EGMT 1510: Brokenness, Malfunction, Maintenance, and Repair

Years Offered: 
Quarter Offered: 
Day | Time: 
TR 6:30pm-7:45pm
Session: 
Fall Quarter One: August 24 – October 13
Years Offered: 
Quarter Offered: 
Day | Time: 
MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
Session: 
Spring Quarter Three: January 19 – March 15
Years Offered: 
Quarter Offered: 
Day | Time: 
MW 6:30pm-7:45pm
Session: 
Spring Quarter Four: March 16 – May 3
Instructor: 
It’s hard sometimes to take notice when things just simply work right—the multitude of occasions when nothing weird happens, everything functions according to expectations, and plans are carried out without a hitch. Instead, our minds more often dwell on those times when things get fouled up and everything goes wrong. Why should this be, though? It is a fact of the physical universe that things tend to break down. Sooner or later, at whatever pace, everything that ever has been or ever will be will decay and disintegrate. And yet these processes hold some fascination, firing the imaginations of artists, philosophers, and cultural creators, at the same time as scientists, civil engineers, and many other dedicated professionals strive to forestall their effects on societal networks and infrastructures. In this Engagements class, we will consider the aesthetics of malfunction and repair from a variety of perspectives, mixing in-class discussion and workshops with excursions into the communities around us. Shannon Mattern’s groundbreaking essay “Maintenance and Care” will serve as a guide throughout, introducing us to the “rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code” that permeate our daily existence, as well as to those who combat them in one form or another. Along the way we will encounter and document our responses to examples from the fields of architecture, arts and crafts, llterature, music, and videogames that seek to resist prevailing cultural logics and fracture our habitual modes of thought. We’ll carry out hands-on exercises in deformation and destruction, think about how these processes might affect our cultural and social networks, and ultimately forge ideas about what “maintenance” and “care” might mean in our present and to our futures.