Intimacy and Technology

Subject HPSC20010 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 1-hour lecture and a 90-minute tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline area.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: There is no specific background knowledge required for this subject.
Non Allowed Subjects: This subject was previously taught at 3rd year level under the code 672-328. Students who have completed 672-328 are not permitted to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :


Dr Michael Arnold


Dr Michael Arnold

Subject Overview:

Intimate Technologies are those that we use to understand ourselves, and that we use to establish and maintain our relations with others. The subject approaches technologies of intimacy through a wide variety of examples and case studies - technologies of modesty and privacy (underwear and bedrooms), technologies of surveillance (CAT scans and bar-codes), communications technologies (love letters and SMS), reproductive technologies (IVF and sheep-gut), technologies that mediate personal identity (the data-body and flesh-fashion), and that mediate social and community relations (swarms and networks). The unifying themes that run through these examples approach technologies of intimacy in terms of their propensity to abstract, attenuate, individuate and discipline our intimate relations, and students are invited to critically assess this argument. In so doing, students will gain a fresh and critical understanding of the ways in which technologies and our lives are intertwined.


A student who has successfully completed this subject will

  • understand and critically interpret the major theoretical and philosophical approaches that inform our knowledge of sociotechnical relations.
  • demonstrate a critical appreciation of the implications of particular sociotechnologies for self, and for human relations.
  • identify, interpret and recount sociotechnical case studies relevant to intimate relations.
Assessment: A 2500-word essay 50% (due at the end of semester), a 1000-word essay 30% (due in week 4) and a 500-word seminar presentation 20% (due during the semester). A hurdle requirement of attendance at eight tutorials is applicable.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the bookshop at the start of semester

Recommended Texts:

Borgmann, Albert, Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life , 1984. Feenberg, Andrew, Questioning Technology , London: Routledge, 1999 Gray, Chris (Ed.) The Cyborg Handbook , Routledge, 1995. Haraway, Donna, The Haraway reader, New York : Routledge, 2003 Hayles, Katherine, How we Became Posthuman 1999 Ihde, Don, Technology and the lifeworld : from garden to earth , Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1990. Turkle, Sherry, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet , London: Weidenfel &amp.amp.amp.amp.amp.amp. Nicholson, 1996.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • form defensible judgements based on a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments.
  • develop skills in written and oral communication.
  • make appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument.
  • conduct independent research.
Links to further information:
Notes: This subject satisfies the third-year breadth requirement for third-year students in the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedicine when taken in 2010 only.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies Major
History && Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science Major

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