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Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Spring 2012 66 5th Ave 101 Lecture: Tuesdays 12-1:40pm Professor: Dr. R. Trebor Scholz Email: email@example.com Students can use the Twitter hash tag #LCST2450 for this class to pose questions. Class website: http://participationliteracy2012.ning.com Office hours: Tuesday 2-3pm, 65 West 11th street room 251, and by appointment. TAs: Meredith Hall (Friday Discussion Section) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tyler Horan (Thursday Discussion Section) Email: email@example.com Ariel Merkel (Friday Discussion Section) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This course introduces you to basic concepts and approaches in the critical analysis of media. Drawing on contemporary critiques and historical studies, it seeks to build an understanding of media’s myriad forms– including photography and cinema, television and video, and the Internet, in order to assess the role and impact in society. Since media are, sometimes all at once, technologies, arts, mass entertainment, and business enterprise, they demand to be studied from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The readings for the course reflect a multi-pronged approach, and should draw attention to the work of key thinkers and theorists in the field. Moreover, readings are chosen to build awareness of the international dimensions of media activity, range and power. It is hoped that the analytical tools and skills with which you will become familiar in this course can be employed and developed throughout your work in the Media Studies major. The broader goal of the course is to create a sophisticated and theoretically–informed understanding of your experience of and encounters with media. This course complements the other foundational courses in the department, “Introduction to Cultural Studies” and “Introduction to Screen Studies.” Although some of the issues the course addresses are similar, there is no overlap and no repetition of readings. They may be taken concurrently and should be taken prior to taking other offerings in the curriculum. This course is 4 credits worth.
– to learn the history and major theoretical approaches to the study of media; – to reflect on the different forms of media and their specificities; – to communicate intelligently and thoughtfully about media, in both oral and written form.
Course Structure, Expectations, and Assignments
The Tuesday class meetings will be a combination of lecture, screening, student presentations and short discussions. In-depth discussions are reserved for the discussion sections. You are expected to read the required texts thoroughly and attentively, and that you will come to class prepared to discuss them. Compulsory Field Trip, Saturday February 18, 11am-2pm We are meeting at 540 W. 21st Street, (between 10th and 11th Avenues) and are leaving for a Chelsea tour at 11am. Eyebeam (http://eyebeam.org/), Bitforms (http://www.bitforms.com/), Postmasters (http://www.postmastersart.com/), The Kitchen (http://www.thekitchen.org/), and Bryce Wolkowitz (http://www.brycewolkowitz.com/www/) Student Presentations Most classes a group of five students will jointly present for 20 minutes on the readings of the week. Students can split up the readings among themselves. All group members receive the same grade. The presentations must include 1) quotes from the readings with MLA formatted citations on each slide. 2) For an “A,” presenters are required to talk freely, without reading aloud from prepared notes. They should find ways to engage the class. Responses on the social networking site NING Posting (marked by in the syllabus) Individually, you will be required to write responses to the readings of a minimum of 750 words every other week. In the syllabus days on which the response is due are marked by . Your post has to be posted on your NING blog before class on Tuesday February 7, February 21, March 6, March 20, April 10, April 24, and May 8. These responses should be substantive, argument-driven, analytical pieces that consider one aspect of the reading. Alternatively, you may compare how two texts engage a single issue. The responses need to be posted on our social networking site (not accessible to
the public): http://introductiontomediastudies.ning.com/. In the first week of class, you are required to create a profile on this site. This includes a portrait photo. Make sure you understand how to post to the site’s blog. Dates for your posts: Responding On your “off” week, you will be asked to respond to the posts of your peers. These responses should also be substantive and a minimum of 250 words. You can position yourself in relation to the analysis of your co-learners by introducing an additional reading. Your responses need to be substantial. No late responses will be accepted, ever, but you can miss one without penalty. That is, if you end up with 6 and the end of the semester that's fine but you are encouraged to shoot for seven. Out of six posts, too can be visceral responses; out of seven, three visual responses are permitted. These must involve significant effort and will be held to a high standard. The TA will discuss visual response possibilities as the semester progresses. We also encourage you to contribute links, images, and videos that relate to the texts and discussions.
Lecture and Discussion
Students will attend both a lecture and a discussion section each week. (Please make sure to attend the discussion specified on your schedule.) Questions and comments are very welcome during lectures. In discussion sections, participation is mandatory and will factor into student grades. This course invites you to use your laptop or iPad. However, there is a no cell phone policy. If I notice that you use your laptop for work that is not class-related I may turn to a no-laptop policy.
Reader: 1. Communication In History. Ed. David Crowley and Paul Heyer. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2011. You can purchase a copy of the book at Bluestockings 172 Allen Street New York, NY 10002 ph: (212) 777-6028 2. Supplementary readings Download a folder with all additional readings at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16404602/IMS_readings.zip This folder is compressed, 59 MB. Please allow for about 5 minutes for the folder to download.
Assessment 20% Group Presentation 15% In-Class Participation (lecture and discussion section of the class) 5% Attendance of field trip February 18 and blog report about it 30% Midterm evaluation of your first three NING responses DUE MARCH 6 30% Final 1500—2000 words, DUE MAY 1 I will only accept printed and stapled papers. On the NING network, you are encouraged to engage with each other and share news articles or other texts as they relate to class. In the auditorium, I ask that despite the size of our class, we maintain a seminar–style atmosphere in which students contribute questions and comments.
Group 1: Feb 7 Allen, Justin W., Berthoud, Charles Francis, Bradley, Justin C., Caba, Shanthal Group 2: Feb 14 Clark, Zachary D., Dalldorf, Hilary A., Egipciaco, Simone, Fair, Jade A. Group 3: Feb 21 Fannon, Patrick M., Frothingham, Ali R., Gross, Eva M., Guest, Sam C. Group 4: Feb 28 Hess, David W., Hurton, Megan J., Lo, Sophie P., Metcalfe, Ethan H. Group 5: March 6 Nicolas, Brandon B., Pan, Cody M., Pierre, Schadrack, Poh, Erik J. Group 6: March 20 Rada, Rocco A., Ritzer, Lauren B., Romano, Judith I., Sebok, Ashley E. Group 7: March 27 Simmons, Alex D., Solomon, Craig K., Stazer, Adam A., Stewart, Emily L. Group 8: April 3 Storey, Evan T., Sucher, Matthew J., Tahoun, Nadia S., Tomashoff, Kelli B. Group 9: April 10 Turiano, Frank J., Vassina, Ekaterina, Weston, Hillary M.
Group 10: April 17 tba Group 11: April 24 tba Group 12: May 8 tba
A= Excellent This work is comprehensive and detailed, integrating themes and concepts from discussions, lectures and readings. Writing is clear, analytical and organized. Arguments offer specific examples and concisely evaluate evidence. Students who earn this grade are prepared for class, synthesize course materials and contribute insightfully. B=Good This work is complete and accurate, offering insights at general level of understanding. Writing is clear, uses examples properly and tends toward broad analysis. Classroom participation is consistent and thoughtful. C=Average This work is correct but is largely descriptive, lacking analysis. Writing is vague and at times tangential. Arguments are unorganized, without specific examples or analysis. Classroom participation is inarticulate. D= Unsatisfactory This work is incomplete, and evidences little understanding of the readings or discussions. Arguments demonstrate inattention to detail, misunderstand course material and overlook significant themes. Classroom participation is spotty, unprepared and off topic.
Policy on Attendance and Lateness
Absences may justify some grade reduction and a total of four absences mandate a reduction of one letter grade for the course. More than four absences mandate a failing grade for the course, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as the following: –an extended illness requiring hospitalization or visit to a physician (with documentation) –a family emergency, e.g. serious illness (with written explanation) –observance of a religious holiday The attendance and lateness policies are enforced as of the first day of classes for all registered students. If registered during the first week of the
add/drop period, the student is responsible for any missed assignments and coursework. For significant lateness, the instructor may consider the tardiness as an absence for the day. Students failing a course due to attendance should consult with an academic advisor to discuss options.
Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's work as one's own in all forms of academic endeavor (such as essays, theses, examinations, research data, creative projects, etc), intentional or unintentional. Plagiarized material may be derived from a variety of sources, such as books, journals, internet postings, student or faculty papers, etc. This includes the purchase or “outsourcing” of written assignments for a course. A detailed definition of plagiarism in research and writing can be found in the fourth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, pages 26-29. Eugene Lang College’s full Policy on Academic Honesty details the procedures for allegations of plagiarism and for penalties and can be found in the Lang catalog at http://www.newschool.edu/lang/subpage.aspx?id=374
In keeping with the university's policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student requesting recommendations must first meet with student disability services. Jason Luchs or a designee from that office will meet with students requesting recommendations and related services, and if appropriate, provide an academic adjustment notice for the student to provide to his or her instructors. The instructors required to review the letter was a student and discuss the recommendations, provided the student brings a letter to the attention of the instructor. This letter is necessary in order for classroom accommodations to be provided. Student Disability Services is located at 80 5th Ave - 3rd floor. Students and faculty are expected to review the student disability services webpage. The webpage can be found at http://www.newschool.edu/studentaffairs/disability and the office is available to answer any questions or concerns.
Course Schedule A note on the structure of the syllabus:
The field of Media Studies is vast and the means of communication are virtually infinite. Therefore, the ways to study them need to draw upon a multitude of disciplines. In this introductory course, we approach the topic by selecting key issues that have animated media critics and scholars since the systematic study of public communication started in the early years of the 20th century:
1. What is the role of media in everyday life? How do people use and experience media? How do media shape subjectivity itself? How does it shape collective experiences and identities? 2. Do media technologies contribute to social and historical change? What are the properties of specific media (the spoken word, print, still and moving images, the Internet) and how can we relate them to other forces (economic, political, cultural) operating in society? The questions also serve as entry points into relevant media theories, which are grounded through case studies or examples.
A note on methods and disciplines:
We will use these questions to structure the course. The context in which media operate in the world today are many and varied and so are the ways in which scholars and critics are extending into “media studies” from their own disciplinary perspectives. Anthropologists have developed visual anthropology and the ethnography of media, sociologists talk about social theories of the media, historians consider media renditions of the past, scientists see the impact of media on social attitudes, and the list goes on. The range of media studies is so vast and growing, the proliferation of new scholarship in this area is an embarrassment of riches. When you are not expected to engage with the questions of disciplines in a sustained way, it is useful to be aware of the methods that are appropriate to different forms of inquiry.
The following guidelines are useful when communicating with faculty (and staff) at the New School.
1) Always write from your university e-mail account. This makes it easier for me to verify that your message is not spam. 2) Consistently, include the course name and number in the subject heading of the e-mail (e.g., Question about "Introduction to Media Studies. #LCST2450") 3) When you e-mail your instructor, choose an appropriate greeting which could be "Hi Professor ..." or "Hello Professor ... ." 4) Please proofread your e-mails and sign them with your full name. E-mail without your full name makes it sometimes impossible to identify you as the sender.
Syllabus Week by Week
This syllabus is subject to change.
Week 1: Jan 24 Overview
Introduction to the syllabus, research and presentation skills We begin with a definition of key terms before asking why study the media? What is the current relationship between Media Studies and Cultural Studies? NO discussion sections this week.
Week 2: Jan 31 The Medium is the Message
We continue with one-time director of engineering at MIT, Vannevar Bush to look at his computational visions, developed in 1945. We then turn to the work of Marshall McLuhan, one of the best-known and most controversial figures in the history of Media Studies. McLuhan argues that “the medium is the message,” meaning that it is the direct material effects of media–rather than the particular contents of a given text or texts– that constitute and transform our way of experiencing and interpreting the world. In this interview, he looks at the effects of media on human history, positing three major media ages: tribal, typographic, and electronic. McLuhan, Marshall. “Playboy Interview.” Essential McLuhan. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone. New York: Basic Books, 1995. Bush, Vannevar. "As We May Think," The Atlantic Monthly. August 1945.
Week 3: Feb 7 Media and Property: Remix, Piracy, and the Creative Commons
In week three, we consider the history of intellectual property (IP). Intellectual property does not only concern lawyers; it is crucial to commercial life, technical innovation, cultural expression, democratic debate and politics. What are the shortcomings of the current IP system in terms of its effects on
research, global economic inequality, creativity, and the future of the generative Internet? Hesse, Carla. "The Rise of Intellectual Property, 700 b.c.–a.d. 2000: an Idea in the Balance." Weblogs at Harvard Law School. 25 Aug. 2009. .<http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/geekroom/2004/02/23/carla-hesses-therise-of-intellectual-property-and-a-gift-economy/> Lessig, Lawrence. The People Own Ideas! Technology Review. Cambridge: MIT. 2007. Copy Right Criminals, dir. Benjamin Franzen, Kembrew McLeod. Film. 2009. - 65 min Suggested: Steal This Film I and II, dir. The League of Noble Peers. 2006/2007. - 70 min Sonic Outlaws, dir. Craig Baldwin. Film. 1995. - 28 min Presentation Group 1
Week 4: Feb 14 Media and Literacy
What are digital media practices doing to us and what are we doing to each other? Which literacies do we need to do well in a digital age? How much time do we spend using technology? What is authoritative information today? Why do we feel the need to always be “on”? Do we feel more alone when we mainly relate to others through mediated environments like social marketing services? Doug Rushkoff’s book does not only discuss how youth relates to digital technology but also explores how the broader economy is affected. Does technology have a “dumbing down” effect on the way we learn? High much can we trust search engines, GPS, and computers? Learn how to use digital media— program or be programmed. Rushkoff, D. Program or be Programmed. Ten Commandments for a Digital Age. New York: OR Books, 2010. Presentation Group 2
Week 5: Feb 21 The Media of Early Civilization
Readings: Reading: CIH, Part 1: Denise Schmandt-Besserat, “The Earliest Precursor of Writing”; Harold Innis, “Media in Ancient Empires”; Marcia Ascher and Robert Ascher, “Civilization without Writing—the Incas and the Quipu”; Andrew Robinson, “The Origins of Writing” Presentation Group 3
Week 6: Feb 28 The Tradition of Western Literacy
Reading: CIH, Part 2: Eric Havelock, “The Greek Legacy”; Robert K. Logan, “Writing and the Alphabet Effect”; Walter Ong, “Orality, Literacy, and Modern Media”; James Burke and Robert Ornstein, “Communication and Faith in the Middle Ages” Presentation Group 4
Week 7 March 6
The Print Revolution
Reading: CIH, Part 3: Thomas F. Carter, “Paper and Block Printing—From China to Europe”; Lewis Mumford, “The Invention of Printing”; Elisabeth Eisenstein, “ Aspects of the Printing Revolution”; Harvey J. Graff, “Early Modern Literacies”; John B. Thompson, “The Trade in the News Presentation Group 5
Week 8 March 20 Radio Days
In this week we will explore the history of radio, considering its myriad forms of programming, and its massive impact on 20th century politics. Radio helped to create a shared, nationwide real-time experience of mass culture. What was the role of radio in the shaping of music tastes and political
mobilization? Was constitutes a "radio listening literacy"? Week 8 provides an introduction to the history of radio as a way of better understanding today's network culture. Reading: CIH, Part 6: Stephen Kern, “Wireless World”; John Durham Peters, “The Public Voice of Radio”; Susan J. Douglas, “Early Radio”; Christopher Sterling and John M. Kittross, “The Golden Age of Programming”; Michele Hilmes, “Radio Voices,” Peter Fornatale and Joshua E. Mills, “Radio in the Television Age” Brecht, Bertolt. "The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication (July 1932)." ToniSant. 1 Jan. 2001. 14 Jan. 2009 <http://www.tonisant.com/class/2001/fall/brechtradio.htm>. Presentation Group 6
Week 9 March 27 Media and Branding Consumption and Performing Identity: from Quaker Oats to Facebook
In week 9, we will look at novel forms of marketing, advertising, consumption and modes of self–presentation and identity formation on social networks and consider the ramifications. How does the pervasiveness of advertising images influence our opinions? How does it shape our individual and collective identities? Does the consumer society with its proliferation of media, goods and services provide us with an increased appearance of choice and a hidden impoverishment of experience? Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008. 165-88. Print. Klein, Naomi. Introduction, No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs. Picador, April 2002. Presentation Group 7
Week 10 April 3 Media and War Photojournalism, the Caring Problem, and Distributed Reporting
In this segment of the class, we consider the ethical dimensions of producing and consuming images. In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag investigates whether the daily barrage of images of atrocities in the news media make us aware of world events in important ways or merely desensitize us to other people's suffering. How do the mainstream media pick the conflicts that they cover? Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador, February 2004. Presentation Group 8
Week 11 April 10 The Work of Art in the Age of Its Mechanical Reproducibility
Reading: Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Mechanical Reproducibility,” in Selected Writings of Walter Benjamin, Vol. 3. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. Presentation Group 9
Week 12 April 17 Media and Globalization
In recent years, the phenomenon of globalization has been a major topic of research and analysis. Does globalization make the world more homogenous? How do audiences understand themselves when they are consuming globally distributed media? Does Hollywood, for example, encourage a "global popular culture" or will there always be points of divergence from, and resistance to, the dominant image factories? With the advancement of communications technologies, the world has become a smaller place. The impact of events in one part of the world, rapidly and even simultaneously, spreads to every corner of the globe. And us, to what extent can we talk in terms of McLuhan's much vaunted and mocked "Google Village"? Aneesh, A. Virtual Migration: The Programming of Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. 1-13, 100-32, 27-45. Print. Mattelart, Armand. “Globalization: The Networks of the Postnational Economy.” Networking the World, 1794-2000. New York: University of Minnesota P, 2000. Presentation Group 10
Week 13: April 24 The Commoditization of Media
Today, digital media affect shifting labor markets and concepts like community, exploitation, volunteering, expropriation, economic value, intellectual property and privacy. The media are not only the images that feed our imagination or the programs we watch on television. They are big business enterprises whose global reach and huge earnings constitute enormous economic and political power. Various scholars and commentators have developed an approach that is called “political economy.” The political economic approach deals with the media as industries in capitalist society whose main purpose is to generate profits. Terranova, Tiziana. "Free Labour." Network Culture Politics for the Information Age. New York: Pluto P, 2004. 73-94. Dibbell, Julian. "The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer." The New York Times 17 June 2007. 14 Sept. 2008 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/17/magazine/17lootfarmers-t.html>. Mark Andrejevic, "iMonitoring Keeping Track of One Another," Mark Andrejevic, iSpy Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007) 212-240. Presentation Group 11 Final Exam Review
Week 14: May 1 – Class does not meet (replaced by field trip on Feb 18)
NO discussion sections this week.
Week 15: May 8 Media and Resistance
What are our chances to be affective/effective as individuals or small groups dealing with issues like the US prison system, and (urban) poverty in the prevailing surroundings of corporate late capitalism? How do we decide which issues we take on and which ones do we ignore? Are platforms like Facebook Groups, which allow activists to connect around specific causes, valuable tools to raise awareness or do they also render us passive?
John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, "Activists," John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital (New York: Basic Books, 2008) 255-270. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, "Pirates," John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital (New York: Basic Books, 2008) 255-270. Examples: OhMyNews, IndyMedia, Riseup’s Crabgrass, The Memory Hole, Wikileaks, TXTmob, Bahrain Censored Google Earth, Tunisian Prison Map, tracking Darfur suspects on Facebook, Google Earth as visual evidence of the destruction in Darfur. • Presentation Group 12
Recommended Podcast Subscription:
NPR’s On the Media Podcast. http://www.onthemedia.org/