Syllabus Spring 2014

JAMS 855 Topics in New Media

Spring 2014: “Old Media as New Media”

Prof. Michael Newman

Bolton Hall 572

229-1133 office/418-8787 mobile

Office Hours: Wednesday 3-5 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 is concerned with the renewal of media, as technological change produces new meanings and identities for familiar objects. The course name, “Old Media as New Media,” indicates an attempt to see media that we now regard as old, such as the printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, cinema, television, and even the internet, through fresh eyes.


1. A reading response of 1000-1500 words to be shared with the class a day before the seminar meeting, 10%

2. A book review of 2000-2500 words, 15%

3. Participation, 15%

4. A research paper of 5000-7500 words, 60%, of which 10% (i.e., 6% of final grade) will be for the proposal.


January 24 Course Introduction: Baym, Peters, Wheeler

January 31 From Oral to Electronic (Writing, Printing, Electronic Media): Ong, McLuhan x2

February 7 Communication and Transportation (Telegraphy, Broadcasting): Carey, Czitrom ch. 1, Popp

February 14 Old and New Technology: Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New

February 21 Telephony: Fischer, Martin

February 28 Radio and Cinema: Boddy ch. 1, 2; Czitrom ch. 2, 3

March 7 Television I: Williams, Television: Technology and Cultural Form

March 14 Television II: Boddy, introduction and remaining chapters PAPER PROPOSAL due

— Spring Break —

March 28 Social Media: Marwick, Status Update BOOK REVIEW due

April 4 Theorizing Communication: Czitrom, ch. 4-6

April 11 Theorizing Technology: Pinch & Bijker, Kline & Pinch, Silverstone & Haddon

April 18 Medium vs. Technology: Newman, Carey & Quirk

April 25 Conferences, no class

May 2 Show & Tell, final class meeting

Monday, May 12 FINAL PAPER due


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).

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

James W. Carey and John J. Quirk, “The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution,” in James W. Carey, Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (Routledge, 1992), 113-141.

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

Claude S. Fischer, “The Telephone in America” and “Personal Calls, Personal Meanings,” America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940 (California, 1992), 33-59; 222-254.

Ronald Kline and Trevor Pinch, “Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States,” Technology and Culture 37 no. 4 (1996), 763-795.

Marshall McLuhan, “The Playboy Interview”.

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

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

Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking about Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 1988).

Alice Marwick, Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age (New Haven: Yale UP, 2013).

Michael Z. Newman, Video Revolutions: On the History of a Medium (Columbia UP, 2014).

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.

Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker, “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other,” Social Studies of Science 14 no. 3 (1984), 399-441.

Richard Popp, “Machine-Age Communication: Media, Transportation, and Contact in the Interwar United States,” Technology and Culture 52 no. 3 (2011), 459-484.

Roger Silverstone and Leslie Haddon, “Design and the Domestication of Information and Communication Technologies: Technical Change and Everyday Life,” in Robin Mansell and Roger Silverstone (eds.), Communication By Design: The Politics of Information and Communication Technologies (Oxford UP, 1996), 44-74.

Tom Wheeler, Net Effects: The Past, Present, and Future Impact of our Networks (Amazon Digital Services, 2013).

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


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