Making and Doing: Cultures of Creativity

A graduate seminar I offered at Ryerson University in Fall 2015.


This is a course about making. We will be thinking about making, but also making in order to think. We consider current trends around what has been described as “maker culture” or the “Maker Movement.” These communities of “makers” are reviving traditions of craft, the handmade, the open source, and the DIY through practices like knitting, weaving, or woodworking, but also 3D printing, hardware tinkering, and physical or digital hacking. But what is making? We will work through this question first by situating making in the broader history and philosophy of tools and technologies. Why do we make? The concept of critical making will provide us with a way to think about hands-on practice as a form of reflection and analysis, before we consider in particular craft, DIY, and hacking in the context of a renewed attention to materials, objects, and things. The question of community is woven throughout, as it propels the maker “movement” away from the myth of lone inventors. We also consider issues such as the politics of making and the democratization of technology through this “re-skilling” of labour. Finally, as we move from Etsy and Maker Faires to Maker Labs and Digital Humanities, we are faced with the energies of this revival in doing and making as it spills into the university and pedagogical approaches. While making provides the rewards of hands-on experience, it also poses a challenge to the humanities and the creativity and thinking that comes from the contemplation of the mind and the distance provided by not making. We will consider making in the context of disciplines: across the humanities, arts, crafts and the “practical” fields of science and engineering—(how) does making help us think, know…and be?

This is a theoretical course with a hint of making. It also includes guest speakers, a making workshop, and screenings.

Course Website