Nodal course

FTN Roadshow Blog Series* – Course

by Karen Keifer-Boyd, Professor of Art Education and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at The Pennsylvania State University


A version of this blog post on a keyword “Course” in FemTechNet Distributed Open Collaborative Course (FTN DOCC) was presented at the Feminist Pedagogy Conference 2015: Transformations on April 17, 2015 at the CUNY Graduate Centre in New York City.


In 2012, I responded to a FemTechNet (FTN) open invitation for a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC). I am interested in experimenting with potentials of new media for feminist pedagogy and DOCC theory resonated with me. Eileen Trauth and Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor at Penn State joined me in co-teaching a DOCC “node” in Fall 2013 that we called G-STEAM (Gender and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). Each semester since Fall 2013, I have connected courses that I teach to DOCC and co-created pedagogical experiments: Performing Dialogue, Exquisite Engendering, and Feminist Mapping. My contribution to the FTN Roadshow Blog Series is about these DOCC pedagogical experiments situated in the keyword, COURSE.

(dis)COURSE

The Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) is a feminist approach for 21st century learning and teaching in the age of social media connectivity. The DOCC is open access, multimodal publishing, collaborative research and publication, and transdisciplinary pedagogy. In this sense “course” is an ongoing DOCC discourse, a digital multi-continuum of open-ended courses. The DOCC has intervened in education discourse on the authority of insular knowledge and one-way modes of communication in massive online courses toward multivocal and multimodal communication, learning, and knowledge production. Jasmine Rault begins the FTN Roadshow Blog Series referring to DOCC as “experiments in pedagogical technologies” and “a kind of insurgent collectivity and distributive technology of care.” Karl Surkan in the Roadshow series emphasizes, “as we wrote in the FemTechNet Manifesto, ‘collaboration is a feminist technology’ – so the two are mutually constitutive.” The DOCC approach fosters rigorous dialogue to imagine, and then create, an equitable and socially just education. Maria-Belén Ordóñez in the Roadshow series states that “the point of the DOCC [is] to build a network of feminists who are committed to inclusive, democratic learning.” For me, the labor of teaching was not necessarily lightened but purpose, learning, and pleasure deepened in collaborating with Maria-Belén and others in the DOCC.

Lisa Brundage and Emily Sherwood in the FTN Roadshow series provide a feminist pedagogy example of DOCC theory in re-visioning their pedagogical technologies of linear digital architecture to a collage mural space for planning, dialogue, resources, and engaging the world. In the G-STEAM course in Fall 2013, while each week there was a different theme, many of which were shared themes with other DOCCs, there was one theme which was overarching: CREATIVITY. Not only creativity in what and how we read but also in the pedagogy. From the beginning of the COURSE, students discussed what a feminist approach to creativity might be, and about how feminist digital spaces could themselves be spaces of creativity.

1_FTN_DOCC_course_G-STEAM

alex cruse, in the FTN Roadside series, identifies DOCC goals to be “inclusive, participatory, decentralized, and nonhierarchical structures and processes.” T.L. Cowan in the Roadshow series writes on how “DOCC is an exemplar of cabaret pedagogy. … Cabaret is about people working together to make something that they couldn’t make alone, and its economic structure is more often driven by mutual support than by big cash rewards.” This is the (dis)COURSE of DOCC.

Performing Dialogue

Maria-Belén Ordóñez in the Roadshow series discusses our cross-class project that had three parts from introductions of embodied theorizing of self through reading Erin Manning’s (2007) Politics of Touch and Allison Weir’s (2008) ideas of global solidarity and transformation. In my graduate course, Including Difference, the introduction of self to students in Dr. Ordóñez’s DOCC was a “Mapping Difference” assignment linked here. Visually mapping difference can be seen at all the students’ blogs linked to the assignment. For example, Becca Brittain Taudien’s identity map, linked here, and Eunjung Choi’s mapping of self, linked here, reveal their revelations regarding privilege, positionality, and difference in the process of mapping a relational self.

2 FTN_DOCC_course_difference dialogue[1]

After introductions, students embarked on Difference Dialogue, an assignment described here. Both classes watched FemTechNet’s “Difference” Video Dialogue, a discussion featuring Shu Lea Cheang and Kim Sawchuk moderated by Sara Diamond.[i] Students in three courses (one undergraduate course and two graduate courses) in Fall 2014 used SoundCloud’s timeline for commentary; and students in my graduate-level course also used Zotero to build a bibliography of work referenced in FemTechNet’s “Difference” Video Dialogue. You are invited to join the FemTechNet collective bibliography group. Once in the FemTechNet group, you will find several folders including the “Difference” folder with full references and links to all the texts mentioned in the FTN Difference Video Dialogue.

The third part of the cross-class project we called “Performing Dialogue.” Students in my Including Difference graduate course wrote an interpretive script from their dialogue with students in Dr. Ordoñez’s graduate course and from in-class dialogue as well as course readings. Penn State students performed and video-recorded their scripted dialogue considering audience, that is, who they would like to communicate to in their performing dialogue. One student, Carla Fernandez, a Penn State doctoral student in psychology from Paraguay, joined the weekly three-hour class sessions from Italy where she had traveled during the course for a conference. During this time, the Performing Dialogues were due. Carla asked a stranger to her, a young woman from China, in a public plaza in Florence, Italy, to perform the dialogue with her. Students in the course at Penn State watched the video-recording in Pennsylvania, followed by discussion with Carla in Italy via video-conferencing technology. Carla’s script and performance is about difference beyond the physical into the psychological, which is linked here. Carla’s teaching in her Performing Dialogues spilled outside academia and is a good example of cabaret pedagogy.

Feminist Mapping

DOCC feminist mapping entangles responsibility, identity, body, memory, lived experience, and knowledge.[ii] To introduce the Feminist Mapping project, I showed several examples of mapping such as Maya Lin’s What is Missing?, a science-based artwork as digital memorial, mapping the disappearance of species habitat degradation and loss.

Here, I provide links and brief descriptions of two feminist mapping projects from the Fall 2013 G-STEAM (Gender and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) course. Hyunji Kwon, a second year art education and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies doctoral student in Fall 2013, developed a visual feminist historiography of Kang Duk-kyung’s life, which includes Kang’s symbolic drawings about the atrocities of her experiences as a “Comfort Woman” sex slave. The map is linked here.

Veronica Hicks, a first semester art education and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies doctoral student in Fall 2013, used Inklewriter to create an interactive book, STEMINISTS IN THE MAKING. Veronica selected the theme “TRANSFORMATION: Creativity, Transformation, and Potentialities” for her turn in facilitating talking circles in the Including Difference course. She extended the FTN SYSTEMS 1.NARRATIVE Video Dialogue with Brenda Laurel and Janet Murray moderated by Anne Balsamo in creating a “Choose Your Own Adventure” interactive book, which provided a game-like teaching approach to learn of women in STEM.

DOCC_course_steminist

In 2014, T.L. Cowan, in collaboration with others, launched a DOCC feminist map, The Situated Knowledges Mapping Project, to make visible politics of location and identity. More on the mapping process is linked here and on the map as a “place to work out theoretical problems and positions relative to feminist thought in a very direct and personal way for the students reading and writing into it” is discussed in Karl Surkan’s post on Collaborative in the Roadshow series. The Situated Knowledges Map pin posts marking places of harassment remind me of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Stop Telling Women to Smile art series, which addresses gender based street harassment by placing in public spaces where harassment occurred her drawn portraits of women with captions that speak directly to offenders.

Exquisite Engendering

The FTN DOCC “Exquisite Engendering Video ReMIX, MIXed Reality Art” project is a riff on the Dadaist’s Exquisite Corpse art process. Our project is “Exquisite Engendering,” inspired by Erin Manning’s (2007) book, Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty. She describes engendering from Latin roots generrare, to generate. “To engender is to undertake a reworking of form. To engender is to potentialize matter. Engendering involves potentiality at its most fertile: it calls forth the link between the incorporeal and the material, between the virtual and the actual” (p. 90). In the second iteration of Exquisite Engendering in Spring 2015, we focused on racism. Penn State and University of North Carolina, Wilmington undergraduate students preparing to be teachers watched Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question (4:13 min.) and The Skin We’re In (6:13 min., 2013), a talk by Nina Jablonski, distinguished professor of anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University, who debunks supposedly connected biological, behaviorial, social, and cultural characteristics of people. Students used SoundCloud timeline for commentary (text and audio commentary is linked here). The videos and commentary focused the theme of race in the remixes students created, in this case, for viewing by fourth graders, an age when stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination can be entrenched, internalized, or disrupted. Strategies included:

  • Remix by visually manipulating prevalent, privileged, stereotyping media messages using strategies such as denoting empty space, overlaying, spotlighting, and repositioning. Empty space is used to draw viewers’ attention to what is missing. Overlay is used to layer other meanings onto a familiar object or image. Spotlighting and repositioning are used to provoke viewers to question assumptions by highlighting something in the image that they would normally minimize or marginalize.
  • Expose the unmarked, re-envision how marked, reveal what is absent, critique the prevalent cultural stories in visual culture.
  • Remix the message as well as the media. Mimic mass media forms to create a counter-narrative to prevalent, oppressive media messages. Use humor and irony. Use remix aesthetics: extensions, translations, selections.

For example, one student created a stop-action animation inspired from Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment in 1968, which continues to be a powerful controversial exercise to raise awareness about discrimination and privilege based on body differences. A group of 18 predominantly White fourth graders responses included that it is unfair that one pencil got the paper and sharpener, the other did not. Several students visually expressed sadness, sympathy, and/or empathy for the unfairness of privilege and depravity. The Exquisite Engendering Remix exhibition of the video art with surrounding individual and small group responses on VoiceThread is linked here.

FemTechNet Distributed Open Collaborative Course

I conclude with an invitation to move educational disCOURSE toward including difference in open networks of collective responsibility for well-being of all people. The course of FemTechNet’s DOCC flows from participants’ labor to end violence of dogmatic teaching and instead to practice eco-social justice education.

References Cited

Manning, Erin. Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Weir, Alison. Global Feminism and Transformative Identity Politics. Hypatia, 23(4), 110-133, 2008.

[i] FemTechNet’s Video Dialogues can be accessed at https://vimeo.com/femtechnet/channels

[ii] For theoretical discussion and further examples of feminist mapping see:

Alexander, M. J., & Mohanty, C. (2010). Cartographies of knowledge and power: Transnational feminism as radical praxis. In A. L. Swarr & R. Nagar (Eds.), Critical transnational feminist praxis (pp. 23-45). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Keifer-Boyd, K., & Smith-Shank, D. (2012). Feminist mapping. Visual Culture & Gender, 7, 1-5.

 

FTN Roadshow Blog Series* – Collaborative

by K.J. Surkan

Status update: in transit.

Subway, bus, car, train, plane – I am travelling 600 miles each week round trip between Philadelphia and Boston to teach women’s and gender studies classes. I have done this for a decade now, for some 30 weeks a year. By now I have travelled over 150,000 miles just getting to work and back; I have never missed a class due to weather or because of the commute. This is referred to by some as a “two-body problem”; my partner has a tenure-track job in Philadelphia and my part-time position is at MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology), 300 miles away. I spend a lot of time alone.

For that reason, it is at once ironic and fitting that I am writing about collaboration for the FemTechNet Roadshow blog series. To collaborate is, after all, “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.”[i] For me, finding FemTechNet meant finding a virtual community of feminist scholars, a collaborative network of people dedicated to fostering connection and unafraid of trying out new technologies to make it happen. For me this was like a life preserver thrown to a drowning person, steeped as I was in feminist thought but academically adrift in a sea of isolation. Technology enables collaboration across time and space, to be sure, but as we wrote in the FemTechNet Manifesto, “collaboration is a feminist technology” – so the two are mutually constitutive. Collaboration is an essential part of the FemTechNet DOCC (Distributed Open Collaborative Course), and it is happening at every level – between teachers as we establish new pedagogical connections across institutions, between teachers and students in Open Office Hours, between students in the completion of group projects, and between scholars through feminist video dialogues, writing and conferencing.

Some examples of innovative feminist technological collaborations we have explored, both in and out of the classroom:

Creative and often experimental, the open and collaborative nature of FemTechNet pedagogy actively breaks down conventional distinctions between teacher and student, performer and audience, inviting a different kind of scholarly conversation and discovery of new “truths” in situated knowledge and shared experiences. In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes that “the classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility.”[ii] The feminist DOCC reinvents the classroom as we have traditionally known it, displacing it. Many of our assignments and projects are collaborative, experimental, interdisciplinary. By reimagining the writing process itself, the DOCC has the potential to destabilize power dynamics that can limit participation in conventional academic settings.

world2

Let’s take a look at an example of collaborative feminist pedagogy in action, using the FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map as a case study of “hacking the global map,” an innovative way to connect and engage students in actively thinking through the politics of location. Feminist thought has a long history of posing a challenge to the uncritical presumption of objectivity informing much traditional scholarship, particularly in the sciences and social sciences. The notion of feminist epistemology as particularly situated knowledge is the basis for rethinking methodologies in academic research, if not the very foundation of critical thinking in its attempt to shake basic assumptions about meaning and how we know what we know. As Haraway notes, “feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges.”[iii]

The unique pedagogical application of the FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map engages in an experiment in critical cartography by networking students asynchronously from multiple locations, inviting them to strategically locate themselves on a shared Google map. Students are invited to drop virtual pins on a shared map, authoring narratives in which they contribute a description including a relationship to place in connection with their own identity or lived experience. These may be text-based, or multi-media, integrating embedded images and/or video to provide a unique portrait of the chosen site, in many cases including explicit consideration of technology and feminism. They are able to read and respond to other students’ pins, facilitating inter-institutional dialogue, many times between pin authors physically located hundreds or thousands of miles apart who will never meet each other in person.

In Fall 2014, FemTechNet launched the Situated Knowledges Map.

situatedmap

Students participating in the first semester of the map project were in DOCC nodes at Temple University, MIT, Yale, Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, University of Michigan, Colby-Sawyer College, The College of New Jersey, Flagler College, and West Virginia University. The pin narratives they wrote on the map strikingly represented a wealth of diversity and shared experience, and the resulting artifact became a treasure trove of teachable moments in some very intriguing and unpredictable ways.

For example, many students chose to write about travel or study abroad experiences, with varying degrees of awareness or interrogation of their own position relative to the non-Western and/or developing nations they visited. The map became a place of struggle to reconcile impulses to claim an essentialist global feminism with a robust critique of what T.L. Cowan termed the “White Savior Industrial Complex”[iv] in a pin comment aimed at complicating some unproblematized missionary narratives. The map became a place to work out theoretical problems and positions relative to feminist thought in a very direct and personal way for the students reading and writing into it.

Jeremy Crampton and John Krygier observe in their essay on critical cartography that “maps are active; they actively construct knowledge, they exercise power, and they can be a powerful means of promoting social change.”[v] Embedding a global map with feminist reflections about particular pin locations has the potential to challenge assumptions about space, place, and geopolitical boarders, or at the very least foster some conversations about what those look like from the vantage points of different identity locations. Feminist mapping, Keifer-Boyd and Smith-Shank argue, “demystifies and destabilizes the old cartographic binaries of inside and outside. It looks at ways cultural borders are crossed and hierarchies of place are normalized.”[vi]

We saw this playing out in another example through the emergent theme of street harassment and catcalling, which echoed through many pin points in different cultural locations, prompting dialogue around intersections of ethnicity, race, class, sexuality and gender presentation. One identified catcalling as the impetus for a feminist consciousness, describing the feeling of “that sudden fear that a stranger is shouting at you, the realization that this means you may be attractive, the crushing oppression once the attraction dissolves back into fear.”[vii] Others took a more direct tone of resistance in posts titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile” and “You Should Smile”: “Those words that seem so harmless to them make me feel exploited. Why do I have to smile?”[viii]

The map also invited cross-cultural analysis of catcalling, with students debating about the extent to which street harassment is culturally specific, or specifically reflective of Western beauty ideals and objectification of women. Tracing these pins thematically, the map documents a unique learning experience through the shared conversation about what it means to experience and/or report on harassment through specific embodied positions and boundary crossings across cultural differences. One Swarthmore student expressly addressed the cross-cultural conversation on street harassment she observed taking place on the map, integrating a reference to Cowan’s white savior industrial complex:

I’ve spent time working or studying in Chile, India, and the Dominican Republic, and found myself (a white cisgender woman) getting a lot of unwanted attention on the street in each place. I want to push back against some of the other pins that suggest that this attention is due to men being attracted to a standard of beauty that is white. Street harassment is about power and control, not attraction. Also, local women probably experience just as much street harassment (and outright violence). But maybe catcalling of women who look white and foreign in these places is a way that men say, “You shouldn’t be here,” and resist the white foreign presence that is often thinly veiled colonialism. Maybe it’s a way of expressing anger towards global inequality or the white savior industrial complex.[ix]

The map also offered situated analyses of gender and sexuality as they were read cross-culturally. In one example, “Bunny Means Cute, Not Gay!” a pin narrative describes the homophobic confusion that occurred after a Tweet depicted a South Korean eSports gaming team wearing bunny ears, and American fans questioned whether the team was gay as a result. The notion that male gamers wearing fuzzy bunny ears would be read as cute in Korean culture, rather than effeminate or gay, required special explanation by the photographer tweeting the photo.[x]

Several narratives addressed non-binary or transgender identities and some of the cultural confusion surrounding the reading of the body in physical space. Some of these featured interesting reversals of cultural assumptions or norms, as in “A Twist on Restrooms,” in which a trans woman trying to avoid a long restroom queue was ironically kicked out of the men’s bathroom.[xi] Cultural specificity of gender and sexuality was central to another insightful transgender pin narrative, “With the Aid of Strict Gender Roles.” Set in Singapore, the narrator explains,

I discovered the first time I went out to the mall alone to browse around, that the strict gender roles actually helped me to be “out” in Singapore. Because the roles were so strict and I wore “men’s” clothes and had short hair, everyone at the mall just assumed I must be male because otherwise why would I look that way? And it was great! It offered a welcome reprieve from all the misgendering at work and made me feel a lot more comfortable in my ability to be read as male. I actually got read way more often as male in Singapore than at home in Boston.[xii]

This ability to think and reflect with others in an active, living digital artifact such as the Situated Knowledges Map extends the classroom beyond four walls to powerfully engage students in feminist thinking in new ways. Reading peer perspectives that challenge their own thinking or reveal their experiential knowledge as culturally specific, students expand their understanding of how others encounter gender, race, and class dynamics in the world. This learning project is just one example of the many ways to think about collaboration in the DOCC.

[i] “Collaborate.” Merriam-Webster.com http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/collaborate Accessed May 27, 2015.
[ii] hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. NY: Routledge, 1994, 207.
[iii] Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No .3 (Autumn 1988), 581.
[iv] Cowan, T.L. “Thinking About the ‘White Savior Complex’” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[v] Crampton, Jeremy & John Krygier. “An Introduction to Critical Cartography.” ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 4(1): 15. http://www.acme-journal.org/vol4/JWCJK.pdf Accessed May 27, 2015.
[vi] Keifer-Boyd, Karen, and Deborah Smith-Shank. “Feminist Mapping.” Visual Culture and Gender. 7 (2012): 3. http://vcg.emitto.net/7vol/Keifer-Boyd_Smith-Shank.pdf Accessed May 27, 2015.
[vii] “Home is where the. . . catcalls come from?” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[viii] Black, Shayna. “Stop Telling Women to Smile” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[ix] Isabel, “Being Abroad and Intersectional Identity.” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[x] “Bunny Means Cute, Not Gay!” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[xi] Julie, “A Twist On Restrooms,” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).
[xii] Ryker, “With the Aid of Strict Gender Roles,” FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map, Vol. 1 (Sept-Dec 2014).

Teen Library Accessibility

The February 2015 newsletter of the Center for Children’s Books (CCB) at the University of Illinois carries an article that begins this way: “Last semester, students from myriad institutions and disciplines collaborated in a distributed open collaborative course (DOCC) created by FemTechNet, a network of scholars, students, and artists interested in feminist science-technology studies. At the University of Illinois, the DOCC entitled “Collaborations in Feminism and Technology” included students from Art and Design, Library and Information Science, and more, led by instructor Sharon Irish. In conjunction with this class, CCB graduate assistant Michelle Biwer explored the issue of accessibility for teen library patrons, ultimately compiling a LibGuide designed for teen librarians or library students interested in learning more about accessibility.”

The CCB conducted an interview with Biwer and Irish. Michelle Biwer’s LibGuide can be found here. There are great resources in the guide, even if you don’t work with teens or in a library!

 

 

Starting Where We Are

 

Sharon Irish (SI), one of FemTechNet’s co-facilitators for 2014-16, recently interviewed Ivette Bayo Urban (IBU) about the course she is teaching this term in Seattle, “Community Technology Literacy and You.”  Ivette is a doctoral candidate in Information Science at the University of Washington.  She obtained support for Starting Where We Are, a project funded by City of Seattle Technology Match on behalf of Casa Latina. Together with members of Casa Latina, university students from the University of Washington and library partners, she is working together across differences with shared goals of 1) increasing digital and information resources for adults as well as 2) early literacy and imaginative play for youth.  She also received support from the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity to offer a for-credit course to students at UW and a community course to people involved with Casa Latina. Sharon was curious how this worked. UPDATE: In June 2015, Ivette shared this video about her work.

Graphic for Starting Where We Are

IBU: Last quarter I had seven students on the project, most of whom were master’s candidates in LIS, including one distance-learner in a predominantly Spanish-speaking rural area with limited access to the Internet and one master’s of information management. An anthropology major took an independent study and served as our project manager (but is actually so much more!) We worked to be non-hierarchical and come to agreement on our goals so that we could be ready for our activities in 2015. This term I am working with five students officially, but others are involved doing their capstone projects in connection with the class. Another four students are building a Little Free Library at Casa Latina.

SI: How often and where do you meet?

IBU: We meet on campus once a week from 3-4:20PM and then we carpool to our community partners, and work with them from 5PM to 7PM. The funding from the Center for Experiential Learning enables us to provide a van to transport people from Casa Latina to branches of King County Public Library and Seattle Public Library. The program started in January and goes through July of 2015. While attendance varies, we usually have six to seven women from the community.

SI: How are the sessions in community locations structured?

IBU: We have a theme each session; last week was email. The Advisory Group, made up of women from Casa Latina, helps guide decisions about programming. Members of the Group also rotate handling logistics for each meeting, and they get paid $15 an hour (for 2 hours) to set up and coordinate sessions, which are conducted in Spanish.

I was able to get additional funding from the Information and Society Center  to provide programming for children while their parents are involved with our digital literacy sessions. UW students either provide childcare, or work in small groups with the Latina women who want to expand their digital skills. The grant to support childcare allowed us to buy a puppet theatre and some iPad minis. We have had up to seven children, including three babies!

SI: How does FemTechNet mesh with your work?

IBU: FemTechNet is a source of inspiration for the collaboration between university and community. Despite learning about FemTechNet after the grant was approved, every aspect of the participatory framework and vision was etched with some of FemTechNet’s manifesto, which is why it is appropriate that this project be offered as FemTechNet node.

All of us have read the FemTechNet manifesto, either in English or in Spanish. We share the work in terms of grant administration, course readings, and community programming. We explore together socially-defined identities and are using Blogger for our reflections. We also have a Weebly site (built by an informatics student) for sharing readings, announcements and reminders across our groups. We are committed to the Toltec Four Agreements.

SI: Tell me more about the Toltec Four Agreements.

IBU: The Casa Latina women’s leadership group has used the Toltec 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz as ground rules and for leadership development.  Therefore we are also using them.  Our handout consists of the agreements on one side and the FemTechNet manifesto in Spanish on the other.

The Four Agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

The women from Casa Latina have added a 5th – Listen with power (or intent) 

SI: Ivette, thank you so much for sharing your vision and practice! I invite people to explore the link to your website for further information.

IBU: You are welcome! Martin Nakata (2002) reminds us of the importance of developing scholarship in “contested spaces of cultural interface.” My activism happens in classrooms, attentive to the complex and uneven relations that exist as we travel and share social and cultural spaces with universities, organizations and individuals. Please check out Starting Where We Are!

Goldsmiths’ “After New Media” Online

By Ben Craggs, Goldsmiths’ University, London, UK

Over the past six months Sarah Kember and I have been working hard to develop the Goldsmiths’ University course After New Media with a view to giving it an additional, online presence. Originally a formal option module for Goldsmiths’ University MA students, and comprising the conventional pedagogic media of lectures, seminars, printed reading packs and small cohorts of students, we began to ask what the course might become were it to be made freely available online.   Our intention was not to create just another MOOC, but something less proprietary, less branded and ultimately more open; something that, inspired by the work already done by FemTechNet, we have begun to think of as distributed, open-access, and collaborative.

Still from "If It Reads, It Bleeds" (2010)  by Joanna Zylinska;  courtesy Joanna Zylinska

Still from “If It Reads, It Bleeds” (2010)
by Joanna Zylinska;
courtesy Joanna Zylinska

This project really began two years previously, in late 2012, when, with the assistance of Goldsmiths’ University’s podcasting service, we decided to record the entire series of ten lectures that made up the After New Media course. At the time this was done with no real plan other than to podcast a small selection of lectures using the university’s new iTunes U platform. The three lectures that we eventually made available proved far more popular than we had either hoped or expected and we began to receive enquiries about the remaining lectures and from there the project has spiralled!

This year the course will be available entirely online — we are releasing all ten lectures in MP3 format, adding a number of explanatory texts, including video content and a ‘liquid reader’. The ten lectures (released on a weekly basis between November 10th and February 9th) are available on the Goldsmiths University website, and a more comprehensive course, including video content and slides is available using the iTunes U website and app. There is no restriction on the number of students who can enroll and we are keen to encourage as many participants as possible.

The liquid reader is intended to be a dynamic and constantly changing resource, both entirely open, providing access to publicly available research and editable, enabling students to add to the course with additional links. We actively encourage experimentation in this space and are inviting participants to upload their own responses, which could include essays, articles, video or photography. The reader is entirely open access, although registration is required on the Liquid Books website if you wish to contribute (please include a brief note about yourself in the message box when registering to help us identify After New Media participants and keep spam to a minimum).

After New Media is in essence a ‘media studies’ course, but it builds on and challenges existing approaches — where media are often discussed as separate, discrete objects (television, film, photography etc.) — and moves towards debates on mediation. The course asks what it means to study ‘the media,’ not as separate entities, but as a complex process, one that is simultaneously social, psychological, economic, political and technological. We trace the origins of this question in debates on remediation that are critical of new media teleology and explore its (creative) evolution through a range of philosophical and contextual approaches, particularly those from the field of feminist studies of science and technology.

Throughout this course we explore the inseparability of media and mediation in the context of specific media events, including the global economic crisis (or the Credit Crunch), the search for and ‘discovery’ (or not) of the Higgs Boson at the CERN Large Hadron Collider project, the world’s first face transplant surgery, and the ongoing quest for life on Mars. What, we ask, is the relation between the event and its mediation — do media simply represent such events, or, would it be more accurate to say that these events are performed through mediation? If events are performative and do not entirely pre-exist their mediation, how might we respond to them in our critiques?

In part this course — and our experiment with ‘going online’ — is already an attempt to explore this question and to recognise and respond to our own pedagogy as mediation. An academic course is itself always a highly mediated event, one co-constituted by lectures, seminars, reading packs, text books, students and academics — none of which can be separated out and taken in isolation, and none of which entirely pre-exist the other. The relationship between the event and its mediation is therefore just as complicated here, and the media with which we engage never convey our meaning in an uncomplicated way, never simply representing pre-formed knowledge to ‘passive’ students. For this reason ‘going online’ is far from neutral, it does something to the course, and it does something to ‘us as ‘we’ are stopped, paused or skipped over on a participant’s iPad. Going online does not simply mean reproducing the same material on a different platform, but nor does it mean ‘upgrading’, or ‘adding value’ to an otherwise ‘staid’ and ‘obsolete’ method of teaching. Instead, it demands an openness to potential changes and transformations over which we may have little control — as teaching always has. What these changes and transformations will be we have yet to apprehend, but that is the exciting part and we hope you will join us in exploring them.

Our development of the online incarnation of the course, from its origins as a series of recorded lectures to a more vibrant and collaborative course has been heavily informed by the work already done by FemTechNet, and we are therefore delighted that After New Media has now been added as one of the DOCC nodes. After New Media launched on November 10th and you can join us now by subscribing via the iTunes app and by contributing your own material to the liquid reader.

 

 

Keyword Videos from DOCC 2013 Students

Recently one nodal class of the FemTechNet DOCC 2013, with students from Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna Colleges in California, completed ‘Keyword’ videos where they added their own voices to a discussion or idea raised in class.

Labor [https://vimeo.com/groups/femtechnet/videos/80407482]

Alejandra and Jeremiah Rishton created a video on the keyword ‘Labor’.  In it they tied the fact that labor and the economy are often tied to supporting the army, to the detriment of the people.  Militaristic gain and capitalism become the goals, at the expense of people’s lives and living conditions.

Women’s College [https://vimeo.com/groups/femtechnet/videos/78846018]

Although it may not seem like it’s possible, in this video Alden Weaver, Stephanie Feldman, and Chayapa Chukatral make a strong argument for the fact that women’s colleges are actually technologies in and of themselves, and the ways in which education, feminism, and technology intersect.

Directioners [https://vimeo.com/groups/femtechnet/videos/78445754]

In this video Bethany discusses the fandom of the band One Direction, and how fans’ queer reading of some of its members consider it feminist, but in reality it is often extreme and disrespectful to the band in the ways the fans express their opinions, especially on twitter.

Maps [https://vimeo.com/groups/femtechnet/videos/81730552]

Andrea’s video has a conversation about feminist practices and technologies of map making

Bodies [https://vimeo.com/81725516]

Alicen discusses how the binary nature of technology is often against feminist principles, especially when applied to the compression of digital images.  Compressing and reducing images to a more simple state through binary often leads to losing the underlying context and meaning.

CNS Interview [https://vimeo.com/groups/femtechnet/videos/78796828]

This particular video by Abby and Siwaraya is not actually a keyword video, but rather a response to Fox News’s report [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8wScTInLD8] on FemTechNet, which was fraught with misinformation and straw men.

Perhaps these videos will spark an interest in a particular topic for you. The class encourages you to respond to their keyword videos with your own.  There can also be videos on ideas such as ‘Transformation’, ‘Race’, and ‘Archives’.  We look forward to your work!

 

 

Feminist Tech Gift Exchange

By Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College

The final for my Pitzer node of FemTechNet’s DOCC 2013 was a craftmaking/gift exchange project where my 12 students had to make something that expressed a feminist interpretation or use of technology by making something to hold and cherish and then give away.

HeelPlanter

Heel Planter

Objectives (developed by Anca Birzescu and Radhika Gajjala):

• Experiment with hands-on, applied skills outside of traditional academic writing

• Make feminist theoretical terms, ideas, and arguments approachable, accessible, and/or available in other formats, vernaculars, and to new audiences

• Connect theories and practices of feminism along key themes

• Materially and then also virtually present your ideas, interpretations, critiques to others involved in the DOCC2013

• Understand “value” outside present day post-industrial capitalistic frameworks

• Create community through gift giving

My students’ beautiful and smart objects are now open for your bids: you simply need to email the maker(s) with a description of the object’s value. The highest bid wins the object!

• The Wire Queen Emerging Sexualities is a handmade laptop that gorges upon body parts and disgorges chaotic disruptions of freedom and pleasure, like any good cyberfeminist should!

• A Heel Planter transforms “an effeminate machine, which is predominantly used by women to enhance their femininity into a planter and therefore a technology because it actively creates and grows life.”

Gendered Toys—real labor involved to change—but well worth the effort…

• An Hourglass Nebula Compost Box with Compostable Jewelry countering technologies of death with “technologies of fertility, or technologies of life” inspired by the life and work of Beatriz Da Costa

CompostFace

 

From Compost Box

• A Humanoid Figure that transforms old electronics “to symbolize the ways which we are constructed by technology, and how ultimately the archive of what we leave behind of our lives is based in technological ways of capturing meaning.”

• Labor Under the Net of Capitalism, an art project capturing paper pigeons in a delicate net that “shows that our labor underneath the capitalist white supremacist system is distorted into a form of behavior that does not benefit us” (video pending)

• A Digital Corruption and Compression Reflection that “transforms code to a physical medium, then makes that medium inaccessible” as a method to protect against the simplification and shaming of gender online

A Plae Time Cloth that intersects language, computers, and textiles through a traditional Thai craft that sometimes serves as a baby cradle, but in this rendition stays hard and soft, old and new for cyberfeminist use

Here’s a quick video that shows all the objects. Or you can read extended online presentations linked to above.

Let the use-value begin!

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/yzfcI73eoTI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

DOCC 2013 Courses Wrapping Up

Maria-Belen Ordonez at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) notes that her DOCC 2013 class just ended this week (end of November.) She reports that the “nodal course students were fantastic.” In only a few more weeks, the rest of the DOCC 2013 nodal courses will be wrapping up, with final projects moving online, conference papers and course reflections being written up, and a few courses developing for Spring 2014. The remaining Video Dialogues will be released in the next two weeks: Archive with Lynn Hershman Leeson and B. Ruby Rich, and Transformations, an homage to Beatriz da Costa.

OCADU_2013

Students in OCAD U DOCC 2013

FemTechNet at Brown University, 2013

By Meg Fernandes

The FemTechNet seminar at Brown University has had an exciting and productive semester thus far! The class is composed of both graduate and undergraduate students interested in a wide variety of issues related to feminism and technology including electronic art projects, new media theory, and feminist pedagogy. In addition to a rigorous curriculum of readings, our course assignments and events include wiki-editing, keyword video production, creative assignments, student reflections about “feminist” terminology, and a guest lecture series. Please visit our course website here (and check back for updates!):

On October 15th (Ada Lovelace Day), our FemTechNet class participated in a campus wide wiki-editing event. The event was led by Maia Weinstock of Wikimedia New England as well as Professor Anne Fausto Sterling. Together, participants edited 70 existing articles and added 20 new articles about prominent female scientists, engineers, and other important cultural figures. The event was covered by a number of local press publications.

FemTechNet students are also making their own keyword videos around topics of their choice which have thus far included Agency, Performance, Cyberfeminism, and Women-Only Art Spaces. We are currently in the stage of post-production, but we hope to have the videos uploaded by the end of November. The videos emphasize student interests related to the course readings including analyzing computer music composition/innovation, investigating technologies such as Snapchat and Siri, and discussing the labors of bodily and opensignal performance. Students will also be completing creative assignments at the end of the year which will include, zines, photography projects, documentary work, poetry, etc. A summary will be written up at the end of the semester.

Students continue to write reflections about terms such as Stacy Alaimo’s “trans-corporeality,” Priscilla Wald’s “outbreak narrative,” and contemporary events related to issues on feminism and technology such as the Hysterical Women’s Project and subRosa. Some of our most interesting discussions have been around Wendy Chun’s work on software, Judith Butler’s essay on vulnerability and mourning, Eugene Thacker’s “biomedia,” Mel Y Chen’s “animacy,” and Melinda Cooper and Kalinda Vora’s discussion of transnational reproductive labor and technology.

            Lastly, we are hosting a number of exciting guest lectures including video artists, animators, and DJ’ s, including the following:

Asha Tamirisia, graduate student in MEME (computer music) at Brown University
Asha gave a presentation on her role as a computer music artist, tracing her development and interests in both analog and digital music production through her childhood, her undergraduate education at Oberlin, and finally, her work here at Brown as a PhD student. About one of the videos she showed, which can be found on our course website, she said:

This project was made in collaboration with dancer Alayna Wiley in 2010 in an old, unused men’s locker room at Oberlin College. The movement and video processing hinge on ideas of disappearance, intangibility, and distortion. As I revisit this project many years later, I see ties to ideas of material feminism: a means to create the sensation of porousness between the body and its environment, reconceiving the body in a way that recognizes it as a place in process.

Jessamyn Swift, graduate student in English at Brown University
Jessamyn gave her presentation on her evolving dissertation research including investigating theories of agency and the nonhuman in the work of Charles Darwin. In particular, Jessamyn close-read sections of Darwin’s observations about the possible “sentient” or “intentional” behavior of certain organisms including worms.

Samantha Calamari, DJ and Instructional Technology Expert and Aaron Apps, graduate student in English at Brown University.
Samantha will be presenting about her career as a female DJ in the 90′s in San Francisco and New York City. In particular, Samantha remarks on how the change from analog to digital DJ technologies changed the gender landscape in music culture.

Aaron is a published poet. He will be presenting work on his poetry book, Intersex, and discuss issues of queer identity and gender politics.

Elisa Giardina Papa, digital artist, Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University
Elisa is an Italian digital artist. She will presenting her work on animation and portraiture.

November 26th, 2013: Maura Smyth, Junior Fellow at Harvard University’s Society of Fellows
Maura is giving a presentation about her co-founded digital collaborative story-telling project called The Blaitholm Affair. From the press release:

The Blaitholm Affair’s interface will seamlessly integrate the world’s stories, art, and music, enabling artistic collaboration and allowing each visitor to have a different experience of the world, depending on how you navigate it… The scope of the world is boundless, the opportunities for collaboration never-ending.

December 3rd, 2013: Malavika Jayaram, Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society

From her website:

Malavika works broadly in the areas of privacy, identity, free expression and internet policy in India. A practicing lawyer specializing in technology law, she has a particular interest in new media and the arts, and has advised start-ups, innovators, scientists, educational institutions and artists. A Fellow at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India, she follows legislative and policy developments in the privacy and internet governance domains. For the last few years, she has been looking at he evolution of big data and e-governance projects in India – particularly the world’s largest biometric ID project – and their implications for identity, freedom, choice and informational self-determination.

“New Domesticity” and Technology

By Angie Stangl*, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

After opening Pinterest for the first time in months, I remembered why I had avoided signing in; pins of cute babies in home-knit jumpers, DIY home organization solutions, canning basics, and cute little lunch ideas fill the screen.  It is not that these things aren’t cute, fun, or enjoyable but rather that they make me feel inadequate. These callings toward “domesticity” are all over the web and are popping up in most of the social media space I occupy.  Further, a pressure to participate in these domestic activities challenges the balance I’ve struck between home, work and graduate school.

cookies

Emily Matchar in Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity (Simon & Schuster, 2013) examines the rise of this DIY culture and defines a “new domesticity” to explain the current movement of women participating in these things. Most importantly, in her book, Ms. Matchar illustrates many of potential pitfalls of areas that are a part of this growing new domesticity movement.  The new domesticity movement is not addressing the need for financial independence and a flexible workplace for women, it is largely disrupting gender-balanced parenting, and it is a movement for those who can afford to participate (often solidly middle class women with alternative sources of income).

To further complicate some of the arguments in Homeward Bound, technology is playing a key role in this movement as well.  The spaces that this new domesticity are being expressed are often online in the form of blogs, forums, and websites.  These online communities can offer support to fellow participants who partake in aspects of new domesticity but at the same time these are spaces that can be exclusive and reinforce the feeling of inadequacy for those who cannot find the time or money to participate.

Additionally, we need to be cognizant of the consumerist forces driving this movement, as is highlighted in the book.  Many blogs today have advertisements or the blogger writes about using (or not using) specific products or services.  Whether we want it to or not, these things shape our views.  Blogs voice personal opinions, so following a blogger’s advice may not feel so different than taking advice from a friend.

What I’d like to know is how is this new domesticity different than earlier notions from years ago about women wanting to have it all?  Haven’t we realized that we can strike a balance instead of trying to “do all the things”?  As much as aspects of this movement are compelling, I think we need to reconsider how technology has captured us and pushes us into this movement without considering some of the concerns raised in Homeward Bound.  Realistically, it is not possible to do it all.  So, how can we use technology to participate in a meaningful way (i.e. being inclusive and reversing the damage new domesticity has done)?

Here’s an interview with Emily Matchar.

*Angie Stangl is a participant in the UIUC Dialogues on Feminism and Technology graduate seminar.