Just over halfway through the course and today we finished up the television section. In honour of Halloween we spent some time exploring otherness--strangers and monsters. We looked at The Walking Dead and True Blood using some of Richard Kearney's thinking on Strangers, Gods and Monsters, which I have found insightful along the way in thinking about the ways in which we (various and diverse cultures and societies) process and manage our fears, anxieties and concerns.
"There are monsters on the prowl whose form changes with the history of knowledge," declared Foucault and I think these shows, and others like them, give some examples of how our monsters have changed over the past decades. The fact that both zombies and vampires have traction in the culture is interesting to me. Those characters first appeared out of the underbelly of the enlightenment project, the 19th century churning with change and looking for new maps, manifested its anxieties in the tales of Frankenstein and Dracula--today we seem to have come back around to these symbols and are using them again, in modified forms, to attempt to find new pathways, to handle our present challenges and fears in this time when of not-knowing--when once again, the maps that have brought us thus far, seem insufficient.
Next week we are turning our attention toward digital culture and entering the world of new technologies, social media and all that. Geert Lovink's book on Network Culture is strong critique of post-desktop digitality, the world of mobile digitality, but along with critique he does open up some great questions about things like anonymity, connectivity, sociality, which I hope will give the students plenty to wrestle with. I must say that this particualr class has been very engaged thus far and I have heard and learnt a lot from them.