Fall 2021 Course Highlight: Monsters & Machines

Ph.D. Candidate Matt Ferens will be teaching AH 430: Monsters & Machines, Tuesday/Thursday 4:00–5:15pm during the Fall 2021 semester. There are no prerequisites! Counts as humanities breadth and L&S credit.

“The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you.” With this line, Carl Jung warns us that if we don’t search for our identities, we may be susceptible to have an identity imposed on us by someone else. In today’s world in which we become increasingly integrated with technologies, in which global responsibilities reconceptualize individual agency, and in which it is becoming more difficult to distinguish hero from monster, the very identity of the human-being is at stake. This course aims to provide students with theoretical tools to evaluate today’s society, politics, and visual culture and to understand how our ideas of humanity correspond with ethics, morality, and life’s meanings. The central question of this class is: what does it mean to be human? To answer this question, we will explore monster theory, philosophy of technology, and concepts of humanism as represented in visual cultures of Europe and the West. We will take a deep dive into both history and fiction to find possible solutions, and, ultimately, we will attempt to extract meanings that can help us evaluate today’s world and our place in it.