Assessment Type: Digital Illustrated Essay
Word Count: 3000
Choose one question from the list below and write a 3000 word illustrated response that follows the structure of an essay. The questions are based on sessions we cover in the module and you must refer to the relevant session when answering them. You are expected to base your answer on the essential and further reading. You are expected to do independent research and support your argument with relevant additional sources. The essay should have at least 7 academic sources.
You are required to illustrate your essay using visual material, sourced independently from contemporary digital culture platforms (websites, apps, games, social media – as embedded content or as screenshots, embedded videos of any type, still images, sound, news articles and other text-based media, hyperlinks). In the essay questions, all of these will be referred to as “audiovisual material.”
You will be submitting your illustrated essay on e-Folio, the university blog platform. Please make sure that you make full use of the affordances of this online space and that any audiovisual material and links are displayed correctly and comprehensively.
You are encouraged to find one example, which is relevant to the course, the question selected, and to your particular theoretical and practice interests. Start from the examples given in lectures and seminars but find your own. In addition, you have been provided below with a suggested essay structure that you might want to adapt.
Essay questions (Please note these are provisional until approved by the External Examiner)
Select one essay question from the following and copy it at the beginning of your assignment.
1. What does the term “posthumanism” refer to and how is it useful for the study of contemporary media technologies and digital culture? How can you be critical of this term? Find one example from your specific interests to discuss and illustrate your response with audiovisual material.
2. Discuss Donna Haraway’s 1991 “A Cyborg Manifesto” and the responses it has received, particularly in how it configures the relationship between technology, race, class, gender, and disability. Provide one contemporary example, critically position it within the (post)cyberfeminist legacy, and illustrate your argument using relevant audiovisual material.
3. In what ways do digital technologies limit or enable resistance against dominant cultural structures and systems? And what kinds of resistance are most/least encouraged through these technologies? Illustrate your answer using one example of contemporary (last two years) online movements or digital activism.
4. What is the role of photography in digital screen culture today in relation to spectacle, simulation and manipulation of images? Find one example (a single image, a series of photos, or a campaign) to illustrate and discuss.
5. Hito Steyerl considers that “the networks in which poor images circulate constitute both a platform for a fragile new common interest and a battleground for commercial and national agendas.” (Steyerl, 2009, n.p.) Discuss Steyerl’s argument through the analysis of one relevant example. Use audiovisual material to illustrate your response.
6. Sound plays a central role in contemporary (digital) environments, by creating immersive ecologies and modulating our collective experiences, moods and affects. Analyse and critically evaluate how this happens using one example from art, and/or urban/popular digital culture.
7. Consider the larger shift in surveillance, warfare and the industrial-military complex that is made possible by screen technologies. How do screens and their use shape our experiences, our affects, bodies, and our memory in non-commercial applications? Illustrate and discuss in one example.
Suggested Essay Structure:
Introduction: Introduce the question to the reader and provide a roadmap of how you are going to be answering it. Discuss the question briefly in relation to the wider topic/discipline it is part of. (300-500 words)
Body: Introduce your reader to the core text your will be drawing upon and the most important arguments being made. Now attempt to use these arguments to frame your response to the question. You should also use other sources to support your argument. You could also point your reader to other sources that might have made divergent arguments. You are invited to start from the essential and further reading suggested by the course but to find relevant sources to include. Organise your body clearly into paragraphs and identify main points of fragment for each paragraph. Use headings and subheadings to make your content clear.
Identify and clearly present audiovisual material that illustrates your ideas. Your materials may vary in format, type and complexity, make sure you exhaust what one image/video/social media post has to offer for interpretation before you use another one. Make sure the illustrative material is clearly connected to the theoretical text and that you provide sufficient context around it.
Make sure the material used illustrates your position, ideas and arguments and has a role in your argument. Use captions for all audiovisual material inserted in your text (eg. Fig 1. Tweet by X in connection to Y event) (2000 words).
Conclusion: Reiterate and summarise the main points that you have made and tell the reader how you have answered the question. (500-700 words) References: This will not add towards your word count. Please check referencing guidance on http://library.soton.ac.uk/media/skillsforsuccess . We are using Harvard system of referencing. Here, you can find full guidance on referencing, including how to reference audiovisual and social media material. Please check your script against it before submitting your assignments!
Learning Outcomes & Assessment Criteria:
A. Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
A1. A selected range of critical concepts with applications to the analysis of digital cultures.
A2. Contexts, issues and debates relating to the cultures of digital technologies, their use, practices, historical, and contemporary discourses.
B. Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to:
B1. Demonstrate a depth of critical and analytical thinking in relation to digital cultures, their theories and philosophies.
B2. Analyse, evaluate and make informed judgements regarding theoretical perspectives on topics such as networks and the internet, mobile media, screen culture and the relation between the analogue and the digital.
C. Transferable and Generic Skills Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to:
C1. Articulate complex ideas at an advanced level through a variety of oral, written and digital formats.
C2. Effectively manage your own workload, meet deadlines and work independently.
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