How Media Technology Has Shaped the Way We Experience Culture
The story of media is the story of mankind extending his reach through technology. The invention of the printing press has allowed us to easily fix knowledge in a format that can be exchanged, shared, and sent far away. Photography allows us to take a moment in time and space, capture it and store it. And, the digital era has seen us take information, break it into pieces of data, and then reassemble that data into new forms of knowledge. With each stage of increasing technical complexity, the relationship between media and culture becomes more complicated, reflecting the role that technology plays in shaping our experience of knowledge, information, and/or data.
This course will consider the centrality of media technologies in the experience of culture by assessing the impact of books, film, records, tapes, disks, and even architectural spaces such as cinemas, on cultural development. Along with readings, discussion, and presentations, students in the course will tell the story of cultural change in media and materiality by working together to construct a web publication using the digital humanities platform Omeka. As such, this course will be strongly project-based and students will play a role in the material studied and be responsible for designing and building the course’s publication. In the process of gathering materials and creating work for this publication, students will practice a wide range of methods including object analysis, visualization, and chronography, and consider theoretical works from a variety of disciplines including media studies, material culture studies, sociology of culture, political economics, and the history of technology. Readings will include work by Walter Benjamin, Marshall McLuhan, Bruno Latour, Lisa Gitelman, Pierre Bourdieu, etc.