Fall 2012 MALAS 600B Technosexualities BLOG | technodiary |  old cyberhive |  malasFACEBOOK

Bodies, Machines, Books, Films, Paintings, Photographs, and the Internet on the Verge

William A. Nericcio
..."On the verge"--those are the key words... as in "on the edge," "on a cliff," "on the brink,"... but of what?

Technology (and sexuality, for that matter) always has us there--dangling, wondering, imagining, anticipating... in the future tense.

The future tense--that what this seminar is all about; that's where we will precariously lurk (or, better, "lurk precariously?)...

Technosexualities: Bodies, Machines, Books, Films, Paintings, Photographs, and the Internet on the Verge
is NOT a seminar on science fiction, but it is a class very much concerned with the relationship between fiction and science: both the fiction called science and the science of fiction...

Additionally, Technosexualities is not a course on high-tech pornography, but it will include pedagogical pursuits wherein our stalwart collective questions technologies associated with sexuality as well as how sexual practices and positionalities affect the evolution of technology...

bisexual. heterosexual. metrosexual. homosexual. transexual.  and now, the technosexual... are recent developments in technology already altering the dynamics of gender? Is there a provocative way to address technology, so that our interests in say women's studies, ethnic studies, literature, or film, become more atuned to the relationship between bio and techno? and what of the connection between bodies politic and bodies electric?

At first glance, questions like these may seem esoteric and theoretical, but the answers we build will have a direct impact on the way we "do" theory, the ways we connect our various and sundry interdisciplinary interrogations to our lives and the world(s) around us.

Consider how a socializing "prosthetic" like Mark Zuckerberg et al's FACEBOOK internet appliance alters social relations between its users; ostensibly a technological appliance, FB evolves and takes on a life of its own, changing its users as they bounce between discovery, elation, arousal, temptation, and more. The prosthetic, ostensibly a supplementation for a missing limb/organ, brings a kind of existential gravity that supplants the existing organism in ways that are striking, surprising, and, in some cases, permanent.

These and other questions will drive our cultural studies seminar; note that this seminar, marked MALAS 600B will also fulfill (via petition to grad division) the requirement for MALAS 601 listed in the
university catalogue; the course is open to all graduate students in the college of arts and letters and beyond--in particular, graduate students from women's studies, geography, political science, english, and creative writing are invited to our first class, , for a test drive.

readings to include:

Mary Roach, Donna Haraway, Angela Carter, Avital Ronell, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Phillip K. Dick, Kaja Silverman, Susan Sontag, and more...

screenings to include:

Peter Greenaway, Hal Hartley, and Orson Welles....

art by

Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, Remedios Varo, Frida Kahlo, Fan Ziaoyan, Jean Girard and more...

Working booklist (more to come....) always click here for the updated list as the image just below may be updated.
how to be in a cultural studies/interdisciplinary seminar...


graduate seminar course--the closest you can get to doing doctoral level work in the humanities at SDSU--is a pretty serious thing. Or, better put: it can be a pretty serious thing... but not serious in the heart-attack sense; more like serious in the "great, now i have to be accountable for my intellectual range, preparation, and imagination" sense.

My expectation, of course, is that you will enter each seminar session having carefully completed the assigned reading for a given day.  But you should also know that my desire far outstrip my expectations!  My desire is that you will have both prepared the material by doing the reading, but that you will also have “prepared” the material as if you were the professor for the class.  That means doing the reading, surveying recent research in the field of said work, looking up published reviews and scholarship that focus on said work, and preparing questions (both discussion questions and close-reading-related questions) to share with your professor and your colleagues.  And because we are an interdisciplinary class, this will give all of you to share your various knowledges, experiences, and research with the group in a way that will be transformative. When we are undergraduates, it is easy, perhaps, to sit in the back of the room and listen.  And while you can still get away with this as a graduate student, you must also consider that said silence does your colleagues a disservice. We will be prowling through issues of technology, sexuality, biology, and the arts for four long months together; promise me, and promise yourself that you will use the time we have together to share the amazing contours of your imagination!


In addition to the required reading for a given Monday, you are also expected to read our seminar-related blog, theobscenemachine.blogspot.com, and to contribute/comment on it as well. During the course of the semester, you will be expected to make 5 substantive postings to the blog. How? Send your dispatches, with links/images/ etc to memo@sdsu.edu and I will post your dispatch asap.  Know that all your postings ARE YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY; if at any point you want the posting removed/edited/etc, just drop me a line and it will happen.

big scary seminar paper

This being a "graduate seminar," it is expected that you will produce a scintillating piece of rhetorical excellence in the course of the semester!  To that end, you will submit to me on Monday, December 5, 2011, in our seminar, a well-researched, nicely crafted, exquisitely-honed critical essay anywhere from 13 to 20 pages.

What will this beautiful essay be about?
That's the fun part!

Let us first consider the obvious: you are a graduate student.

What does that mean?
It means that you are a scholarly apprentice of sorts. You are one in a long line of individuals who aspire to scholarship, and, in the case of this class, a cultural studies/gender studies/film/lit/ethnic studies/technology/biology exegesis of the first order.

Like it or not, one of the things which will determine whether or not you have what it takes to get past the gates at the ivory tower is your  writing. It used to be that writing for literary journals was an extended exercise in pain and self-abuse. But the field is changing and so are its journals.

When you arrive December 5 at 3:30pm, your fatigued palms will be holding a 13 to 20 page essay (please don’t write past 20 pages, quantity is never an attractive proxy for quality). The essay should be typed, double-spaced and carefully proofread. It should not have any special cover page or plastic cover--a staple or paper clip in the upper left hand corner is fine.

That is the easy part.

How will you go about imagining this essay? Please have your essay derive or be based in large part on a text, author, director, theme, genre which is part of the required material for our class; moreover, i am also open to you conceiving of your submission to me as a draft chapter from your master's thesis, or a possible submission to critical journal.

Footnote vs. endnote? MLA style vs. Chicago style vs. APA style?

These controversies have been solved for you in advance. As part of your assignment, I want you to immerse yourself in the variety of journals now publishing essays in technology, literature, philosophy, biology, film studies, cultural studies, comparative literature and contemporary studies in comparative cultures. You may complete this immersion here at SDSU's Love library, at USD, or UCSD.

Some pretty good journals include: american literature, boundary 2, critical inquiry, social text, pmla, south atlantic quarterly, camera obscura and cinema journal.

Think of your MALAS 600B essay, then, as an exercise in role-playing--any question you might have about format, tone, styles, footnoting tactics and the like will be answered by the editorial policy of the journal you select as your guide. Do please submit with your seminar essay, a copy of one essay from the journal you have selected that represents to you the BEST that journal has to offer.

Do note that our library has great, full-text, online journal archives like project muse and jstor--if you are off campus, you may have to log-in through the SDSU Libweb server reference index to access these invaluable index. If you have any question as to the appropriateness of a journal just give me a call or pull me aside and ask me.

What can you write on? Well, just about anything. I imagine the best exercise will be to throw all your books and notes on a table, think about what are some of the provocative issues that have stayed with you during the term and then head off to the library and those endless stacks of scholarly journals. By the time you’ve paged through all those journals and get back to your books and notes, you’ll have a firmer grasp on the goals of your analytical adventure. You’ll also probably have a headache--welcome to academe.

office hours

My office hours are before class on Mondays from 12:30 to  3:20 or so in arts and letters 273--Make the time to introduce yourself and be a real, living, breathing, dynamic part of our seminar. My phone number is 619.594.1524 and email address is memo@sdsu.edu

course-related internet-based findings...

(feel free to peruse the brief set of postings below--note: the permanent home for TECHNOSEXUALITIES blog postings is http://theobscenemachine.blogspot.com)

exhibit A: from Bjork and director, Chris Cunningham, from 1999, ALL IS FULL OF LOVE, video.

exhibit B: from BRAINPICKINGS (click for the link)

...more science/media/sex postings from BRAINPICKINGS appear here.
exhibit C: Robot Monster, 1953
exhibit D: Humans as the Sex Organs of TECHNOLOGY

exhibit E: Pulp {SCIENCE} Ficton



All future posts will appear here:

art by fan ziaoyan

MALAS 600B Sec 1 TECHNOSEXUALITIES 3 units Schedule #21804  3:30-6:10pm Mondays GMCS 305