Diversity & Technology 2023 Syllabus



What does diversity mean in the context of the United States? How does diversity, equity, inclusion, representation and belonging impact the way that technology is designed, developed and scaled in the United States? As generative artificial intelligence has grown into a ubiquitous technology, how might it impact — and be impacted by — the most challenging diversity-related issues in the United States?

In this year’s D&T course, we will examine the root causes of diversity issues through the work of five literary writers (Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Octavia E. Butler) who have led critical thought on sociocultural identity in the American context. This Advanced Seminar is a reading, discussion, writing, and research-intensive course that will encourage students to take personal narratives of demographic representation and apply them to issues of generative AI. Of particular interest this semester will be case studies with the Writers’ Guild (WGA) and Screen/Theater Actors’ Guild (SAG-AFTRA) labor strikes. 

Through research, literary and critical analysis, timed exercises on reading comprehension and ideation, class discussion, occasional field trips, and guest speakers, this course will explore the relationships between many kinds of technology and many kinds of diversity. Literary works will be used in particular to explore identity formation and meaning-making amongst users and creators of technology.

Students will be required to choose one of the class’s five main topic areas, then use its required reading, plus recommended reading and their own research, to write a peer-reviewed, 15- to 20-page research article in the second half of the semester. Student research articles will examine not only how diversity has and hasn’t impacted technology, but also how technology has and hasn’t impacted intersectional social movements toward diversity, representation, justice, and inclusion.

Required Prerequisites:  EXPOS-1 and one TCS elective course. 

This TCS Advanced Seminar is intended to be a capstone of the student’s TCS experience. Although some sophomores might meet the prerequisites, normally this course would be taken in the junior or senior year. For this 4-credit course, students should expect to do 6.6 hours per week of supplemental time as defined by NYU’s guidance on credit hours.

Recommended prerequisites: This course uses seminal, historical literary work influenced by and influential on feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race theory, with the goal of supporting the values of transformative justice and creating space for transformative learning. Students should have theoretical experience in sociocultural analysis or practical experience in movement-building and organizing work.


Learning Goals

  1. Understand what diversity means under federal, state and city human/civil rights law and history. 
  2. Use close literary reading to understand the American context of language, gender, race, spatial sovereignty, and bodily autonomy.
  3. Use close literary reading to conduct sociocultural analyses of generative AI in the context of language, gender, race, spatial sovereignty, and bodily autonomy. 
  4. Develop techniques to use information outside the public internet;
  5. Train with critical analysis and information literacy tools that show how to identify and evaluate the technological oppression of marginalized groups in various contexts; 
  6. Examine modes of technological production in a socioeconomic and cultural setting;
  7. Write a research paper that combines the course’s required literature with the student’s own research on generative AI in the context of language, gender, race, spatial sovereignty, or bodily autonomy. 


Course Books & Resources

Required Introductory Materials

Topic Areas and Required Books

For the following topics, students will be required to read and discuss at least 50% of each required text, as directed by Prof. All required texts are available in both e-book and audiobook. For their final writing project, students will choose one of the following topics, then read the entirety of the recommended and additional texts as part of their research. Since this is an Advanced Seminar, you will be trained to create your own bibliography of scholarly journal articles.

  1. Bodily Autonomy
    • Literary text: Beloved by Toni Morrison
    • Data-driven text: Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington
  2. Race
    • Literary texts by James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time, Going to Meet the Man, and excerpts from Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name
    • Data-driven text: Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin 
  3. Language
    • Literary text: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
    • Data-driven texts: Research by Emily Bender (including “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots” and the profile “You Are Not a Parrot” about Bender’s work
  4. Spatial Sovereignty
    • Literary text: Dawn by Octavia Butler
    • Data-driven text: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshanna Zuboff
  5. Gender

Additional General Materials 



General Session Structure

We’ll follow this structure on days when we don’t have field trips or guest speakers.

  • 25 mins: Discussion on your news items (led by Prof)
  • 25 mins: Timed Exercise
  • 35 mins: Your collaborative discussion activity (led by students assigned to that session)
  • 25 mins: Research skills (led by Prof)

Weekly Schedule

The following weekly schedule is an approximate plan that’s subject to change. We will check in the Add/Drop deadline to finalize class policies. Please note that 

  • Each student will be required to lead two 35-minute sessions of discussion time, as assigned by the professor. 
  • When the weather starts getting cold, we may have more remote sessions.
  • No class on October 9 (Fall break); class on October 10 instead. 
  • Our last class: December 13. 
SessionTimed exercise onDiscussion onReading AssignmentWriting Assignment
1First and Second Industrial RevolutionsOverview of semesterIntro materials & Morrison 1Take notes on the reading; find relevant technology news items
2 (Prof away)Intro materials & Morrison 1Intro materialsIntro Materials & Morrison 2Take notes on the reading; find relevant technology news items
3 (Prof away)Intro materials & Morrison 2Morrison 1Morrison 3Take notes on the reading; find relevant technology news items
4 – Last day of Add/Drop (9/18)Morrison 3Morrison 2Morrison 4Take notes on the reading; find relevant technology news items
5Morrison 4Morrison 3Baldwin 1, Third Industrial Revolution (Crenshaw)Start midterm; find relevant news items
6Baldwin 1, Third Industrial Revolution (Crenshaw)Morrison 4Baldwin 2Work on midterm; find relevant news items
7Baldwin 2Baldwin 1, Third Industrial Revolution (Crenshaw)Baldwin 3Work on midterm; find relevant news items
8Baldwin 3Baldwin 2Baldwin 4Work on midterm; find relevant news items
9Baldwin 4Baldwin 3Lorde 1Work on midterm; find relevant news items
10Lorde 1Baldwin 4Lorde 2Work on midterm; find relevant news items
11Lorde 2Lorde 1Lorde 3Work on midterm; find relevant news items
12Lorde 3Lorde 2Lorde 4Work on midterm; find relevant news items
13Lorde 4Lorde 3Butler 1, Fourth Industrial RevolutionFinish midterm; find relevant news items
14 – midterm dueButler 1, Fourth Industrial RevolutionLorde 4Butler 2Start final; find relevant news items
15Butler 2Butler 1, Fourth Industrial RevolutionButler 3Work on final; find relevant news items
16Butler 3Butler 2Butler 4Work on final; find relevant news items
17Butler 4Butler 3Le Guin 1Work on final; find relevant news items
18Le Guin 1Butler 4Le Guin 2Work on final; find relevant news items
19Le Guin 2Le Guin 1Le Guin 3Work on final; find relevant news items
20Le Guin 3Le Guin 2Le Guin 4Work on final; find relevant news items
21Le Guin 4Le Guin 3Books for your topicWork on final; find relevant news items
22All required materialsLe Guin 4Books for your topicWork on final; find relevant news items
23All required materialsResearch methods & organizationBooks for your topicWork on final
24All required materialsResearch methods & organizationBooks for your topicWork on final
25All required materialsResearch methods & organizationAdditional research for your topicWork on final
26All required materialsResearch methods & organizationAdditional research for your topicFinal Presentations
27Final PresentationsResearch methods & organizationAdditional research for your topicFinal Presentations
28 – Last day of class (12/13)Final PresentationsAdditional research for your topicWork on final
29 – Exam week(s)Final Article DUE

The table above is maintained in this Google Sheet (NYU login required).



(to be scheduled based on student interest/needs)

Research Sessions

  1. Research with Generative AI
  2. Cultural Competence (Avatar exercise)
  3. Inclusive Language
  4. NYU Research Guides: Machines and Society
  5. NYU One Zone
  6. Sage Research Methods: Narrative Analysis (NYU login required)
  7. Wikipedia 
  8. Google Scholar
  9. Internet Archives
  10. NYU Research Guides: Technology
  11. NYU Research Guides: Literature
  12. NYU Research Guides: Writing
  13. NYU Research Guides: Social Science
  14. NYU Research Guides: STS & TCS
  15. NYU Research Guides: Gender & Sexuality
  16. NYU Research Guides: Other relevant guides 
  17. Other institutions’ research guides (e.g. CUNY, UCLA, Berkeley, NYPL, LoC)
  18. NYU Database Search
  19. NYU Libraries Search
  20. DOI
  21. APA Style Handbook
  22. MLA Style Handbook
  23. NYU Writing Center

Special Sessions (schedule TBD)

  • A.D Stinnett
  • Civil War / Reconstruction-era walking tour of Downtown Brooklyn + Sojourner Truth
  • A visit from a SAG-AFTRA rep
  • A visit from a WGA rep
  • Tandon @ The Yard
  • Black Movement Library



  • Please arrive on time. I’ll give you 10 minutes to trickle in, but late arrivals are disruptive and stressful for me. 
  • Illness-Related Absence
    • For short illness: up to one calendar week’s (2 consecutive sessions) absence from class due to illness will be excused, without a healthcare provider’s note. Please try to notify me via email (arlduc [at] nyu.edu) by 11am on the day you’ll be absent. I’m not able to check email during class.
      • Please do your best to complete each session’s Timed Exercise on Brightspace. I will drop some of your quiz scores (see grading below), but try to keep on top of these.
    • Chronic and long-term illness should be registered with the NYU Moses Center and Deanna Rayment (see “NYU Policies” below for contact info).
  • Other Types of Absences
    • You can attend 1 session via Zoom without advance notice (by 11am before class). Beyond this, please write a 200-word make-up reflection, otherwise 5 points will be deducted from your midterm and final grades for every class in which I don’t receive 3 hours advance notice. Meaning: I’m flexible if you communicate with me well in advance!
      • 10/31 Updates: Due to low demand, I’ve only been setting up classroom-based Zoom upon request. I haven’t received any make-up reflections, so I’m discontinuing this option especially since the Timed Writing exercises already involve a lot of writing. If you have multiple unexcused absences, please contact the NYU Office of Student Affairs to get help devising a make-up plan (see “NYU Policies” below for contact info).
      • To be clear: an absence is unexcused unless you notify me and receive confirmation in advance of class (or the same day, in cases of emergencies).
    • If there’s a structural issue that’s keeping you from regularly attending in-person sessions, I will refer you to Tandon Student Affairs for further mediation and support.
    • If you start to feel you can’t keep up with your assignments for this class, I urge you to let me know sooner (e.g. days/weeks ahead) rather than later (e.g. the day of the deadline, or after the deadline has passed). This can be hard to do, especially for minority and marginalized people, but it’s important to ahead of the problem so I can work with you and plan accordingly. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. “Sooner rather than later” is an important rule of thumb for professional settings!




  • 15% In-class timed exercises. An average of your 10 best exercises.
  • 35% Participation and discussion leadership
  • 50% Midterm Essay of 2200+ words (9 pages + bibliography). This can be an essay that compiles your notes and techno-cultural research on all the required reading so far. 
  • Adherence to Attendance Policy (see above)


  • 15% In-class timed exercises. An average of your 22 best exercises.
  • 35% Participation and discussion leadership
  • 50% Final Essay of 3300+ words (14 pages + bibliography). This essay should reflect your final choice of topic, the required reading for the topic, and your relevant reflections/research from the midterm essay. 
  • Adherence to Attendance Policy (see above)


Grading Rubrics

Timed Writing Exercises
Does each answer…

  1. Make basic sense?
  2. Demonstrate basic understanding of the reading/listening/viewing?
  3. Correctly cite evidence and details from the text?
  4. Use additional information and/or context clues to correctly identify causality, correlation, or other connections, as appropriate?
  5. Demonstrate an inferential understanding of deeper themes?

As a discussion leader, did you demonstrate a curiosity/comprehension of and ask questions about:

  1. Story basics (characters, plot, setting, etc)? 
  2. The story’s deeper themes?  
  3. How such themes play a role in the development of tech?
  4. How such themes play a role in the deployment of tech?
  5. How such themes play a role in the dissemination of tech?
  6. How such themes are relevant in more specific social, cultural, and technical contexts (of your choice)?
  7. Significant passages from the literary text?
  8. Current case studies and news items relevant to this discussion?
  9. Expert/experiential quotes related to this discussion?
  10. External references?
    In addition, you will be evaluated on the
  11. Flow/continuity of the discussion
  12. Clear role division and planning with your discussion co-leader 

Midterm Essay: Rubric is now in this grade sheet template.

Final Essay Grading Rubric (will be finalized in a grade sheet soon)

  1. Basics: Word count and APA inline citations, bibliography, and DOI links 
  2. Introduction: Clear theme/thesis that links your topic, literary work, and data-driven work. Your thesis should answer the question: how do these texts highlight and contextualize issues of equity, belonging and representation within your topic? 
  3. Methods: Explain the narrative analysis technique you plan to use. Do you plan to focus on character, temporality, objects, spatiality, etc? Cite specific narrative analysis models.
  4. Literary work
  5. Data-driven work 
  6. Synthesis of how the literary work is connected to the data-driven work. Use the narrative analysis methods you establish in the “Methods” section.
  7. Additional criteria forthcoming
  8. Cultural competence checks (penalties)


Your Questions

Can I use a generative chatbot (eg ChatGPT) to write my papers?

Sure, if you think it will help your paper! (Given the sociocultural complexity of your writing assignments, I’m skeptical that AI will help you more than it hurts you, but I’m open to you trying!) 

If you use generative AI for your writing, you must 1) explain how you used it in the introduction of your paper; 2) check and revise the AI’s outputs as needed, such that you’re still fulfilling the writing requirements of this class. I also reserve the right to use generative AI to review your work.

Can I watch the movie/performance of the literary work(s) I choose? Can I use the Cliffs Notes, Spark Notes, etc?

You can! I find that all these things can help me understand the text more deeply. But I’ll be quizzing you on the original text, not the derivative works. 

In fact, here are some supplemental films we might watch in class. You’re also welcome to watch them on your own and cite them in your research.

  1. Beloved (NYU login required)
  2. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (DVD from Bobst)

On Kanopy (NYU login required):

  1. I Am Not Your Negro
  2. Worlds of Ursula Le Guin
  3. Ursula Le Guin and the Ambiguous Utopia
  4. Audre Lorde: The Edge of Each Other’s Battles
  5. Octavia biography (audiobook, link forthcoming)
  6. Kindred (TV series)
  7. Parable of the Sower (opera)


Office Hours

Monday and Wednesday by appointment, preferably before or after class. Ask me or e-mail arlduc [at] nyu.edu to make an appointment. I’ll respond within 1 business day. Appointments can be conducted in person or over Zoom.


NYU Policies

Academic Honesty

All work for this class must be your own and specific to this semester. Any work recycled from other classes or from another, non-original source will be rejected with serious implications for the student. Plagiarism, knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise, is absolutely unacceptable. Any student who commits plagiarism must re-do the assignment for a grade no higher than a D. In fact, a D is the highest possible course grade for any student who commits plagiarism. 

Disability & Accessibility

If you are student with a disability who is requesting accommodations, please contact NYU Moses Center for Students Accessibility at 212-998-4980 or mosescsd@nyu.edu.  You must be registered with CSD to receive accommodations. Information about the Moses Center can be found at www.nyu.edu/csd. The Moses Center is located at 726 Broadway on the 2nd floor.

Religious Accommodation

NYU’s Calendar Policy on Religious Holidays states that members of any religious group may, without penalty, absent themselves from classes when required in compliance with their religious observances. You must notify me in advance of religious holidays or observances that might coincide with exams, assignments, or class times to schedule reasonable alternatives. Students may also contact religiousaccommodations@nyu.edu for assistance.

Additional Support

If you find yourself needing additional interpersonal, professional, emotional, and/or other kinds of support in the course of this semester, I strongly encourage you to contact Deanna Rayment, Assistant Director of Compliance and Student Advocacy, at the Office of Student Affairs. Professors are working with Deanna to increase the likelihood of your academic success.

NYU Compliance + Requirements

For further information on NYU guidelines for compliance, please visit the following sites. I will refer to these if we need to address larger policy issues in the class.