I was awarded the daunting task of teaching four chapters from our course’s reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. Randomly I was selected to teach chapters 49, 60, 72, and 114. All of the chapters were relatively short and it was an even more arduous task to create an activity for the chapters. For chapters 49, 60, and 114 I simply led a discussion. For chapter 72, I created an interactive activity for the group that I was teaching to do. I’ll explain how each of the chapters panned out in the classroom as I took the role of the teacher.
The first chapter I was gifted was chapter 49, titled The Sounds He Made. In this chapter, Connor the disabled vet is with Flynne and Ossian and we are introduced to Connor’s Peripheral. Since Connor was disabled when (he) got his extremities back he was more than joyous about his ability to be free again. When I first read this chapter, the part that stood out to me was when Gibson wrote about Connor running faster than anyone he’d ever seen before and how he was screaming as he ran because of how happy he was. Immediately I related it to Captain America and his big transformation. I just saw a parallel there and was intrigued. The conversation in class went two ways. I brought up the idea of Humanoid robots and there effectiveness. We talked about how efficient they should be but at the same time how crappy our modern robotics are that are supposed to be able to perform basic human tasks. I asked the group if they thought if it would ever get to a point where these humanoid would become “too real” and if there were any ethical issues. The entire group was unanimous in the response saying that we are far away from the day the humanoids live like human beings. The other answer was it was cost a fortune to make a single robot that would actually work so we posed the question of where the money would come from. The other direction that the conversation went was into prosthetics and we discussed the evolution of prosthetics in the real world and common uses for the modern day.
The second chapter that I taught was chapter 60, titled Browning in. This chapter was a little over a page long so it was kind of hard for me to form a game or activity for my group to do. So once again I led a discussion In chapter 60, we have Netherton and the Fitz-David Wu in a car on their way to Notting Hill. One of the things that stood out in this short chapter was the notion of Alcoholism as we see Netherton repeatedly being told about his drinking and how it would affect his memory. In the group we had a discussion about alcoholism and it was tied into how most people become alcoholics because of depression. We also drew what we thought Netherton would look like in the time that he was drunk with Wu. Unfortunately it was drawn on the whiteboard and erased before I could take a picture.
The third chapter I taught was chapter 72, titled Halfway Posh. This was a bit of a longer chapter so I had some substance to be able to create an activity for my group to do. In chapter 72 we see Netherton and Ossian trying to get in contact with Flynne who was abducted. They rigged up a form of communication where Ossian was able to connect with Flynne. The signal was terrible so Flynne’s voice was going in and out. The other thing about the whole situation is that while they were trying to get to Flynne only Ossian could her the voice coming through. So, when it was time for class I had an amazing idea for the activity that I wanted my group to do. We left the classroom so we could have enough space and so that we wouldn’t distract out Professor and our classmates. The game was that one person was assigned to be Flynne. Only one other person got to see where (Flynne) went so when the other three members of the group came out they were blinded and had to be guided by the one member who knew where Flynne was to Flynne. It was fun and also difficult because (Flynne and Ossian) chose a route that forced the other three members to walk down stairs blinded.
The final chapter that I taught was chapter 114, titled Celebration Of Life. This was definitely the longest chapter I was able to teach so there was a good choice of things to talk about. In this chapter we see Flynne get off of the elevator at Daedra’s party and Flynne is astonished by all of the art that she sees. While at the party Flynne sees “man from the balcony,” who she had been trying to get to for some time. As she follows Daedra she sees a peripheral of Daedra and is in shock. Daedra explains to Conner, Wilf, and Flynne that they are in an dangerous environment and that they should be cautious. In the end of the chapter “the man from the balcony” busts in on the group and begins to wreak havoc. Because the setting of the chapter was at aparty where basically Daedra’s life was on display we brought in the concept of reality tv. We asked if it was an art. There were a wide variety of opinions, but Dr. Whalen was adamant in his explanation of reality tv being fake. We then kicked around the is reality tv an art question. Some said yes exclaiming that the people behind the scenes that write the scripts have formed an art, while other dissented by saying that it’s just a show or its not that complex and should just be received as it is given to the masses. It was definitely one of my favorite discussions of the class so far.
These were the chapters that I taught and how we incorporated many different aspects of our modern world into William Gibson’s The Peripheral.