alexander. All Data Are Local: Thinking Critically in a Data- Driven Society. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019

Morrissette, Jess. “Glory to Arstotzka: Morality, Rationality, and the Iron Cage of Bureaucracy in Papers, Please.” Game Studies 17/1 (2017).

Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York, NYU Press, 2018

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joanna Taylor Unit coordinator
Luca Scholz Unit coordinator

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