Course webpage is here: http://peterasaro.org/courses/2021MT.html
Course blog is here: http://MediaTheory2021.wordpress.com
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.
This course is a survey of ideas. Media Studies is an inter-disciplinary field of study. We tend to assume that ours is an exceptional era, one unprecedented in its mediatization, unique in its digitality, its information- and image-centricity. But even if the conditions of our media environment are unprecedented, these claims of exceptionality are not new nor are the practices of thinking about and theorizing media and communication. In this course we will focus on the schools of thought that have shaped the study of media throughout the 20th century, and the theories that have lain the foundation for media studies in the 21st century. We will discover that media studies, as it emerged as an academic discipline, has borrowed from a variety of other fields, including literary theory, art history, anthropology, sociology, history, and philosophy, to name just a few. As we come to appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of media studies, we will also have to consider what distinguishes our field from others: What constitutes a medium? What is communication? And, furthermore, what is "theory" and what good is it to theorize the media, or any cultural practice or product, for that matter? We have time this semester only to survey the field to see the primary ways others have approached the study of media and, in the process, to acquire a vocabulary of theory and establish a set of questions we can apply to the study of media.
This course aims at a critical analysis of how media have changed (and are changed by) the social perception of reality, modes of social communications, and power relations, and are inextricably linked to social structures, life practices, cultural developments, and material technologies. To this end we will consider three fundamental areas: Aesthetics, Power and Technology.
Media Theory will serve not only as a foundational course for intermediate and advanced courses in the Media Studies Program, but as a sharp critical engagement of the roles the media play in our individual and collective experience. Selected viewing and listening assignments will supplement readings and provide material to work with in class discussions.
You are expected to have thoroughly and thoughtfully read the assigned texts and to have prepared yourself to contribute meaningfully to the class discussions. For some people, that preparation requires taking copious notes on or abstracting the assigned readings; for others, it entails supplementing the assigned readings with explanatory texts found in survey textbooks or in online sources; and for others still, it involves reading the texts, ruminating on them afterwards, then discussing those readings with classmates before the class meeting. Whatever method best suits you, I hope you arrive at class with copies of the assigned reading, ready and willing to make yourself a valued contributor to the discussion, and eager to share your own relevant media experiences and interests. Your participation will be evaluated in terms of both quantity and quality.
As this is a survey course, regular attendance is essential. You will be permitted two excused absences (you must notify me of your inability to attend before class, via email or phone). Any subsequent absences and any un-excused absences will adversely affect your grade.If you must take the class "asynchronously" due to scheduling or time-zone conflicts, you must make arrangements with me for your class participation at the beginning of the semester. In most cases this will consist of watching the posted videos of the weekly discussion, and posting an additional weekly blog entry with your reflections on the week's topic and readings (approx. 1 page or 500 words).
You will be required to make weekly blog entries commenting on the assigned readings and any additional related material you discover on your own and wish to share with the class.
You will be required to create an account on WordPress (if you do not already have one), and will receive an email invitation to be added as an author to the private collective course blog. Everyone will be posting to a common blog page, and this will be readable by your classmates, but not by people outside of the class. When writing and making comments, you are expected to treat other students with the same respect and courtesy as you should in the classroom, and to cite the sources of any text or quotes you use in accordance with academic honesty policies.
You are also expected to read the posts of your classmates, and encouraged to comment on other people's posts each week. Posts will not be graded but I, and other students, will read them and occasionally comment on them. There will be 12 posts worth 2 Points (on-time) or 1 point (late) required through the semester (not required on days when papers/projects are due), thus 24 points, plus 6 points for comments on the posts of other students, totalling 30% of your grade.
Blog posts will be due before the start of each class. They are time stamped when you post them, and late posts will only receive half credit (1 point). There is no specific assignment for each post, but they should express your reactions to and reflections on your readings and the topic for that week.
Answers Due: October 19
There will be a midterm exam due before Fall Break.
The Mid-Term Exam will be a Take-Home Essay Exam. Three (3) Exam Questions will be posted on the Blog assignment page (in lieu of the regular Blog Assignment). You are to choose one (1) Exam Question to answer in a 1000 word essay (approx. 3-5 pages, Times New Roman, 12pt font, double spaced)
IMPORTANT: Your paper should be submitted to me directly by email in electronic form (Word Perfect, MS Word, PDF, HTML and plain TXT are all fine). All quotations and references must be properly cited.DO NOT POST YOUR ANSWERS ON THE BLOG!
Proposals Due: November 9
Paper Due: December 14
Length: 3000-5000 words (approx. 12-18 pages)
There will be no final exam. Instead, a 3000-5000 word (Times New Roman, 12pt font, double spaced) term paper is due on the last day of class. If that time will not work for you, you need to make other arrangements at least ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE.
Paper topics can address any aspect of the topics and materials discussed in class. They can focus on the theories themselves, or in applying the theories to media phenomena. Papers should include materials beyond what is directly covered in class, as appropriate for your topic. The blog will provide many ideas for papers, as will class discussion. You will have to write a proposal for your paper, but you should be thinking about possible topics throughout the semester.
Your paper should be submitted to me in electronic form (Word Perfect, MS Word, PDF, HTML and plain TXT are all fine). Late papers will not be accepted, as I must turn in grades shortly thereafter.
Lawrence Grossberg, Ellen Wartella & D. Charles Whitney,
Media Making: Mass Media in Popular Culture, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage,
Vincent B. Leitch, Ed., Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.
Dominic Strinati, An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture, New York: Routledge, 1995.
W.J.T. Mitchell's "U Chicago Media Theory Glossary"
Kristi Siegel, "Introduction to Modern Literary Theory"
"How to Read Theory," James
Klumpp, University of Maryland
"Five Skills a Good Theorist Must Master," James Klumpp, University of Maryland
"Heuristics for Studying Theory," Vincent Leitch, University of Oklahoma
"Hints on How to Read Theory," Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto
All readings will be available electronically, via the web, in PDF, MS Word, HTML, or similar format.
How to create a WordPress Account, and make a Blog Entry
Watch: "Secrets of Silicon Valley: The Persuasion Machine" BBC, 45 min., 2017. (UK access only)
Watch: Douglas Rushkoff, Generation Like (2014) PBS Frontline.
Watch: Douglas Rushkoff, Merchants of Cool (2001) PBS Frontline
Watch: Douglas Rushkoff, Digital Nation (2010) PBS Frontline
Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006: 129-138.
Mark Hansen, "Media Theory," Theory, Culture & Society, 23(2-3) (2006): 297-306.
Denis McQuail, "First Approaches," in McQuail's Mass Communication Theory, 4th ed., London: Sage, 2000: 4-15.
Georg Stanitzek, "Texts and Paratexts in Media," Critical Inquiry 32.1 (Autumn 2005): 27-42.
Kevin Williams, "Introduction: Unraveling Media Theory" and "Section 1: Developing the Field: A History of Media Theory," in Understanding Media Theory, London: Arnold, 2003: 1-70.
W. J. T. Mitchell, "Medium Theory: Preface to the 2003 Critical Inquiry Symposium," Critical Inquiry, 30/2 April, 2003.
W. Bruno Latour, "Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Critical Inquiry, 30/2 April, 2003.
Watch: Marshall McLuhan clips on CBC
The World is a Global Village (1960)
McLuhan predicts 'World Connectivity' (1965)
A Pop Philosopher (1965)
Oracle of the Electronic Age (1966)
McLuhan and Mailer Go Head-to-Head (1967)
Jonathan Culler, "What Is Theory?" In Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997: 1-17.
M. H. Abrams, "The Orientation of Critical Theories," In The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953: 3-29.
Watch: Noam Chomsky interview on "Why Philosophy?," YoutTube Video, 3 min.
Watch: Noam Chomsky interview on "Understanding Reality," YoutTube Video, 19 min.
Watch: Bertrand Russell interview on "Mankind's Future and Philosophy," YoutTube Video, 13 min.
Listen: Radiolab podcast on Words, August 9, 2010
Vincent B. Leitch, "Preface," "Assessing Reading Practices: From New Criticism to Poststructuralism to Cultural Studies," and "Theory Fashion", in Theory Matters, New York: Routledge, 2003: vii-x, 9-15, 29-33.
Terry Eagleton, "The Rise and Fall of Theory" and "The Path to Postmodernism," in After Theory, New York: Basic Books, 2003: 23-73.
Antonio Gramsci, "The Study of Philosophy," in Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, New York: International Publishers, 1971: 323-377.
Mediology Maps by Martin Irvine
Edward Bernays, Propaganda, Horace Liveright Inc., 1928, pp. 1-61 and 135-153.
Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky "A Propaganda Model," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham & Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 280-317.
Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 71-101.
Watch: Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992, 167 min.
Watch: Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self, 2002, 235 min.
Watch: Jeff Hancock, "The Future of Lying," Ted Talk, September 2012, 18 minutes.
Stuart Hall "Encoding/Decoding," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 166-176.
Joseph Goebbels, "The Führer as a Speaker," German Propaganda Archive, Calvin College, 1936.
David Vaughn, "The Master's Voice," The Guardian, October 8, 2008.
Cornelia Epping-Jäger "Hitler's Voice : The Loudspeaker under National Socialism." Intermédialités, 17 (2011): 83–104.
Joseph Goebbels, "Knowledge and Propaganda," German Propaganda Archive, Calvin College, 1934.
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels. "The Ruling Class and The Ruling Idea," reprinted in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 39-42.
Jürgen Habermas, "The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article," reprinted in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 102-107.
Nicholas Garnham, "The Media and the Public Sphere," in Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995: 359-376.
Watch: Jon Stewart on Crossfire, 2004.
Watch: Eli Parser, "Beware Online 'Filter Bubbles'," Ted Talk, March 2011, 9 minutes.
Nicholas Thompson, and Fred Vogelstein, "Inside Two Years that Shook Facebook--And The World," Wired, February 12, 2018.
Watch: Sidney Lumet, Network, MGM, 1976, 121 min.
Nancy Fraser, "Rethinking the Public Sphere," reprinted in Simon During, Ed., The Cultural Studies Reader, 2nd ed., New York: Routledge, 1993: 518-536.
Craig Calhoun, "Introduction," in Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995: 1-50.
David Joselit, "The Video Public Sphere," in Nicholas Mirzoeff, Ed., The Visual Culture Reader, New York: Routledge, 1998: 451-457.
Antonio Gramsci. "History of The Subaltern Classes, and The Concept of 'Ideology'," reprinted in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 43-47.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Juergen Habermas
Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, "Book Two: The Monster Attacks, What Blogs Mean," Portfolio/Penguin, 2012, pp. 123-236.
Michael Foucault, "III. Discipline, 3. Panopticism," in Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York: Vintage Books, 1975 (translated from the French by Alan Sheridan, 1977): 195-228.
Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker, "Protocol, Control, and Networks," Grey Room, 17, Fall 2004: 6-29.
Shoshana Zuboff, "Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization," Journal of Information Technology (2015) 30, 75–89.
Gilles Deleuze,"Control and Becoming" and "Postscript on Control Societies," in Negotiations, 1972-1990, New York: Columbia University Press, 1995: 169-182.
Joshua Meyrowitz, "Media and Behavior: A Missing Link," in No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior, New York: Oxford University Press, 1985: 13-34.
Alexander R. Galloway, "Protocol," Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 23 (2006): 317-320.
Watch: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras Interview with Edward Snowden Part I, 12 min., The Guardian, July 9, 2013, and Part II, 7 min., The Guardian, July 8, 2013
Watch: Laura Poitras, "Citizen Four," 2014, 114 minutes.
Nikolas Rose & Thomas Osborne, "Do the Social Sciences Create Phenomena: The Case of Public Opinion Research," British Journal of Sociology, 50, 3 (1999): 367-396.
Herman Gray, "The Politics of Representation In Network Television," in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 439-462.
Lisa Nakamura, "Menu-Driven Identities: Making Race Happen Online," in Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet, London: Routledge, 2002: 101-135.
Amit Datta, Anupam Datta, Jael Makagon, Deirdre K. Mulligan, Michael Carl Tschantz, "Discrimination in Online Personalization: A Multidisciplinary Inquiry," Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, 81:1–15, 2018.
Watch: The Persuaders (2004) PBS Frontline
Watch: 430 Demographics (2008) TheOnion.com
Harold Innis, "The Bias of Communication," in The Bias of Communication, Toronto: University of Toronto Press: 33-60.
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.
Bruno Latour, "A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans," in Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999: 174-215.
Gary Lee Downey, Joseph Dumit & Sarah Williams, "Cyborg Anthropology,"Cultural Anthropology, May 1995, Vol. 10, No. 2: 264-269.
Judy Wajcman and Paul K. Jones, "Border Communication: Media Sociology and STS," Media, Culture & Society, September 2012, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 673-690.
Christina Dunbar-Hester, "Beyond McLuhan: Your New Media Studies Syllabus," The Atlantic, September 16, 2010.
Pablo Boczkowski & L. Lievrouw, "Bridging STS and Communication Studies: Scholarship on Media and Information Technologies," in O. Amsterdamska, E. Hackett, M. Lynch & J. Wajcman (eds.), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Third edition, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007: 949-977.
Michel Callon (1986) "Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay," First published in J. Law, Power, action and belief: a new sociology of knowledge? London, Routledge, 1986, pp.196-223.
Bruno Latour, "Glossary," inPandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999: 303-311.
Peter Asaro, "Cybernetics," in Raul Rojas (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History, London, UK: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001: 219.
Peter Asaro, "Cybernetic Writings of Norbert Wiener," in Raul Rojas (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History, London, UK: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001: 220.
Norbert Wiener, "Information, Language and Society," in Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Paris: Hermann and Co., Cambridge, MA: The Technology Press, and New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1948: 155-165.
N. Katherine Hayles, "Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety," in How We Became Post-Human: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999: 84-112.
Herbert Brün, "Technology and the Composer," UNESCO, 1970.
Watch: "Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower: 'We Spent $1M harvesting millions of facebook profiles'," The Guardian, March 17, 2018, 13min.
Warren Weaver, "Recent Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Communication," in Claude E. Shannon & Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1948: 3-28.
Norbert Wiener, "The First and the Second Industrial Revolutions," in The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1950: 136-162.
Peter Asaro, (2010). “Whatever Happened to Cybernetics?” in Günther Friesinger, Johannes Grenzfurthner, Thomas Ballhausen, and Verena Bauer (eds.) Geist in der Maschine. Medien, Prozesse und Räume der Kybernetik. Vienna, Austria: Verlag Turia & Kant, pp. 39-49.
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, New York, NY: Routledge, 1991: 149-181.
Martti Lahti, "As We Become Machines: Corporeal Pleasures in Video Games," The Video Game Theory Reader, Mark J. P. Wolf, and Bernard Perron (eds.), New York, Routledge, 2003: 157-170.
Manfred E. Clynes & Nathan S. Kline, "Cyborgs and Space," Astronautics (September, 1960): 27-31. Reprinted in The Cyborg Handbook, Edited by Chris Hables Gray, New York, NY: Routledge, 1995: 29-33.
Manfred E. Clynes, "Foreword," To Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman, Daniel S. Halacy, New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1965: 6-8.
Peter Asaro, "Cyborg," in Raul Rojas (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History, London, UK: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001: 221.
Jay David Bolter & Richard Grusin, "Theory," in Remediation: Understanding New Media, Cambridge, MA: MIT University Press, 1999: 20-84.
N. Katherine Hayles, "Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis," Poetics Today, 25:1 (Spring, 2004): 67-90.
Watch: Ondi Timoner, We Live in Public, 2009, 90 min.
Lev Manovich, "What is New Media?" in The Language of New Media, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001: 18-55.
Henry Jenkins, "The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence," International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 2004, 33-43.
Watch: Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us (2007) Mark Wensch
New Interface Talks on TED: Anand Agarawala: BumpTop desktop (2007)
Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Photosynth (2007)
Johnny Lee: Wii Remote Hacks (2008)
Johnny Lee YouTube Video (2008)
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility," in The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2008, pp. 19-55.
Jacques Ranciére, "The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes: Emplotments of Autonomy and Heteronomy," New Left Review, 14 : March-April, 2002, pp. 133-151.
Watch: Everything Is A Remix, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (2015 REMASTER) Kirby Ferguson, 37 minutes.
Immanuel Kant, "Analytic of Aesthetic Judgement, Analytic of the Beautiful," Critique of Judgment, James Creed Meredith (trans.) Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 35-74
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Kant's Aesthetics and Teleology
Watch: (Re)Creativity: Remixing and Copyright (2007) Larry Lessig on TED
John Dewey, "The Act of Expression," and "The Expressive Object," in Art as Experience, Perigee Books, New York, NY, 1934, pp. 58-105.
Herbert Brün, "...to hold discourse-at least-with a computer..", 1973.
Herbert Brün, "The Listener's Interpretation of Music, 1970"
Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, New York; Semiotexte, 1983.
Teodor Adorno, "On the Fetish Character in Music and the Regression of Listening," in The Culture Industry, J. M. Bernstein (Ed.), New York: Routledge, 2001, pp. 29-60.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dewey's Aesthetics
Jonathan Sterne, "Audible Technique and Media," The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003: 137-177.<
Michael Taussig, "Physiognomic Aspects of Visual Worlds," in Lucien Taylor (ed.), Visualizing Theory: Selected Essays from V.A.R. 1990-1994, New York and London: Routledge, 1994: 205-213.
Torben Grodal, "Stories for the Eye, Ear, and Muscles: Video Games, Media, and Embodied Experiences," in The Video Game Theory Reader, Mark J. P. Wolf, and Bernard Perron (eds.), New York: Routledge, 2003: 129-155.
Hans Belting, "Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology," Critical Inquiry, vol 31 (Winter 2005): 302-319.
Bernadette Wegenstein, "The Medium is the Body," Getting Under the Skin: Body and Media Theory, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006: 119-162.
Listen: "Around the World On The Phonograph" Thomas Edison (1888)
"To President Benjamin Harrison" Lord Stanley (1888)
"The Electric Light Quadrille" Issler's Orchestra (1889)
"Message to Posterity" Florence Nightingale (1890)
"Personal Speech to the Future" P.T. Barnum (1890)
"Campaign Speech excerpt" Grover Cleveland (1892)
"Columbia Exposition March" Gilmore's Band (1893)
"The Star Spangled Banner" U.S. Marine Band (1895)
"Yazoo Dance" Sousa's Grand Concert Band (1895)
"Speech to the Republican Convention" William McKinley (1896)
"The Serenade" Vess L. Ossman (1897)
"Sentiments on the Cuban Question" Buffalo Bill Cody (1898)
Susan Sontag,"The Image-World," inOn Photography, New York: Picador, 1973: 153-180.
Gillian Rose, "Chapter 1," Visual Methods: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, London: SAGE, 2001, pp. 5-32.
Paul Virilio, "Cinema isn't I See, it's I Fly," in War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception, London: Verso, 1989: 11-30.
Guy Debord, "The Commodity as Spectacle," reprinted in Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, Eds., Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks, Rev. Ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001: 139-143.
Watch: La Société du Spectacle (1973)