Digital Culture 2017

Credits: MA level, 10 ECTS

Time: Every Thur 0800-1100, 5008-138

Weekly Schedule | Synopsis | Exam | Grouping


With the advancement of technologies, such as hypertext, world wide web, communication platforms, social media, search engines, wikipedia, programming, chatbots, our contemporary culture emerges with these crucial actants in processes of production and consumption that shape cultural meanings, values, structures, hierarchies, policies and social interactions. This course addresses digital culture at some sort with specific focuses on different textual forms and the materiality of code, exploring how programmable technologies profoundly affect our understanding of consumption, production, identity, cultural participation and political agency.

The course takes cultural studies and computational literary perspectives on digital culture, unfolding a range of topics to try to grasp the complexity of our times. Under current conditions, and in the light of digitisation, how we can begin to analyze, consume, design and produce cultural artifacts? We will discuss key texts and look at cultural artifacts, digital art and design examples and explore different textual practices to develop our cultural and critical awareness of digital technologies and platforms. The outcome of the course is to conceptualize, contextualize and sketch a creative work (such as browser add-ons, digital poetry, installation, interactive design, bots, website, apps, etc), in the form of 5-8 pages synopsis in both written and visual formats, that examines any self-defined digital cultural issues. This synopsis is to prepare thoughts towards the assessed task in which students are asked to take an oral exam to analyse and reflect upon contemporary digital culture.


  • 2 times in-class presentation
  • Readings and in-class discussion
  • Mini assignments
  • Draft and Final sypnosis
  • Oral Exam

Learning Outcomes:

  • Formulate a research question in relation to digital culture and address it with a creative project.
  • Conceptualize, contextualize and design a creative project.
  • Demonstrate a theoretical, analytical and practical understanding of digital culture.
  • Reflect upon their own creative practice.

Weekly Schedule

01 | wk 36, 7-Sep: Introductory week (long day) | 5361-144, 0800-1400


* For A2 students, please bring your physical netbots (you have made on 5th Sep) to the class and share with the entire class.


  • Sharing on Tue workshop by A2 students – inflight
  • Poster design and presentation
  • Collaborative graphcommons: making and analyzing network maps.

[Mini-assignment for next class:]

  • Come up with your own graphcommon to map out the assigned readings for next class, exploring what might be digital culture.

[Optional related lecture:]

02 | wk 37, 14-Sep: What is Digital Culture and Culture Machines?


  • Charlie Gere, “The Beginnings of Digital Culture”, in Digital Culture, Reaktion, 2002, pp. 21-50.
  • Ed Finn, “What is an Algorithm,” in What Algorithms Want, MIT Press, 2017, pp. 15-56. [see blackboard]
  • Helen, Pritchard, Eric Snodgrass and Magdalena Tyzlik-Carver, “Introduction”, in Executing Practices, Autonomedia, 2017, pp. 9-22.
  • Suggested Readings:

    Charlie Gere, “The Digital Counter-Culture,” Ibid., pp. 116-153


  • Make sure every one of you have your graphcommon ready before joining the class.
  • The cultural production of QR code, see 1, 2, 3, 4

03: | wk 38, 21-Sep: The early networked culture



04 | wk 39, 28-Sep: Textuality I: Hyper, Hypertext, Hyperlinks



05 | wk 40, 5-Oct:  Textuality II: Materiality and Humanistic Interface



[Option guest lecture]: 6.Oct 14.00-16.00 | Store Auditorium, Incuba

06 | wk 41, 12-Oct: Participatory (gendered) platforms



[Mini-assignment for next class:]

  • Think about your creative project and prepare a short description within 200 words. Bring it for next class and discuss your idea.

**NO class on wk 42**

07 | wk 43, 26-Oct: The politics of Search

When was your last time to use Google search service? Why you used it? Search Engines like Google have become part of everyday life, shaping how we understand subjects and things. The three readings are meant to get you to think critically about how a search engine algorithmically operates, what are the myths of Google search and how it shapes the web, our lives, our behaviors and knoweldge production and circulation. Again, this theme ties with our overall objective of the course, which is to explore how programmable technologies profoundly affect our understanding of consumption, production, identity, cultural participation and political agency. The leading question of the articles would be: Why search engines matters? and what are the politics of Google searching?



  • Introduce Unerasble Images by Winnie Soon
  • Discussion on students’ creative projects.

[Optional talk]: 17.00-17.45 | Aarhus Teater

08 | wk 44, 2-Nov: Net Neutrality: Data Undermining, Censorship and Infrastructure



[Mini Assignment for next class:]

  • Come up with a draft idea of your creative work for your final synopsis (1 sketch and a short abstract within 250 words)

09 | wk 45, 9-Nov: Reading, Writing and Performing Code


  • [Group 16] Manuel Portela, “Moving the mind: The motion of Signifiers,” in Scripting Reading Motions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013, pp. 167-231. [Some of the artworks mentioned in the text: Poema em codigo (2005) by Antero de Alda, Caosflor (2014) by Pedro Valdeolmillos]
  • Rita Raley, “Interferences: [Net.Writing] and the Practice of Codework,” Electronic Book Review, 2002.
  • [Group 17] Tara McPherson, “Designing for Difference,” A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 25(1), 2014. [a short one]
  • Suggested Reading:

    Alan F. Blackwell, “Critical codes – From Forkbomb to Brainfuck,” Computational Culture, 2, 2013.

    Geoff Cox, “Vocable Code, ” in Speaking Code, MIT Press, 2013, pp. 17-38


  • Introducing opening sources by Ian Hatcher
  • Discussion on synopsis’ idea

[Mandatory guest lecture by Jonathan Reus]

  • 15.Nov.2017 (Wed), 1300-1500 @ 5510-103

10 | wk 46, 16-Nov: Digital Poetry and Literary Culture



  • Visit poetry machine @ CAVI

11 | wk 47, 23-Nov: Why Machine Learning Matters?



[Mini-assignment for next class:]

  • Work on a draft of your synopsis, submit your draft by Monday 27-Nov.

12 | wk 48, 30 Nov: Group Tutorials (precise arrangement later)

13 | wk 49, 7-Dec: Evaluation and Final remarks for synopsis and exam

Synopsis due (12-Dec-2017 13:59:59 before 14.00) :

With the weekly themes of the course that touch on a variety of cultural issues, techno-politics and digital phenomena, in particular to different textual forms and the materiality of code, the final synopsis requires students to identify a research question that addresses or responds to digital culture. It consists of two parts, a creative work and its contextualization. You are encouraged to team up with others (max 4) and work on a practical creative work (such as browser add-ons, digital poetry, installation, bots, website, apps, games, software, performance, etc.) that helps you to explore or express your central concern. Additionally, It is required to conceptualize and contextualize your creative work individually through written format. See below for the detailed format and requirement for the submission:


– Length of synopsis: 5-8 pages (exclude references)
– A title of your overall submission
– Submit to Digital Exam in the form of one single pdf file

1/  Creative work (can be a group work):
– A video link: Upload a 1-2 mins video documentation of your creative work (such as what is it, how does it work?) on any web platform.
– An image of your creative work
– A title of your creative work
– A statement: within 200 words to summarize what is your work about and what do you want to explore
– At least 2 work-in-progress images/sketches
– Reference projects (if any)

2/ Contextualization (Individual)

– A description of the topic
– Your research question?
– How the chosen theories can be applied (you can also explore and include other academic texts, which is out of the course syllabus – pls check with me)
– Main points of discussion or analysis
– Reflection on how the work, the practice element, helps you to explore your self-defined research topic
– Bibliography

Dec 2017 – Oral exam (20-22 Dec 2017, Precise time later) :
– Subject to active, regular and satisfactory class participation (including 75% attendance)
– Submission of synopsis