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CMST 2CC3 Human Communic:Past & Present

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Christina Baade

Email: baadec@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329A

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23736

Website:

Office Hours: 1:30-3:30 p.m., Wed.



Course Objectives:

Calendar Description: A survey of human communication throughout history and across cultures. This course will include discussions of orality and literacy; manuscript, print and electronic media; and human communication through visual images.

Specific Course Description: This course introduces students to the history and historiography of communications and media. At the most basic level, students will become familiar with the historical development of key media forms (including newspapers, radio, television, and the internet) with particular attention to the Canadian context. We will consider both how media technologies, systems, and content have been shaped by the societies in which they emerged and how they have impacted political, economic, and cultural life. 

At a deeper—and more crucial—level, students will gain an understanding of media and communication history, not as a stable narrative but as a contested field, in which scholars argue about how to interpret evidence about the past—as well as about what constitutes evidence in the first place. The aim is to develop the “cognitive habits” of what Lendol Calder calls “historical mindedness”: “questioning, connecting, sourcing, making inferences, considering alternate perspectives, and recognizing the limits to one’s knowledge” (2006). We will accomplish this aim in two main ways: 1) examining key theories and debates in the history of communication and media through readings, lectures, and discussions; and 2) learning about and practicing historical methodologies and skills in a series of assignments throughout the term.

Here are some of the key debates and skills we will examine this term:

  •  What is the difference between oral, literate, and electronic consciousness? What are the strengths and weaknesses of using this framework in historical analysis? 
  •  What is technological determinism? How has this concept shaped communications and media history? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this framework?
  •  Why do communication and media histories tend to focus on the nation-state? What does this focus reveal? What does it obscure?
  •  What is the relationship between concepts of “the public” and the development of media forms like newspapers and radio? 
  •  What are the differences between public service and commercial media? What role does this dichotomy play in media history, particularly in the context of modernity? What does this dichotomy reveal? What does it obscure?
  •  How do we account for multiple perspectives when researching media and communications history—especially given structural inequalities of race, class, and gender? How do we account historically for subjugated knowledge and the diverse experiences of people in disempowered groups?
  •  How do we ask good historical research questions?
  •  What is the difference between secondary and primary sources? How do we find them? How do we analyse them?
  •  What is historiography? How do we write a convincing historiography on a given topic?
  •  How can historical methods and orientations help us think more critically about “new” media?


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Robinson, Daniel. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. May be purchased at the McMaster University Campus Store.

Other course readings are available on Avenue to Learn.


Method of Assessment:

Evaluation (Grading)

Your grade will be based on the following:

5%    Library research skills module (due date: noon, Friday, 22 January)

10%    Assignment 1: Research question and annotated bibliography (due date: noon, Friday, 5 February)

10%    Assignment 2: primary source analysis (due date: noon, Friday, 26 February)

20%    Assignment 3: historiography (due date: noon, Friday, 18 March)

10%    Assignment 4: critical response (due date: noon, Friday, 8 April)

15%    Tutorial participation (due date: ongoing)

30%    Final exam (cumulative; to be scheduled by Registrar)

=100%

See http://registrar.mcmaster.ca/calendar/year2003/sec_109.htm for the grading scale.

 

Evaluation Components:

Library research skills module (5% of final grade)

All students are required to take the Introduction to McMaster Libraries & Basic Research Skills module on Avenue to Learn. It will introduce to you (or help you review) basic research skills and concepts that are essential for all of the assignments to be completed for this course. This module was developed by Dr. Karen Balcom to be used in several History Department courses, and she has made it available to this class. The module will take approximately 45 minutes to complete; it is followed by a quiz, which students must repeat taking until they receive a score of 8/10. After achieving this score, students will receive 5 percent of their mark. The quiz must be successfully completed by noon on Friday, 22 January.

Assignment 1: Research question and annotated bibliography (10% of final grade)

This is the first in a series of linked assignments for this course. It will consist of two versions of a research question, two bibliographic citations (following the Chicago Manual of Style) for peer reviewed sources, and a 250-word summary of each source. Your research question will need to address an aspect of the primary source collections on Avenue, and your sources should give you further insight into your research question, leading you to revise you research question (this will be the second version of your question). We will cover how to develop a good research question in lecture and tutorial; the library skills module will provide you with guidance on how to access high quality peer-reviewed research. For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 5 February.

Assignment 2: Primary source analysis (10% of final grade)

This is the second in a series of linked assignments for this course. It will consist of two versions of a research question, two bibliographic citations (following Chicago Manual of Style) for two primary sources (drawn from the source collections on Avenue), and a 300-word analysis of each source. You should begin with a restatement of your ending research question from Assignment 1 and end with a revised version of the research question, reflecting what you learned in your primary source analysis. We will cover how to analyze a primary source in lecture and tutorial. For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 26 February.

Assignment 3: Historiography (20% of final grade)

This is the third in a series of linked assignments for this course. It will consist of an introduction (200-300 words) and a short essay (1000-1250 words) that critically analyzes three peer-reviewed secondary sources related to your research question. The introduction should explain the context and significance of the final version of your research question and offer a tentative answer to the question. The essay should compare, contrast, and connect the three sources (if still relevant, you may use sources that you cited in assignment 1; it should include a full bibliographic citation for each source (following Chicago Manual of Style). We will cover the concept of historiography and the components of good historiographic writing in lecture and tutorial. For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 18 March.

Assignment 4: Critical response (10% of final grade)

For this assignment, students will write a critical response of 700-900 words on one of the following articles: Cayce Myers and James F. Hamilton’s “Social Media as Primary Source” (2014) or Marquard Smith’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (2013). The critical response should briefly summarize the main arguments of the article and assess its strengths and weaknesses. You should take a stand about the article: what do you agree with and why? What do you disagree with and why? What are the most significant insights that the article offers? (Use of the first person is acceptable in this assignment.) The strongest responses will have a clear, arguable thesis and will draw connections between the article and course themes and concepts (ideally, it will cite other course readings). It should use in-text citation and include a full bibliographic citation for each source cited (following the Chicago Manual of Style). For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 8 April.

Attendance and participation (15% of final grade)

The tutorials are critical component of this class; you will gain a deeper understanding of the readings and topics covered in lecture, learn skills you will use in the assignments, and obtain guidance on the assignments and other aspects of the class. Therefore, attendance and participation is required. Participation means coming to class ready to contribute to discussion, having read the week’s assignment. Please bring your textbook, reading printouts, and reading notes to every class (reading notes should include key points from the texts, bullet points about the strengths and weaknesses of the article, and any questions you have arising from the reading). Participation marks may include reading quizzes and group work. Tardiness, absences, and counterproductive behavior (including using laptops, smartphones, etc. in ways not related directly to what is happening in class) will have a negative effect upon this grade. If you have a learning disability or other issue that makes participation in class discussion a problem for you, please bring this to the instructor’s attention early in the semester.

Final exam (30% of final grade)

The final exam will help you reflect on the semester’s readings, lectures, discussions, and assignments. It will be in multiple-choice format.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

All assignments are due on the due date indicated in the syllabus. Any submission after that date will mean that the assignment is late. However, assignments will be accepted after the due date for up to one week without any penalty. No assignments will be accepted later than one week. You should do everything in your power to get your assignment in by the due date; the one-week grace period is to allow you to complete your assignments should you have minor medical situations or family issues. Please note that MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the one week grace period.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.


Topics and Readings:

LECTURE SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS

(May be subject to change)

 

Week 1: Introduction

1/6: Class expectations, objectives, and themes

 

Week 2: What is Communications/Media History? 

1/11: What is communications history? What is media history?

1/13: History as contestation; historical methods and theories

 

Readings:

On Avenue:

Zelizer, Barbie. Excerpt from “When Disciplines Engage.” In Explorations in Communication and History. Ed. Barbie Zelizer, 2-6. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Gitelman, Lisa. Excerpt from “Introduction: Media as Historical Subjects,” 1-12, 157-59. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006.

 

Week 3: Orality and Literacy

1/18: Orality and literacy: standard accounts

1/20: Orality and literacy: some critiques

    

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section I, 1-4

Walter J. Ong, “Some Psychodynamics of Orality,” 5-9

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, “The Rise of the Reading Public,” 16-20

Marshall McLuhan, “Radio: The Tribal Drum,” 44-49

Gerald Friesen, “Interpreting Aboriginal Cultures,” 21-29

On Avenue:

Excerpt from Sterne, Jonathan. “The Theology of Sound: A Critique of Orality.” Canadian Journal of Communication 36 (2011): 208-13, 219-22.

 

     Library research skills module: complete by: noon, Friday, 22 January

 

Week 4: Communication and the Nation

1/25: Time, space, and conceptualizing a nation

1/27: Early networks: the postal service; formulating a good research question

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introductions to Section II and III: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Harold A. Innis, from Empire and Communications, 35-39

Maurice Charland, “Technological Nationalism,” 50-61

Brian Osborne and Robert Pike, “Lowering ‘the Walls of Oblivion’: The Revolution in Postal Communications in Central Canada, 1851-1911,” 71-79

On Avenue:

“How to Write a Research Question.” From Assets Coming Together for Youth, York University. Accessed 31 December 2015. www.yorku.ca/act/CBR/ResearchQuestionInfoSheet.doc.

 

Week 5: Newspapers

10/5: Imagining the nation: newspapers as a public service

10/7: The rise of advertising: newspapers and mass culture

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section IV: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Jeffrey L. McNairn, “‘The Most Powerful Engine of the Human Mind’: The Press and Its Readers,” 128-39

Minko Sotiron, “Public Myth and Private Reality,” 140-49

Russell Johnston, “Newspapers, Advertising, and the Rise of the Agency, 1850-1900,” 150-61

Daniel J. Robinson, “Marketing Gum, Making Meanings: Wrigley in North America,” 162-68

 

 Assignment 1 due: noon, Friday, 5 February

 

 

Week 6: Networks at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century

2/8: Primary source interpretation

2/10: Telegraphs and telephones

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section III: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Dwayne Winseck, “Back to the Future: Telecommunications, Online Information Services, and Convergence, 1896-1910,” 80-93

Michèle Martin, “Communication and Social Forms: The Development of the Telephone, 1876-1920,” 94-104

On Avenue:

Sterne, Jonathan. “Rearranging the Files: On Interpretation in Media History.” The Communication Review 13 (2010): 75-87.

 

Reading week, 15-19 February: NO CLASS

 

Week 7: Radio

2/22: Key themes in radio history

2/24: Radio in Canada

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section V: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Mary Vipond, “Who Is to Pay for Broadcasting?” 198-206

Robert W. McChesney, “Graham Spry and Public Broadcasting,” 207-16

Jeff A. Webb, “Constructing Community and Consumers: Joseph R. Smallwood’s Barrelman Radio Program,” 217-27

On Avenue:

Hilmes, Michele. Excerpt from “Introduction: The Nation’s Voice,” xiii-xvii. In Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

 

 Assignment 2 due: noon, Friday, 26 February

 

Week 8: Broadcasting in the 1950s 

2/29: Historiography: the problem of radio in the 1950s

3/2: Television culture, audiences, and feminist history

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section IV: read the paragraph relevant to the assigned reading

Valerie J. Korinek, “‘Mrs Chatelaine’ vs Mrs Slob’: Contestants, Correspondents, and the Chatelaine Community in Action, 1961-1969,” 177-89

On Avenue:

 “How to Write a Historiography.” Online History Workbook. Trent University. Accessed 31 December 2015. https://www.trentu.ca/history/workbook/historiography.php.

Wang, Jennifer Hyland. Excerpts from “‘The Case of the Radio-Active Housewife’: Relocating Radio in the Age of Television,” 343-45, 350-66. In Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio. Ed. Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Spigel, Lynn. Excerpts from Introduction, 1-9, and “Television in the Family Circle,” 36-50. Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

 

Week 9: Before CanCon: Culture Industries in Canada

3/7: Television and magazines in Canada

3/9: Film in Canada

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introductions to Sections IV, V, and VI: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Peter Desbarats, “The Special Role of Magazines in the History of Canadian Mass Media and National Development,” 169-76

David Hogarth, “Public-Service Broadcasting as a Modern Project: A Case Study of Early Public-Affairs Television in Canada,” 228-37

Paul Rutherford, “‘And Now a Word from Our Sponsor,’” 238-44

Zoë Druick, “The National Film Board and Government,” 259-65

Ted Magder, “A ‘Featureless’ Film Policy: Culture and the Canadian State,” 272-281

 

Week 10: CanCon and (Anglophone) Music

3/14: NO CLASS

3/16: Canadian music industries and policy

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introductions to Sections V and VI: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned readings

Will Straw, “The English-Canadian Recording Industry since 1970,” 169-76

Ira Wagman, “Rock the Nation: MuchMusic, Cultural Policy, and the Development of English-Canadian Music Video Programming, 1979-1984,” 245-54

 

 Assignment 3 due: noon, Friday, 18 March

 

Week 11: Web Histories

3/21: The early internet

3/23: What was Web 2.0? 

 

Readings:

Textbook:

Introduction to Section III: read the paragraphs relevant to the assigned reading

Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, “From the World Brain to the World Wide Web,” 105-16

Heather Menzies, “Behind the Silicon Curtain: Perception Management and the Adjustment Agenda,” 117-22

On Avenue:

 Allen, Matthew. “What was Web 2.0? Versions as the Dominant Mode of Internet History.” New Media & Society 15 (2012): 260-75. 

 

Week 12: History and New(?) Media

3/28: How to write a critical response; challenges and promises in digital history

3/30: digital archives

 

Readings:

On Avenue:

 Myers, Cayce and James F. Hamilton. “Social Media as Primary Source: The Narrativization of Twenty-first-century Social Movements.” Media History 20 (2014): 431-44. 

Smith, Marquand. “Theses on the Philosophy of History: The Work of Research in the Age of Digital Searchability and Distributability.” Journal of Visual Culture 12 (2013): 375-403. 

 

Week 13: Conclusions

4/4: Conclusions: so what? who cares?

4/6: Review

 

 Assignment 4 due: noon, Friday, 8 April

 

 Final exam to be scheduled by the Registrar

 


Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn: This course has an Avenue to Learn site, where you will be required to submit your assignments and learn about class updates and resources. You can log in at http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/.

McMaster Policy for Courses with an On-line Element:
“In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.”

 

Discussion: We will be discussing challenging and potential controversial material this semester. Everyone deserves to participate in a respectful class environment. If you have any concerns, please contact me.

 

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities: 

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities Language for Course Outlines:

    “Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities: http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicAccommodation-StudentsWithDisabilities.pdf.”

If you have a learning or other disability requiring assistance or accommodation, or if you have questions related to any accommodations, please communicate this to me as soon a possible.