Creative Engagements with Digital Technology

Summer 2015, Tuesdays 12-2:50

Course Information (iteration: 5/19/2015)

Catalog Description

Designed for students interested in critically thinking about ways to bring together creativity and technology in their own work or in collaborations, this seminar explores vital questions about the complex relationships between contemporary forms of creativity and information technologies in increasingly – but not universally – digital cultures.

How are visual art, music, performance, and other traditionally analog forms of creation influenced by developing digital technologies, the use (or strategic non-use) of digital tools, and shifting possibilities for identities and expressions? What are the cultural implications of the emerging forms of creativity deeply intertwined with technologies that have appeared over the last few decades (e.g., interactive fiction, creative code, video games, and social media)? How are these new forms being taken up by artists, technologists, academics, marketing firms, and people in everyday life?

To tackle these questions, students will work with academic literature drawn from information studies, media studies, philosophy, literary theory, and critical code studies; engage with and analyze projects that raise these issues in creative/digital spaces; and experiment with digital tools such as social media platforms, graphic design suites, and interactive composition environments, in a highly collaborative and reflexive classroom.

Course policies

The Classroom

This course is designed to be a challenging, demanding, thoughtful, and exciting experiment in thinking through different ways creativity and digital technologies engage with, co-create, reconstruct, and reject/embrace each other. Each week we will encounter materials that engage with a particular theme. In class, discussion of materials will occupy only a small portion of the time; during the bulk of our time together, we will work with relevant tools, share reflections on our engagements and products of our experiments, and think and work collaboratively to generate new understandings of the week’s topic. To make this work, it is vital for everyone to find the time and energy to engage with materials before class so we can be prepared to be fully present during meetings. Between readings and other materials, each week requires about 2-3 hours of preparation (not including the midterm and final assignments). Above all, please be respectful in your interactions with your classmates, both in the classroom and through both analog and digital communication outside of it.


You are required to bring a laptop to class in order to participate in most class activities, as well as a mobile device capable of loading applications (e.g., a smartphone or a tablet). If you do not have access to a personal laptop or a mobile device to bring to class, talk to Pitt's library or the iSchool about checking out technology for school use.

Required materials for this course include digital software and other online materials that require a computer and high speed internet access. The campus computer labs are pre-equipped with some of the software suites we will be using, but things like games will need to be installed on a computer at home before class. If you do not have access to these things (or lose access during the course of the semester), please e-mail or schedule an appointment with the instructor to discuss.

Materials for this course that are openly available online will have a link in the syllabus. If no link is listed, you’ll find the file in the course materials distributed at the beginning of the course

Attendance and Grades

Attendance is mandatory, and necessary to earn a participation grade. If you know you are going to miss class, please e-mail the instructor at least 24 hours in advance to work out a makeup assignment. If you miss a class without notification or without providing a doctor’s excuse/written verification of a medical or family emergency within seven days of the missed session, you will lose a third of a letter grade. Three unexcused absences will result in failing the course.