teaching cyberpunk

The second course I will teach during the upcoming winterterm will deal with my ideas of possible connections between cyberpunk and anthropology as jotted down in previous entries: writing culture and cyberpunk, anthropology voight-kampff style, anthropology’s shades. Here’s the abstract:

This course is based on a maybe deviant idea, it is an experiment, but by far not the first one in sociocultural anthropology. Since the 1980s experimental writing, even literary ethnographies are asked for again and again. Maybe even since a decade earlier modern anthropology is prompted to deliver social and cultural critique. In principle contemporary anthropology is able to do so, as actual, relevant, and pressing issues have been taken up as topics since quite some time already. For instance technology or urban subcultures nowadays are perfectly legitimate subjects. Especially in very recent times the calls for engaging anthropology, for interfering with societal and political discourses have become louder and louder. Writers always have interfered … likewise in the 1980s a literary movement emerged , finally becoming a very influential genre. Cyberpunk is fiction, but not necessarily science fiction, although it renders dystopian futures or alternate realities filled with extrapolated technology. The influence of technology on human societies and the dealing with technology are central themes of cyberpunk. Up to body-invasive technology, culminating to the question “What is human?”—one of the core conundrums of every kind of anthropology. But cyberpunk writers do not only extrapolate from existing technology. Contemporary politics, economics, religion, and social structure are led to seemingly logical consequences and are rendered in artistically inflated ways. The results are literary worlds appearing to be all to possible. This worlds are created not merely for the purpose of entertainment, but for practicing cultural and social critique, cyberpunk’s ultimate goal. The course aims at a clarification of the relationships between cyberpunk and contemporary anthropology. Vehement willingness to read is required.