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CMCT 6002 Promotional Culture and TechnoCulture

Winter 2016
3 credits

Instructor: Dr. Natalie Coulter ncoulter@yorku.ca


Office: TEL 3042

This course aims to provide the historical and theoretical grounding necessary to consider
the dynamic relationships between technology and promotional culture. Rather than
considering technology as a unique phenomenon, that can be separated from political,
social, cultural and economic processes, we will consider technology as a constitutive
component in the transformations of the social, cultural and political public spheres of
consumer capitalism.

This course is built on theoretical premise that we live in a technoculture. Building on Ross
and Penley notions of technoculture, where technology and culture cannot be separated
from one another but are instead integrated in one another. Thus the study of technology
and culture becomes the study of everyday life. We begin this course by assessing the
integrated connections between technology and consumer culture. There is a history to the
technoculture of consumption. Fredric Jameson has argued that each industrial era has also
its corresponding cultural aesthetic. Technology is intertwined with promotional culture in
a multitude of ways, for example technology is a consumer commodity, technology produces
consumer goods, technology mediates how we interact with the marketplace, technology
shapes communicative practices of consumer culture, and technology produces consumers
as audiences.

Throughout the course we will explore the intersections between technology, ideology and
practice in the context of a merging and shifting consumer culture. In doing so we will
trouble the boundaries between production and consumption and ask questions on the how
the boundaries between the two are tied to changes in technology and explore the
materiality of commercial discourses.

Course Objectives
By the end of this course students are expected to

Have a thorough knowledge and critical understanding of intersections of consumer


culture and technology.
Make connections between their own experiences with technology and wider social,
political, economic and cultural realties.
Appreciate how technology simultaneously reveals and enact a particular version of the
consumer.
Understand how technologies are not neutral and to be able to appreciate how they are
the result of social processes and power relations
Have a through knowledge of the key theories and debates in Critical Technology Studies
Assignments

Book Review 20% Due Wk 10: March 29


Research Paper Proposal: 10% Due Wk 8: March 8
Research Paper: 40 % April 18
Engagement: 20% Ongoing
Discussion Generator 10% Sign up

Assignment Explanations

Book Review
You prepare a 1500-2000 word book review on a current work (2015-present) in the field.
You will write this review for a specific journal. The goal is to have your review published
with the journal. More details will be given out later.

Engagement Ongoing

I have deliberately chosen the word engagement rather than participation. These are
not free marks. Engagement depends upon coming to class each week having completed the
assigned readings and bringing your readings and textbook with you for reference
(annotated with margin notes or with tandem note sheets). You will be expected to attend
each class and be prepared to talk directly about the issues, concepts, and debates
addressed in the readings and to engage with your fellow students in an informed manner.

You must bring hard copies of the readings to class. The readings are material objects and
will be used this way in class.

Class Discussion Generator Sign up


You will be required to initiate a 30 minute class discussion. You will have two roles.

a) You will need to design a series of questions that allows the class to engage in the
course readings and also bring an example that further allows for discussion. You
are expected to be the expert on the weeks reading and to run a forum for students
to discuss this topic.
o The purpose of this is not to be a talking head but to encourage class debate
and discussion.
o You will also be required to submit a series of questions that you use to engage
the students in discussion.
o DO NOT begin your discussion by summarizing the articles, your colleagues
should have read them, your job is to induce discussion.

b) you will also need to expand upon on key theorist or idea in the reading. The idea
here is to find a key theory/ concept. You will need to expand upon this concept and
show how it fits within the field.
Research Paper and Proposal
You will write a journal length research paper on a topic for this course. You will be
expected to od original research for this. As

Course Texts

Selected readings accessed through e-journals or on moodle.

Suggested Background Readings.

Slack, J. and J. Macgregor Wise (2007). Culture and Technology: A Primer. New York,
NY: Peter Lang