Topics in Chinese Media Culture: Charting Identity in the Digital Age


In contemporary society, global computational media have come to shape the new form and function of identity. As the users of these digital technologies, we have been conscripted into systems of compulsory identification ranging from fingerprint scanning and biometric facial recognition to big data documenting and calculating our age, gender, race, nationality, and even health conditions and shopping preferences. These technologies of identification promise to measure a truthful and core identity from the surface of a human body for the purposes of authentication, verification, and tracking in service of a mixture of commercial, state, and military interests. One dire consequence of the proliferation of these technologies of identification is the failure to recognize non-normative, minoritarian groups, and thereby replicating or even amplifying racial hierarchies, gender stereotypes, social division, and global inequality. This course asks what identity is and what function identity serves in the contemporary society in East Asia and on a global scale. Recognizing the changing scope of "Asia" as a vital concept and method, students will read extensively contemporary works in Asian Studies, Asian-American Studies, critical race and gender theory, and media theory that deal with the intersection of digital media, race and gender, and global socio-political transformation. Alongside these readings, students will explore contemporary films, artworks, social media events, and online activisms in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and beyond that reflect the questions of technologized identity and subjectivity. The class will also go back to western philosophies of technology, cybernetics, and media theories to rethink how the universalized prototype of the human (which is a white man) was constructed in scholars' inquiries into mind and body, the self and the other, and the then-new relationship between human and machine. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level
Course Attributes: EN H; BU IS; AS LCD

Section 01

Topics in Chinese Media Culture: Charting Identity in the Digital Age
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