Class Notes & Presentations *inc. guide for Week 8 in advance*

the prof’s class notes & student presentations


Hello !

Today we have our final class. We will have snacks. If you have any snacks to bring for yourself or for other students please do so!

Final project: Remember that it is due today for feedback with comments, and due Friday without comments. Do this by email, unless it is a physical project, in which case you are to drop it off to Joyce in the 3rd floor Communication Studies Office and she will put it in my box. Look over the rubric posted in the “Final Project” Section for a detailed explanation of marks. For today: if have anything like a powerpoint or video, etc. please send it to me so I can cue it up as we have a lot to get through. Remember it is 3-5 minutes and needs to be exciting, punchy and succinct.

The order is as follows:2015-04-08 09.55.45



Week 12 — Notes

“Our Bodies, ourselves; bodies are maps of power and identity. Cyborgs are no exception.” (Haraway, 1991, 180)

For today’s class we watched Ana Voog’s video she made for us, and two readings that represent  a fairly wide range of re-thinking our contemporary embodied lived experience. They offered us new understandings of city life, of embodiment, and of the production of space and bodies in that life. Elizabeth Wilson says “we need a radically new approach to the city” and Donna Haraway also argues for a radically new approach to bodies and identity.

This is how I wish to end the course — in thinking what is at stake for the future and what sorts of alternatives there are to get our problematic of “which bodies? which spaces?”

Hyperstition is a “neologism that combines the words ‘hyper’ and ‘superstition’ to describe the action of successful ideas in the arena of culture.”

Both readings operate in the spirit of “l’ecriture feminine”, feminine writing, a concept that rejects masculinist histories and instead demands that women “write the truth of their bodies”. Two main proponents of this are French feminists Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixous who by using non-linear, performative and autobiographical language to describe the truth of a new kind of body: that of the cyborg/ the sphinx.

Wilson’s chapter uses many forms of scholarship to make a collage type work — fiction, essays, film, and art, as well as history and sociology, to look at London and  Paris. Wilson wanted to do that to emulate the ways in which she argues we experience and live the city, in a fragmented way with many layers of meaning reacting against the rational masculinist logic. She says there is nothing natural about the city, but we have believed this image. Haraway also undoes ideas about what is ‘natural.’ We will see that explicitly in the concept of the cyborg. 

The course has followed a similar ethos, in which I had you read poetry, epistolary exchanges, articles, and videos and maps to get a more comprehensive way to analyze the environment.

Wilson’s city also contradicts the ways in which the city is supposed to be built to showcase the rational mastery of human on environment, with buildings, towers and neatly circumscribed roads for cars and sidewalks for pedestrians and us to enact it through our spatial practice. But we know that the city is not static object, but rather a constantly changing environment. Wilson argues: “the city is in a constant process of change” so the quest is for you (yes, you!) to try to re-experience a city you know, and re-imagine it!

The city “as experience, environment, concept” which is, in other words, what we have been arguing all along. And by seeing it in this way, we can then frame a phenomenological reading of the city!

In Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway offers us not only a response to the regulatory normative system, but also a response to the gender, body and identity essentialism.

We did not have time to watch Sun Ra’s Space is the Place but it is well worth watching! Afrofuturism is a compelling analysis of the environment and one answer to the question “which bodies? which spaces?”


Questions to Consider

  • What is the cyborg and why is it useful for thinking about bodies and spaces?
  • Haraway argues that the cyborg suggests “a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves.” How so?
  • Haraway  presents a chart of the differences between “comfortable old hierarchical dominations” (p.161) which appear “natural” since they are so ingrained in our Western cultural imaginary, and the “scary new networks”(p.161) which came post-WWII. Name one pair from the chart and explain how the binaries are false and how the ‘natural’ category is false.
  • Why is sexuality such a threat to the social order of spaces and cities? Think with Wilson, Gira Grant, Knopp and Razack.

Creating New Worlds For Us to Exist

By Sarah, Anna, Lisa, Cathleen and Devon

sphinxThis week, we are addressing the theories of some scholars that have attempted to create new worlds for us to exist. Elizabeth Wilson’s chapter “Into the Labyrinth,” provides a critique of post-modern urban life – discussing how the city has traditionally been a place of both liberation and persecution towards women and re-tracing the history of anti-urbanism to highlight its historical linkage to a distrust, or distaste, for the female gender. Wilson argues that the
popular sophisticated urban consciousness of the 20th century, that of Walter Benjamin’s Parisian Flaneur, was an essentially male state of being – rendering a  woman’s presence within the cityscape foreign, unwelcome and even politically dangerous. Wilson rejects the mythic notion of the city as a labyrinth: a winding path with only one beginning and end, at the center of which is a frightening spectacle – a spectacle which Wilson argues has traditionally been associated with stereotypical feminine characteristics (sexuality, hysteria, instability etc.) Instead, Wilson asserts that the city is always in a flux, offering different layers of meaning and experience depending on the individual.

cyborgIn the same order or ideas, through “A Cyborg Manifesto”, Haraway attempts to create a different world; a space where gender would be absent. This new space would help to re-articulate and to regenerate the existing structures of our society; the structures that have been in place for so many years and that keep perpetuating the same order. This manifesto is an attempt to disarticulate these discourses and provide a new space (mostly in the feminist discourse) for the re-articulation of ideas in relation to gender, sexuality and space. She touches upon the concept of the cyborg – a human with machine components that help to extend past human limitations – and argues that we are all cyborgs. Indeed, using technology as extensions of the mind, rather than tools as extensions of the body, cyborgs are seen as allies to humans. We believe that Haraway’s manifesto can be extended to Lefebvre, in a way that our sense of being in the world comes from our ideologies, our politics, and cyborgs. This sense of being in the world has been oppressive thus far for women and other marginalized groups; but there is hope for possibility of moving past Freudian mythologies.

Finally, the film Sun Ra, Space is Place (1974) personifies how white stereotypical beliefs of Black People living on Earth are dealt with. In the film they say that Black People are the myth of the Earth and should be taken away.  The characters and music in particular demonstrates the use of culture as fuel to move things forward and ahead in time; a way of moving. Music is a way of creating a body in time and also in space; an identity which we believe can be comparable to the student protests of 2012 and how people formed an identity in space through the sounds and coherent music of pots and pans.     



1) Do you think there is such thing as a modern day Flaneur – an entirely neutral individual who can travel through space and time inconspicuously, or have modern technical constructs (google maps, social media etc.) and urban planning made it impossible to go anywhere unnoticed or entirely unplanned.

2) Haraway says that “the entire universe of objects that can be known scientifically must be formulated as problems in communications engineering (for managers) or theories of the text (for those who would resist)” (162-63). The whole thing seems to be about challenging domination and oppression. But aren’t those theories of text just another form of inherent domination since they are produced in English which is considered to be a language of international communication – isn’t that a domination, a heritage of the colonial past?

3) As an element of culture that is deeply sewn into our everyday lives; do you think music has a way of shaping the world and everything that goes into it?


Haraway, Donna. (1991). “Cyborg–Manifesto.” IN SIMIANS, CYBORGS AND WOMEN: THE REINVENTION OF NATURE. New York: Routledge, 149-181.

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Sterne, Jonathan. (2012). Quebec’s #casseroles: on participation, percussion and protest. Theory & Event 15(3), The Johns Hopkins University Press. 4pgs.

Sun Ra, Space is the Place (1974)

Wilson, Elizabeth. (1991).  The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women. Ch.1- Into the Labyrinth. (1-11). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Terri Senft answers q’s about internet life

Theresa Senft (author of Camgirls that we read) answered questions for Leandra Preston's class ""Virtual Girls: Girls and Digital Media" at the University of Central Florida in 2011 via video. These are cogent articulations of some of the issues we have been thinking about throughout the semester and inherently argue against digital dualism and the hierarchy and binary of virtual/real, online/offline.

1. Are people more honest offline or online?

2. Can you have sustainable friendships online?

3. What should be the role of the net in “real” activism offline?

4. How well do you think your viewers know you?

5. Why are all the camgirl sites devoted to porn now?

6. What about pre-teens and young teens who want to become camgirls?

7. Can you speak about creating “safe spaces” for women and others?


MARCH 25TH, 2015, WEEK 12


On Jonathan Sterne, Quebec’s #casseroles: on participation, percussion and protest :

Stern mainly focuses on the interaction of sound within Quebec 2012 student protest series. The author brings up a 700-year-old Francophone tradition called Charivari. The tradition of Charivari is basically when young men would disguise themselves and would all meet during the late night to bang on pots and pans outside of an offender’s home. Stern focuses on the fact that the casseroles protest must be paid attention too because they are an embodied act of a traditional movement. They are performed loudly for a reason, because they are forming a political volume movement within its rhythm that creates itself naturally.

Stern uses another example from writer Christopher Small, who coined the term “musicking” describing music not as a collection or rarefied texts performed by experts and professionals, but rather as a field of social action that includes all participants, from musicians to the people cleaning up after the event.

Both terms, Musicking and Charivari are brought together within the action of playing on the casseroles within the Quebec student protest; the noise created is both an act of Charivari by being an affective power of noise making to protest and demonstrate, and it’s a movement of Musicking because the music becomes a social action that includes all participants to take part in.

Sterne, Jonathan. (2012). Quebec’s #casseroles: on participation, percussion and protest. Theory & Event 15(3), The Johns Hopkins University Press. 4pgs.


On Jonathan Sterne, Bodies-Streets :

In this text, Sterne writes about how a city connects various bodies together, and how the urban space defines social behaviours. The way Law 78 brought together various groups of citizens that would have otherwise remained unconnected is an example of how articulations work, and the protest becomes a place where social imagination can thrive.

The Law 78 is viewed as an attempt at restraining the social imagination. It criminalizes bodies because they block a flow in the city, economically and physically. The law is applied unequally: political noise is not acceptable. The movement against Law 78 is made of articulations, which means of various groups who otherwise do not necessarily connect politically.

The movement in a city is political, and cars monopolize the space. The access to transportation is political – it represents the social organization of a city. When reclaiming the space taken by cars, pedestrians can feel that another world is possible. Interactions in a protest connect minds and bodies together.

Sterne, Jonathan. (2012). Bodies-Streets. Wi: journal of mobile media 6(2). 4pgs.


On Darin Barney, The Truth of le printemps erable :

According to Darin Barney, the basic character of a truth is that it is exceptional, not normative, and the truth is not simply what is, the truth is what happens. Barney introduces “the manifs casseroles” as an unexpected occasion for political engagement and resistance by everyday people. Barney argues that they were the kind of popular movement that was necessary for the student strikers in order to have any chance of success.

The manifs casserole are “noisy” because of the fact that what they are saying or doing cannot be acknowledged by those who get to decide what counts as an intelligible claim. What makes the student strikers politically exceptional is their refusal to negotiate. The strikers refuse to accept the government’s proposal is a refusal to concede post-secondary education to the logic and priorities of neoliberal capitalism. Darin Barney concludes that the strike’s claims are unintelligible under the terms and conditions of reasonable discourse in a prosperous liberal democracy as Quebec, but on the other hand, part of the claims also sounds true, which is the reason why the student strikers refuse to give up.

Barney, Darin. (2012). The truth of le printemps érables. Theory & Event 15(3), The Johns Hopkins University Press. 4pgs.



In Jonathan Sterne’s text, “Quebec’s #casseroles: on participation, percussion and protest”, we see the comparison between the historical tradition of Charivari being compared to the 2012 Quebec student protest. Can we agree that the practice of this historical tradition had an influence during the student protest as an alternative to eliminating violence and to getting a message across to the government?

In Sterne’s Bodies-Streets, various political groups (such as anarchists, student activists, union workers, etc.) act as articulations, and connect to create a temporary whole (here: against Law 78). To what extent can these articulations be considered as a whole?


It’s Spring Again : Concordia on Strike

*updated with Slides* Critical Disability Analysis / Links from Laurence



CDS at Concordia m.i.a. collective:



Marie-Eve Veilleux at UdM:

Deaf woman hears for the first time

Ad by Samsung

TED Talk by Stella Young – Inspiration porn

Instagram’s Double Standard

After reflecting on our discussion yesterday about social media websites regulating what image content they allow I was inspired to do a little research on the topic. With the millions of posts each day, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have the task of deciding whether or not a photo is within the “limits” trying to choose between black or white, when the subject matter clearly grey. This leads users to question heavily the reasons behind banning an image, comparing it to other similar images that are “allowed” and causes anticipated controversy among users.

Musician and video blogger Meghan Tonjes posted an image of her butt which is completely covered in underwear. After the photo was removed she reached out to her followers sharing her frustration with the conspicuously transparent double standard.

From left to right, Meghan’s banned butt picture and “acceptable” swimswear model. Whats the difference Instagram?

originalEau Paix Vie Swimwear 12

What I found intriguing about Meghan’s reaction was that instead of channeling all of the negative attention on Instagram, she questioned why out culture and society has such a problem with these images of women who don’t appease to a certain standard. I agree with Meghan’s point and urge more discussion around why these images are thought to be offensive.

Click here to read the article.