Virtual Instruction Resources

Course Description

Are we living in a “New Dark Age?” Artist and writer James Bridle argues that the abundance of information intended to enlighten the world has, in practice, darkened it. This course will take a big picture look at the interconnected impact of technology on the world around us. Is it enough to learn to code or think computationally? Are we simply at the mercy of unstable and inevitable technological progress? How can we think and act with justice and agency in a world where there is too much to know? How can we uncover the hidden material traces of technology in our surroundings? Through research, hands-on assignments, and local trips, we will seek to understand what has led to our present technological moment and where we can go from here. We will cover topics such as climate change, e-waste, big data, algorithmic bias, and automation. Our goal will be to create new metaphors for understanding the systems around us.


Mackenzie Brooks // Associate Professor & Digital Humanities Librarian // (she/her/hers) // brooksm [at]

Learning Objectives

  • Students will research historical and modern technological systems
  • Students will recognize hidden traces of technology in their surroundings.
  • Students will analyze relationships between technological forces.
  • Students will create new metaphors for describing the impact of technology on our social and physical world.

Required Text

Purchase: New Dark Age by James Bridle. This is the core text for the class, so I recommend finding a copy if you can. All other readings will be available online or through library subscriptions.

Note on access to course text:

I recommend checking Indiebound or independent bookstores for this title since Amazon may not be shipping promptly.

We do have an ebook for this title available, but unfortunately it comes with a restrictive license. Only one person can access the book at a time. :(

If you have any trouble finding this book, please let me know!



This course will be graded on a Credit/No-Credit basis per W&L policy for spring term 2020. To earn Credit, the student’s letter grade must be D-minus or higher. In this course, you must turn in all four assignments to receive Credit.


Students are expected to be active, prepared members of this course. Willingness to engage with unfamiliar concepts and technology is essential. Obviously we won’t be meeting in person, but you should still try to participate with the course most days of the M-F week. We will only be having a handful of live meetings, a guest lecture and office hours.


I am committed to ensuring access to course content for all students. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with disabilities. Contact Lauren Kozak, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, to confidentially discuss your individual needs and the accommodation process. More information can be found at

If you have already been approved for accommodations, please meet with me within the first two days of the term so we can develop an implementation plan together. It is important to meet as early in the term as possible; this will ensure that your accommodations are implemented early on. If you have accommodations for test-taking, please remember that arrangements must be made at least a week before the date of the test or exam.

Captions for recorded lectures can be viewed through YuJa or using the Powerpoint Subtitles feature.


All writing should be your own or should be cited properly. The writing assignments in this course are different than what is required in other courses, so we will discuss proper citation procedures for writing for the Web, writing in a group, and writing technical documentation. For more info:


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