Fall 2024


3pm - 5:45pm

CompLit 207 Theorizing Digital Capitalism

Moira Weigel

Since at least the nineteenth century, computation and capitalism have co-evolved with each other. In many respects, computers have served the interests of capital, by creating new modes of accumulation and means of automating, managing, and outsourcing labor, as well as new tools for researching, advertising to, and transacting with customers. However, computers have also been described as fundamentally changing or even overcoming capitalism–both for better and for worse. Theorists have credited computers with eliminating work or turning it into play and transforming market exchanges into gift exchanges. Contemporary platforms and artificial intelligence inspire dreams of “fully automated luxury communism” and fears that law and contracts are being replaced by code and neo-colonial or neo-feudal forms of coercion.

In this seminar, we will engage with an outpouring of recent scholarship that attempts to describe and theorize digital capitalism and culture, pairing recent texts with excerpts from canonical works that their authors cite and build upon. In the process, students will gain exposure to key concepts, debates, and methods in the emerging field(s) of critical data studies, new media studies, and platform studies. We will also reflect upon the nature and purpose of theorizing. A series of assignments and workshops over the course of the semester will guide students through the process of identifying a promising research topic, reviewing scholarly literature, articulating an original research question, and writing a review essay or research paper.

In Person