Current Affairs Higher Education

the bitter end of another pandemic semester

UB’s faculty senate sent out an email today recommending (imploring) faculty to find ways to “reduce student stress levels while preserving learning outcomes.” No one needs to be told it’s been some hard months tacked on to a hard 2020. And now it’s getting to be crunch time here and at many colleges as we […]

Current Affairs Posthumanism Teaching

insurrections, teleologies, and cyborgs

Today there is little need to make a specific reference for the first term in this list. We are in the midst of an impeachment trial over an attempted insurrection. More locally, in my class, we are in the midst of How We Became Posthuman and N. Katherine Hayles’ historical investigation of how we got […]

Current Affairs Posthumanism Teaching

man-in-the-middle (sic) of a feed forward world

This is the second in a series of posts about Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman aimed primarily at my students this semester, and this one focuses on chapter three, which traces the Macy Cybernetics Conferences in the 50s and 60s and discusses, among other things, the challenges of observation and the “man in the […]

Posthumanism Teaching

the flickering signification of 2021

n.b. I’m teaching a course on media theories and approaches this semester, and this post is, in part, designed for them. Right now, we are reading N. Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman. This post focuses on Chapter 2. Hayles straightforwardly announces the thesis for this chapter, writing “The contemporary pressure toward dematerialization, understood as […]


on speech and media

This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme here. So, the first amendment… what ontological commitments are invested in the first amendment? what material-historical values regarding rhetoric? what understanding of media technologies is embedded here? Let’s start with the last question. Obviously there was writing and the printing press. Far less than half of […]

Current Affairs digital rhetoric

speech, freedom, and the crunchy frogs of social media platforms

The removal of Trump from various social media platforms has been big news, as is the de-platforming of Parler by Apple, Google, and Amazon. There’s a lot of conversation about this in relation to the first amendment. I’m not a constitutional law expert, so I’m not going to focus here on the strictly legal aspect. […]

Current Affairs new materialism

the assemblage of white populations

As you probably learned in high school or college, the different races of humans with which we identify today have no biological basis but are social constructions. A brief refresher on the matter is here. Basically though there are few starting points for this construction. One occurs in the 17th century when American colonists decide […]

Assemblage Theory new materialism

the politics of a molecular people: two paragraphs from A Thousand Plateaus

Material thus has three principal characteristics: it is a molecularized matter; it has a relation to forces to be harnessed; and it is defined by the operations of consistency applied to it. Finally, it is clear that the relation to the earth and the people has changed, and is no longer of the romantic type. […]

Assemblage Theory digital rhetoric

user populations and the capacities of smartphones

In the new materialist approach I take up, all assemblages (i.e. all people, groups of people, animals, plants, things, objects, etc.) have properties, tendencies, and capacities. Properties are singular and historical. For example, my smartphone (an iPhone XS) has its own unique history. To butcher a line, “there are many iPhones but this one is […]

digital rhetoric

media archeology is ordinary

Yes, it’s a play on Raymond Williams. Of course he was mostly suggesting that “Culture” was not solely the territory of a particular well-educated and wealthy class of Brits. Cultural studies was and is a highly technical and esoteric set of theories, methods, and discourses, and the apparatuses of the culture industry are elitist and […]