May 08 2017

Class starting late

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Hi Students,

Let’s start class at 11am today.

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May 02 2017

Final Portfolio Overview (STUDENT OUTLINE FROM CLASS) – Alexander Garifal

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This is not an official post from Alexis, I am simply posting the notes we took from class on the final portfolio.  Hopefully this will assist anyone that wasn’t able to get the notes.

———————————————————————— Continue Reading »

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Apr 26 2017

Final Essay Assignment Part I: Reviewing the Literature

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On Monday, we circulated a small selection of secondary texts about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and mapped out their essential elements to aid our understanding. Students worked collaboratively to determine each author’s main argument, the motive, the context, and what specific areas of the novel they focused on.

Today, we continued Monday’s labors with a workshop. First, students gave excellent summaries of their chosen texts. Next, we completed the following writing workshop. If you would like to benefit from this, try doing what you can at home, following the guidelines I gave the class. You may need to adjust the guidelines to accommodate your specific context.

Writing Workshop:

Take an analytical concept, define it and state the author and text where you got it. If it doesn’t come from an author and text, discard it and find another concept/lens. (3 minutes)


Next, find a relevant quotation from the concept source text. It may use the concept in a way you find helpful, elaborate on the concept, complicate it, or otherwise teach you something. Do not choose a quotation that merely defines it in the author’s words.(8-10 minutes)


Using the handout on “Sentence Starters,” but ignoring the section on “Evaluating,” choose a sentence starter that you have less or no experience with using, and begin a response to your concept and quotation with that sentence starter. (7 minutes)


Share your concept, quotation, and response with someone who read a different text. Pay close attention, because you’ll respond to this next. (6 minutes)


As stated, your next task is to summarize what your partner has told you, and respond using another sentence starter. (6 minutes)


Look over what you’ve written and see if you can find something that is unresolved—a new question, a complexity that hasn’t been accounted for, or something else. What is new about the way you read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (or just a a part of it) now that you’ve given other voices some thought? (one paragraph, about 10 minutes)

Last part: what’s missing? What other text/kind of text/context, that is, what else do you need to know, or what other “voice” do you need “in the room” to help you flesh out your thoughts on the aspects of the novel that engage you the most? (1-3 lines, about 4 minutes)

Type up what you’ve written, revising as you go whenever it inspires you.

This is the first draft of your “review of the literature.” You are invited to repeat the steps listed above using any other sources you’ve collected for your annotated bibliography.


Send your typed draft by 11:59 on Sunday, April 30, by email in a Word attachment. 

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Apr 25 2017

For Wednesday 4/26

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Bring your notes and the articles we used in Monday’s class. We’ll discuss what you found and begin reviewing the literature.

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Apr 22 2017

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How are real animals and andriod animals distinguished in the book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep”? How does this distinguishment effect the theme of empathy defining humans?

Within the book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep”, real animals and andriod animals are continuously brought up. The idea of owning a real animal seems to be a concerning matter to humans in the futuristic society. In the beginning, Deckard couldn’t afford to buy a real animal, so he decided to buy an electric sheep. He displays a desire of owning a real animal. Even though animal he bought is fake, he takes care of it as if it were real. Declared describes the inability of andriods to keep an electric animal alive by stating, “animals require an environment of warmth to flourish.” This statement poses the question of whether andriods can really feel empathy required to desire and own an animal. In reality, andriods can’t. Although andriods may resemble humans physically, they lack human empathy, which distinguishes them from humans in the novel. Looking at this perspective, if andriods can mimic humans in appearance, so can electric animals mimic the appearance of real animals. However, both creations, the andriods and electric animals, lack empathy. The electric animals can be compared to the andriods in this way. They don’t hold any emotional ties in terms of feeling empathy. The idea of owning a real animal gives a sense of authenticity to humans. It helps them feel reassured of their human side. In the article, Post Human Wounds: Trauma, Non-Anthropocentric Vulnerability, And the Human/ Andriods/ Animal Dynamic In Philip K. Dicks Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Tony M. Cinch states, “While the animal is positioned perfectly to open the human to new registers of subjectivity, and thus pain manage- ment and ethics, it becomes yet another scapegoat. However, unlike the android, the animal is made invisible not because of its subhuman status but because of the overburden of semiotic weight that it carries. As Vint clarifies, within the novel, “Owning and caring for an animal is a sign of one s social and economic status and also an expression of one’s human- ity” (“Speciesism” 112).” The inability to own a real animal drives Deckard to feel shameful and angry at owning an electric animal. In the book, animals, are valued for their ability to provide a sense of human existence, which is a growing concern in the book to character, such as Deckard. Animals are proof that the human is indeed a “specialized category” in his or her ability to empathize and care for animals. Nevertheless, the owning of a real animal emphasizes how essential it is to the human nature within the book in terms of escaping the emptiness, exploiting the empathetic relationship that humans hold towards living creatures in contrast to the andriods, the ability own something real and humanity. Whereas, owning an electric animals causes the characters to develop a sense of betrayal, grief, and inability to sense what real due to owning a fake replacement that is only a lie.

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Apr 20 2017

Instructions for Monday 4/24

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Due Monday:

  1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Scavenger Hunt. Print and fill in the handout, and email the article you find. Bring the handout, filled in, to class.
  2. Dialectical Notebook. Print the handout and follow the example using 2-3 lines from your source text. Use the back of the handout, folded into thirds, to write out your notebook entry by hand.
  3. 500 words, typed and printed out.

The tasks listed above constitute one assignment. If the links do not work for some reason, the files will also be available on the course dropbox.



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Apr 05 2017

Understanding the Big Other

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A student contacted me about having trouble with the concept of the Big Other. I responded with the following, and I believe it may be helpful for other students in the class. Here is my response:


I recommend you check out Hegel’s theory of recognition in the Wikipedia article on the Master-Slave dialectic. I was going to assign a “real” text about this in class, but decided it was too ambitious. The Wikipedia article isn’t horrible, and it gets to the point. Lacan was a student of a major 20th century Hegelian and much of his psychoanalysis references phenomenology and puts it in conversation with Freudian assumptions.


Good luck,




Crucially, for Hegel, absolute knowledge, or Spirit, cannot come to be without first a self-consciousness recognizing another self-consciousness. Such an issue in the history of philosophy had only ever been explored by Johann Gottlieb Fichte and its treatment marks a watershed in European philosophy.

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Apr 01 2017

Blog Post : Sheep v. E-Sheep

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What’s the different between an electric sheep and a real sheep, according to Deckard? Why wouldn’t an electric sheep give genuine happiness to Deckard? 


In “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick, Rick Deckard encountered one of his neighbor, Bill Barbour, while tending to his electric sheep before work. During this encounter, Deckard expressed his desire to buy the horse Barbour had, knowing that Barbour had it artificially inseminated and that he announced that a foal was due. From then on, Deckard explained to Barbour why he wanted to have the animal so badly. Eventually, the conversation lead on to how Deckard was given a real sheep by Iran’s father as a present before he eventually emigrated.  Throughout the passage, the reader can sense a feeling of envy and disdain from Deckard’s behaviors. The biggest evidence for his behavior can be seen on page 11 as Deckard “found what he was looking for: the concealed control panel of the mechanism.” Prior to this encounter, the narrator described how although fake, electric animal exists, they are seen as owning a prosthetic, a wig or even breast implants. They exist as a replacement to the numerous real animals that died as an aftermath to World War Terminus and its nuclear fallout. Same goes for Deckard. Upon revealing the control panel to Barbour, we can see some sort of disconnection between Deckard and the electric sheep. He described to Barbour how, despite the amount of work and dedication that was put into replicating what Groucho was using the picture provided by Deckard, every little breakdown  and malfunctions  the electric sheep has serve as reminders that his old sheep was dead and he now only owns something that is created to resemble Groucho. Besides the emotional toll it is putting Deckard in, it may also affect him in a more social standpoint as any breakdown that got find out by his neighbors would mean that those around him will know that he only has an electric sheep, and the one he previously had died. Although Deckard told Barbour that having the electric sheep is almost similar to having Groucho as if he had never died, Deckard was reminded about the feeling of despair discussed by Iran that made him say “I don’t know; maybe it doesn’t make any difference.” By this point, the reader can assume that the connection between Deckard and the electric sheep has deteriorated to the point where Deckard is tired of his sheep and wouldn’t exactly care if it had malfunctioned and stopped working all together. Comparing it to his old sheep, the mechanical breakdowns that occur to the electric sheep can be fixed simply by having the “animal hospital vets” over and “treat” the “sickness” as if it was a real animal. However, deep down, Deckard knows that if something unfortunate were to happen and the electric sheep stops working, he can just replace that simply at the cost of whatever currency is used post war era. However, the emotional connection Deckard had with Groucho is close to irreplaceable due to the fact that not only he had received that sheep from his father-in-law, the simple knowledge that said sheep is not just a man-made reproduction but a living, breathing, organic creature that survived the war hits Deckard at a more sentimental value than the electric sheep.

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Apr 01 2017

Main Blog Post: Electric Sheep and the State of “Humanness”

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One of the biggest interpretive questions that arise from the beginning of the book is “Whats, the difference between real and electric sheep and why is this so important?” In this post WWT Earth where real animals are a rarity, mechanical counterparts are the common substitute for those humans who chose to remain. It is important to know that there is an existence of engineered human-like entities called androids that are in every way supposed to be human but at the core are not.

As we see in the text, the knowledge that the sheep he currently owns is mechanical greatly bothers Deckard. This is largely due to the fact that he once had a real sheep whom he cared for greatly until it died(to which this mechanical sheep was meant the replace). The difference between the two isn’t as clear cut as “one is mechanical and one isn’t”, it is a lot deeper. For Deckard, a real sheep demands care and contracts diseases(such as tetanus which killed his real sheep). Deckard also notes that even though he cares for the mechanical sheep as much as he did the real one, it isn’t the same. This is because for a real sheep, odd behavior would be an ailment or disease while according to Deckard, for a mechanical sheep, its merely a “mechanical breakdown” such as a broken voice tape or continuous baaing.

We should now backtrack to Deckard’s argument regarding why his neighbor should sell him one his real animals. Note that Deckard states “for you to have two horses and me none, that violates the whole basic theological and moral structure of Mercerism” Now what is Mercerism? As my understanding goes so far through researching the term, it is a religion equivalent type belief, practice or concept that surrounds the feeling of empathy. In the post WWT era, where we have androids that basically pass as humans, the only thing that denotes a difference between androids and humans is the ability to feel empathy which is regarded as a trait unique to humans(according to the text at least). How does this tie in with Deckard’s argument? With empathy being what sets human apart from android and the Mercerist(my idea of the adjective type title that would be associated with Mercerism) ideal, the fact that the sheep is mechanical removes the magnitude of empathy associated since it is after all mechanical and is regarded as such as opposed to a real sheep who is mortal and thus triggers a greater deal of empathy(a REALLY important thing in this book). Ultimately, this is what keeps Deckard from being genuinely happy with a mechanical sheep.

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Mar 31 2017

Writing Prompts from Students

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Hi Bloggers,

Here are three prompts generated by students from the last class. If it is your turn to blog this week, please respond to one of the prompts. You are free to make adjustments to the prompt as needed. Base your response on details from the text. Have a great weekend!


  1. Considering the unlivable conditions of Earth, what prompts the people on Earth to stay or go? How does the media work in his distopian future and how does it compare to today?
  2. What’s the different between an electric sheep and a real sheep, according to Deckard? Why wouldn’t an electric sheep give genuine happiness to Deckard?
  3. In chapter 2, page 15, the author describes where John Isidore lives and then it describes it as an empty space just him living there. It stated that John is going to work he then walks to a black empathy box on page 21. He turns it on and it takes him somewhere else. He seems to mentally be somewhere else and on page 23 it stated that a rock hits his arm and afterwards he is back in his living room. A these pages built up to a point. Is John aware or is he mentally gone?

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