English 287 - Winter, 2017

Topics in Literature & Media

Class Information

Instructor: Boluk, Stephanie
CRN: 44097
Time: W 12:10-3, 6:10-9
Location: 120 Voorhies


    Is money one of the first forms of digital media? Or, even more simply, what is money? How do transformations in media affect the way money operates? Since the 2008 financial crisis, the status of money is no longer as stable or self-evident as it once pretended to be. From cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to virtual commodities like Team Fortress, recent experiments with money are calling into question this symbolic form of communication—and many of these practices emerge out of videogame culture. In order to better understand the materiality and effects of money, this course will undertake a survey of the various historical technologies of currency, from ancient coins and paper banknotes to ultrafast algorithmic trading, crowdfunding, and alternative currencies. How do changes in the money form shape transformations in perception (fetishism, visuality, attention economies), shifts in the built environment (gentrification, the slum, digital spaces, and augmented realities), and spark geopolitical conflicts (colonialism, racism, imperialism, rentier capitalism)? In conjunction with broader historical and theoretical readings on money, we will likely concentrate on contemporary cases that examine the relationship between computation and finance, specifically looking at some the experiments in both the organization of money and labor taking place within the videogame industry. Exploring contemporary issues such as the speculative multi-million dollar gamble of crowdsourced games like Star Citizen to Valve’s “flat” economic ideology, we will examine the different ways in which emerging technological systems are simultaneously intensifying and redefining our relationship to contemporary financialization.


    Berardi, Franco. The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. 2012.
    Malabou, Catherine. What Should We Do with Our Brain?New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.
    Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 1981.
    Poovey, Mary. Genres of the Credit Economy: Mediating Value in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
    Stiegler, Bernard. For a New Critique of Political Economy. Cambridge: Polity, 2010.