Deep Learning: Institutions of Beauty in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction


Why does one begin an academic paper with a rhetorical question? It is a technique I have noticed in the papers of first-year students, often used in an attempt to denote authority. The technique performs confidence, yet its lack of commitment renders its tone uncertain and amateurish. The piece can feel more like a brainstorm than a finished product, and instead of reading like a question the writer is asking us, it reads like they are questioning themselves. The thought process is something to be hidden in the humanities; rarely in an English essay prompt does the phrase ‘show your working’ appear. Instead, we perform the illusion that the work appeared out of thin air, that the thought process and the finished product are one and the same. While we know that this is not the reality of writing, we perform it nonetheless because in literary criticism the grade of an essay reflects the end product regardless of the process. The question that opens this essay, of course, has an answer: we demand that amateurs perform the end result of professional training, but students then imitate what they believe academic professionalism should sound like. But if and when students realise that they will be rewarded for merely generating a finished product, then how does the university dissuade them from simply doing so—bypassing the process for the product—when it results in academic, and economic, validation? When AI can reliably produce professional sounding papers better than an amateur writer can, then the currency of knowledge, if knowledge is in fact a currency, will become completely decentralised.

How to Cite

Kennedy-Finnerty, L., (2024) “Deep Learning: Institutions of Beauty in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction”, Moveable Type 15(1), 99-109. doi:







Liam Kennedy-Finnerty



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