Courses

Current Courses

School of Media Studies, The New School:

FALL 2021

TECHNOLOGY, POWER & SOCIAL CHANGE
The notion that technologies are drivers of social change is widely held, but the reality is far more complicated. In this course we will examine the relationship between technology and society, and between technology and culture, inquiring into the values and assumptions that shape them and the conflicts that they in turn give rise to. We will focus in particular on work that has emerged in the last quarter century on the impact of digital media technologies on social relations and on cultural debates. Topics range from how users interact with technologies to ideas of the posthuman, from the impact of the Internet on journalism to the changing nature of work, from how we construct relationships to the virtues of the virtual. Students have the option of writing a research paper or developing a research-based project. This course counts as an elective course for the Graduate Minor in Impact Entrepreneurship.

MEDIA THEORY
This course is required of all first-semester Media Studies students. Media Theory provides an overview of the major schools of academic thought that have influenced the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments.

Past Courses

School of Media Studies, The New School:

SPRING 2021

BIG TECH & SOCIETY: POLICY & ACTIVISM
A handful of internet companies have captured vast global markets for their products and services, and leveraged their platforms to capture even more. Several are now valued at more than $1 trillion, with greater wealth and reach than many countries. These companies and their technologies have become integral to our economy and reshaped our social lives. These companies are also increasingly being accused of holding monopolistic power, violating anti-trust laws, engaging in anti-competitive practices, violating individual privacy rights, engaging in unfair labor practices, enabling anti-social behaviors, contributing to political division, and empowering violent extremism including terrorism and genocide. Given the power and resources these companies have, and the great potential for both positive and negative impacts on society, how can the public hold them accountable?
This course will examine the social and legal issues raised by the biggest and most influential of these companies, from Amazon's growing monopoly over retail sales, to Google and Facebook's growing monopoly over advertising, to the impact on traditional media from newspaper journalism to film and television, to the rise of the sharing/gig economy, to the battle over net neutrality, to social media's anti-democratic effects, and to how the algorithms these companies deploy impact society and how much of their power is derived from the collection of personal data and its often biased analysis and application. In addition to analyzing the legal and social issues raised by the practices of these companies, we will examine the various policy proposals for reigning in their power, from anti-trust laws to privacy protections, we will consider what regulations might achieve a better society. We will also look at grassroots activism aimed at confronting the power of these companies. From boycotts to worker-led initiatives and platform co-operativism, we will consider the power of the people to shape these companies outside of governmental regulation.
Students will be required to make regular blog entries based on the assigned readings, participate in online class discussions via Zoom, and write two 7-9 page papers, or create short multi-media presentations, during the course of the semester.

FALL 2020

POLITICAL MEDIA, DISINFORMATION & ACTIVISM IN THE AGE OF COVID
We face simultaneous global health and economic crises of epic proportions, amid growing signs of the failure of government accountability and democratic processes. At the same time, we are preparing for the most divisive United States Presidential election in history. Because of social distancing and quarantines, this will also be an election that will be discussed and debated almost entirely on-line. The role of the mass media and social media platforms, and their power to shape public opinion, will be greater than ever before. Meanwhile, the US response to the COVID pandemic has been politicized at every turn, from the role of the World Health Organization and China, to immigration policies. Misinformation about the virus, from scams to unproven cures, and an array of conspiracy theories about its origins have been shared widely on social and mass media. Corporations and the government are seizing new powers of digital surveillance and social control in the name of public safety. How the political messaging around the pandemic plays out, and plays into the upcoming election will be the focus of this seminar, along with the ways in which activists and social movements are creatively deploying media technologies to organize, create solidarity and preserve democracy under enforced social isolation. While the course will focus on US politics, international students are encouraged to bring a global perspective to these issues, and we will compare the US situation to those in other countries. We will examine the traditional roles of political rhetoric in presidential politics, as well as the unique strategies employed by President Trump. We will examine how audiences are created and shaped by internet and broadcast media platforms, how political campaigns, public health agencies, and activists are using social media platforms, and how audiences are responding to these messages. As we follow the political conventions, speeches, debates, presidential tweets and press briefings, public health warnings, protests and demonstrations, we will consider the ways in which the current crises facing the nation and the world are framed politically, and in turn used as political tools. Students will be required to keep political media journals with regular entries and commentary, complete readings as assigned, participate in online class discussions via Zoom, and write two 7-9 page papers, or create short multi-media presentations, during the course of the semester.

SPRING 2020

CO-LAB: ROBOT MEDIA STUDIO
This course explores the potential of robotic media platforms and computer vision for cinematic expression. As a Co-Lab, students will work in collaborative groups that will utilize the latest robotic and computer vision technologies to make short films. The first half of the semester will consist of an introduction to these technologies and in-class group exercises that will familiarize you with advanced digital camera techniques, and robotic camera control. These camera techniques and platforms will include advanced computer vision techniques such as Time-lapse, High Dynamic Range Imagery, Motion Magnification, Facial Recognition, Object Tracking, Optic Flow, and others, as well as 3D active-vision systems such as the Xbox Kinect. Robotic camera control will be explored through the use of remote-operated and computer-controlled servo-driven cameras, including RC vehicles, mobile robot dollys, robotic arms, and quadrotors (drones). We will explore a variety of control methods from remote control to pre-programmed and 3D model-driven control, as well as how these can be combined with vision techniques for the interactive control of cameras with gestures. We will also explore how these cinematographic techniques relate to visual storytelling and expression. In the second half of the course, students will pursue projects of their own design in groups, with the goal of producing a short experimental or narrative video utilizing these techniques. Previous programming experience is not required, but students will be expected to learn and apply basic programming skills in this course, and will be introduced to programming languages such as Processing, Python and Java, and programming platforms and libraries such as Arduino, ROS and OpenCV.

THESIS TUTORIAL LAB
This course supports students working on the Masters Thesis projects. Open only to M.A. degree candidates who have completed their Thesis Proposal the semester prior. Students refine their project and begin research and production. The class mixes group workshops, in which students give progress reports and receive feedback, and one-on-one meetings with the Tutorial instructor and thesis advisors. By the end of the semester each student will have produced the first draft of his/her thesis, and will complete the thesis during the subsequent semester(s).

FALL 2019

DIGITAL WAR
This course focuses on exploring how digital technologies and media are transforming warfare, international conflicts, and popular uprisings and their suppression. We will explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these new technologies and strategies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. It also examines how new forms of digital and social media are being enlisted in the service of international conflicts. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training; the role of digital media in war journalism, state propaganda and information warfare, and hackivist sites such as Wikileaks; the use of social media in both organizing and suppressing popular uprisings such as the Arab Spring; mass surveillance in the name of state security; developments in cyberwarfare; and the increasing use of military robotics, including armed Predator and Reaper drones, as well as the development of fully autonomous weapons.

THESIS TUTORIAL LAB
This course supports students working on the Masters Thesis projects. Open only to M.A. degree candidates who have completed their Thesis Proposal the semester prior. Students refine their project and begin research and production. The class mixes group workshops, in which students give progress reports and receive feedback, and one-on-one meetings with the Tutorial instructor and thesis advisors. By the end of the semester each student will have produced the first draft of his/her thesis, and will complete the thesis during the subsequent semester(s).

FALL 2018

DIGITAL WAR
This course focuses on exploring how digital technologies and media are transforming warfare, international conflicts, and popular uprisings and their suppression. We will explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these new technologies and strategies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. It also examines how new forms of digital and social media are being enlisted in the service of international conflicts. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training; the role of digital media in war journalism, state propaganda and information warfare, and hackivist sites such as Wikileaks; the use of social media in both organizing and suppressing popular uprisings such as the Arab Spring; mass surveillance in the name of state security; developments in cyberwarfare; and the increasing use of military robotics, including armed Predator and Reaper drones, as well as the development of fully autonomous weapons.

DESIGNING METHODS FOR MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, and visual techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

SPRING 2018

CO-LAB: ROBOT MEDIA STUDIO (with GRADUATE & UNDERGRADUATE sections)
This course explores the potential of robotic media platforms and computer vision for cinematic expression. As a Co-Lab, students will work in collaborative groups that will utilize the latest robotic and computer vision technologies to make short films. The first half of the semester will consist of an introduction to these technologies and in-class group exercises that will familiarize you with advanced digital camera techniques, and robotic camera control. These camera techniques and platforms will include advanced computer vision techniques such as Time-lapse, High Dynamic Range Imagery, Motion Magnification, Facial Recognition, Object Tracking, Optic Flow, and others, as well as 3D active-vision systems such as the Xbox Kinect. Robotic camera control will be explored through the use of remote-operated and computer-controlled servo-driven cameras, including RC vehicles, mobile robot dollys, robotic arms, and quadrotors (drones). We will explore a variety of control methods from remote control to pre-programmed and 3D model-driven control, as well as how these can be combined with vision techniques for the interactive control of cameras with gestures. We will also explore how these cinematographic techniques relate to visual storytelling and expression. In the second half of the course, students will pursue projects of their own design in groups, with the goal of producing a short experimental or narrative video utilizing these techniques. Previous programming experience is not required, but students will be expected to learn and apply basic programming skills in this course, and will be introduced to programming languages such as Processing, Python and Java, and programming platforms and libraries such as Arduino, ROS and OpenCV.

MEDIA THEORY
This course is required of all first-year Media Studies students; students may be advised to take the course either concurrently with or in the semester after Understanding Media Studies. Media Theory provides an overview of the major schools of academic thought that have influenced the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments.

FALL 2017

DIGITAL WAR
This course focuses on exploring how digital technologies and media are transforming warfare, international conflicts, and popular uprisings and their suppression. We will explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these new technologies and strategies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. It also examines how new forms of digital and social media are being enlisted in the service of international conflicts. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training; the role of digital media in war journalism, state propaganda and information warfare, and hackivist sites such as Wikileaks; the use of social media in both organizing and suppressing popular uprisings such as the Arab Spring; mass surveillance in the name of state security; developments in cyberwarfare; and the increasing use of military robotics, including armed Predator and Reaper drones, as well as the development of fully autonomous weapons.

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, and visual techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

SPRING 2017

CO-LAB: ROBOT MEDIA STUDIO (with GRADUATE & UNDERGRADUATE sections)
This course explores the potential of robotic media platforms and computer vision for cinematic expression. As a Co-Lab, students will work in collaborative groups that will utilize the latest robotic and computer vision technologies to make short films. The first half of the semester will consist of an introduction to these technologies and in-class group exercises that will familiarize you with advanced digital camera techniques, and robotic camera control. These camera techniques and platforms will include advanced computer vision techniques such as Time-lapse, High Dynamic Range Imagery, Motion Magnification, Facial Recognition, Object Tracking, Optic Flow, and others, as well as 3D active-vision systems such as the Xbox Kinect. Robotic camera control will be explored through the use of remote-operated and computer-controlled servo-driven cameras, including RC vehicles, mobile robot dollys, robotic arms, and quadrotors (drones). We will explore a variety of control methods from remote control to pre-programmed and 3D model-driven control, as well as how these can be combined with vision techniques for the interactive control of cameras with gestures. We will also explore how these cinematographic techniques relate to visual storytelling and expression. In the second half of the course, students will pursue projects of their own design in groups, with the goal of producing a short experimental or narrative video utilizing these techniques. Previous programming experience is not required, but students will be expected to learn and apply basic programming skills in this course, and will be introduced to programming languages such as Processing, Python and Java, and programming platforms and libraries such as Arduino, ROS and OpenCV.

FALL 2016

DIGITAL WAR: RHETORIC, RISKS & REALITIES
This course focuses on exploring how digital technologies and media are transforming warfare, international conflicts, and popular uprisings and their suppression. We will explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these new technologies and strategies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. It also examines how new forms of digital and social media are being enlisted in the service of international conflicts. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training; the role of digital media in war journalism, state propaganda and information warfare, and hackivist sites such as Wikileaks; the use of social media in both organizing and suppressing popular uprisings such as the Arab Spring; mass surveillance in the name of state security; developments in cyberwarfare; and the increasing use of military robotics, including armed Predator and Reaper drones, as well as the development of fully autonomous weapons.

MEDIA THEORY (Wednesday 4:00-5:50pm)
MEDIA THEORY (Thursday 6:00-7:50pm)
This course is required of all first-year Media Studies students; students may be advised to take the course either concurrently with or in the semester after Understanding Media Studies. Media Theory provides an overview of the major schools of academic thought that have influenced the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments.

SPRING 2016

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, and visual techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

ROBOTS AS MEDIA
As robots begin to move outside of factories and into a variety of new roles--from vacuuming floors to performing surgeries, disarming bombs, and driving cars--it is clear that they represent a radical new form of mediated information and agency. predator drone robots have become the primary tool of the U.S. government in its war on terror, and, at the same time, journalists continue to refer to military robots as "Terminators." These observations raise the question of how our ongoing development and use of robotic media is being shaped by media representations of robotics. This course examines the complex relationship between robots and the media, from both the perspective of representations of robots in the media--including film, television, and news media--and the development of robots as a new form of media. In the first part of the course we consider the types of narrative roles that robots have occupied, as well as how the concepts of robotics and automation are reflected in the social and cultural contexts in which those media are produced. The second part of the course explores recent developments in robotics as forms of digital media, both continuous with and distinct from other types of digital media. We assess how contemporary debates about the potential uses and social impacts of robotic media intersect with popular narratives about robotics, both pessimistic and optimistic. The class also considers what makes contemporary discourses on robotic unique, and what that might tell us about contemporary society and culture. Course materials include readings from a variety of popular, academic, and literary sources--among them texts by Katherine Hayles, Ken Goldberg, Rodney Brooks and Philip K. Dick--and video clips from TV and films including Blade Runner, Robo-Cop, Battlestar Galactica, Surrogates, and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Students are expected to produce a short mid-term, and longer final assignment--either a research paper, film or digital media project.

FALL 2014

DIGITAL WAR: RHETORIC, RISKS & REALITIES
This course examines the complex relationship between digital technologies and warfare, from both the perspective of how wars are conducted, and how conflict is represented in and through media. In the late 1990s the US military committed itself to pursuing Network-Centric Warfare and Full-Spectrum Dominance, which eventually led to the largest military R&D contract in history--the Future Combat Systems program. Several years, two wars, and many billions of dollars later, those digital technologies are finding their way onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. This course focuses on exploring the technologies and media that are having the greatest impact on the way war will be fought in the near future, as well as the cultural meanings of warfare, and the use of digital technologies to organize resistance and bring down political regimes. We explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these technologies, and how news media both discusses these technologies and is itself increasingly shaped by them. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. We also examine how blogs and other digital tools are transforming war journalism, and how social media are being used in popular uprisings. Topics discussed include: the military's use of video game technology for recruitment, training, and remote interfaces; the use of database systems to manage vast quantities of information in warfare, as well as for data-mining and surveillance; the increasing use of military robotics including armed Predator and Reaper drones, and the development of fully autonomous lethal robots; and the use digital media by independent journalists and of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as cell-phone cameras in the Arab Spring and other popular uprisings and demonstrations.

SPRING 2014

CO-LAB: ROBOT MEDIA STUDIO
This course explores the potential of robotic media platforms and computer vision for cinematic expression. As a Co-Lab, students will work in collaborative groups that will utilize the latest robotic and computer vision technologies to make short films. The first half of the semester will consist of an introduction to these technologies and in-class group exercises that will familiarize you with advanced digital camera techniques, and robotic camera control. These camera techniques and platforms will include advanced computer vision techniques such as Time-lapse, High Dynamic Range Imagery, Motion Magnification, Facial Recognition, Object Tracking, Optic Flow, and others, as well as 3D active-vision systems such as the Xbox Kinect. Robotic camera control will be explored through the use of remote-operated and computer-controlled servo-driven cameras, including RC vehicles, mobile robot dollys, robotic arms, and quadrotors (drones). We will explore a variety of control methods from remote control to pre-programmed and 3D model-driven control, as well as how these can be combined with vision techniques for the interactive control of cameras. We will also explore how these cinematographic techniques relate to visual storytelling and expression. In the second half of the course, students will pursue projects of their own design in groups, with the goal of producing a short experimental or narrative video utilizing these techniques. Previous programming experience is not required, but students will be expected to learn and apply basic programming skills in this course, and will be introduced to programming languages such as Python and Java, and programming platforms and libraries such as Arduino, ROS and OpenCV.

FALL 2013

DIGITAL WAR: RHETORIC, RISKS & REALITIES
This course examines the complex relationship between digital technologies and warfare, from both the perspective of how wars are conducted, and how conflict is represented in and through media. In the late 1990s the US military committed itself to pursuing Network-Centric Warfare and Full-Spectrum Dominance, which eventually led to the largest military R&D contract in history--the Future Combat Systems program. Several years, two wars, and many billions of dollars later, those digital technologies are finding their way onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. This course focuses on exploring the technologies and media that are having the greatest impact on the way war will be fought in the near future, as well as the cultural meanings of warfare, and the use of digital technologies to organize resistance and bring down political regimes. We explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these technologies, and how news media both discusses these technologies and is itself increasingly shaped by them. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. We also examine how blogs and other digital tools are transforming war journalism, and how social media are being used in popular uprisings. Topics discussed include: the military's use of video game technology for recruitment, training, and remote interfaces; the use of database systems to manage vast quantities of information in warfare, as well as for data-mining and surveillance; the increasing use of military robotics including armed Predator and Reaper drones, and the development of fully autonomous lethal robots; and the use digital media by independent journalists and of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as cell-phone cameras in the Arab Spring and other popular uprisings and demonstrations.

SPRING 2013

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, and visual techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

FALL 2012

DIGITAL WAR: RHETORIC, RISKS & REALITIES
In the late 1990s the US military committed itself to pursuing Network-Centric Warfare and Full-Spectrum Dominance, which eventually led to the largest military R&D contract in history--the Future Combat Systems program. Several years, two wars, and many billions of dollars later, those digital technologies are finding their way onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. This course focuses on exploring the technologies and media that are having the greatest impact on the way war will be fought in the near future, as well as the cultural meanings of warfare, and the propensity to war itself. We explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these technologies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training, the use of video game interfaces for real-world technologies, the use of database systems to manage vast quantities of information in warfare, and the increasing use of military robotics including armed Predator and Reaper drones. Readings will include Peter Singer's Wired for War, Paul Edwards' The Closed World, James Der Derian's Virtuous War, and texts by Tim Lenoir, Paul Virilio, and Slavoj Zizek, as well as various public military documents.

SPRING 2012

ROBOTS AS MEDIA
As robots begin to move outside of factories and into a variety of new roles--from vacuuming floors to performing surgeries, disarming bombs, and driving cars--it is clear that they represent a radical new form of mediated information and agency. predator drone robots have become the primary tool of the U.S. government in its war on terror, and, at the same time, journalists continue to refer to military robots as "Terminators." These observations raise the question of how our ongoing development and use of robotic media is being shaped by media representations of robotics. This course examines the complex relationship between robots and the media, from both the perspective of representations of robots in the media--including film, television, and news media--and the development of robots as a new form of media. In the first part of the course we consider the types of narrative roles that robots have occupied, as well as how the concepts of robotics and automation are reflected in the social and cultural contexts in which those media are produced. The second part of the course explores recent developments in robotics as forms of digital media, both continuous with and distinct from other types of digital media. We assess how contemporary debates about the potential uses and social impacts of robotic media intersect with popular narratives about robotics, both pessimistic and optimistic. The class also considers what makes contemporary discourses on robotic unique, and what that might tell us about contemporary society and culture. Course materials include readings from a variety of popular, academic, and literary sources--among them texts by Katherine Hayles, Ken Goldberg, Rodney Brooks and Philip K. Dick--and video clips from TV and films including Blade Runner, Robo-Cop, Battlestar Galactica, Surrogates, and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Students are expected to produce a short mid-term, and longer final assignment--either a research paper, film or digital media project.

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, "follow the money" techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

FALL 2011

DIGITAL WAR: RHETORIC, RISKS & REALITIES
In the late 1990s the US military committed itself to pursuing Network-Centric Warfare and Full-Spectrum Dominance, which eventually led to the largest military R&D contract in history--the Future Combat Systems program. Several years, two wars, and many billions of dollars later, those digital technologies are finding their way onto the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. This course focuses on exploring the technologies and media that are having the greatest impact on the way war will be fought in the near future, as well as the cultural meanings of warfare, and the propensity to war itself. We explore how these technologies are changing the nature of warfare, and the rhetoric that is used to justify the development and use of these technologies. The course critically examines the claims that technologies can produce increasingly risk-free, or even bloodless, wars, and considers how the risks of engaging in armed conflict are being redistributed. Topics discussed include the military's use of video games for recruitment and training, the use of video game interfaces for real-world technologies, the use of database systems to manage vast quantities of information in warfare, and the increasing use of military robotics including armed Predator and Reaper drones. Readings will include Peter Singer's Wired for War, Paul Edwards' The Closed World, James Der Derian's Virtuous War, and texts by Tim Lenoir, Paul Virilio, and Slavoj Zizek, as well as various public military documents.

MEDIA STUDIES: IDEAS
This course is required of all first-year Media Studies students; students may be advised to take the course either concurrently with or in the semester after Understanding Media Studies. Media Studies: Ideas overviews the major schools of academic thought that have had an influence on the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments. This course replaces Foundations of Media Theory.

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, "follow the money" techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

SPRING 2011

ROBOTS AS MEDIA
As robots begin to move outside of factories and into a variety of new roles--from vacuuming floors to performing surgeries, disarming bombs, and driving cars--it is clear that they represent a radical new form of mediated information and agency. predator drone robots have become the primary tool of the U.S. government in its war on terror, and, at the same time, journalists continue to refer to military robots as "Terminators." These observations raise the question of how our ongoing development and use of robotic media is being shaped by media representations of robotics. This course examines the complex relationship between robots and the media, from both the perspective of representations of robots in the media--including film, television, and news media--and the development of robots as a new form of media. In the first part of the course we consider the types of narrative roles that robots have occupied, as well as how the concepts of robotics and automation are reflected in the social and cultural contexts in which those media are produced. The second part of the course explores recent developments in robotics as forms of digital media, both continuous with and distinct from other types of digital media. We assess how contemporary debates about the potential uses and social impacts of robotic media intersect with popular narratives about robotics, both pessimistic and optimistic. The class also considers what makes contemporary discourses on robotic unique, and what that might tell us about contemporary society and culture. Course materials include readings from a variety of popular, academic, and literary sources--among them texts by Katherine Hayles, Ken Goldberg, Rodney Brooks and Philip K. Dick--and video clips from TV and films including Blade Runner, Robo-Cop, Battlestar Galactica, Surrogates, and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Students are expected to produce a short mid-term, and longer final assignment--either a research paper, film or digital media project.

DESIGNING METHODOLOGIES FOR STUDYING MEDIA
This course explores the design of research methodologies for the systematic study of media--how and why media are made, distributed, used, and understood. Because media systems can be very complex, and studied from various perspectives, it is important for media researchers to be able to deploy a range of techniques, and especially to combine techniques, in ways that allow for meaningful, clear, and critical research. The course emphasizes the framing of questions, as well as the choice of best methods for research, and how the choice of methods influences the significance, meaning, and impact of the results. This includes ethical considerations of research, such as protecting subjects' privacy and anonymity. The class will give a survey of various types of empirical methods, including qualitative ones, such as ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, interviews, auto-ethnography, and rhetorical analysis; and quantitative ones, such as sampling, surveys, content analysis, audience analysis, "follow the money" techniques. We look at different examples of how these methods can be effectively combined, and at various resources for studying media, especially on-line information and data. Assignments will consist of several small research projects involving different methods, and a larger research project employing an original methodology.

FALL 2010

MEDIA STUDIES: IDEAS (Monday 4:00-5:50pm)
MEDIA STUDIES: IDEAS (Wednesday 8:00-9:50pm)
This course is required of all first-year Media Studies students; students may be advised to take the course either concurrently with or in the semester after Understanding Media Studies. Media Studies: Ideas overviews the major schools of academic thought that have had an influence on the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments. This course replaces Foundations of Media Theory.

FALL 2008

MEDIA STUDIES: IDEAS
This course is required of all first-year Media Studies students; students may be advised to take the course either concurrently with or in the semester after Understanding Media Studies. Media Studies: Ideas overviews the major schools of academic thought that have had an influence on the field of Media Studies, as they pertain to three central themes: Media and Power, Media and Technology, and Media and Aesthetics. The historical and philosophical roots of the discipline are emphasized through a wide variety of readings, discussions, and academic writing assignments. This course replaces Foundations of Media Theory.

Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University:

SPRING 2008

MINDS, MACHINES, AND PERSONS
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
Comparison of the nature of the human mind and that of complex machines. Consequences for questions about the personhood of robots.

Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois:

Film Series: