Matthew C. Bellinger
Provides a comprehensive examination of the effects of new, digital media on interpersonal communication, media industries, and media culture. Emphasis on economic, social, political, and aesthetic implications. Provides limited experience with computer-based media. No prior technical computer experience assumed.
Today, new media are ubiquitous. We wake up to the sound of cell phone alarms, we read the news and check our credit card balances on electronic tablets, we meet romantic partners online, we stream movies via a TV WiFi connection, and so on. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to identify an area of everyday life untouched by new media.
So what does this ubiquity of new media mean for us? For our identities? Our relationships? Our societies? Part of this course will introduce you to some tentative answers to these questions. But because these answers are tentative, because the technologies, laws, cultures, and communities that structure our experience of new media are still in flux, this course also aims to help you to ask better questions about media. By training your ability to think critically about different media platforms, this course will better enable you to determine what’s at stake when new media technologies are introduced, to see how they may be different from older media, and to understand the common heritage they share with other media.
To this end, this course is divided into three sections. In the first section, we will sketch the historical and technical foundations of new media--in short, where they came from and how they work. In the section second, we will define new media conceptually, and build a “theoretical toolbox” of sorts, with which we can analyze specific media platforms. And finally, we will survey contemporary points of “indecision”--that is, points where new media are active in changing our identities, relationships, and societies, but where the final outcome is not yet clear.
Student learning goals
Understand what new media have in common with earlier media, and what distinguishes the former from the latter.
Analyze the ways in which a given media platform may influence and be influenced by social, political, and economic forces.
Identify key debates concerning the role of new media in contemporary society.
General method of instruction
Lectures and in-class discussion
Class assignments and grading