English 287 - Winter, 2022

Topics in Literature & Media

Class Information

Instructor: Boluk, Stephanie
CRN: 23675
Time: TR 12:10-3:00
Location: Remote



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 socially-constructed and unstable status of money has become even less self-evident than it once pretended to be. From cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and NFT art markets to virtual commodities like Counter-Strike gunskins and gachapon gambling, a highly precarious economy has produced precarious forms of financial speculation across many sectors. 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 look at some contemporary and historical cases that examine the relationship between computation and finance.

Assignments: 15-20 pg paper or comparable project, participation + presentation in class