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University of Iowa

1. Thomas, Matthew A. Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014.

Degree: PhD, American Studies, 2015, University of Iowa

This dissertation intervenes in the larger academic and popular discussion of hacking by looking at life hacking. In essence, life hacking presumes that your life is amenable to hacks the same way a computer system might be. As both a metaphor and a practice, life hacking occupies a popular but under-analyzed position in contemporary American culture. The recent broadening of the computer term “hacking” to encompass all of life’s activities suggests the degree to which people are increasingly thinking about everything in computational terms. Life hacking is important to attend to precisely because it reveals how the rhetoric of hacking and the subjectivity of the hacker have become normalized. This rhetoric and subject position carry particular valences, valences that are deeply rooted in Western culture, including especially a way of thinking about the world that David Golumbia calls “computationalism.” In a computerized world, hacking becomes the preferred “way of seeing.” But, significantly, it is a way of seeing that is in line with long traditions in U.S. culture of self-making and technofetishism. In order to show this, I trace life hacking’s metamorphoses through three critically important and interlinked realms—life hacking, digital minimalism, and prof hacking—before concluding by looking briefly at a fourth—pickup artists. This dissertation seeks to identify how these different instances of life hacking relate to each other, to trace how life hacking has changed over time, and to explain how life hacking broadly speaking is best viewed as an episode not only in the larger history of hacking but in the larger history of American culture. Advisors/Committee Members: Rigal, Laura, 1958- (supervisor).

Subjects/Keywords: hacking; life hacking; self-help; self-improvement; technology; work; American Studies

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

Thomas, M. A. (2015). Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Iowa. Retrieved from https://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5658

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Thomas, Matthew A. “Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014.” 2015. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Iowa. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5658.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Thomas, Matthew A. “Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014.” 2015. Web. 16 Dec 2019.

Vancouver:

Thomas MA. Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Iowa; 2015. [cited 2019 Dec 16]. Available from: https://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5658.

Council of Science Editors:

Thomas MA. Life hacking: a critical history, 2004-2014. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Iowa; 2015. Available from: https://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5658

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