MATX 602 (Schedule #17220)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Fall 2011
MW 5:30-6:45pm :: 330 Hibbs
Prof. David Golumbia
Office: 324D Hibbs Hall
Fall 2011 Office Hours: Weds 2-5pm

MATX Core Curriculum
History of Media, Art, and Text

This course examines the history of communication technologies in their social and cultural contexts, with an emphasis on the development of contemporary digital technologies and new media. Students will explore how the interactions between communication practices and technologies are related to institutions, identity formation, cultural values, social practices and economic conditions. Readings this semester will center around analytical histories of communication especially in their political and technological contexts (Innis, Carey, Mattelart, Boyle) and the ideas of information and new media (Gleick, Gitelman, Manovich, Kirschenbaum). Students will participate actively in discussion, offer topics for discussion periodically to the rest of the class, contribute to a group project on the histories of particular media, and write a final seminar paper.

Books (at VCU bookstore, but any new or used edition of these books is acceptable for class)

  1. Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (MIT, 2002)
  2. Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT Press, 2010)
  3. Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (MIT Press, 2006)
  4. James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Pantheon, 2011)
  5. James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale UP, 2010)
  6. Freidrich Kittler, Optical Media (Polity, 2007)

Articles and Book Chapters (mostly in Blackboard)

  1. Harold Innis, "The Bias of Communication" from The Bias of Communication, and "Parchment and Paper" from Empire and Communications
  2. James Carey, "Mass Communications and Cultural Studies," from Communication as Culture
  3. Armand Mattelart, "The Economy of Circulation" and "Symbolic Propagation" from The Invention of Communication
  4. Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How To Read Donald Duck
  5. John Guillory, "Genesis of the Media Concept," Critical Inquiry 36:2 (2010)

Assignments and Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on written exercises and course participation as follows:



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Important Dates

Important dates for the Fall 2011 semester are available at:

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Week-By-Week Syllabus

Week One. Information I

Week Two. Information II

Week Three. Information III

Week Four. Information IV

Week Five. The Newness of New Media

Week Six. New Old Media

Week Seven. Old New Media

Week Eight. No classes.

Week Nine. The Language of New Media

Week Ten. The Language of New Media

Week Eleven. No classes.

Week Twelve. Mechanisms

Week Thirteen. The Concept of Media

Week Fourteen. The Public Domain

Week Fifteen.Kittler, Optical Media

Final paper due in my English Dept mailbox (Hibbs Hall), or electronically through Blackboard or via email during the final exam period (5:30-6:45pm, Weds Dec 14) for this course. Electronic copies of final papers are fully acceptable. There is no other final exam for the course.

Last updated  November 17, 2011 .