Media Ecologies and Cultural Politics (last offered Spring 2013)
This seminar course presents an advanced introduction to media and cultural studies in the context of social, political, and environmental movements that make use of, and in the process transform, the new media environments in which social and political life increasingly takes place.
We will study debates in “media ecology” and the cultural politics of new/emergent media, from Marshall McLuhan’s notion of media as sensory extensions of humanity to theories of “media convergence” and of new media as open, dynamic, and complex networks. We will also study recent debates in cultural and political theory concerned with politics, democracy, and radical social change in a global and highly mediated world.
Drawing on this combination of theoretical resources, we will examine and assess media use in a range of contemporary social movements and phenomena. These may include the anti-corporate globalization (or “alter globalization”) movement, the Occupy movement, Wikileaks, the Arab Spring, backlash to the “Innocence of Muslims” film trailer, the climate justice movement, “tactical media” interventions such as “culture jamming” and “hacktivism,” and various forms of “ecomedia” and “biomedia” activism.
The course will not only be about media, and particularly “new media,” but will also make use of these media. Class activities will include analysis of media objects as well as applied media production projects (generally carried out in groups; collaboration will be a prominent focus of the class). Some class activities will be shared on a public blog forum and will be intended to contribute to the development of an Ecomedia Studies Lab at the University of Vermont. Students will therefore be encouraged to see their contributions as not merely class activities, but as also contributing to public discourse.
For complete syllabus, click here.