opening paragraphs of “The Cyborg Manifesto” for Monday’s class


This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism. Perhaps more faithful as blasphemy is faithful, than as reverent worship and identification. Blasphemy has always seemed to require taking things very seriously. I know no better stance to adopt from within the secular-religious, evangelical traditions of United States politics, including the politics of socialist feminism. Blasphemy protects one from the moral majority within, while still insisting on the need for community. Blasphemy is not apostasy. Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play. It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method, one I would like to see more honoured within socialist-feminism. At the centre of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg.

A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction. The international women’s movements have constructed ‘women’s experience’, as well as uncovered or discovered this crucial collective object. This experience is a fiction and fact of the most crucial, political kind. Liberation rests on the construction of the consciousness, the imaginative apprehension, of oppression, and so of possibility. The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women’s experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.

Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs – creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted.

small group work on politics, new media, hacking

Please work through the questions below with your assigned group. Answers to most questions can be found directly in the assigned reading. Please also make sure you jot down notes so you can recall your answers when we go over the questions on Monday.

“Politics and New Media”:

  1. Why and how (in what specific ways) do people tend to think that the Internet provides the possibility of undermining traditional political institutions, hierarchies, and power relations? Looking back on what we’ve learned so far in class, how do social network sites seem to support this belief and how do they undermine this belief?
  2. What is communicative capitalism and how does it express a skepticism toward the possibility of the power of networks (and, by implication, social networks) to bring about any kind of meaningful social change?
  3. Tactical media use “shifts the aim of politics away from traditional revolutionary aims into a ‘micropolitics of disruption, intervention, and education.'” Go to and choose one tactical media project to look at. Then, discuss the project in terms of the previous quote.
  4. And finally, what exactly does the author mean by this sentence: “Early notions that the abstract geometry of cyberspace would allow an escape from binary structures and the concrete constraints of power (Haraway 1991) have been challenged by a recognition of the integration of cyberspace and everyday life.” Can you come up with some examples to support what Hands is saying here?


  1. What is a hacker?
  2. Given this definition, come up with a way in which you have hacked something, some system, whether computer-based or not.
  3. Who are the heirs of hackers?
  4. What’s the distinction between a hacker who’s a builder and a hacker who’s a breaker?
  5. What is UNIX? Speculate about why it attracts hackers. Also, why are hackers who work on UNIX said to be part of “a recursive public”?

literary research overview for Monday’s class

  1. What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source? Should a research paper include primary sources, secondary sources, or both?
  2. What is an example of a nonacademic source and how do you use these nonacademic sources in your papers?
  3. What is the difference between a library catalog and a database? Name some databases relevant to our class.
  4. What is the difference between Chinook and Prospector and Interlibrary Loan?
  5. What is the difference between subject word searching and keyword searching?
  6. What does “peer reviewed article” mean and why do you want to include these sources in your papers?
  7. Which literature-related databases are full text? What IS “full text”? Which database is the most complete and extensive for doing literary research?
  8. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “and” serve?
  9. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “or” serve?
  10. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “not” serve?
  11. When you’re doing an advanced search, what function does the Boolean operator “*” or “?” serve?
  12. When evaluating a source for a research project, what aspects of the source should you consider?
  13. What do you need to do to conduct research on your computer at home/off-campus?



questions to think about why your privacy matters

  • Are you empowered to shape your identity and make informed choices or is this identity shaping being done for you?
  • Are you able to access all different kinds of information freely and easily to make an informed decision or are your choices being filtered for you?
  • Are you free to educate yourself in whatever way you choose?
  • Are you free to take on any position? and not just free today, but potentially free tomorrow? If you’re being watched, the implication is that some forms of thought are acceptable and some are not. Who decides this? Are we, as a society, as a culture and community of thinkers deciding this or is some non neutral, biased entity deciding for you? What if you decide at some point in your life that dissent is necessary, or what if you decide you no longer want to dissent, are you free to act on this? or have you become penned in by how the internet never forgets? A quote for you to mull over: “Your freedom of expression is threatened by the surveillance of your internet usage – thought patterns and intentions can be extrapolated from your website visits (rightly or wrongly), and the knowledge that you are being surveilled can make you less likely to research a particular topic. You lose that perspective, and your thought can be pushed in one direction as a result. Similarly, when the things you write online, or communicate privately to others, are surveilled, and you self-censor as a result, the rest of us lose your perspective, and the development of further ideas is stifled. More, your freedom of association is threatened by the surveillance of your communications online and by phone, and your freedom of assembly is threatened by the tracking of your location by your mobile phone.”
  • What’s the value of privacy? Of having a space, physical as well as virtual, that’s all your own? Of having the ability to think and develop and grow without being watched?
  • Should companies be able to make money off your free labor? Your data is worth real, tangible money to the companies that offer you free services and the companies they do business with, even if they’re not asking you to open your wallet. Another quote to mull over: “While the government has to provide some measure of transparency, private entities are largely exempt from the Privacy Act of 1974, and once they collect your information, there’s no way to tell what happens to it after that. Some companies reserve the right to sell the information, and while most explicitly promise not to in their privacy policies, they give themselves the out of being able to ‘share’ information with their ‘strategic partners,’ which is the same thing, just without a cash transaction taking place.”

extra credit opportunity: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Wednesday March 8th drop by between 2:3-pm and 7:30pm at the CU Art Museum.

Please join us and our friends from CU-Boulder Libraries and the Boulder Feminist Initiative for a fun, inclusive one-day event that brings together diverse communities to create and improve Wikipedia articles related to women in the arts!
Despite its wide reach, Wikipedia suffers from a gender gap, and its content is skewed by the lack of women’s voices. This represents an alarming absence in an important repository of shared knowledge, especially as our society is increasingly beset by rampant misinformation. Join us in changing this! We’re gathering women and allies together to celebrate women’s cultural achievements and edit Wikipedia articles about women in the arts.

All are welcome, and no Wikipedia editing experience is necessary; tutoring will be provided for Wikipedia newcomers. Women editors, especially women of color and diverse gender expression, are encouraged to attend.

Please bring a laptop if possible. There will be a limited number of computers available.

extra credit opportunity Tuesday March. 7th on dissent

MALfunction: A series of intimate events that question where media and society, research and practice meet. Each MALfunction features one researcher and one artist whose projects examine a similar technological theme. FREE.

Tuesday March 7th 6.30pm CU Natural History Museum
Curated by Maya Livio
MALfunction #5: Dissent

// RESEARCHER: Jonas Kaiser // The Right-Wing Web
Right-wing organisations have been on the fringes of society in the US and Western Europe for most of the last 60 years. This, however, has changed. The financial crisis, migrant crisis, and potential threats of terrorism have eroded the borders between the right-wing and political mainstream, with right-wing populist parties and civil movements preying on society’s feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness. In his talk, Kaiser will shine a light on the role of white nationalist websites in the US election, and outline how right-wing organizations have been connecting internationally to strengthen their national agendas.

// ARTIST: Laleh Mehran // Symbolic Patterns of Structure and Control
Sharing the inspirations, methodologies, and processes in her work, Laleh Mehran will discuss the complexities involved in creating artworks that critique dominant political ideologies, and the threat of severe personal ramifications that can emerge. Some of the pieces she will discuss include Men of God, Men of Nature and Entropic Order—two works she has exhibited regionally, which speak critically to these issues.

/// MORE INFO ///
/ Jonas Kaiser /
Jonas Kaiser is a communications scholar, Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and Associate Researcher at Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society. His research focuses on the online presence of right-wing populist and extremist organisations in Germany, Sweden, and the US. Specifically, he is interested in how right-wing organisations attempt to bridge the gap with mainstream politics, and how they connect internationally. Jonas earned his doctoral degree at Zeppelin University in Germany with an analysis of climate change skepticism in the German networked public sphere.

/ Laleh Mehran /
Laleh Mehran was born in Iran and relocated with her family to the United States at the start of the Iranian Islamic Revolution. For nearly 20 years, Mehran has been creating elaborate digital and physical artworks inspired by Eastern and Western aesthetic sensibilities. Focused on the complicated intersections between politics, religion, and science, she strives to call attention to these concepts with the awareness that in today’s political climate, certain views can have extreme consequences for the speaker. These considerations influence her to create artistic spaces for critical thought, dialogue, and aesthetics while raising the question of the viewer’s relation to each of these fundamental systems.

Mehran received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her work has been shown individually and as part of collectives in venues including the International Symposium on Electronic Art (United Arab Emirates), National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan), Electronic Language International Festival (Brazil), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Massachusetts), The Georgia Museum of Art (Georgia), The Andy Warhol Museum (Pennsylvania), Denver Art Museum (Colorado), Biennial of the Americas at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (Colorado), 404 International Festival of Art & Technology (Argentina), Next 5 Minutes 4 Tactical Media Festival (Netherlands), and the European Media Arts Festival (Germany). Mehran is a Professor and Graduate Director in the Emergent Digital Practices program at the University of Denver.

Presented by the Media Archaeology Lab and hosted at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.