Digital Technology has profoundly influenced the ways we live, work and play. From the “disruptive innovations” of the sharing economy to workplace automatization, from social media to streaming entertainment, the standard narrative of new media and technologies tends to be aspirational: digital networks democratize access, increase efficiency and make life more convenient — in short, they change the world, usually for the better. But is the reality of this new technological world purely positive or does with it pose some problems as well?
In this course, we will practice the skills of college level writing and research by carefully questioning popular narratives of digital technology. Do the mass media make us into zombie consumers? Do social media cause isolation? Do search engine algorithms create filter bubbles that polarize culture? We will think about the role of mass media in the production of consuming subjects, of the representations of race, gender and sexuality in new media, of the nature and role of aesthetics and design in contemporary life.
This course will be a theoretical and hands-on approach to community-based research focused on a scholarly understanding of the production and collection of digital stories. The course will have three areas of study: theories of cultural agency and participatory cultures, a brief introduction to story-telling in 20 th and 21 st Centuries (from ‘testimonio’ to Digital Storytelling, podcasts, twitter and blogs) and the use of new media tools in academic-community collaborations. Students will learn how to design a community-based research project leading to the collection of digital stories with and in a particular community of interest. Students will complete weekly short digital stories in a variety of platforms, two written reports applying theories studied in class to the analysis of a digital story and a final project consisting of either creating a proposal for a community based project or critical considerations in the production and analysis of an original digital story. Some relevant authors to be studied in class will be Antonio Gramsci, Walter Benjamin, Paulo Freire, Roland Barthes, Rigoberta Menchú, Doris Sommer, Diana Taylor, Henry Jenkins, and John Beverley, among others.
This course will examine major trends in theories of new media, and some of the most common forms through which these media have been conceptualized. The concept of “New Media” is itself one that is constantly being defined and redefined; does thinking about the forms which new media have taken in popular and theoretical discourse help us to an understanding of what defines new media?
We will examine particular examples of new media forms – network, protocol, cyborg, and remediation – to consider the following questions: What are the forms of new media? Why have new media been conceptualized in these ways? What are the areas of intersection amongst these forms? How have these forms arisen, and what discourses have shaped them?
Our objects of study will draw from a broad range of new media, including digital images, social media, videogames, web applications, new media art.
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