COMM 6341 - Topics in Mass Communication Scholarship

This class will trace the development of the Internet into the communications medium we use today, exploring the evolving relationship between the physical and the digital worlds as well as the competing pulls of centralization and decentralization. Though the class is primarily focused on the United States, there will be just enough readings about other countries to get a glimpse of how networks are embedded in national cultures (Mailland, Minitel (2017) and Peters How not to network a nation (2016). Topics range from network design through mobility and connectivity via social networks to trolls and the dark web. By the end of this class, you'll be familiar with studies that have represented a starting point for analysis in several different types of inquiries (e.g. Benkler The Wealth of Networks (2006), Turner From counterculture to cyberculture (2010), Abbate Inventing the Internet (1999), Van Dijck The culture of connectivity (2013) or Agar Constant touch: the global history of the mobile phone (2003/2013). In addition to the topical content, we’ll use the class material to explore the way different types of history (political, social, cultural, technological) are written and seek general patterns that transcend individual cases. You’ll write reaction papers and a research paper/create a digital product. The class qualifies for Digital Humanities credit.
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