About Steve Brier

Social & labor historian, professor of Urban Education, & coordinator of the ITP Certificate Program, CUNY Graduate Center.

More on ePortfolios

Joe Ugoretz, our visitor next week, suggests a couple of other online resources on ePortfolio that you should peruse before Monday’s class:

Browse the Pedagogy examples on the Catalyst site http://c2l.mcnrc.org/category/pedagogy-practices/[c2l.mcnrc.org]
He  posted his draft chapter on ePortfolios on his own Academic Commons blog, behind a password.  The password is itp2017.  It’s here: https://prestidigitation.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2017/11/22/springboard-chapter-draft/

Next week’s class on ePortfolios

We will be discussing ePortfolios next week with our guest presenter, Dr. Joe Ugoretz, the chief academic officer of the Macaulay Honors College, CUNY. In addition to the readings listed in the syllabus, Joe recommended that everyone explore the International Journal of ePortfolio (IJEP) . We may also have you read one or two scanned selections from the Eynon/Gambino book, but not sure as yet. Ignore the Light, Chen, and Ittelson reference for next week’s class; too hard to find the book.

Remember that We Switched the Oct. 16 & Oct. 23 Classes in the Syllabus

Because Jenna blogged on one of the reading assignments for Oct. 23rd (Mina Shaughnessy) , I wanted to make sure everyone remembered that we switched the classes for Oct. 16 and Oct. 23rd. That we are doing Dewey/Bass/etc. pedagogy class this Monday and WAC a week from Monday when Luke Waltzer will be joining us. The change is reflected in the online syllabus for the course, but I’m worried that some of you may be working off of older (and now out of date) print copies of the syllabus.

Switch in Oct. 16th and Oct. 23rd classes

Because of a schedule conflict for our guest speaker, Luke Waltzer, we have had to switch the Oct. 16th and Oct. 23rd classes (both of which are about pedagogy). Please note the change in the online class syllabus (above), and be sure to do the new reading (Dewey, Bass, etc.) for the Oct. 16th class, rather than on the 23rd when it was originally scheduled in the syllabus.

Katherine Hayles, “How We Became Posthuman”

As my provocation on Hayles, let me turn her title into a larger question that we can no doubt only try to answer after considering what she says in the Prologue and first chapter to her book: How did we in fact become posthuman? What in human/historical/intellectual development led to that critical transition from a “natural self” to “cybernetic posthuman”?

What follows is a series of quotations and questions drawn from Hayles’s Prologue and first chapter.

  1. What does Hayles mean, in commenting on the Turing Test, that it is about “the erasure of embodiment” when “intelligence becomes a property of the formal manipulation of symbols rather than enaction in the human life-world.” (xi) Why does intelligence need a body or does it still need one anymore?
  2. Hayles suggests that all human beings are now “posthuman” and concludes that “Because information had lost its body, this construction implied that emobdiment is not essential to human being.” (4) Why would she draw that conclusion in 1999?
  3. Is Hayles optimistic or pessimistic about the human condition? What does Hayles mean when she says at the bottom of p. 5: “…my dream is a version of the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality. . . and that understands human life is embedded in a material world of great complexity, one on which we depend for our continued survival.”
  4. What role does history play in the transition Hayles describes to the posthuman? What is the importance of what Hayles calls “three distinct waves of development,” which she defines as homeostasis (1945-60); reflexivity 1960-80); and virtuality (1980-present).
  5. Are we doomed to posthuman status or does Hayles see a possibility for resistance, a la Haraway? Do you agree with her conclusion  (on p. 20)  that “…we can demystify our progress toward virtuality and see it as the result of historically specific negotiations rather than of the irresistible force of technological determinism. At the same time we can acquire resources wit which to rethink the assumptions underlying virtuality, and we can recover a sense of the virtual that fully recognizes the importance of the embodied processes constituting the lifeworld of human beings.”

Additional thoughts on Marx

We had to cover so much last night in class that we were only able to glance at several key theorists and theories. I did want to add several additional thoughts about Marx. Marx saw himself as developing a theory of scientific socialism (as opposed to the utopian socialism of people like Owen and Fourier) in which he uncovered the “laws” of capitalist development (how and why it came to be as it was in the first half of the nineteenth century in Western Europe and the U.S.). It’s important to remember that Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species was published in 1859 and had a major influence on Marx as he was developing Capital. Marx believed that Darwin had given the world a scientific methodology that could be applied successfully to the ebbs and flows (the evolution, if you will) of human history. Marx understood himself to be a historical materialist (as opposed to having a spiritualist or abstract notion of the world and how it operated) who rooted his analysis of capitalism in a concrete understanding of what happened in the past. While Marx’s theories were predictive of subsequent capitalist developments that was not his primary intention when he set out to write Capital. Rather, he decided to try to uncover the underlying materialist framework that drove historical developments forward in each epoch and to apply those insights to the new moment in human history introduced by the new system of industrial capitalism.

Thoughts on Walter Benjamin

Just posted this on my Facebook page:

Rereading Walter Benjamin’s great essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936) I came across this brilliant statement in the Epilogue about Fascism:

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees it salvation in giving these masses not their right but instead a chance to express themselves. …Fascism seeks to give them [the masses] an expression while preserving property.

If you substitute the Tea Party Right for “the masses,” and Trumpism/White Nationalism for Fascism you have a fairly prescient description of right-wing politics today in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Discount on Austerity Blues

Those of you interested in purchasing a copy of Michael Fabricant’s and my book, Austerity Blues, can  get a 30% discount on the book (which drops the purchase price for the hardcover to $21) when ordering it directly from the Johns Hopkins University Press site here. At the appropriate spot after you’ve added the book to your cart type “HNAF” as the discount code. The one problem with ordering the book from JHU Press, rather than Amazon, is that they take longer to ship it. So, plan accordingly. We will be reading the Intro. and Chaps. 2 & 3 for the October 2nd class.

Blade Runner 2049

In case you missed the recent New York Times article on the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, I thought I’d provide a link. Kahdeidra’s good provocations on the original film remind us how much there is still to digest and consider in terms of  the larger themes and problems that the film conveys. Especially given our upcoming discussion of Marx and his theories of labor and value, those still to be discussed themes seem especially relevant.