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Spring 2019 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 read, understand, critique, write, and make your own arguments and assumptions in texts in diverse genres including multimodal texts (such as film, television, posters, photography, and digital genres).
  • Organize and support an argument effectively with useful evidence and clear analysis.
  • Use the revision process consistently and effectively 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: Simulation and Play: The Art and Science of Pretend

Ash Smith

Lecturer, CAT

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

Simulations are ways of modeling, faking, or duplicating the real world. From video games to military technology, from driving to flight simulators, from amusement park rides to special effects, from theater to virtual reality, simulations are used to tell stories in our world. At the heart of many simulations are acts of play and performance. How does culture, art, and technology shape play, simulation, and reality? What are the limits and possibilities? In this course, we will study the theory and practice of simulated play in everyday life and in interactive experiences.

This course will be in partnership with the UCSD Design Lab. You will learn how to talk, write, design, and play critically. You will be asked to play-test, user-test, speculate, use observation as research, rapid prototype, write reviews of simulations, and design your own interactive experiences. Sections will double as design studios where you will conduct collaborative research, workshop, and eventually design a game, play, or simulation for your final project.

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

Joe Bigham

Lecturer, CAT

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 11:00-11:50 a.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 3C: Future of Love

Liz Gumm

Lecturer, CAT

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

Love is one of the most overly defined concepts. From relationship gurus to memes, from religious tracts to Hollywood romantic comedies—love can mean almost anything. How valuable are these definitions, depictions, and dogma as we imagine the future of our personal lives, our communities, and our global networks? If "all you need is love," how does that need evolve in a world mediated more and more by screens, avatars, and simulated experiences? This CAT 3 course will work through theories of love, ethics, intimacy, desire, and kinship and how we might see them play out in the future. By critically reading the messages about love across a variety of media, you will work on projects that revise, remix, and revolutionize those messages. Possible texts we might examine in this course include films like Ex Machina, TV shows like Modern Family, dating mechanisms like Tinder, and writers like Angela Carter, Carmen Maria Machado, Ta-Nehisi Coates, bell hooks, and Donna Haraway.

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

Phoebe Bronstein

Assistant Teaching Professor, CAT

Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:50 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.