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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Postgraduate Course: Body, Identity and Technology (DESI11176)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe body is never an isolated entity, it extends and connects with other bodies, practices, experiences, technologies, human and non-human entities. In our lived, embodied experiences, technology (including digital technologies) has become an integral, vital part of our daily interactions. It is crucial to question and examine the ways emerging technologies are reshaping our understanding of self, gender, class, race, disability, illness, body image, and embodiment. This course offers postgraduate students the opportunity to engage with key contemporary critical theories and debates on the body, identity and technology, within broader contexts of design, visual creative disciplines, and their respective industries. This course will include intersectional approaches to the study of the body, focusing on interdisciplinary perspectives, highlighting important debate and conversation around the relationship between the body, identity and society.
Course description This course offers postgraduate students the opportunity to engage with key contemporary critical theories and debates on the body, identity and technology within design and creative disciplines. It will include intersectional approaches to the study of the body, focusing on interdisciplinary perspectives and encouraging students to apply theory to their design practice, visual creative disciplines, and their respective industries. Technology is rapidly changing what it means to be human. The key is not to create a binary relationship between the body and technologies, or privilege one over the other; rather, the interactions between the two need to be conceptualised together as they are becoming inextricably intertwined. Digital media and technology affect not only our understanding of space, but also challenge assumptions about the limits and boundaries of our physical bodies. Computerised monitoring and control reconfigure humans as pieces of information with our knowledge and memories being stored in external hard drives and digital circuits. Individuals increasingly exist beyond their physical bodies. Where do our neural networks stop and electronic networks of information start?
The course draws on a wide range of theories and debates across the transdisciplinary field of Body Studies, including but not limited to critical disability studies, gender studies, critical race theory, digital cultures, and affect studies. In particular, we will examine issues around identity, representation and performative practices, relationships between space and body (including augmented realities), digital archives and memory, and will bring together a range of design research methods. Touching on critical theories on embodiment, post-humanism and New Materialism this course will explore how to create more responsible, accountable, and ethical ways of how our bodies enmesh, intertwine or merge with technologies in the future.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 173 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formative assessments:
Mid-way through the semester, you will be required to submit a selection of blog posts that address topics covered in weekly lectures, a total of 500-750 words that may include images and other non-textual modes of communication (visuals, sound and/or video recordings, if appropriate).
A Mini symposium presented mid-way through the course.
Working in small groups (4-5 students) the students should prepare a short presentation (about 15 minutes long) on one of the themes or related themes covered in
the lecture and seminar series. This can take the form of a discussion, presentation using slides and a voice-over, interviews with one another or people outside the group, a podcast or performance, an installation, a pitch that introduces a design concept and a prototype. Suggestions for presentation topics will be offered, but groups will also be supported in developing their own.

Summative assessment:
2,500-word critical essay: You will be required to write a 2,500-word essay by the end of the semester in which you will expand on some of the themes covered in weekly blog posts. (60%)
1,000-word reflective documentation: You will be required to submit a documentation and reflection on the mid-semester group presentation (a total of 750-1,000 words). The individual reflection should clarify the context and concept of your group presentation, what methods you used, your own contribution to the project, and may examine issues of collaborative work if relevant, and address feedback received from peers and tutors. The documentation should include non-textual modes of communication (such as design prototypes, visuals, sound and/or video recordings) to show your contribution and learning (40%).

The two summative assessments will be graded against all three learning outcomes.
Feedback Formative feedback:
- Written feedback will be given on the written component of the formative submission (a selection of blog posts) within the standard 15-day window.
- Verbal feedback will be given after the mini-symposium presentations.

Summative feedback:
- Written feedback will be given in writing via Learn/TurnItIn within the standard 15-day
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Evidence critical, detailed and advanced knowledge of contemporary theories and debates on the body, identity and technologies and their relationship to contemporary and future design contexts through a rigorous research analysis
  2. Critically interpret, evaluate and apply advanced theories related to the body, identity and technology to design practices and contexts
  3. Communicate and articulate complex arguments with mixed-media, including verbal and written approaches and a selection of visual material, media, artefacts or performance where appropriate.
Reading List
Benjamin, R. (2019). Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. Cambridge, UK, Medford, USA: Polity Press.
Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity (10th anniversary ed). Routledge.
Davis, L.J., (2017). The Disability Studies Reader, New York, NY: Routledge.
Haraway, D. J. (1991). Simians, cyborgs, and women: The reinvention of nature. Free Association.
Hayles, N. K. (1999). How we became posthuman: Virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. University of Chicago Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of this course, the students will be able to:
- Contribute to contemporary critical theories and debates about the body, identity and the relationship between bodies and digital technologies.
- Critically analyse, interpret and evaluate wide range of advanced theories related to the body and identity.
- Communicate and articulate complex arguments, deploying advanced and specialised academic scholarship and research, with the use of mixed-media, including verbal and written approaches and a selection of visual material, media, artefacts or performance.
- Demonstrate reflexivity, exercise autonomy and initiative in independent and group work.
Course organiserDr Agnese Sile
Tel: (0131 6)51 5800
Course secretaryMiss Emili Astrom
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