Gender, Race, and Sexuality in the Digital Age

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Meeting Information
Location: EDH 1
Days: Tuesday
Time: 12:30-3:20
Extension: 5673
Office: DB 1
Office Hours:
Home Page:
Technical Information
Course Level: 300
Course Number: 327
Course Capacity: 16
Course Website:

Gender, Race, and Sexuality in the Digital Age is a Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies class taught by Susana Loza.

Course Description

This seminar will explore the interface of technology with gender and race, how the concepts of gender, race, and sexuality are embodied in technologies, and conversely, how technologies shape our notions of gender, race, and sexuality. It will examine how contemporary products -- such as film, video games, science fiction, plastic surgery, blogs, and biotechnologies -- reflect and mediate long-standing but ever-shifting anxieties about race, gender, and sexuality. The course will consider the following questions: How do cybertechnologies enter into our personal, social, and work lives? Do these technologies offer new perspectives on cultural difference? How does cyberspace reinscribe or rewrite gender, racial, and sexual dichotomies? Does it open up room for alternative identities, cultures, and communities? Does it offer the possibility of transcending the sociocultural limits of the body? Finally, what are the political implications of these digital technologies? Instructor Permission Required.

All readings are available via the HACU-0327 course website.

1.    Complete assigned readings in advance of each class meeting.  Please bring readings to class.
2.    Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions.
3.    Class presentation on one of the assigned readings.
4.    Regularly review course website for announcements, assignments, and additional readings.
5.    Complete and submit all written work in a timely manner, which include the following:
       •    8 Blog Posts (Due on 2/12, 2/19, 2/26, 3/5, 3/12, 3/26, 4/9, and 4/23)
       •    Paper Proposal (Due 3/3)
       •    Annotated Bibliography (3/24)
       •    Detailed Outline OR Rough Draft (Due 4/7)
       •    20 Page Final Research Paper (Due 4/21)
6.    Submit a portfolio consisting of all your written work at the end of the semester (Due 4/28).
7.    Submit a Mid-Term Self-Evaluation (Due 3/4) AND a Self-Evaluation to The Hub (Due 5/1).

Class Attendance: Because attendance is critical to the success of this seminar, only one (1) absence is allowed (a subsequent absence will result in a "no evaluation" or a failing grade).  Please keep in mind that when you skip class, you miss information crucial to understanding the readings, a sense of which themes are important, and the presentations of your classmates.

Class Discussions: This course follows a seminar format, and as such, you are required to arrive promptly to class and actively participate in all class discussions.  You are expected to fully engage with the assigned readings and offer informed perspectives in class. We all benefit when we all read, question and listen. In the process, students are expected to be respectful of and open to others’ opinions and suggestions and to avoid monopolizing class discussions. The goal is to facilitate rather than close down critical debate of the subject material. For those whom grades will not be assigned, the degree and quality of participation will be noted in your final narrative evaluations.

Class Presentation: Students will be required to give an in-class presentation of approximately 20-25 minutes on one of the assigned readings. Besides summarizing the key points of the week's reading, students are expected to use the reading to analyze a manifestation of race, gender, and sexuality in the digital age and to lead class discussion. Students should consult with the instructor before the presentation to discuss its general content.

Blog Posts:  Students will be required to submit EIGHT posts to the class blog.  Posts should be 600 or more.  Posts should be proofread, spell checked and the word count confirmed prior to submission. Your posts should reflect sophisticated consideration of the readings and issues we have discussed in class. Posts should not summarize our class discussions but rather move beyond them in a significant way.  Posts should engage with theoretical concepts from the readings and apply them to contemporary digital culture. Although not required, students are strongly encouraged to comment on the posts of their fellow students via the class blog.

Research Paper:  A research paper is required for this course. Students will be evaluated based upon the successful completion of the following assignments: paper proposal, annotated bibliography, detailed outline/rough draft, and final draft. Final drafts are due April 21st at 12:30 pm and MUST be submitted directly to the Professor, unless other arrangements have been made beforehand. Late papers will be excused only in the case of a documented illness or family emergency. Papers should be 20 double-spaced pages in length or more (one-inch margins and 12 pt. font) and printed double-sided (NO EMAILED PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED). The paper title, author’s name and email address, and date should appear at the top of the first page. Do not include a separate cover page. Please staple papers; do not submit papers with clips, binders, or report covers. Please number all pages. Papers must include a bibliography and proper citations, with a minimum of 15 scholarly references cited including at least 5 academic journal publications. None of the sources may be from the class reading list. While Wikipedia and similar sources might be used for background information, it is expected that students will find more authoritative sources for information and cite these sources rather than citing Wikipedia. The Chicago reference style should be used for the bibliography and citations (students may use an alternative style only with permission of the Professor). Papers should be well structured with appropriate headings throughout, and include conclusions that are well supported by the rest of the paper. Remember this is a research paper, not an opinion essay. All assertions need to be supported with citations to relevant literature. You should cite ideas, not just direct quotes. Headings should be used to structure the paper. Purchasing a hard copy, CD, or online subscription of the Chicago Manual of Style is highly recommended.


Class Decorum: Turn off your cell phone, blackberry, iPhone, or other electronic device, before class begins.  Please note: In-Class laptop computer usage is permitted but should be limited to course-related activities and not casual web surfing for personal enjoyment.

Tardiness Policy: Students are expected to be in class on time. Attendance will be taken promptly at 12:30 pm. If you are late, you will be assigned extra work.  1-5 minutes late will add 100 words to your next blog post assignment (i.e., you will be required to write 700 words instead of 600).  5-10 minutes late will add 200 words (800 words instead of 600). If you are more than ten minutes late, you will be marked absent for the day. Please note: Excessive tardiness will be noted in your final narrative evaluation.

Late Assignments:  No late work! No exceptions! All assignments are due on the date, time, and location specified in the syllabus. It is your responsibility to keep track of when and where assignments are due. Please plan ahead as accidents do occur (computers crash, printers run out of toner, networks go down, illnesses descend, hangovers happen, breakups take their toll, etc.).

If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work on time, I urge you to contact the Disabilities Services Coordinator, Joel Dansky. He is responsible for the coordination and provision of services and accommodations for students with disabilities. He may be reached at 413-559-5423 or via email

:  Plagiarism is a very serious offense and will not be tolerated. If a student is found guilty of plagiarism he or she will not receive an evaluation for this class, and the case will be handed over to the Dean for disciplinary action. If you use the words or ideas of others you must clearly identify the source in your work (that includes any information found on the web!). Direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks and their sources cited. Paraphrased sources should also be acknowledged. If you are unclear what constitutes plagiarism, consult the Professor before handing your work in. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is not a defense. It is your responsibility to be sure beforehand.

February 3: Introduction –Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Digital Age

ASSIGNMENT: Students must identify FOUR class readings they would like to present on. We will hold a lottery during class on February 10th to determine the sequence of student presentations. Each student will only have to present on ONE reading. To make sure that student presenters have sufficient time, only THREE presentations will be scheduled per class.

February 10: Technoculture, Postmodernism, Globalization
•    Chela Sandoval, "Fredric Jameson: Postmodernism is a Neo-Colonizing Force (Part I)"
•    Chela Sandoval, "U.S. Third World Feminism: Differential Social Movement (Part II)"
•    Chela Sandoval, "On Cultural Studies: An Apartheid of Theoretical Domains (Part III)"
•    Edgardo Lander, "Eurocentrism, Modern Knowledges, and the 'Natural' Order of Global Capital"
•    Lauren Langman, "Culture, Identity, and Hegemony: The Body in a Global Age"  
•    Ziauddin Sardar, "Alt.Civilizations.FAQ: Cyberspace as the Darker Side of the West"
•    D.J. Walmsley, "Community, Place, and Cyberspace"
•    Lincoln Dahlberg, "The Internet as Public Sphere or Culture Industry? From Pessimism to Hope and Back"
•    John Hutnyk, "Culture (Definition)"
•    Scott McQuire, "Technology (Definition)"

February 12Blog Post Due by 11PM.

February 17: Cyberfeminism and Its Discontents
•    Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto"
•    Anne Balsamo, "Forms of Technological Embodiment: Reading the Body in Contemporary Culture" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Maria Fernandez, "Situating Cyberfeminisms"  [Not Eligible for Class Presentation] 
•    Maria Fernandez, "Cyberfeminism, Racism, Embodiment" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Anna Everett, "On Cyberfeminism and Cyberwomanism: High-Tech Mediations of Feminism’s Discontents" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Catherine Ramirez, "Cyborg Feminism: The Science Fiction of Octavia E. Butler and Gloria Anzaldúa"
•    Judith Wacjman, "Introduction: Feminist Utopia or Dystopia" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Judith Wacjman, "Male Designs on Technology"
•    Judith Wacjman, "Technoscience Reconfigured"
•    Judith Wacjman, "Virtual Gender"   

February 19: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

February 24: The Biopolitics of Technoscience
•    Michelle Wright, "Racism, Technology and the Limits of Western Knowledge"
•    Anne Fausto-Sterling, "Refashioning Race: DNA and the Politics of Health Care"
•    Jill Didur, "Re-Embodying Technoscientific Fantasies: Posthumanism, Genetically Modified Foods, and the Colonization of Life" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Jody Berland, "Cultural Technologies and The 'Evolution' of Technological Cultures"
•    Peter A. Chow-White, "The Informationalization of Race: Communication Technologies and the Human Genome in the Digital Age"
•    Jasbir Puar, "Introduction: Homonationalism and Biopolitics"
•    Laura Briggs and Jodi I. Kelber-Kaye, "'There is No Unauthorized Breeding in Jurassic Park': Gender and the Uses of Genetics"
•    Rayvon Fouche, "The Wretched of the Gulf: Racism, Technological Dramas, and Black Politics of Technology" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Emily de Araujo and Lucia Sommer, "A Summary History of Eugenic Theories and Practices in the United States" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Charis Thompson, "Race Science (Definition)" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    John Marks, "Biopolitics (Definition)" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

February 26Blog Post Due by 11PM.

March 3: Producing Gender in a Posthuman Age
•    N. Katherine Hayles, "The Materiality of Informatics"
•    Dianne Currier, "Assembling Bodies in Cyberspace: Technologies, Bodies, and Sexual Difference"
•    Amanda Fernbach, "The Fetishization of Masculinity in Science Fiction: The Cyborg and the Console Cowboy"
•    Alexia L. Bowler, "eXistenZ and the Spectre of Gender in the Cyber-Generation"
•    Mia Consalvo, "Borg Babes, Drones, and the Collective: Reading Gender and the Body in Star Trek"
•    Michelle Chilcoat, "Brain Sex, Cyberpunk Cinema, Feminism, and the Dis/Location of Heterosexuality"
•    Stephen Harper, "'I Could Kiss You, You Bitch':  Race, Gender and Sexuality in Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Steven Shaviro, "Supa Dupa Fly: Black Women as Cyborgs in Hip Hop Videos" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Joanna Demers, "Dancing Machines: 'Dance Dance Revolution', Cybernetic Dance, and Musical Taste " [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Nicholas Gane, "Posthuman (Definition)" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

ASSIGNMENT: Submit Research Paper Proposal. Proposals should be 1 page in length and typed (double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12 pt. font). Don't forget to check spelling and grammar!  See course website for helpful tips!

March 4: Mid-Term Evaluations Due

March 5: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

March 10: Racing The Future
•    Lisa Nakamura, "Introduction: Digital Racial Formations and Networked Images of the Body"
•    Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, "Race and Software"
•    Herman Gray, "Is Cyber (Space) the Place?" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Tani Dianca Sanchez, "Neo-Abolitionists, Colorblind Epistemologies, and Black Politics: The Matrix Trilogy"
•    Curt Marez, "Aliens and Indians: Science Fiction, Prophetic Photography, and Near-Future Visions" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Megan Boler, "Hypes, Hopes and Actualities: New Digital Cartesianism and Bodies in Cyberspace"
•    Alex Campbell, "The Search for Authenticity: An Exploration of an Online Skinhead Newsgroup"
•    Sean Brayton, "An American Werewolf in Kabul: John Walker Lindh, the Construction of 'Race', and the Return to Whiteness" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

March 12: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

March 17: No Class – Spring Break

March 24(De)constructing Orientalism
•    Wendy Chun, "Orienting Orientalism or How To Map Cyberspace"
•    Kumiko Sato, "How Information Technology Has (Not) Changed Feminism and Japanism: Cyberpunk in the Japanese Context"
•    Mimi Nguyen, "Queer Cyborgs and New Mutants: Race, Sexuality, and Prosthetic Sociality in Digital Space"
•    Sunaina Maira, "Indo-Chic: Late Capitalist Orientalism and Imperial Culture"
•    Jasbir Puar, "Abu Ghraib and US Sexual Exceptionalism"
•    Lisa Nakamura, "Measuring Race on the Internet: Users, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the United States"
•    Shoshana Magnet, "Feminist Sexualities, Race, and the Internet: an Investigation of"

: Turn in Annotated Bibliography for Research Paper. Annotated bibliographies must include a minimum of EIGHT scholarly references and include at least THREE academic journal publications. None of the sources may be from the class reading list. While Wikipedia and similar sources might be used for background information, it is expected that students will find more authoritative sources for information and cite these sources rather than citing Wikipedia. The Chicago reference style should be used for the bibliography and citations. See course website for helpful tips!  As always, don’t forget to check spelling and grammar!

March 26: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

March 31: Afrofutures, Techno Pasts
•    Lisa Yaszek, "Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future"
•    Mark Bould, "The Ships Landed Long Ago: Afrofuturism and Black SF" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Kodwo Eshun, "Further Considerations on Afrofuturism" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Mary F. E. Ebeling, "The New Dawn: Black Agency in Cyberspace" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Kali Tal, "'That Just Kills Me': Black Militant Near-Future Fiction"
•    Herman Gray, "Music, Identity, and New Technology"
•    Ben Williams, "Black Secret Technology: Detroit Techno and the Information Age"
•    Mark A. McCutcheon, "Techno, Frankenstein and Copyright"
•    Dale Chapman, "'That Ill, Tight Sound': Telepresence and Biopolitics in Post-Timbaland Rap Production"
•    Catherine Ramirez, "Afrofuturism/Chicanafuturism: Fictive Kin" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

April 7: Gender and Race in the Digital Realm
•    David J. Leonard, "Not a Hater, Just Keeping It Real: The Importance of Race- and Gender-Based Game Studies" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Shoshana Magnet, "Playing at Colonization: Interpreting Imaginary Landscapes in the Video Game Tropico"
•    Roger Stahl, "Have You Played the War on Terror?"
•    Tanner Higgin, "Blackless Fantasy: The Disappearance of Race in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games"
•    Mary Flanagan, "Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance"
•    Brandi Wilkins Catanese, "'How Do I Rent A Negro?': Racialized Subjectivity and Digital Performance Art"
•    Marc Ouellette, "When a Killer Body Isn't Enough: Cross-Gender Identification in Action-Adventure Video Games"
•    Natasha Chen Christensen, "Geeks at Play: Doing Masculinity in an Online Gaming Site" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Rebecca Borah and Inez Schaechterle, "More Than Girlfriends, Geekettes, and Gladiatixes: Women, Feminism, and Fantasy Role-Playing Games" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Leigh Schwartz, "Fantasy, Realism, and the Other in Recent Video Games Hybridity" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Sheila C. Murphy, "'Live in Your World, Play in Ours': The Spaces of Video Game Identity" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

ASSIGNMENT: Detailed outline OR rough draft of research paper due. Outlines should be 3-4 pages long. See course website for helpful tips!  As always, don’t forget to check spelling and grammar!

April 9: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

April 14: Global Culture, Neoliberal Realities
•    Stacy Takacs, "Speculations on a New Economy: La Femme Nikita, The Series"
•    Guillermo Gomez-Peña, "The New Global Culture: Somewhere Between Corporate Multiculturalism and the Mainstream Bizarre (A Border Perspective)" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Felicity Schaeffer-Gabriel, " Cyberbrides in the Americas and the Transnational Routes of US Masculinity"
•    Peter A. Chow-White, "Race, Gender and Sex on the Net: Semantic Networks of Selling and Storytelling Sex Tourism"
•    M. Jacqui Alexander, "Imperial Desire/Sexual Utopias: White Gay Capital and Transnational Tourism"
•    Raka Shome, "Thinking Through the Diaspora: Call Centers, India, and a New Politics of Hybridity"
•    Kaela Jubas, "Conceptual Con/fusion in Democratic Societies: Understandings and Limitations of Consumer-Citizenship"
•    Tara Brabazon, "Buff Puffing an Empire: The Body Shop and Colonization by Other Means" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Sharon Heijin Lee, "Lessons from 'Around the World with Oprah': Neoliberalism, Race, and the (Geo)Politics of Beauty" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

April 21: The Discipline of Watching: Cyberspace, Surveillance, and Citizenship
•    Kevin Porter, "Terror and Emancipation: The Disciplinarity and Mythology of Computers"
•    Mark Andrejevic, "The Discipline of Watching: Detection, Risk, and Lateral Surveillance" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Caroline Bassett, "Forms of Reconciliation: On Contemporary Surveillance" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Nicholas de Genova, "The Production of Culprits: From Deportability to Detainability in the Aftermath of 'Homeland Security'"
•    Kelly A. Gates, "Biometrics and Post-9/11 Technostalgia"
•    Caren Kaplan, "Precision Targets: GPS and the Militarization of U.S. Consumer Identity"
•    Mary Bryson et al, "Virtually Queer? Homing Devices, Mobility, and Un/Belongings"
•    Alicia Schmidt Camacho, "Ciudadana X: Gender Violence and the Denationalization of Women’s Rights in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico"

ASSIGNMENT: Research Papers Due at the Beginning of Class

April 23
: Blog Post Due by 11PM.

April 27: Email A Short Media Clip to the Professor by 11PM
Clips should demonstrate how race, gender, and/or sexuality are represented in the digital age. Clips should be 5 minutes or less in length.  We will discuss them as a group.

April 28: Geographies of Resistance
•    Kurt Mills, "Cybernations: Identity, Self-Determination, Democracy and the 'Internet Effect' in the Emerging Information Order" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Kanishka Chowdhury, "Interrogating 'Newness': Globalization and Postcolonial Theory in the Age of Endless War" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Ramesh Srinivasan, "Indigenous, Ethnic and Cultural Articulations of New Media"
•    Anna Everett, "The Revolution Will Be Digitized: Afrocentricity and the Digital Public Sphere" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Henry Giroux, "Reading Hurricane Katrina: Race, Class, and the Biopolitics of Disposability" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Janell Hobson, "Digital Whiteness, Primitive Blackness: Racializing the 'Digital Divide' in Film and New Media"  [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Cricket Keating, "Building Coalitional Consciousness" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    N. Katherine Hayles, "Conclusion - What Does It Mean To Be Posthuman?" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Matthew Sparke, "Everywhere But Always Somewhere: Critical Geographies of the Global South" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]
•    Boaventura de Sousa Santos, "Globalizations (Definition)" [Not Eligible for Class Presentation]

ASSIGNMENT: Portfolios Due in Class. Portfolios should include hard copies of the following: blog posts, paper proposal, annotated bibliography, and detailed outline/rough draft.

May 1: Self-Evaluations Due.

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