Media Archaeology,
Climate Change, & the Digital (Non)humanities

This is a course about:

“The end of the world has already occurred,” writes philosopher Timothy Morton in Hyperobjects, his investigation of media theory and climate change. In this claim, Morton synthesizes contemporary anxieties around the ongoing tenability of industrial capitalism and the fractured relationships between technology, climate, and humankind. This week-long course takes Morton’s ideas as a starting point for exploring the media history, materiality, and infrastructures of digital and network technologies, and interrogates how the digital humanities and media studies might theorize and respond practically to climate upheaval and the idea of the "apocalypse" more generally.

A full account of current studies on the relationship between digital media, media theory, and ecology would easily fill a semester, let along a week-long course. Media Archaeology, Climate Change, & the Digital (Non)humanities is then self-consciously brief, giving participants multiple entry points through which to consider the interactions of digital technologies and climate science. Topics will include media archaeology, technological obsolescence, e-waste, the material structure of the Internet, and the philosophical role of “the end of the world” or apocalypse for the digital humanities as a practice. The overall goal of the course is to provide participants space to engage with these topics through their own critical or creative practice, and to develop vocabularies through which to critique and historicize digital media more generally.

This course is a part of Five College Digital Humanities’ new series of Interterm workshops designed to introduce students to critical concepts in the digital humanities. Participants will complete a short assignment, understood as a prototype for future work, responding to course materials. This might be a paper, a video game, a Twitter bot, a performance installation—or something entirely new.

Taught by Jeffrey Moro. This course is not for credit, and is open to all Five College students, staff, and faculty. No prior experience required.

Time & Location

Media Archaeology, Climate Change, & the Digital (Non)humanities will be offered twice:


Registration for this course is closed.


M: Digital Humanities in the Anthropocene

  • READING: Bethany Nowviskie, "Digital Humanities in the Anthropocene," Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Link.
  • READING: Jonathan Sterne, "Out with the Trash: On the Future of New Media," Residual Media, ed. Charles R. Acland, pgs. 16–31.
  • SCREENING: Chasing Ice, 75 min. (Available on Netflix, to rent on various platforms, and in the Five College Library system)

Tu: Techno-garbage Networks

  • READING: Andrew Blum, "A Network of Networks," Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, pgs. 35 – 67
  • READING: Jennifer Gabrys, "Shipping and Receiving," Digital Rubbish, pgs. 74–100
  • SCREENING: Rare Earthenware, 7 min. Link.
  • OPTIONAL READING: Jussi Parikka, "An Alternative Deep Time of the Media," A Geology of Media, pgs. 29–58

W: Theorizing Climate

  • SCREENING: "Theory for the Anthropocene," panel w/ McKenzie Wark, Stephanie Wakefield, & Roy Scranton at The New School, 10/23/15, 93 min (The back half is Q&A). Link.
  • READING: Timothy Morton, "A Quake in Being," Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World, pgs. 1–24
  • OPTIONAL READING: McKenzie Wark, "From OOO to P(OO)," Link.
  • OPTIONAL READING: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, "On Hypo-Real Models or Global Climate Change: A Challenge for the Humanities," Critical Inquiry, 41.3 (Spring 2015), pgs. 675–703 Link.

Th: Creative Responses

  • READING: Garnet Hertz & Jussi Parikka, "Appendix: Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method," A Geology of Media, pgs. 141–53
  • READING: Excerpts from "Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant," Link.
  • READING: "The Afterlife of Waste: Ben Mauk interviews Pinar Yoldas," Guernica, Link.
  • READING / VIEWING: ""A Polish game studio is reconstructing Chernobyl in virtual reality," The Verge, Link.

F: Learning How to Die in the Digital Humanities / Class Presentations

  • READING: Roy Scranton, "Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene," The New York Times, Link.
  • READING: Zadie Smith, "Elegy for a Country's Seasons," The New York Review of Books, Link.

Course Assignment

Presentations on the last day of class

Each participant will give a five minute presentation responding to one or more course reading / question / theme on the final day of class. These talks may take the form of a conference-style presentation, a product pitch, a performance, an interactive game, or something entirely different. The only requirement is that the presentation be speculative: that it project the questions and concerns of the class forward into imagined future work.

The timeline of this course is quite compressed! Participants are encouraged to snoop around the syllabus in full before the first day of class so they can hit the ground running with ideas for a final presentation. Each participant should plan to have a check-in conversation with me by or before the Wednesday course meeting.

Other Brief Notes on this Course

This is a non-credit course. I will not provide any grades, nor does this course appear on a transcript. However, if you would like a formal written evaluation—say, to include in a Hampshire College Division portfolio—please let me know on the first day of class.

Though this is a non-credit course, your work is held to the same Honor Code standards as any work at your home institution. Give credit where credit is due.

Five College Digital Humanities

Five College Digital Humanities (5CollDH) is an Andrew W. Mellon-funded initiative of the Five College Consortium of Western Massachusetts: Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mount Holyoke Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 5CollDH cultivates the arts and humanities through digital innovation, and works across communities to enrich digital humanities scholarship and pedagogy within and beyond the classroom.

Media Archaeology, Climate Change, and the Digital (Non)humanities is one in a series of non-credit courses offered through 5CollDH with the aim of introducing students, staff, and faculty to critical concepts in the digital humanities. Learn more about 5CollDH here, and view past non-credit courses here.

The Instructor

Jeffrey Moro is a researcher and artist with Five College Digital Humanities. He wears many different hats there, including running a fellowship and microgrant program, consulting on and assisting with grant-funded projects, managing a speaker series, teaching classes and workshops, and creating digital resources. In his research, he works on electronic literature, interactive and games, software studies, and the history of media forms and technologies. Current projects include E.LIT / NET.ART, Still Life in Digital (in collaboration with Marisa Parham), and The_Critical_Is, which was a recipient of a microgrant from the Association for Computers and the Humanities. He holds a BA in English and Theater & Dance from Amherst College.