PHILLIP THURTLE
RESEARCH

RESEARCH GOAL

A single goal unifies my research interests: I wish to understand how information-processing technologies contribute to formal definitions of human nature.


In contrast to most current research on communications technology and self identity, which uses psychoanalytic models, I am more interested in how information-processing shapes our biological conceptions of “self”.

Specifically I am interested in how new communication and transportation infrastructures shape our conceptions of human potential and how these, in turn, are built into the institutions that dominate most 20th century lives.

Two historical periods are important to my research:

1) The rise of progressive era American corporate, scientific, and educational institutions and the development of new communication, transportation, and information processing technologies. I then look at the use of these technologies in

a. Hierarchically differentiated corporate structures,
b. Large scale philanthropic giving,
c. Developments in biological research and educational reform.

2) The extension of mass media networks and the rise of the electronics industry in post-1960s America. I have written and spoken on the following themes:

a. The role of the electronics industry in redefining our conceptions of consumption and production.
b. The relationship of communication and information processing technologies to post-modern art and contemporary science.
c. The rise of modeling, simulation, and gaming as a novel epistemological framework.

The tools that I use to understand these topics are my rigorous training in cultural and intellectual history, the sociology of science and technology, and the history and philosophy of science and technology.

RESEARCH PROJECTS AND ONLINE SCHOLARSHIP

Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information (Routledge: due out 2003) Coedited with Robert E. Mitchell

with essays by:

Tim Lenoir (History of Science, Stanford), Rich Doyle (Rhetoric, Penn. State), Mark Poster (Media Theory, UC Irvine), N. Katherine Hayles (English, UCLA), Robin Held (Art History and Curator, University of Washington), Bernadette Wegenstein (Communications, U of Buffalo), Mary Flanagan (New Media Artist and Scholar, University of Oregon), Mary Villa (History, U of Wisc.), and Elisabeth Le Guin (Music Theory, UCLA) Steven Shaviro (English and Cinema Studies, University of Washington), Kathleen Woodward (Director, Simpson Center for the Humanities, University of Washington), Robert Mitchell (English, Duke University), Phillip Thurtle (Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University) and transgenic artist Eduardo Kac.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Semiotic Flesh: Information and the Human Body

Phillip Thurtle and Robert Mitchell, eds.

Essays By: Richard Doyle, N. Katherine Hayles, and Timothy Lenoir

Responses By: Steven Shaviro, Peter Oppenheimer, and Kathleen Woodward

 

THE GENOMIC BOOK OF THE DEAD

An essay commisioned by the Henry Art Gallery for the Gene(sis) Exhibit

"THE G FILES": LINKING THE "SELFISH GENE" AND "THE THINKING REED"

An essay commisioned by Stanford University for the Stanford Presidential Symposia in the Humanities and Arts

 

THE CREATION OF GENETIC IDENTITY

An essay for the Stanford Humanities Review, Volume 5 Special Supplement "Cultural and Technological Incubations of Fascism"