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Topics in History and Technology:

History 361 - Fall 2020

The power of information in organizing our societies is hard to deny: algorithms "guess" your next favorite song on Spotify, apps track your daily calorie intake, smart cities predict human behavior, and insurance companies prey on all of that data. How did "information" become such a strong agent in historical change? This course uses the concept of "information" to rethink the history of everyday life, gender, race, bureaucracy, cities, and human bodies. Throughout the course of this semester, we will meet early modern European thinkers inventing artificial languages and eccentrics who tried to decode Shakespeare; we will discuss whether the power of writing changes the human mind and whether the printing press was really the agent of change; we will spend hours and days, maybe the rest of our lives, thinking about the impact of the telegraph and the Morse code on the non-Western world; we will explore old and new technologies, from card catalogues, file cabinets, and punctuation marks to gramophones, typewriters, and touchscreens, as we try to understand how inseparable information has been from society, politics, and embodied realities.
Course Attributes: BU Hum

Section 01

Topics in History and Technology:
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