Dominance by Design: Machines, Security, and Landscapes of War

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses
Sophomore and above—Year

This course examines the ways in which ideas and practices of waging war—from World War II through the “War on Terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and ”the homeland”—are linked to emerging forms and networks of mediation, technological development, and the environment. What is the idea of “full-spectrum dominance,” and how has this fantasy become normalized in war games on the screen and in military planning? How have specific organisms provided sources for military weapons development? How have military technologies and installations affected environmental ecosystem functioning and human health “at home” and abroad? What is “America’s robot army,” and what implications may it have for the ways in which future wars will be fought and contested? What is biomimesis, and how is the intersection of engineering and biological sciences affecting the ways in which contemporary conflicts are fought and future conflicts are imagined? What intersections exist among emerging scientific knowledges, science fictions, and the ways in which war is imagined, planned, experienced, and conducted? What are “feral cities,” and how does this conception of urban life articulate with future plans for war? Scholarly books and articles, works of nonfiction and fiction, film, and Web sites will form the basis of this itinerary. Among the works studied are Der Derian’s Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network; Graham’s Cities, War, and Terrorism: Toward an Urban Geopolitics; documents produced by the Project for the New American Century, a nongovernmental policy organization affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute; and Michael Adas’s Dominance by Design: Technological Imperatives and America’s Civilizing Mission.