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SP20261: Social concepts of humans, monsters and machines

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2013/4
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Further information on credits Credits: 6
Further information on unit levels Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Further information on teaching periods Period: Semester 1
Further information on unit assessment Assessment: ES100
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment: Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to introduce students to:
1.) The key historical events and thinkers that produced taxonomies/concepts/and models of humans, monsters, and machines.
2.) The innovative laboratory and scientific research into human and machine interfaces over the centuries.
3.) Key theoretical, STEM subject, Social Science, and Humanities perspectives which illustrate the past-present-and-future relationships between humans, monsters, and machines
4.) Core epistemological relationships that define how humans, monsters, and machines co-exist and how those interconnected relationships developed over time.
5.) How the concept of the modern human being uses both monsters and machines to establish models of normalcy, pathology, and intellectual ability.
6.) Keyword definitions of humans, monsters, and machines
7.) This Unit will complement SPS Units in SP30118 Theoretical Issues 2: Subjectivities & Identities, SP30057/58 Sociology Dissertation and SP20177 The Sociology of the Body.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the unit the students should be able to:
1.) Understand and critically analyse the historical, theoretical, and practical considerations behind humans, monsters, and machines.
2.) Critique and articulate how human definitions of humans, monsters, and machines impacted the development of social orders, medical advances, and political battles.
3.) Recognize and understand how common, everyday prosthetic devices work in relation to future human-machine interfaces.
4.) Critique and debate how definitions of humans, monsters, and machines produce conflicts in society, medicine, history, the law, and education.
5.) Critically review the ethical uses and abuses of categories which define Homo sapiens as illustrated by the interdisciplinary study of humans, monsters, and machines.
6.) Distinguish how the concepts and figures of humans, monsters, and machines merge and separate into distinct categories across the centuries.
7.) Critically evaluate and understand how definitions of the modern human grew out of historical encounters between previous epoch's humans, monsters, and machines.
8.) Identify and critique the growing economic and political divide between human populations with access to intelligent machine systems and those without.

1.) To understand concepts related to humans, monsters, and machines and how those concepts help fabricate these categories.
2.) To recognize the use of human-machines interfaces in everyday life and how those devices both improve and complicate everyday life.
3.) To think about how to design a human-machine interface.
4.) To scrutinize how media representations of human monsters tap into historical definitions of monstrousness.
5.) To think creatively about how textual and visual representations of humans, monsters, and machines have produced new ways of thinking about forms-of-life.
6.) To synthesise information from a number of sources to create a coherent argument
7.) To use ICT to illustrate arguments.

1.) Defining humans, monsters, and machines in both history and the current age
2.) Examples and demonstrations of current prosthetic device adaptations
3.) Uses and abuses of networked, ubiquitous information databases
4.) Autonomous machines and their future relationships with humans
5.) Military uses of humans, monsters, and machines in both historical terms and for the future
6.) Military based research projects into machine intelligence, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the United States
7.) Definitions of the Human in relationship to theories of monstrousness
8.) Interdisciplinary texts: historical, contemporary and speculative
9.) Analysing popular culture representations of monsters and machines in art, film, television, and music.
10.) Pubblic understandings of debates about monstrosity and technology in health care, politics, and social well being
11.) Innovations in understanding the relationships between monsters, humans and machines in both literature and science
12.) Sample Reading List: Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological; Giorgio Agamben The Open; Donna Haraway, Primate Visions; Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics: Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine; Michel Foucault, The Abnormal; Karel Capek, RUR: Rossum's Universal Robots; Friedrich Nietzsche Human, All Too Human and Untimely Meditations; Kevin Warwick I, Cyborg.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

SP20261 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc (hons) Social Policy (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc (hons) Social Policy (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc (hons) Social Sciences (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc (hons) Social Sciences (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AFB04 : BSc (hons) Sociology (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AKB04 : BSc (hons) Sociology (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc (hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Full-time) - Year 2
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc (hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Full-time with Thick Sandwich Placement) - Year 2

* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2013/4 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2014/15 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2013/14.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.