Graduate Summer 2022: Robert Nguyen

Silicon Valley Stories: Reckonings, Recursions, and Infinite Loops

Department of English

Periods of public outcry against technology companies have often alternated with periods of renewed infatuation with them, as past abuses and malfeasances are overshadowed by promises of disruptive innovations and revolutionary futures. In this project, I argue that Silicon Valley stories—fictional and fictionalized representations of technology companies, their products, and work cultures—contribute to this cycle of critiquing and forgetting. Works of literature, television, and film produced within my period of focus, from the Global Financial Crisis to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, frequently portray or reimagine technologies that had been first created or envisioned years prior, and in doing so they reference the political arrangements that those technologies enabled or required. By examining these repetitions, I hope to understand how the ideologies of the technology industry circulate in culture as well as what makes them so compelling that they continue to be adopted and endorsed, even after instances of catastrophic failure.