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Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

Lifelong Learning

Brave New World: Technology in Literature & Popular Culture
University of Pittsburgh Osher Lifelong Learning

May 17 – June 14 2013
Successive Fridays 1PM – 2:50 EST
Location:  Cathedral of Learning, Oakland Campus, Room: 332
Registration: Pitt Osher Lifelong Learning , 412-624-7308

Course Objectives:

  • Explore how technology has been depicted in books, films, advertisements and other aspects of popular culture
  • Explore how technology shapes our lives (for good or ill, and often both)
  • Examine how our perceptions of technology have been shaped by cultural influences and our own experience


This five-session course explores the evolving depiction of science and technology in writing by Jules
Verne, H.G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey) — up through films
like Bladerunner and The Matrix. Topics covered include the way science fiction, mainstream fiction
and nonfiction books and the media — including film, news reports and advertising — color and reflect
our view of technology. Participants will be invited to discuss their own recollections of technological
developments, their significance in their lives, and their perception of technology’s promise and risks
for the future.

Note:  This original course is a further exploration of a subject covered in earlier presentations.

Tentative Course Outline:

Week 1 — Introduction, From Magic to Machines : 16th – 19th Centuries
Week 2 — From Innocence to Industry: 19th – Early 20th Century (Pre-American Civil War to WWI)
Week 3 — The Future as Salvation : 1920s-1930s; World Stage to Jet Age: 1940s-1950s
Week 4 — New & Improved: 1960s – 1970s
Week 5 — From Reappraisal to Redemption : 1980s-Present; Conclusion:  Brave New World Now & In the Future

Related Posts:

The World of Tomorrow, Yesterday & Today
Learning to Master the World
Science, Religion & Magic
The New World:  Technology, Religion and the Utopian Ideal

Please click for a draft of the reading list. Feel fee to contact us with questions or suggestions.


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