Surveillance & Society: Big Brother, Secret Police, Reality TV


What ever happened to the threat of Big Brother and the sanctity of the right to privacy? Surveillance used to be a tool of discipline and punishment employed by totalitarian states to control their citizens, something to be feared and resisted. We live in an age in which surveillance has become pervasive and we have become desensitized to its insidious effects. In the digital age, new genres of entertainment (reality shows) and new forms of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) enable us to make public spectacles of ourselves voluntarily. Moreover, innovations like GPS, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence are making everyday human activity into sites of massive data collection. This course will explore how surveillance went from a science-fiction nightmare in the early 20th century, to a political and social reality in the mid-to-late 20th century, and finally to the post-Orwellian daydream of non-stop global self-display that it is today. We will explore the political, social, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of surveillance through readings, discussions, and debates.

Explore the culture and customs of these countries: 

Professor Kata Gellen

Crosslisting Numbers: 
Film, Visual & Performing Arts?
Literature in Translation?