Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2019

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus / Media Archaeology

    R1B - 004 | CCN: 22348

    Harry Burson

    4 Units

    T/TH 2:00 – 3:30PM, Wheeler 202; Screening Tu 5:00 – 8:00PM, Moffitt 103 ///

    In 1964, media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously proclaimed that the true “message” of any media technology is the change it introduces into the scale, pace, or pattern of human affairs. McLuhan’s widely influential ideas suggested that cultural history is determined by technological innovation, with new media continuously improving upon and replacing previous media forms. In the past decade, the field of media archaeology has challenged such progressivist, linear accounts of media history by emphasizing the speculative, forgotten, lost, or obscured.

    In this course, we will learn the methods of media archaeology to examine the history, ideology, and use of a variety of media. We will uncover changing conceptions of familiar technologies, exploring the anxiety and instability of new media at moments of emergence. As a class, we will consider how media archaeology can offer alternative understandings of history, power, and technology in contemporary society. Throughout the semester, we will read scholarly texts and historical documents in conjunction with the close analysis of films, television shows, and sound recordings that serve as case studies for our archaeologies of media.

    This course fulfills the second part of the Reading and Composition requirement, with an emphasis on research. Students will learn to generate research topics, locate and evaluate sources, and write analytical, original papers with arguments supported by those sources. Over the course of the semester, students will write two longer writing assignments: the Midterm Project and Final Project based on close readings of scholarly, historical, and filmic texts. By the end of the course, you should understand the key methodological assumptions of media archaeology; draw connections among our readings and case studies; conduct relevant research; create your own original arguments that address the larger themes of the course; and strengthen your writing by incorporating feedback from your classmates and instructor. This will help prepare you not only for writing in Film & Media and across the humanities, but also for critically engaging with the media you encounter every day.