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MIT Introduction to Media Studies, Fall 2003


Highlights of this Course
A variety bibliography of all assigned readings, as well as books and articles on related topics is provided.

Course Description
Introduction to Media Studies is designed for students who have grown up in a rapidly changing global multimedia environment and want to become more literate and critical consumers and producers of culture. Through an interdisciplinary comparative and historical lens, the course defines "media" broadly as including oral, print, theatrical, photographic, broadcast, cinematic, and digital cultural forms and practices. The course looks at the nature of mediated communication, the functions of media, the history of transformations in media and the institutions that help define media's place in society.

Over the course of the semester we explore different theoretical perspectives on the role and power of media in society in influencing our social values, political beliefs, identities and behaviors. Students also have the opportunity to analyze specific media texts (such as films and television shows) and explore the meaning of the changes that occur when a particular narrative is adapted into different media forms. We look at the ways in which the politics of class, gender and race influence both the production and reception of media. To represent different perspectives on media, several guest speakers also present lectures. Through the readings, lectures, and discussions as well as their own writing and oral presentations, students have multiple opportunities to engage with critical debates in the field as well as explore the role of media in their own lives.

MIT Introduction to Literary Theory, Spring 2004


Highlights of this Course
This course includes a variety of readings, as well as a selection of sample assignments and exams.

Course Description
This subject focuses on the ways in which we read, providing an overview of some of the different strategies of reading, comprehending and engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century. The course is organised around specific theoretical paradigms. In each case our task will be, first, to work through the selected reading in order to see how it determines or defines the task of literary interpretation; second, to locate the limits of each particular approach; and finally, to trace the emergence of subsequent theoretical paradigms as responses to the achievements and limitations of what came before. The literary texts and films that accompany the theoretical material will serve as concrete cases that allow us to see theory in action. In general, then, each week we will pair a text or film with a particular interpretative approach, using the former to explore the strengths of the theoretical paradigm under discussion. Our task will not be to provide a definitive or full analysis of the literary or filmic work, but to exploit it to understand better theories of literary interpretation.

MIT Technology and Culture, Fall 2003


Course Description
This course examines relationships among technology, culture, and politics in a variety of social and historical settings ranging from 19th century factories to 21st century techno dance floors, from colonial Melanesia to capitalist Massachusetts. We organize our discussions around three broad questions, corresponding to three syllabus themes: What cultural effects and risks follow from treating biology as technology? How have computers and information technologies changed the ways we think about ourselves? How are politics built into the infrastructures within which we live? We will be interested in how technologies have been used both to facilitate and undermine relations of inequality, and in whether technology has produced a better world, and for whom.

Cultural History of Technology, Spring 2005


Highlights of this CourseThis course features a complete set of readings and lecture notes.

Course DescriptionThe subject of this course is the historical process by which the meaning of "technology" has been constructed. Although the word itself is traceable to the ancient Greek root teckhne (meaning art), it did not enter the English language until the 17th century, and did not acquire its current meaning until after World War I. The aim of the course, then, is to explore various sectors of industrializing 19th and 20th century Western society and culture with a view to explaining and assessing the emergence of technology as a pivotal word (and concept) in contemporary (especially Anglo-American) thought and expression.

MIT Social Theory and Analysis, Fall 2004


MIT The history of computing

MIT The Anthropology of Computing


Highlights of this Course
This course features notes for many of the lectures, plus a full bibliography in the readings section.

Course Description
This course examines computers anthropologically, as meaningful tools revealing the social and cultural orders that produce them. We read classic texts in computer science along with works analyzing links between machines and culture. We explore early computation theory and capitalist manufacturing; cybernetics and WWII operations research; artificial intelligence and gendered subjectivity; the creation and commodification of the personal computer; the hacking aesthetic; non-Western histories of computing; the growth of the Internet as a military, academic, and commercial project; the politics of identity in cyberspace; and the emergence of "evolutionary" computation

MIT Ethnography, Spring 2003


A bibliography of readings and an extensive reference list on ethnography are available for this course. In addition, all assignments and warm-up exercises are included.

Course DescriptionThis course is a practicum-style seminar in anthropological methods of ethnographic fieldwork and writing. Depending on student experience in ethnographic reading and practice, the course is a mix of reading anthropological and science studies ethnographies; and formulating and pursuing ethnographic work in local labs, companies, or other sites.

UC Berkeley. Foundations of American Cyber-Culture

"This new course will enable students to think critically about, and engage in practical experiments in, the complex interactions between new media and perceptions and performances of embodiment, agency, citizenship, collective action, individual identity, time and spatiality. We will pay particular attention to the categories of personhood that make up the UC Berkeley American Cultures rubric (race and ethnicity), as well as to gender, nation, and disability. The argument threading through the course will be the ways in which new media both reinforce pre-existing social hierarchies, and yet offer possibilities for the transcendence of those very categories. The new media -- and we will leave the precise definition of the new media as something to be argued about over the course of the semester -- can be yet another means for dividing and disenfranchising, and can be the conduit of violence and transnational dominance."
Instructor Name: Greg Niemeyer
Email: niemeyer@berkeley.edu
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