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Course Information

Instructor Info:Lorne Falk
Office Extension x6084
TA Info:Cyrus Politi
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Thursday
07:00 PM - 10:00 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106

The bioapparatus is a term coined by two Canadian media artists, Nell Tenhaaf and Catherine Richards, to cover a wide range of issues concerning the technologized body. This course will explore the relationship of the mind and body to technology in contemporary art and culture. We will consider the resonance and currency of the bioapparatus in relation to the cyborg, the posthuman, and bionics. We will discuss issues such as the nature of the apparatus, re-embodiment, designing the social, natural artifice, cyborg fictions, subjectivities, perfect bodies, virtual environments, the real interface, art machines and bioart. Division II and III students will have the opportunity to develop an independent paper or portion of their thesis in this course.

Course Objectives:

 Students in this course are expected to work with one another to create a lively, serious, ongoing conversation about how art and culture explore and represent the relationship between mind, body and technology. Working conscientiously together in various ways is a key to developing (your) critical, research, verbal and collegial skills. There are two papers and each student will serve as respondent for another student's mid-term and final paper. In teams you will present and lead discussions about assigned readings and individually you will present the work of an artist relevant to the readings. Summaries of these presentations, along with relevant websites and images will be uploaded to the course website as a bank of shared information and ideas. You are expected to engage issues of form and subject matter, political and historical contexts, social relevance and critical reception of art works, issues, and theories of the contemporary moment relevant to the discourse about the bioapparatus.

Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance: Attendance of each class is required. No more than 2 unexcused absences will be allowed. If you must miss a class or be late due to illness, please email me in advance.

Preparation: Complete the readings and be prepared to discuss them in class. Your level of preparation is evident and will be factored into your final evaluation.You are expected to spend at least six to eight hours a week of preparation and work outside of class time, including reading, writing, research, discussion and production for presentations.

Participation I: Each class will be devoted to group discussion of the assigned texts. Students in teams will take a turn presenting and leading the discussion of each week's assigned readings. Each presentation should be 20-30 minutes in length. It is required that each team meet prior to their presentation to discuss the readings and prepare a handout, which should include a single paragraph summary of each reading followed by specifically cited passages about issues and insights that articulate what you consider to be the key points and that link it to the other readings—about 1-page per reading.

Participation II: Every student will make a presentation of work by an artist mentioned in or relevant to the readings. You are expected to engage in serious, scholarly, college-level research in your presentation, which should be 15-20 minutes in length. Presentations should include: a concise biographical sketch of the artist, a selection of (10-20) images of work taken from different periods in their career, and a rigorous analysis of a single work of art that engages with one of the subjects, issues, or themes of the class. While a handout is not required, your presentation is to be uploaded to the course website.

Image and Art Historical Research: All presentations, with relevant websites and images are to be uploaded to the course website as a bank of shared information and ideas. Students may draw on this bank for their papers.

Essays: You must submit two essays. Each essay should be typed in Times New Roman (12 point), have a title page that includes the prompt, have proper footnotes (Chicago style), and be paginated (e.g. JDoe – 1). The mid-term paper should be 8-10 pages long and the final paper 12-15 pages, not including title page and images. I will distribute paper topics corresponding to the due dates (mid-term and end of term)—your essays must be on either my topics or a topic of your own design that I have approved.

Important: Essays must be emailed to me by their respective deadlines. The folder for you on my laptop represents your portfolio; you won't have to submit a portfolio at the end of the class.

Additional Info:


*Available at Amherst Books, off the Commons in Amherst.

Braidotti, Rosi. Transpositions. Polity Press: Malden, MA, 2006.

Kac, Eduardo, ed. Signs of Life: Bio Art and Beyond. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2007.

Stone, Allucquère Rosanne. The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 1995.

All other readings are available as .pdf files here on the Moodle course site.