Spring 2018 CAT 3 Courses

CAT 3 courses (spring quarter, six units) are writing and research intensive, focusing on collaboration, research, and art-making by speculating on how the relationships between culture, art, and technology will be transformed in the future. Please note that in order to enroll in CAT 3, you must have passed CAT 2.

CAT 3 Course Goals

Writing and Argumentation

  • Develop an ability to write/make, read, understand, and critique arguments and assumptions in texts in diverse genres including multimodal texts (such as film, television, photography, posters, and digital genres).
  • Effectively organize and support an argument with useful evidence and clear analysis.
  • Consistently and effectively use the revision process by clearly progressing from draft to draft and assignment to assignment.


  • Understand and evaluate relevant sources.
  • Cite texts and arguments fairly and effectively.
  • Use sources effectively by drawing key examples from research to support arguments, creativity, and art-making.
  • Develop an independent research project and understand key components of research such as literature review (and annotated bibliography), proposal process, and revision.

Collaboration and Art-Making

  • Develop effective ways to collaborate with groups of peers.
  • Use digital methods to enhance collaboration.

CAT 3A: Dreams of Electric Sheep and Cyborgs: Technology, Imagination, and the Future on Screen

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:00-10:50 a.m.

This CAT 3 course will examine how popular culture—film, television, literature, and music videos—have and continue to imagine future utopic/dystopic worlds. From Blade Runner to The Hunger Games, "The ArchAndroid," and Black Mirror, we will consider how ideas about race, gender, and technology intersect and construct the imagination of the future. Potential topics we will cover include (but are not limited to): the future of the environment, the future of love, the future of capitalist labor, and Afrofuturisms. The course is framed by the following questions: What can these future worlds tell us about our current or past historical, social, or political moment? How do these visions sooth or exacerbate anxieties about technology? About disaster? About love and family? How are race and gender (re)imagined in the future? This course is driven by research, collaboration, and creativity—using film/literature/television texts to help us question and engage with ideas about the future. The texts we read, watch, and discuss will thus serve as models and inspiration for your own projects.

CAT 3B: From the Tower of Babel to Google Translate: Lost and Found in Translation

Amelia Glaser

Associate Professor, Literature

Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

How have humans, from the ancient world to the present, made themselves understood across languages? What methods have proved the most effective and under what circumstances? This course seeks to answer these questions by examining innovations in translation from the Rosetta Stone, to Biblical translation, to web-based language technology. You will read essays and articles exploring the possibilities and impossibilities of translating jokes, slang, and terms of endearment. We discuss how translators, the "work horses of literature," have sought to render poetry into different languages. We will discuss, and test, new technologies that are changing the way we approach foreign texts. In-class exercises will allow you to try your hand at a variety of translation techniques. (You do not need to know a foreign language for this class, but if you do you might have a chance to use it.)

CAT 3C: Futures Through Music Making: Videos, Virtuality, and the Bop Gun

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:50 p.m.

As an intersection of technology and social interaction, music-making can be an effective tool for imagining potential futures. Science fiction has often used examples of music performance to make the future audible, such as Max Rebo's bar band in Star Wars or Diva Plavalaguna's operatic singing from The Fifth Element. Musicians have also engaged "sounding" the future by placing their music in futuristic contexts, as in Funkadelic's "Bop Gun: Endangered Species" and Prince's ArtOfficialAge.

This course synthesizes contemporary musical practices, from learning an instrument to recording and releasing musical works, with futurist and speculative perspectives. As a writing course, we will research, analyze, and critique chapters about learning music through video games and Youtube (Kiri Miller's Playing Along), examples of virtual reality instruments (Jaron Lanier's work) and "modeling" technology, and other futurist music-making examples. The ideas we develop from our writing will then form the basis of a collaborative musical project aimed at representing a future sound world. Through our own music-making experiences, we will perform and critique where we are in the present moment and where we might go.

CAT 3D: Games We Play: Games, Performance, and Play

Ash Smith

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday 5:00-6:20 p.m.

What is play? How does technology influence play? Are there limits to games and play? In this course, we will study the theory of play in everyday life and develop a critical gaming literacy. We will examine the Culture of play and games, the Art of designing play and games and the Technology mediating play and games. We will think about the intersection of pervasive play with ubiquitous computing and engage with live action role-playing, experimental game design, video games, art games, mixed reality, pervasive games, street games, location-based games, tabletop games, interactive storytelling, and worldbuilding.

You will learn how to talk, write, design and play—critically. You will be asked to play-test games, write game reviews, and design games. Your sections will double as a game lab where you will conduct collaborative research, workshop, and eventually design a game for your final project.

*DISCLAIMER: This course is especially for you if you feel that you are not necessarily a gamer BUT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN GAMES or if you or your interests are not always represented in games or gaming culture. This course requires you to PLAY AND THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT GAMES. This course might be a game. :)