Summer Institute 2023 – Course: Mess and Method 

This summer, Dr. Darren Wershler, the interim director of the Milieux Institute and a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, will be leading a two-week three (3) credit course on interdisciplinary research at Concordia University. The course will be co-taught with guest faculty Lori Emerson, Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and libi striegl, Managing Director of the Media Archeology Lab, and will introduce students to a range of contemporary critical and philosophical approaches to interdisciplinary research.

Students from diverse academic and experiential backgrounds are encouraged to apply. All are welcome, and no particular technical knowledge is necessary. Guest lectures by James Brown, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University-Camden; Steven J. Jackson, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Science and Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University; and Phil Reilly from Right to Repair. Details about the course offered can be found below.

ENGL 602 2231: Mess and Method – Maintenance, Repair and Sustainability Edition

“There are in fact no [masses] methods. There are only ways of seeing [people] studies as [masses] methods.”

— Raymond Williams, “Culture is Ordinary,” as edited by Jonathan Sterne

This course will introduce students to a range of contemporary critical and philosophical approaches to interdisciplinary research whose focus is contextual, material and discursive rather than textual and hermeneutic.

The purpose of “Mess and Method” is to encourage students to think about culture in terms of a set of interrelated concepts such as: controversies and messes, articulations, assemblages and networks, materiality, practices and techniques, parallax and incommensurabilities. Many of the texts we’ll be looking at consider some or all of these concepts simultaneously, but they each have their particular strengths.

In this particular instance of the course, our focus will be on the practices and techniques of maintenance, repair, and sustainability. Drawing on readings from across the disciplines, we will be considering how incorporating such practices into our scholarly work requires us to move beyond the comforts of individual expertise and into a kind of collective engagement that Steven J. Jackson calls “broken world methodology” in his influential work, “Rethinking Repair” (a central text for the course).

Program Details:

The course will take place from May 15-26th, 2023. The first week will occur as an online seminar, and will provide the theoretical context for the practical work during week 2. The second week will consist of in-person (mandatory) team-based work in the Milieux Institute on a series of projects to be determined in the first week. The course concludes with a colloquium in which we will share our research with each other in the form of brief presentations.

All are welcome to apply. The working assumption of the course is that we will all bring different competencies and different weaknesses along with us, which is why the course emphasizes group work and collective thinking.


• To enrol, please contact Liz Burgess, the Graduate program Director at the Concordia Department of English, at

• For more information, contact Darren Wershler

Darren Wershler specializes in media history and media archaeology, with a particular interest in the material culture of analog and early digital technologies. His current research occurs at the Residual Media Depot (RMD), a research and teaching collection associated with the Media History Research Centre (MHRC) in the Milieux Institute at Concordia University. The focus of the Residual Media Depot’s collection is early video game consoles (1972-2002), and modified versions of those consoles. Darren’s current book projects include THE LAB BOOK: Situated Practices in Media Studies, co-written with Jussi Parikka and Lori Emerson.

Lori Emerson is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and founding director of the Media Archaeology Lab. She writes about media poetics as well as the history of computing, media archaeology, media theory and digital humanities. Her current book projects include Other Networks, a history of telecommunications networks that existed before or outside of the Internet, and THE LAB BOOK: Situated Practices in Media Studies, co-written with Jussi Parikka and Darren Wershler.

News and Research