Departmental Theme: Dr. Randy Lewis on Surveillance and Security

We’re delighted to share with you this write-up from Dr. Randy Lewis about integrating the 2013-2014 departmental theme, SECURITY/INSECURITY, into his teaching this semester:

This image is definitely not Photoshopped.

Surveillance on campus. This image is definitely not Photoshopped.

Because I’m writing a book about surveillance, I’ve had an easy time working the departmental theme of security and insecurity into my teaching. A few weeks ago at the AMS film series, I spoke about surveillance and cinema before a screening of David Fincher’s The Gamewhich will figure in one chapter of my book. And throughout the fall semester, I’ve been teaching a new grad seminar on surveillance that I’m excited about. Working from an interdisciplinary perspective that brings the sociologically-based research of surveillance studies into conversation with humanities scholarship related to art, film, history, architecture, and affect, the course explores the psychology, poetics, and politics underlying the institutionalization of insecurity. With terrific students from AMS, journalism, and anthropology, we have been asking what is driving the vast market for surveillance on an affective and ideological level? What are the hidden costs of living in a “control society” in which surveillance is deemed essential to neoliberal governance? And what are the strategies for creative resistance that enable new forms of biopolitics in the age of surveillance?

We’ve talked about everything from post office peep holes to Big Data, from border militias to Minority Report, not to mention “Every Breath You Take,” Sting’s creepy ode to stalkers (and to think he named his band “The Police”!). Even if I’m starting to feel a bit like Dale Gribble, it’s been been a thought provoking semester of security and insecurity thus far (which is probably what Mack Brown would say as well!).

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