Author Video

Franzen’s promotional video for his new novel Freedom offers a commentary on the form of the literary promotional video.  A good example of new media reflecting on its own status as new.



New Media (JMC 860)

Fall 2010, Fridays 9:30-12:10, MER 347

Prof. Michael Z. Newman JOH 127 229-1133

Office hours: MW 1:30-2:30 or by appointment

This course considers the emergence of new media technologies in historical and social contexts. It begins with the assumption that the term new media must be understood to include all media as emergent phenomena; any medium was new once. Our understanding of new media as a term describing recent and contemporary digital and networked technologies should benefit from an understanding of the long history of new technologies of communication.

The course also considers how existing media change to adapt to innovations in technology, such that an old medium like television can be approached as a form of new media when it develops new technologies such as digital sets and recording devices. We will approach new media as a way of understanding both emergent and developing technologies.

One special focus of the course will be on television as new media in all of the senses above. But in addition to television, we will consider writing and print, the telegraph and telephone, cinema, radio, and computer technologies including contemporary online cultures and the convergence of media technologies and experiences. Students are encouraged to research any of these media or other communication technologies for their papers.

This course blog will be a utility for all participants in the seminar to use. Anyone may post to the blog at any time. Weekly reading questions are to be posted in advance of each week’s seminar. Seminar participants are invited to post their work for the course to the blog. Students are recommended to check the blog regularly. One good way of doing this is by subscribing in an RSS reader such as Google Reader. Everyone in the seminar must have successfully become a member of the blog during the first week of class (you will get an email invitation to join).

Course assignments:

-Reading questions posted to the course blog, to be done twice during the semester worth 10% (5% for each) due at 5 pm Thursday before class (dates to be assigned at first class meeting). These questions should be brief and succinct but substantial, about 300 words total for two or three questions. Seminar participants are expected to have read these questions by the time of the seminar meeting.

Historical research project worth 20% due October 4, 5 pm. This assignment has flexible expectations and can be done in any appropriate medium, such as print, blog entry, audio recording, video, or slideshow. The only requirements are that the project consider the history of a media technology using historical evidence (not secondary sources alone) and that it be shared with the whole seminar. You are encouraged to work in a medium you find unfamiliar and to reflect on your experience with this new technology if you think it is interesting or relevant.

-Book review 1000-1500 words worth 20% due November 1, 5 pm. For this assignment at least three seminar members will read the same book and read each other’s reviews in advance of the meeting on November 5, when each group will have a roundtable discussion. A list of suggested titles will be circulated in advance of this assignment.

-Final research paper minimum 3200 words (“conference paper length”) worth 40% due December 15. Research to be presented at project roundtable discussions clustered by topics, December 10. Annotated bibliography of minimum 5 secondary sources (10% of the paper grade) due November 22.

-Attendance & participation 10%

Schedule of meetings and assignments:

Sept 3 Course Introduction: Baym, Ong, Peters

Sept 10 Theorizing Medium, Technology & Culture: McLuhan

Sept 17 Telegraph & Telephone: Carey, Czitrom ch. 1, Fischer, Martin

Sept 24 Cinema & Radio: Boddy ch. 1-2; Czitrom ch. 2, 3, 6

Oct 4 project due

Oct 8 Television I: Williams, Kompare

Oct 15 Television II: Spigel

Oct 22 Television III: Boddy (introduction + remaining chapters)

Oct 29 Television IV: Newman/Levine

Nov 1 book review due

Nov 5 Book Club

Nov 12 Ever Newer New Media: Bolter and Grusin

Nov 19 Convergence: Jenkins

Nov 22 annotated bibliography due

Dec 3 Remix Culture: Lessig

Dec 10 Final Paper Roundtables

Dec 15 final paper due

Readings (books have been ordered at the UWM Bookstore and will also be on 2-hour reserve; shorter readings are available on electronic course reserve from the campus library):

Nancy Baym, “Making New Media Make Sense,” Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Polity, 2010), 22-49.

William Boddy, New Media and Popular Imagination: Launching Radio, Television, and Digital Media in the United States (Oxford, 2004).

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 2000).

James W. Carey, “Technology as Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph,” Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (Routledge, 1992), 201-230.

Daniel J. Czitrom, Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan (North Carolina, 1982).

Claude S. Fischer, “Personal Calls, Personal Meanings,” America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940 (California, 1992), 222-254.

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide Rev. ed. (NYU, 2008).

Derek Kompare, “Publishing Flow: DVD Box Sets and the Reconception of Television,” Television & New Media 7 (2006), 335-360.

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Penguin, 2008).

Elana Levine, “Distinguishing Television: The Changing Meanings of Television Liveness,” Media Culture & Society 30 (2008), 393-409.

Michèle Martin, “The Culture of the Telephone,” in Patrick D. Hopkins (ed.), Sex/Machine: Readings in Culture, Gender and Technology (Indiana, 1989), 50-74.

Marshall McLuhan, The Essential McLuhan (Basic, 1996).

Michael Z. Newman, “New Media, Young Audiences, and Discourses of Attention: From Sesame Street to ‘Snack Culture’” Media Culture & Society 32 (2010), 582-596.

Michael Z. Newman and Elana Levine, work in progress TBA.

Walter J. Ong, “Writing Restructures Consciousness,” Orality and Literacy, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2002), 78-116.

Benjamin Peters, “And Lead Us Not Into Thinking the New is New: a Bibliographic Case for New Media History” New Media & Society 11 (2009), 13-30.

Lynn Spigel, Make Way for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America (Chicago, 1992).

Raymond Williams, Television: Technology and Cultural Form (Routledge, 2003).