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Scripting Strategies

Dept of Visual Arts (2018)

E l s e w h e r e   W/in  H e r e

Dept. of  Sociology (2020)

Our course owes its title to Vietnamese/American filmmaker and scholar Trinh Minh-ha who characterized the situation of otherness as, "an elsewhere within here" - "That is, while one is entirely involved with the now-and-here, one is also elsewhere, exceeding one’s limits even as one works intimately with them. This is a dimension that one develops simultaneously, not something that happens linearly and successively in two time-phases, with one coming before the other." This paradoxical yet now determinable notion of an "elsewhere within here" equally as an emplacement of an outside "not so much elsewhere as nowhere," and the displacement of an inside simultaneously everywhere gives strange voice to our currently emerging global pandemic known as COVID-19. This course combines a series of films with interdisciplinary scholarly readings in order to set thought loose in/to our current "elsewhere within here." Rather than analyze films as representations of received aspects of American society and culture, we will instead seek aesthetics in terms of Ranciere’s "distribution of the sensible" as an opening of aesthetics to politics through spatio-temporal horizons not yet determined as such.

Readings will span international political sociology, medical sociology, media and cultural studies, science and technology studies, and (post-conceptual) aesthetics. With these we will spur conversations with feature-length films (both mainstream and cult/independent works) and shorter form avant-garde/experimental film works. The course Begins with Cold War powerbased articulations of national identity, difference, and subjectivity; and proceeds through more recent framings of citizenship, multiculturalism, diaspora and transnationalism through notions of resilience, ’glocality’ and ’extitutional’ forms of social systems. Key concepts encountered, and reworked include: biopolitics, governmentality, glocality, in/securitization, resilience, extitution, chronotope, liminal/liminoid, transgression, and others.

We will follow J Piaget and R Schechner in approaching scripting strategies operationally: (1) a script + strategy is “Any piece of knowledge [that] is connected with an action ... [T]o know an object or a happening is to make use of it by assimilation into an action schema ... [namely] whatever there is in common between various repetitions or superpositions of the same action”; and (2) scripts for “art, rituals, or ordinary life” are recurrent strategies, ‘restored behaviours’, ‘twice-behaved behaviour”, performed actions for the “training and practice, of adjusting and performing one’s life roles in relation to social and personal circumstances”. Scripts therefore encompass screenplays, storyboards and shot lists but in this course also include musical scores, games, algorithms and myths. Strategies include adaptation, rehearsal and dramaturgy but also convolution, metonymy, deviation, amplification and honeypots.

Media Sketchbook  
Dept of Visual Arts  (2019) 

.1. MOTION / media archeology

.2. LIGHT / research+design

.3. TIME / phenomenology+operationalization

.4. CODE / semiology+reuse

.5. NARRATIVE I / narratology+diagrammatology

.6. NARRATIVE II / catharsis+gamification

.7. SPECULATIVE NON-FICTION/ ethnographic-strategies

.8. POSTMEDIA / inter/intra+trans

Media Sketchbook is an intermediate-level production based course grounding intensive, practice-based experimentation and skill acquisition within focused historical, theoretical and critical contexts. In practice, we will use digital video as primary platform for sketching a variety of time-based art experiments (in response to and prototyping digital, filmic, photographic, performative, net, computational and other media practices). Students perform all aspects of production with attention to developing ideas and building analytical/critical skills. Vis174 is centered around eight sketch-prompts designed to allow students to use Media technologies to forge creative and original solutions to simple limitations and directives. Problem-solving basic aspects of media making will be explored and motivated through weekly readings, lectures and, most importantly, by creative prompts. Each prompt will be explicated, contextualized and examined as opportunities to forge resilient media practices through integrations of theoretical + historical engagements, technical parameters + skill acquisition, and through originality


1. skill-based learning of media concepts, technologies and workflows through critical problem-solving challenges;

2. develop a robust conceptual and technical vocabulary for analyzing, researching and combining media theories and technologies;

3. linking technical and creative media practice to sustained critical, theoretical and cultural engagement with past, current and future media ecology

Students will be evaluated on their clearly, efficiently and succinctly reporting how their sketch answers four questions:

• Concept + Criticality: Is there a strong link from assignment’s prompt (thematic) to its execution’s idea (strategy)? Does the sketch engage with the week’s lecture, readings and discussions? Does it identify, engage, provoke or otherwise with matters aesthetic, social, political or otherwise beyond the course? 

• Technicality: is it effective? Does the sketch demonstrate future applicability, economy of means, technical mastery?

• Creativity: is it affective? Does the sketch demonstrate originality, innovativeness and/or provoke a new perspective?

• Presentation: Have you concisely and engagingly presented the work in the context of the class and with regard to answering the above?

Forms of Social Control
Dept. of Sociology 2020


This course takes this question, and the emerging opportunity (!) of COVID-19 as a horizon to survey the organization, development, and mission of social control agencies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with emphasis on crime and madness; agency occupations (police, psychiatrists, correctional work, etc.); theories of control movements. Rationale: The concept of social control as an object of scholarly inquiry is present in the social philosophies of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and was taken up by classic social theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. The concept lies at the origins of disciplinary sociology serving for the analysis of total societies, and though redefined, continues to hold sway as a fundamental subfield of sociological inquiry, encompassing work by criminologists, political sociologists, and those interested in the sociology of law and punishment, as well as scholars from a variety of disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, political science, economics, and law. Given the historical and continued sociological interest in forms of social control, it should be of keen interest for students to “survey the organization, development, and mission of social control agencies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”


However, merely a week prior to the scheduled start date of this course, around 2.5 billion people have been put on some sort of lockdown during the pandemic. This includes the threat of fines or even prison for engaging in everyday activities; vast increase in state power over the economy; medical testing; and an unfurling of an intrusive global surveillance apparatus with a particular sublimity: the invasive data collection, social contact tracing, predictive modeling, and other forms of social control administered by this apparatus are also the best hope to manage the pandemic’s spread. We will therefore use the (persistent) opportunity of COVID-19 to survey past forms of social control always with a periphery eye on the currently developing formal horizons of social control.



• Expose students to classic and contemporary theories of social control and how they generate distinct, yet today increasingly overlapping empirical programs.


• Evaluate foundational through contemporary theories of social control, their methodological issues and established empirical contexts against the current global pandemic known as COVID-19 and the horizons of forms of social control it is presenting us with.


• Students leave course with a robust conceptual vocabulary by honing understandings of contemporary sociological inquiry (biopolitics, governmentality, glocality, in/securitization, resilience, extitution) in our rapidly emerging historical present.


• As dimension of this emerging historical present, students learn to adapt and manage an integrated set of technical platforms to support successfully meeting independent work schedules as well as forge effective collaboration strategies for working with colleagues remotely.

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