Rendering the Computer: A Political Diagrammatology of Technology
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Rendering the Computer: A Political Diagrammatology of Technology

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This dissertation offers a conceptual framework that thinks about the political and cultural logics of computational media technologies using the term ‘rendering.’ Incorporating the wide variety of ‘computings’ that we already live with today (human, analog, digital, quantum), it investigates the politico-economic, aesthetic, and sociotechnical entanglements in the discourses around computer architectures over the last 150 years or so. This project, thus, is a foray into the political world of computers: the inner world—the insides of the machine, its components, its circuits—and the outer world—the world in which computers are developed, manufactured, used, and worn out. Touching, borrowing from, and contributing to the multiple overlapping fields—media studies, science and technology studies, history (especially history of computing technologies), political economy, literary and cultural studies, computer science and engineering, and infrastructure, information, and communication studies, to name a few—this project seeks to outline the ways in which sociocultural systems get encoded into computational hardware and software. In a somewhat anatomical impulse, this project starts by breaking apart the computer and taking up some of its constituent units one by one to provide politico-cultural histories of the machinic. Together, at a scale, the stories here show how ideologies become hardware, how hardware in turn shapes ideological positions, and why computing should be redefined and contextualized within its politico-economic and sociocultural milieux.

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This item is under embargo until May 18, 2027.