Who we are and how we perceive ourselves and others at the dawn of the 21st century

MAS 963 · Identity seminar
Instructor: Judith Donath

Spring, 2002
Monday 2-4 in E15-335
Graduate H level · 12 Units
Permission of instructor required
TA: danah boyd
Course assistant Colleen Capodilupo


The nature of human identity - how we think of ourselves, how we perceive others - is a mutable concept, changing with the rise and fall of religious beliefs, social mores, philosophical theories. Today, we live in a world in which science and technology are among the most powerful forces reshaping our culture - and thus our definitions and perceptions of identity. In this seminar, we will examine the impact of science and technology on identity. The topics we will be discussing include:


There will be weekly reading and writing assignments. Active participation in class discussions is required. There will also be a final term paper.

Please contact the instructor if you are interested in taking this class. The first class meeting will be on February 11.


Feb 11 introduction

Feb 19 thinking about identity: categorization, prototypes, stereotypes

Feb 25 cultural identity part 1: language, dialects and email

Mar 04 cultural identity part 2: fashions in clothing, music and links

Mar 11 the face

Mar 19 final project proposals

Mar 25 [no class: spring break]

Apr 01 the not quite human other: robots, agents and augmented humans

Apr 08 databanks and privacy

Apr 15 [no class: patriot’s day]

Apr 22 visualizations: depicting the abstract and mediated self

Apr 29 measuring identity: tests and sensors

May 06 portraying identity: portraiture in the 21st century

May 13 final presentations