Instructor: Erika Vogt

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FA 330 BRAVE NEW WORDS: Theories of the Future

Fall 2008, MW, 12:00 - 1:30, Grace Ford Salvatori (GFS) Lecture Hall 223


Instructor: Erika Vogt

Contact:; 213.740.2787

Office Location: Watt Hall 104

Office Hours: By Appointment

TA: Nicole Miller

TA Contact:; 323.899-2758
Course Introduction
How is the future being imagined?  Do these visions of the unknown shape the present?  This class considers envisioned futures from multiple vantage points; philosophical, cultural, social, and technical, reflecting on the future’s role in contemporary society.  Special emphasis will be placed on cultural production, mass media, and its technological pipelines.  The course is interdisciplinary in its approach and is research based, requiring students to develop their own critical perspectives on the material discussed in class.  It will start in 2007, when TIME declared “You” as person of the year, and work its way backwards until 1982 when TIME Magazine declared The Computer to replace their prestigious person of the year, mapping 25 years of theory, film, art, and science as they relate to concepts of tomorrow.


Course Readings
Course reader (University Copy in University Village, 1-213-744-1511. All readings in reader unless noted.)

Burroughs, William S. The Ticket That Exploded. New York: Grove Press, 1987.

Delany, Samuel R. The Einstein Intersection. New Hampshire: Wesleyan University Press, 1998.

Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Comte de. Tomorrow’s Eve. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1982.

Course Requirements

This class relies heavily on classroom discussion. Thus, your attendance and participation is mandatory and essential for your success! Your grade will be lowered one full grade for every two unexcused absences. Five absences will result in a failing grade. Late assignments will be reduced half a grade per day late.
Participation in discussions: 10%

Assignments and short essays (2 pages, typed, double spaced**): 30%

Collaborative oral presentations: 30%

Take-home final (5 pages, typed, double spaced): 30%

**Prompts for short essays will be distributed in class four weeks before they are due.**

Statement for Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Statement on Academic Integrity

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. Scampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A: Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found at:

Roski admissions information

For information and an application to become a Fine Arts minor, please visit Please contact Antonio Bartolome at or 213-740-7567 with any questions about a minor in the Fine Arts. To become a Fine Arts major, please visit Please contact Penelope Jones at or 213-740-9153 with any questions about majoring in FA. Applications are due October 1st and March 1st every year.”

Week 1

Aug 25th Introduction to class and overview of syllabus

In-class reading/discussion: Borges, “The Library of Babel”; excerpt from Borges, “A New Refutation of Time”
Aug 27th Discussion: Student presentation assignments

Screening: Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007, 107m)


Double Lunar Dogs (Joan Jonas, 1984, 24 m)

Space is the Place (John Coney, 1974, 82 m)

Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites

404 South Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Screenings will be held on the Plaza Pool Deck, 4th floor.

Week 2

Sept 1st No Class

Sept 3rd Discussion: Sunshine

Required reading: Lyotard, “Can Thought go on without a Body”

Recommended reading: Lyotard, “Defining the Postmodern”

Screening: excerpt from Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972, 165m)

Handout: Essay #1 prompt (Desertshore/Luckman Gallery at Cal State LA)
Week 3

Sept 8th Visiting Artist: Matt Keegan

Sept 10th Screening: (Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me) (Ryan Trecartin, 2006, 7:15 m); excerpt I-Be Area (Ryan Trecartin, 2007, 108m)

Assignment: Is YouTube a place for community? Self-expression? Be prepared to show three examples in class that support your argument!

Required reading: The Future of the Internet II (2006)

Week 4

Sept 15th Visiting Artist: A.L. Steiner

Sept 17th Discussion/screening: All Together Now (Stanya Kahn and Harry Dodge, 2008, 26m)

Required reading: Delany, The Einstein Intersection

Student presentation 1: Delany

Sept 19th **** Now’s the Time: Matt Keegan ****

Fia Backstom presents Herd Instinct 360

2766 S. La Cienega Blvd., 
Los Angeles, CA 90034

P. 310.202.2213
Week 5

Sept 22nd Screening: A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006, 100m)

Sept 24th Discussion: A Scanner Darkly

Required reading: Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded

Recommended: Burroughs, The Electronic Revolution; Burroughs, “The Beginning is Also The End”

Student presentation 2: Burroughs

Sept 26th **** Now’s the Time: Matt Keegan ****

Bl’ing DVD exchange and screening

2766 S. La Cienega Blvd., 
Los Angeles, CA 90034

P. 310.202.2213
Sept 27th **** Now’s the Time: Matt Keegan ****

Ed Halter and Jeff Krulik in conversation

Student Q&A with Matt Keegan

2766 S. La Cienega Blvd., 
Los Angeles, CA 90034

P. 310.202.2213

Week 6

Sept 29th Discussion: Desertshore/Luckman Gallery at Cal State LA

Screening: R.U.R (Marie Jager, 2003, 14m); The Purple Cloud (Marie Jager, 2006, 12m); Sterling Ruby

Required reading: Tumlir, “Sci-Fi Historicism”

Due: Short Essay #1 (Desertshore/Luckman Gallery at Cal State LA)
Oct 1st Screening: Tacita Dean

Week 7

Oct 6th Discussion: Dean

Screening: Spiral Jetty (Robert Smithson, 1970, 32m); La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962, 28m); excerpt Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004, 77m)

Required reading: Michael Ned Holte, “Robert Smithson's Archaeozoic Medium”; excerpt from Smithson, “Entropy and the New Monuments”

Student presentation 3: Robert Smithson

Oct 8th Screening: Matrix (Andy and Larry Wachowski, 1999 136m)

Week 8

Oct 13th Discussion: Matrix

Required reading: Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra”

Student presentation 4: Baudrillard

Handout: Essay #2 prompt (I Be Area/Hammer Museum)

Oct 15th Artist lecture: Paul Sietsema

Graduate Lecture Forum

3001 South Flower Street

12 to 2 pm

Week 9

Oct 20th Screening/Discussion: Prosthetics and Architecture (future bodies & theaters)

Required reading: Wigley, “Recyling Reclying”

Student presentation 5: Genesis P-Orridge

Oct 22nd Assignment: “Recyling Reclying”

Week 10

Oct 27th Screening: Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987,102m)

Oct 29th Discussion: Robocop

In-class reading: excerpts from Jameson, “Progress Versus Utopia; or Can We Imagine the Future?”

Screening: Secret Horror (Mike Smith, 1980, 14m); Mike Builds a Shelter (Mike Smith, 24m, 1985)

Student presentation 6: Verhoeven

Week 11

Nov 3rd Screening: Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983, 80m

Nov 5th Discussion: Born in Flames

Screening: excerpt Jubilee (Derek Jarman, 1979, 100m)

Week 12

Nov 10th Screening: Birth of a Robot (Len Lye, 1935, 6m); Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982, 117m)
Nov 12th Discussion: Blade Runner

Required reading: Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Tomorrow's Eve

Recommended reading: Michelson, “On the Eve of the Future: The Reasonable Facsimile and the Philosophical Toy”

Student presentation 7: Villiers de l’Isle-Adam

Due: Short Essay #2 (I Be Area/Hammer Museum)

Week 13

Nov 17th Visiting Lecturer: Peter Eleey

Visual Art Curator

Walker Arts Center

Nov 19th Screening: Tron (Steven Lisberger, 1982, 96m)

Week 14

Nov 24th Discussion: Tron

Required reading: Bukatman, “There’s Always Tomorrowland: Disney and the Hypercinematic Experience”

Student presentation 8: Disney

Nov 26th No Class
Week 15

Dec 1st Screening: Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965, 99m)

Dec 3rd Take-home final distributed (Hard copy is on due 12/10/08, 5pm!)

Discussion: Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution

Screening: Whitney Brothers; VanDerBeeck; Frampton

Required reading: Reinfurt “Screen, Saver”; Deleuze “Cinema, body and brain, though”

In-class reading: excerpts from Bazin, “The Myth of Total Cinema”;

Frampton, “For A Metahistory of Film: Commonplace Notes and Hypotheses”
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