Imagining Futures

This interdisciplinary project brings together New York-based Transmedia artist and theorist, Thenmozhi Soundararajan and two faculty from Ci3’s Transmedia Story Lab, adolescent health researcher and physician, Melissa Gilliam (University of Chicago, Biological Science Division-founder of Ci3), and game designer and scholar, Patrick Jagoda (University of Chicago, English & New Media Studies) as they explore significant social, cultural, and political issues that will impact possible human futures through a series of experimental and interactive digital narratives. 

Imagining Futures: Speculative Design and Social Justice 


Winter 2017, Tues / Thurs, 12:00 - 1:20pm
Logan Center for the Arts / Gray Center Lab at Midway Studios

ENGL 21110 / 31110; cross-listings ARTV 21110 / 31110, CMST 21110 / 31110

This experimental course seeks to disrupt dominant narratives about “the future”: a monolithic concept that often comes from technologists and policymakers. Instead, we explore what alternative futures might look like when imagined by and with marginalized communities. Beginning with movements such as Afrofuturism, we will read speculative and science fiction across media, including short stories, manifestos, journalism, critical theory, novels, films, transmedia narratives, and videogames. These works will help us think relationally between the historical present and imaginable futures.

Rather than merely analyzing or theorizing various futures, this course will prepare students in hands-on methods of “speculative design” and “critical making.” Instead of traditional midterm essays and final research papers, the work of the course will consist primarily of blog responses to shared readings, coupled with short-form, theoretically-founded, and collaborative art projects. These projects will imagine alternative futures of climate change, gender, public health, finance, policing, and labor. The work will be challenging, transdisciplinary, and will blur expectations about the relationship between theory and practice at every turn. As such, it is not a course for the craven; it is a course for students who wish to explore the complexities of collaboration and the sociopolitical possibilities of art. Undergraduate: (B, H) Graduate: (20th/21st)

Course blog and syllabus here.


Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago’s Department of English Language and Literature
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Transmedia Artist