I am teaching a course in the spring, "Aesthetics and Secrets: Wikileaks," that attempts to think about the the sharing and dissemination of knowledge as an aesthetic practice dependent upon networks. I am overarchingly concerned with the concept of "the secret," who is allowed to have and hold them, under what circumstances or constraints. Admittedly, I think that a secret that forms the "state" is different in value and function from a secret that problematizes marginalizing and oppressive practices often done in the name of the state. So the course is attempting to think through these differences. Here is the description and schedule for next semester: the big problem is that I have no idea what sorta final project my students should construct. I'm pretty much sure i don't want them to write conventional end-of-semester papers; a collaborative group project would be cool, maybe one with a multimeida platform, though I don't know what to suggest ... I also have no idea if I should have film/video, so if you have suggestions, that would be great! also, if you know of any writing/video about Wikileaks that are rigorous...and good, please let me know!
Aesthetics and Secrets: Wikileaks
Course Goals and Philosophy:
This English 26 course will allow you to think about critical engagement of a variety of “text,” to think about analysis of as a mode of academic practice. Regardless of your disciplinary background, the various ways we communicate and withhold information – especially in our information age – are important concerns about aesthetic practice. The major goals of this course is for us to consider the possibilities for holding or disseminating information, to think about who is allowed to have “Secrets” and the production of power when one has such knowledge, such information.
How have people told and kept secrets in the past? Or does social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and YouTube make this a now impossible act? Our course will think through the concept of “secrets,” and how they function in literature, video, music and the discourse of the everyday. We will discuss how secrets are both technologies and ethics. Wikileaks declares itself a “non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important information to the public” – secret governmental information, we might say – and our course will consider the relationship of knowledge and publics, of the sharing and withholding of information. Our course will think historically about different revolutionary moments that have taken place by way of secret and secreted information.
- Students will be responsible for constructing weekly blog responses to reading materials that build off the theme for that week. These will be due each Monday by 11:59pm.
- Secretbiography – Students will construct a secret biography using writeboard.com: what information would you share if anonymous about yourself? Constructed as a collaborative project, how can you share secret information? Due February 2, 2012 by 5pm.
- OTHERS ARE NEEDED!
Week 1: Introduction: What is a secret?
"Conspiracy as Governance" - Assange; "The Blast Shack"http://bit.ly/w586EV
"US railway blocked phones to quash protest" - Americas - Al Jazeera English http://bit.ly/timk9R; "Prisoner Advocate Elaine Brown on Georgia Prison Strike: 'Repression Breeds Resistance'" - Democracy Nowhttp://bit.ly/tOic6P
Week 2: What is the aesthetic?
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanichal Reproduction" - Benjamin; "Aesthetics and Anaesthetics" - Buck-Morss
Invisible Man (Introduction) - Ellison; Bedouin Hornbook (excerpts) – Mackey
Week 3: Blackness and the Secret
The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times (Ch1) - Heilbut; Narrative (Ch2) - Douglass; Harriet Tubman(excerpts) - Bradford
"Words don't go there" - Moten; "Black Mo'nin'" in In the Break - Moten
Week 4: Performance and the Secret
A Spectacular Secret (Ch5) - Goldsby
Bodies in Dissent (Ch2) - Brooks
Week 6: Queerness and the Secret
The History of Sexuality: Vol 1 - Foucault
"Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies" - Halberstam; “Why does the media still refer to ‘Bradley” Manning?’ The Curious Silence Around a Transgender Hero” http://bit.ly/vRZtzx
Week 7: Art and the Secret
"Swamp Sublime: Ecologies of Resistance in the American Plantation Zone" - Allewaert; Maroon Arts - Price and Price
Maroon Communities in South Carolina: A Documentary History - Lockley; Maroon Arts - Price and Price
Week 8: Nationhood and the Secret
"The Secret State" - Thompson; "Creating Commons: Divided Governance, Participatory Management, and Struggles Against Enclosure in the University" - Kamola and Meyerhoff;
Week 9: Networks
"Tweet This, Deny That: Social Media and the End of Denial" - Weldonhttp://huff.to/v3Ng3F; "The Truth According to Hermes: Theorems on the Secret and Communication" - Galloway
Week 10: The Subject/ivity of the Secret
Giving an Account of Oneself - Butler
Giving an Account of Oneself - Butler
Week 11: Wikileaks and Performatives
"Lecture I" - How To Do Things With Words - Austin; "Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; 'To destroy this invisible government'" - Bady -http://bit.ly/tYhdmK
"Sovereign Performatives" in Excitable Speech - Butler;" Cablegate One Year Later: How WikiLeaks Has Influenced Foreign Policy, Journalism, and the First Amendment" - Common Dreams http://bit.ly/swNbE9
Week 12: Wikileaks and Networks
"Introduction: Rhizome" in A Thousand Plateaus - Deleuze and Guattari
"Introduction: Concrete Is as Concrete Doesn't" in Parables of the Virtual - Massumi
Week 13: Wikileaks and the University
"Cables Spilled by WikiLeaks Portray Campuses as Ideological Battlegrounds" - The Chronicle of Higher Education http://bit.ly/sTOgCT;"The Future of the Profession or the Unconditional University" - Jacques Derrida http://bit.ly/uChmU3
"Flow Favorites: Wikileaks’ Lessons For Media Theory and Politics" - Jayson Harsin http://bit.ly/rVCc3e
Final Due by 5pm