Imagining Futures: Speculative Design and Social Justice

Winter 2016-2017

21110 / 31110

Patrick Jagoda; Thenmozhi Soundararajan

This experimental course seeks to disrupt dominant narratives about “the future”: a monolithic concept that often comes from technologists and policymakers. Instead, we explore what alternative futures might look like when imagined by and with marginalized communities. Beginning with movements such as Afrofuturism, we will read speculative and science fiction across media, including short stories, critical theory, novels, films, transmedia narratives, and digital games. Rather than merely analyzing or theorizing various futures, this course will prepare students in hands-on methods of “speculative design” and “critical making.” Instead of traditional midterm essays and final research papers, the work of the course will consist primarily of blog responses to shared readings, coupled with short-form, theoretically-founded, and collaborative art projects. These projects will imagine alternative futures of climate change, gender, public health, finance, policing, and labor. The work will be challenging, transdisciplinary, and will blur expectations about the relationship between theory and practice at every turn. As such, it is not a course for the craven; it is a course for students who wish to explore the complexities of collaboration and the sociopolitical possibilities of art. Undergraduate: (B, H) Graduate: (20th/21st)