General Exam reading list

By Os Keyes

I have finally scheduled my general exam! For people outside of academia or outside of the University of Washington (in other places it’s known as a “comprehensive exam”), the general exam is an intense evaluation that serves to mark the point where a PhD student becomes a PhD candidate. The intent is to gauge whether the person has learned how to think and write in the “right” way. If you pass, your next step is to propose your dissertation. If you fail, you are allowed a second attempt and then immediately thrown out. So I, er, better pass!

My committee (wonderful people that they are) consist of:

  1. David Ribes (chair, HCDE)
  2. Charlotte Lee (HCDE)
  3. Anna Lauren Hoffmann (Information School)
  4. Jodi O’Brien (Sociology and Gender Studies, Seattle University)
  5. Ben Marwick (Graduate Student Representative, Anthropology)

And my reading list, in case it’s of use or of interest (apologies for the inconsistent formatting:



  • Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey C Bowker. 1999. Sorting Things Out. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey C Bowker. 2007. “Enacting silence: Residual categories as a challenge for ethics, information systems, and communication”. Ethics and Information Technology 9, 4: 273–280.
  • Van der Ploeg, Irma. “Normative assumptions in biometrics: On bodily differences and automated classifications.” Innovating Government. TMC Asser Press, 2011. 29-40.
  • Tey Meadow. 2010. “A Rose is a Rose: On Producing Legal Gender Classifications” Gender & Society 24, 6: 814–837.
  • Hannah Fitsch and Kathrin Friedrich. 2018. “Digital Matters: Processes of Normalization in Medical Imaging”. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. 4, 2: 1–31.
  • Michelle Murphy, Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)
  • Hacking, Ian. 1995. “The looping effects of human kinds.” In Causal cognition: An Interdisciplinary approach, edited by D Sperber, D. Premack and A. Premack, 351-83. Oxford: Oxford U.P.
  • Epstein, Steven. 2006. “Institutionalizing the New Politics of Difference in U.S. Biomedical Research: Thinking across the Science/State/Society Divides.”” Pp. 327-350 in The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power, edited by S. Frickel and K. Moore. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Waidzunas, Tom, and Steven Epstein. 2015. “‘For Men Arousal Is Orientation’: Bodily Truthing, Technosexual Scripts, and the Materialization of Sexualities through the Phallometric Test.” Social Studies of Science: 1-27.
  • Bonnie A. Nardi, H. 2012. “Inverse Instrumentality: How Technologies Objectify Patients and Players”. In Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World. Oxford University Press.

Infrastructures, Interoperability and Interchanges

  • Ribes, David, and Steven J. Jackson. “Data bite man: The work of sustaining a long-term study.” “Raw data” is an oxymoron (2013): 147-166.
  • Ernst Hafen. 2019. “Personal Data Cooperatives – A New Data Governance Framework for Data Donations and Precision Health”. In The Ethics of Medical Data Donation. Springer International Publishing, Cham, 141–149.
  • Kathleen H Pine and Max Liboiron. 2015. “The Politics of Measurement and Action”. ACM Press, 3147–3156.
  • Effy Vayena and Alessandro Blasimme. 2017. “Biomedical Big Data: New Models of Control Over Access, Use and Governance”. 1–13.
  • Alessandro Blasimme, Effy Vayena, and Ernst Hafen. 2018. “Democratizing Health Research Through Data Cooperatives”. 1–7.
  • Inman, Sarah, and Ribes, David. “Data Streams, Data Seams: Toward a seamful representation of data interoperability.” Proceedings of DRS2018: 35.
  • Bowker, Geoffrey C. “Biodiversity datadiversity.” Social studies of science 30.5 (2000): 643-683.
  • Moser, Ingunn, and John Law. “Fluids or flows? Information and qualculation in medical practice.” Information Technology & People 19.1 (2006): 55-73.
  • Epstein, Steven. 1995. “The Construction of Lay Expertise: AIDS Activism and the Forging of Credibility in the Reform of Clinical Trials.” Science, Technology, & Soc 476
  • Latour, Bruno. “Centers of Calculation” in Science in Action


Boundary Objects in Infrastructure

  • Susan Leigh Star and James R Griesemer. 1989. “Institutional ecology, translation and boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology”, 1907-39. Social Studies of Science 19, 3: 387–420.
  • Susan Leigh Star. 2010. “This is Not a Boundary Object: Reflections on the Origin of a Concept”. Science, Technology, & Human Values 35, 5: 601–617.
  • Star, Susan Leigh. “The structure of ill-structured solutions: Boundary objects and heterogeneous distributed problem solving.” Distributed artificial intelligence. Morgan Kaufmann, 1989. 37-54.
  • Kellogg, Katherine C., Wanda J. Orlikowski, and JoAnne Yates. “Life in the trading zone: Structuring coordination across boundaries in postbureaucratic organizations.” Organization science 17.1 (2006): 22-44.
  • Orlikowski, Wanda J. “Knowing in practice: Enacting a collective capability in distributed organizing.” Organization science 13.3 (2002): 249-273.
  • Fujimura, Joan H. “Crafting science: Standardized packages, boundary objects, and “translation.”.” Science as practice and culture 168 (1992): 168-169.
  • Schmidt, Kjeld. “Of maps and scripts: The status of formal constructs in cooperative work.” Information and software technology 41.6 (1999): 319-329.
  • Schmidt, Kjeld, and Carla Simonee. “Coordination mechanisms: Towards a conceptual foundation of CSCW systems design.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 5.2-3 (1996): 155-200.
  • Harper, Richard. Inside the IMF

Participatory Design and Infrastructure

  • Agid, Shana. “‘Dismantle, change, build’: Designing abolition at the intersections of local, large-scale, and imagined infrastructures.” Design Studies 59 (2018): 95-116.
  • Karasti, Helena, and Anna-Liisa Syrjänen. “Artful infrastructuring in two cases of community PD.” Proceedings of the eighth conference on Participatory design. Volume 1. ACM, 2004.
  • Kensing, Finn, and Jeanette Blomberg. “Participatory design: Issues and concerns.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 7.3-4 (1998): 167-185.
  • Star, Susan Leigh, and Karen Ruhleder. “Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure: Design and access for large information spaces.” Information systems research 7.1 (1996): 111-134.
  • Star, Susan Leigh. “The ethnography of infrastructure.” American behavioral scientist 43.3 (1999): 377-391.


Race, Gender and the Subject

  • C Riley Snorton. 2017. Black on Both Sides. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Simone Browne. 2015. Dark Matters. Duke University Press.
  • Toby Beauchamp. 2019. Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and US Surveillance Practices. Duke University Press.

Ethics & Philosophy of Technology

  • Marcuse, The New Forms of Control
  • Wyatt, Technological Determinism is Dead; Long Live Technological Determinism
  • Pinch & Bijker, The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts
  • Winner, Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty
  • Elul, The Technological Society
  • Feenberg, Critical Theory of Technology
  • Bryan Pfaffenberger. 1992. “Social Anthropology of Technology”. Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 491–516.

Feminist Technoscience

  • Judy Wajcman. 2004. Technofeminism. Polity Press, Cambridge, UK
  • Waltraud Ernst. 2014. “Diffraction patterns? Shifting gender norms in biology and technology.” In Gender in Science and Technology: 147-163.
  • Williams, “The Political and Feminist Dimensions of Technological Determinism”
  • Weber, Jutta. (2010). “‘Security’ Architectures, New Ontologies and the Category of Gender”. Contemporary Challenges in Feminist Technoscience Studies. 10.1007/978-3-531-92501-1_16.
  • Björkman, Christina, Pirjo Elovaara, and Lena Trojer. “Feminist Technoscience Rearranging in the Black Box of Information Technology.” Gender Designs IT. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2007. 79-94.


  • Haraway, D.J., 2016. Manifestly Haraway (Vol. 37). U of Minnesota Press. Stone, Allucquere Rosanne. “Will the real body please stand up?.” Cyberspace: first steps (1991): 81-118.
  • Stone, Allucquere Rosanne. “Virtual Systems”
  • Jodi O’Brien. 1999. “Writing in the Body.” Communities in cyberspace: 76-105.
  • Namaste, Viviane. Invisible lives: The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • Lerman, Nina, Ruth Oldenziel, and Arwen Mohun. “Gender and Technology: a Reader.” (2003).
  • Adam, Alison. Artificial knowing: Gender and the thinking machine. Routledge, 2006.
  • Janet Armentor-Cota. 2011. “Multiple Perspectives on the Influence of Gender in Online Interactions”. Sociology Compass 5, 1: 23–36.
  • Shapiro, Eve. Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. Routledge, 2015.
  • Jennifer A Rode. 2011. “A theoretical agenda for feminist HCI”. Interacting with Computers 23, 5: 393–400.
  • Jennifer A Rode and Erika Shehan Poole. 2018. “Putting the gender back in digital housekeeping”. ACM Press, 79–90.
  • Helen Thornham. 2018. Gender and Digital Culture. Routledge.
  • John Cheney-Lippold. 2018. We Are Data. 1–268.
  • Sandra Robinson. 2018. “Databases and Doppelgängers: New Articulations of Power”. Configurations 26, 4: 411–440.

The lists are super white in spots (I had a very different reading background then and now!) and one of the things on my to-do list is to write up a bibliography of race in STS - there’s commonly assumed to be very little of it, but the work I’ve been doing over the summer has shown that there’s a ton, it’s just published in “the wrong journals” (eyeroll).