New Media Class, Sarah Lawrence College, NY

Course: New Media: In Theory and Practice
Instructor: Andy C. Deck, e-mail
1:30-3:00 M Th, Fall 1996

Course Description
This course aspires to subject the always-changing phenomena known as "new media" to scrutiny that is currently uncommon in popular press and periodicals. Readings will draw upon both visionary optimist and skeptical Luddite authors, media activists, the Web, and news media. Attempts will be made to juxtapose new and old media, their respective qualities, limitations, and myths. While it will be one of the objectives of the course to moor the extravagant claims of the techno-visionaries to more plausible, probable grounds, the course will also introduce the use of new media, which may lead to a certain "insider's enthusiasm" for the possibilities opening up in creative and communicative applications of technology. Evaluation of student performance will be based on writings and class participation. In order to receive an evaluation in this course each student must:

  • attend and participate in all classes and discussions
  • do all the readings
  • complete the writing assignment
  • attend conferences regularly

    35 pages. At least two of the essays must be 5 pages long, but otherwise you are free to write either brief or longer essays. I will ask that you do at least half of the writing before Thanksgiving break, so that I remain sane (?) for the holidays. Submit the writings to me on paper, for credit and revision suggestions; then submit them to the website (details to be given). Your audience is the 30 million people connected to the World Wide, so write with them in mind. Topics.

    Bill Gates "The Road Ahead" (excerpts)
    Dale Spender Nattering on the Net
    Joshua Ramo "Winner Take All" (Time magazine. Sept. 16, 1996)
    J. David Bolter Writing Space
    Martin Spinelli "Radio Lessons for the Internet"
    Carolyn Marvin When Old Technologies Were New
    Albert Borgman "Morals of Techology" Iaian A. Boal "Luddism and Virtual Technologies" (R. the V. Life)
    Jesse Drew "Media Activism and Radical Democracy" (R. the V. Life)
    Hans M. Enzensberger "Constituents of a Theory of the Media"
    Noam Chomsky Film: Manufacturing Consent
    Terry Gilliam Film: Brazil
    Walter Benjamin "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
    John Berger Ways of Seeing
    Penley & Ross Introduction to Technoculture
    Herbert I. Schiller Information Inequalities
    Lynn Spigel Introduction to Television by Raymond Williams
    Jerry Mander Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
    Neil Postman The Disappearance of Childhood
    Alan Aycock "E-mail Murders"
    Donna Haraway "A Cyborg Manifesto"