Robots as Media
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5282
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
As robots begin to move outside of factories and into a variety of new roles--from vacuuming floors to performing surgeries, disarming bombs, and driving cars--it is clear that they represent a radical new form of mediated information and agency. predator drone robots have become the primary tool of the U.S. government in its war on terror, and, at the same time, journalists continue to refer to military robots as "Terminators." These observations raise the question of how our ongoing development and use of robotic media is being shaped by media representations of robotics. This course examines the complex relationship between robots and the media, from both the perspective of representations of robots in the media—including film, television, and news media--and the development of robots as a new form of media. In the first part of the course we consider the types of narrative roles that robots have occupied, as well as how the concepts of robotics and automation are reflected in the social and cultural contexts in which those media are produced. The second part of the course explores recent developments in robotics as forms of digital media, both continuous with and distinct from other types of digital media. We assess how contemporary debates about the potential uses and social impacts of robotic media intersect with popular narratives about robotics, both pessimistic and optimistic. The class also considers what makes contemporary discourses on robotic unique, and what that might tell us about contemporary society and culture. Course materials include readings from a variety of popular, academic, and literary sources--among them texts by Katherine Hayles, Ken Goldberg, Rodney Brooks and Philip K. Dick--and video clips from TV and films including Blade Runner, Robo-Cop, Battlestar Galactica, Surrogates, and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Students are expected to produce a short mid-term, and longer final assignment--either a research paper, film or digital media project.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Graduate students.