Over the past forty years, the world has felt the effects of the confluence of three phenomena that have caused enormous social and cultural change: globalization, the information revolution, and the rise of the network society (Castells). Central to each of these phenomena has been technological change that has increased our interconnectedness and led to the development of new modes of culture and means for communication. This course engages with this dynamic era through a distinctive interdisciplinary lens that includes methodological approaches from the political economy and sociology of culture, media studies, science and technology studies, cultural geography, and international relations. Using these approaches, we will consider how network technologies have dramatically changed the production, distribution, and consumption of culture and dynamically altered relations between nations, communities, and individuals.
This course will interrogate these trends in global networked culture through discussion of readings of central thinkers–such as Manuel Castells, Nicholas Garnham, Arjun Appadurai, David Harvey, Alex Galloway, Yochai Benkler, and Shoshanna Zuboff–, the analysis of a diverse array of media texts, international case studies (The United States, China, and South Korea), and weekly reviews of new developments in this field of study. Through this work, we will ask: What will be the fate of traditional culture power structures in an increasingly decentralized cultural economy? How does the Internet bring us together, and how does it push us apart? Is it possible to overcome deeply ingrained cultural differences through proximity in digital and virtual spaces? Are individuals now audiences, consumers, or data commodities?
To connect students more directly to the media practices they will be studying, final projects will be two-part experiences crafting research narratives using digital platforms. First, students will prepare a digital narrative project on a topic related to the themes of the course that will use diverse media to present that research. Training in the platform Esri StoryMaps (or an alternative for more advanced students) will allow students to integrate images, audio, video, visualizations, maps, and interactive media into their work. Second, to enhance their understanding of the implicit connectedness of so much global networked culture, students will connect their research to one another, creating additional StoryMaps digital narratives that make explicit the undercurrents of continuity of global networked culture.
Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).
Background Image – The Internet Map