Prompt 12/5 (#14)

This prompt is for students who’ve completed 10 posts or fewer (not including the one about historical advertisements).

Choose one:

1. If you had to choose one text from this course to be required reading (viewing, playing) for all Emory students, which one would it be, and why? Make your case as though you were addressing a dean of the College. Don’t pick one of the articles on plagiarism.

2. If you had to add one text (book, film, etc.) to our class, what would it be, and why? Describe the work and explain how it would fit into our discussions. Address the argument to your classmates.

Prompt for 11/21

Edited to add: The articles are the ones assigned for this week: “A Brief History of Scent,” by Beau Friedlander; “The End of Food,” by Lizzie Widdicombe; and “You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge,” by Thomas Fuller. For each prompt, you may discuss one, two, or all three articles.

Do you need to write this post? Count the blogs you’ve posted so far. If the total is 11 or 12, no. If the total is 10, you’ll need to write either this week’s post or the one due on December 5. If the total is 9 or fewer, you’ll need to write this post and the December 5 one.

1. A connoisseur (literally ‘one who knows’) is someone with very refined tastes, someone for whom simple pleasures are anything but. Think foodies, music snobs, or this XKCD strip. How do the articles by Friedlander, Fuller, and Widdicombe take up the figure of the connoisseur? How do they characterize the relation between scientific mastery and individual intuition or training? If you want to, you can refer to Sherlock Holmes or Carlo Ginzburg.

2. This week’s readings present smell and taste as jointly biological and cultural processes. Develop an argument about the way one author thematizes the nature/culture divide. Consider rhetorical tactics and personal anecdotes along with the journalistic facts.

3. Imagine a movie based on one of this week’s articles (or a part of it), and pitch it to a producer. Convince us that this movie would be a critical and commercial hit. It could be fiction or documentary.

Prompt 11/14

1. Using Twine, create a game or hypertext fiction that addresses a social/political/environmental issue you care about. There should be at least 10 cards. Upload the game file (____.html) to a Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, or Philomela account, and provide a link to that file in your blog post.

2. Familiarize yourself with the arguments for and against “disability simulation” by reading Carl Straumsheim’s article about Clemson University, Lydia Brown’s “Critique of Disability/Impairment Simulations” (PDF), and/or Sarah Gibbons’s “Simulating Autism.” Then play Depression Quest and/or Dys4ia. Does this game create the same problems identified by the critics of simulation, or does it do something else? (Note: Transgender identity isn’t a disability, but gender dysphoria is considered to be a psychiatric condition.)

3. Compare Lauren McCarthy’s Crowdpilot and/or Inneract with any other social-networking programs you use. What makes McCarthy’s apps different? How might they make us reconsider our everyday social interactions, digital and face-to-face?

Talks This Week (and Optional Blogs)

There will be no blog post required this week.

I invite all of you to attend one, or both, of these events at the Ethics Center this week. They’re rather loosely connected to “technology and the senses” (genetically modified food, long-distance communication).

If you’d like, you may write an extra post (or two) about either event. Aim for a minimum of 400 words and try to provide a general overview of the evening, similar to a review you might read in the Wheel. Who were the speakers, and what did they present? What was the Q&A like? What did the event leave you thinking about? Due on Sunday, Nov. 9.


Mary and Max: movie screening and panel discussion
Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 7-9 p.m., Center for Ethics, Room 102

The film is funny, sad, and beautifully animated. Plus, free pizza. Part of the Disability In Focus series.


Vandana Shiva: “Seed Freedom and Food Democracy”
Thurs., Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m., Center for Ethics, Room 102
Vandana Shiva's talk, "Seed Freedom and Food Democracy"
Dr. Shiva is an internationally renowned ecologist and human rights activist. Her visit is sponsored by Sustainability Initiatives and the Division of Religion.

Blog prompt 10/31

The topics this week have something to do with tactility (the sense of touch) and proprioception, or the way we perceive our bodies in the world. Your response should be between 300 and 600 words.

1. Roland Barthes published “Soap Powders and Detergents,” along with the other essays in Mythologies (1957), in the monthly magazine Les Lettres nouvelles (New Letters). Describe someone who seems to be engaged in a comparable practice of observation and “de-mythologizing.” It doesn’t have to be a writer in the traditional sense. Explain how his or her work resembles or differs from Barthes’s.

2. According to Barthes, foaming, burning, and depth are tactile metaphors whose meanings are mostly unconscious and culturally specific. Describe another feeling, texture, or sensation that carries “mythical” meanings in our culture(s). Why is it important for us to recognize this metaphor/myth? Feel free to imitate Barthes. This option is the written counterpart to the optional “Tactile Object” presentation on Friday and Monday.

3. Write a review of one of the objects Sara Hendren profiles on her adaptive-design blog, Abler. (Scroll down to page 3 or earlier for more posts devoted to specific objects.) Do you like the way it looks? How do you think it would feel? Would you want to use it on a regular basis? What are the object’s practical benefits and shortfalls (e.g., for helping someone get around)? What might be its less tangible effects (e.g., changing the way we perceive something)?

Prompts 10/24

Choose one essay topic and write about 500 words. As usual, you are welcome to write in a conversational style, but make sure the sentences and paragraphs are a help, not a hindrance, to the reader’s understanding.

1. Describe a time when researching something made a real impact on your life. Maybe you treat a family member differently because of something you learned about their past; maybe you decided to invest in a company or boycott an organization; maybe you just don’t find jokes about X or Y funny anymore. Tell us how you conducted your research and how you determined what information was relevant (a clue, perhaps). What happened? How could you tell when your research was complete, or when you had to stop? The research you describe doesn’t need to have been for school or even wholly credible.

2. Ginzburg frequently returns to the idea of individuality or singularity. Why is he so interested in that concept? What story is he trying to tell about the way individuality has been perceived, and how does it relate to his main argument about the rise of the clue? Address your response to a hypothetical classmate who has just read the essay but doesn’t understand it fully.

Due on Friday; comments due the following Monday night. If you blogged about the Kevin Young/Jericho Brown reading on Friday, you can either (a) skip this week’s entry, or (b) complete this week’s entry and have a “bonus” post.

Blog post 10/19

I’m extending the due date for this week’s post to Sunday evening because of the break and the complexity of the reading material.

400-700 words. You are free to write in an informal tone, as long as the progression of sentences reflects a logical progression of your ideas.

1. Does “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” meet your expectations about literature (that is, the kind of literature you expect to study in school)? Why or why not? If it doesn’t, does that reflect a limitation of Doyle’s short story, the notion of literature you’ve absorbed, or both?

2. Explain Carlo Ginzburg’s “Clues” for a professor of medicine or human biology in 2014.

3. Explain “Clues” for a police detective in 2014.