To call new media "new" is something of a misnomer; the Internet as we know it (meaning primarily the world wide web) has been around for over a dozen years, and that's only one of the more recent network protocols invented for computer-based communication. This course will serve as an introduction to the study of digital media, new and otherwise, with attention to the pre-history of the Internet systems we're now familiar with, the theoretical modes of reading that such technologies have helped give birth to, and the social and political effects that these technologies have had. Some of what we'll read will seem a bit dated, as the Internet has developed quickly over the last decade-plus, but all of it remains important for a well-grounded understanding of the development both of network technologies and of scholarly thought about those technologies.

This course has also been listed as a "transdisciplinary" course or t-course; I'll be giving you more information about what that means during the first week of classes


Reading responses and other blogging (20%): Before class each week, you will post a reading response to the class blog. Each of these responses should explore some critical question in the readings we discussed during the previous week, and should use a close reading -- with appropriate quotation, citation, and explication -- of the text to support its points. You can explore issues that were raised in class discussion, but you must significantly expand on that discussion and not simply rehash what's already been said. You can skip two of these reading responses with impunity. In addition to the weekly reading responses, you'll use the blog for more general discussion about issues that arise in or around our class. You will each be required to post at least once a week, aside from the reading responses; these posts can be either top-level discussion openers or substantive comments on other posts, including comments on your peers' reading responses. The point of the blog is to feed our discussions, and to help you generate ideas for the papers you'll be writing this semester; use your posts to test ideas out, to get feedback, and to practice your close readings.

Midterm Project (20%): For the midterm web project, each of you will write an 8 to 10 page critical analysis of a website, technology, or other digital media-based phenomenon of your choosing, using the critical texts that we have read to that point in the semester in order to facilitate and deepen your analysis. Your paper must be delivered electronically, in any form you see fit. More information about this project will follow.

Term Project (30%): Your primary work for the semester will be the team-based production of a substantive transdisciplinary research proposal for the study of digital media. Generic information about the assignment will be included with information about the "t-course" and its function; we'll hash out the particulars of the assignment as the semester progresses.

Class facilitation and final presentation (10% each): Each of you will be asked to lead the class during one session, facilitating our discussion of that day's reading by presenting a brief introduction to the material and leading our exploration through questions and examples. At the end of the semester, each of you will present the results of your term project to the class. This presentation will be brief but formal and extremely polished. Details to come.

Attendance and Participation (10%): Pretty self-explanatory, I'd think.


The following required books are available at Huntley or through Amazon:

Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds., The New Media Reader
David Trend, ed., Reading Digital Culture
Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media
Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation
Michele White, The Body and the Screen
Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes
David Silver and Adrienne Massanari, eds., Critical Cyberculture Studies
Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture

Other required readings will be made available on this website, as indicated in the schedule.


Jan 22: Introduction; Web 2.0
General course introduction
Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail"
(See also Anderson's blog, The Long Tail)
danah boyd, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites" [pdf]
danah boyd, "Facebook's 'Privacy Trainwreck'"
Patricia Lange, "Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube"
Jan 29: What Is New Media?
Janet Murray, "Inventing the Medium" (NMR)
Lev Manovich, "New Media from Borges to HTML" (NMR)
Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media
Feb 5: Historical Contexts
Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (NMR)
Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (NMR)
Norbert Wiener, "Men, Machines, and the World About" (NMR)< br/>
J. C. R. Licklider, "Man-Computer Symbiosis" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, "A File Structure for The Complex, The Changing, and the Indeterminate" (NMR)
Feb 12: Literary Contexts
Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths" (NMR)
Raymond Queneau, et al, "Six Selections by the Oulipo" (NMR)
Michael Joyce, afternoon (available on the computers in the English department library, Crookshank Hall)
George Landow, "Hypertext and Critical Theory" (RDC)
Espen Aarseth, "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory" (NMR)
Feb 19: Media Change
Marshall McLuhan, Two Selections (NMR)
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Constituents of a Theory of the Media" (NMR)
Jean Baudrillard, "Requiem for the Media" (NMR)
Raymond Williams, "The Technology and the Society" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, from Computer Lib / Dream Machines (NMR)
S Mar 1 Symposium: "Page, Screen, Pixel: Media in Transition"
Rose Hills Theater, Pomona College, 9am - 5pm
Mar 4: In-class workshop
Peer exchange and discussion of midterm project drafts
Mar 11: New Bodies
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto" (NMR)
Michele White, The Body and the Screen
Midterm project due

Mar 18: No class: Spring break
Mar 25: New Identities
Julian Dibbell, "A Rape in Cyberspace; or, How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society" (RDC)
Sherry Turkle, "Who Am We?" (RDC)
Laura Miller, "Women & Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier" (RDC)
Steve Silberman, "We're Teen, We're Queer, and We've Got E-mail" (RDC)
Lisa Nakamura, "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet" (RDC)
Cameron Bailey, "Virtual Skin: Articulating Race in Cyberspace" (RDC)
Apr 1: New Identities, cont.
Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes
Apr 8: New Communities
Howard Rheingold, "The Virtual Community" (RDC)
Guillermo Gomez-Pena, "The Virtual Barrio @ the Other Frontier" (RDC)
Avital Ronell, "A Disappearance of Community" (RDC)
Pew Internet & American Life Project, "The Strength of Internet Ties" and "Social Networking Sites and Teens"
Apr 15: New Disciplines
David Silver and Adrienne Massanari, eds., Critical Cyberculture Studies
Apr 22: The Networked Book
Mackenzie Wark, GAM3R 7H30RY
Apr 29: Convergence Culture
Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture
May 6: Final Presentations
Final presentations
Term project due