Approaches to Media Studies

Thursday, January 21st. Welcome to the Videodrome

• Course overview
• In-class film excerpt: David Cronenberg, Videodrome (1983)

Tuesday, Jan 26th.

• Ziauddin Sardar and Boris Van Loon, Introducing Media Studies, 3-47
• WJT Mitchell, "Addressing Media"

Thurs, Jan 28th. What Do We Mean by “Medium”?

• Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium Is the Message" (very brief excerpt)
• Dominic Boyer, "Understanding Media"
• Boltin and Grusin, Introduction and Chapter 1, Remediation
• Henry Jenkins, "Convergence Culture"

Tues, Feb 2. Historicizing Media

• Topic for Assignment #1: Due at the start of class, Feb. 9th
• Lisa Gitelman, "Media as Historical Subjects"
• Lisa Gitelman, "How Users Define New Media: A History of the Amusement Phonograph"
• Lev Manovich, "New Media from Borges to HTML"

Thurs, Feb 4. MEDIUM SPECIFICITY #1: Television

• Raymond Williams, Television, 44-71, 86-118
• Before class: watch an hour of television, on any network, and keep a log of everything you see (shows, commercials, public service announcements, weather advisories, etc.). Bring these observations to class. Note: Watching 60 minutes of a movie on HBO would not be the best way to pursue this assignment.

Tues, Feb 9. The Communication Revolution(s)

• Due: Assignment #1
• Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, 280-300
• William Burroughs, “The Invisible Generation”
• Iwan Rhys Morus, “The Nervous System of Britain: Space, Time, and the Electric Telegraph in the Victorian Age”

Thurs, Feb 11. MEDIUM SPECIFICITY #2: The Novel and Prosthesis

• Derrida, "That Dangerous Supplement"
• Samuel Richardson, selections from Pamela

Tues, Feb 16. Discussion and Presentations

Thurs, Feb 18. What Is Expression/Expressed? What Is “Content”?

• Paul Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, 147-173
• Jean Paul Lyotard, “Rules and Paradoxes and Svelte Appendix”

Tues, Feb 23. Intellectual Property

• Susan Meiselas and Joy Garnett, “On the Rights of Molotov Man: Appropriation and the Art of Context,” Harper’s, February 2007
• Brian Larkin, “Degraded Images, Distorted Sounds: Nigerian Video and the Infrastructure of Piracy”
• Prior to class, search for “Joywar” on Google Images. Be prepared to discuss three images that you found most interesting from this search.

• Note: The Edwards reading can be accessed as an electronic resource by searching for the title through the library catalog at

Thurs, Feb 25. MEDIUM SPECIFICITY #3: Media in Mali

• Frederick Cooper, “Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective”
• Charles H. Cutter, “The Politics of Music in Mali”
• Alioune Sow, Alternating Views: Malian Cinema, Television Serials, and Democratic Experience”

Tues, March 2. Discussion and Presentations

• Reminder: prior to class on March 4, you are to review two of the readings have done thus far, using the guidelines distributed in class. You must also write a response to a review written by a student outside your group; a different student should read and respond to your review. Bring both your reviews and the essays you reviewed to class with you on Thursday, March 4.
• Feel free to email the instructor if you have any questions.

Thurs, March 4. Peer review #1.

• We will discuss your review essays and your responses to each other’s essays in class today.

SPRING BREAK: 3/5 – 3/21

Tues, March 23. Power and Media

• Wendy Hiu Kyong Chun, “Control and Freedom”
• Stuart Hall, "Encoding/Decoding"
• Ben Bagdikian, "The Endless Chain"
• Sardar and Van Loon, Introducing Media Studies, 50-77

• Due: Final Project Proposal

• Note: You must attend one of two training sessions in Media Cloisters in order to complete the Ethnographic Video project:
o Wednesday March 24:
o Friday March 26:

Thurs, March 25. MEDIUM SPECIFICITY #4: Ethnographic Video

Tues, March 30. Video Presentations and Discussion

Thurs, April 1. Networks

• Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks
• Hardt and Negri, Multitude
• Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble”

Tues, April 5. The Audience

• Sut Jhally and Bill Livant, “Watching as Working: The Valorization of Audience Conscousness”
• Tiziana Terranova, “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy”
• Bob Garfield, “Inside the New World of Listenomics”

Thurs, April 8. MEDIUM SPECIFICITY #5: Computer Animation

• John Lasseter, "Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to 3D Computer Animation"
• Andy Darley, "Second Order Realism and Post-Modern Aesthetics in Computer Animation"
• Lev Manovich, "'Reality' effects in computer animation"
• Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, "The Illusion of Life"
• Note: You must attend the computer animation workshop on the weekend, time/place TBD.

Tues, April 13th. Group Computer Animation Project presentations

Thurs, April 15th. Media in the Long View

• Ian Svenonius, The Psychic Soviet

Tues, April 20th. Peer Review #2

• Due: discussion brief #2

Thurs, April 22nd. Recap and Discussion

Tues April 27, Thurs April 29, and May 4: Final Project Presentations

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