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CMST 4M03 Comm,Cult,Tech

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andrea Zeffiro

Email: zeffiroa@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 307

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23503


Office Hours: Wednesday 12-2

Course Objectives:

This course surveys social patterns of reception and adaptation of communication technologies and their interaction with cultural constructions of (gendered) bodies, everyday life, organization of space and time, and other cultural distinctions. Key concepts, themes and debates informing contemporary media technologies are framed historically.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course materials are available via Avenue to Learn.  Some readings may be accessed through a link provided or as a pdf, and others will require that you log on through the library system in order to access the journal.

Method of Assessment:

Assignment guidelines will be provided at the start of the semester and posted to Avenue to Learn. Due dates are posted below.

Participation (20%)                             DUE: Weekly

Discussion and group work is central to this course. Students are expected to attend class regularly. Attendance and participation mean coming to class having read the assigned readings, contributing to class discussions, and participating in class exercises and group work. Absenteeism, chronic lateness and non-participation will affect the final grade.

Group Presentation (15%)                  DUE: Weekly Schedule (T.B.D. week 1)

Group presentations will consist of an oral presentation. Each week, a group of 3-4 students will lead and moderate a discussion on the readings. Each group will submit a one-page summary of their presentation topic. The guidelines for group presentations will be provided during the first class and discussed at length.

Paper Proposal (20%)                         DUE: Workshop October 21st / Final October 29th

Students will submit an essay proposal outlining the scope of their intended research. The proposal will include a preliminary thesis and a bibliography with at least 5 scholarly sources. On October 21st, students will bring 2 copies of their draft proposal to class for peer review. Final proposals will be due at the start of class on October 29th. The guidelines for the paper proposal will be provided at the start of the semester.

Symposium Presentation (15%)        DUE: November 25th / December 2nd

Students will present to the class a conference-style version of their research paper on November 25th or December 2nd.  The symposium schedule will be organized thematically and students will be grouped into panels. A brief discussion period will follow each panel. The guidelines for the symposium presentation will be provided at the start of the semester.

Research Paper (30%)                         DUE: December 9th

Students will produce a scholarly research paper on a topic that falls within the parameters of the course. The guidelines for the research paper will be provided at the start of the semester and discussed at length in class.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments

Assignments are due at the start of class on the due date (unless otherwise noted). Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day, including weekends and holidays. Assignments not handed in within one week (7 days) of the due date will receive a 0 grade. E-mailed assignments will not be accepted. Extensions will be given only for documented reasons. A technical difficulty (network outages, hardware or software malfunctions, data loss) does not warrant an extension. Please keep this in mind. Plan accordingly and maintain back-up copies of work.

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:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - Introduction to the Course

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - Communication + Culture + Technology

Nardi, Bonnie A., & O’Day, Vicki L. (1999). A matter of metaphor: Technology as tool, text, system, ecology. Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart. (pp. 25-48). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Mosco, Vincent. (2004). When old myths were new: The ever-ending story. The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. (pp.117-140). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Balsamo, Anne. (2011). Gendering the technological imagination. Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work. (pp.27-50). Durham: Duke University Press.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - THE WIRED WORLD I - The Telegraph

Carey, James. (1989). Technology and ideology: The case of the telegraph. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. (pp.201-230). Boston: Unwin Hyman.

McLuhan, Marshall. (1964; 1994). Telegraph: The social hormone. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. (pp. 246-257). Cambridge & London: The MIT Press.

Downey, Gregory J. (2002). The limits of gender, class, and age. Telegraph Messenger Boys: Labor, Technology, and Geography, 1850-1950. (pp.105-125). New York: Routledge.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - THE WIRED WORLD II – The Internet

Pallen, Mark. (1995, November 25). Introducing the Internet. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 311 (7017), 1422-1424.

Shapiro, Andrew L. (1999). The Internet. Foreign Policy, 115, 14-27.

Wajcman, Judy. (2006). TechnoCapitalism meets TechnoFeminism: Women and technology in a wireless world. Labour & Industry, 16(3), 7-20.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - ORAL/AURAL-ITY II - Radio

Craig, Douglas B. (2008). Radio, modern communication media and the technological sublime. The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media, 6 (2&3), 129-143.

Heyer, Paul. (2003). America under attack I: A reassessment of Orson Welles’ 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast. Canadian Journal of Communication, 28, 149-165.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - ORAL/AURAL-ITY II - Podcasting

Berry, Richard. (2006). Will the iPod kill the radio star? Profiling podcasting as radio. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 12(2), 143-162.

Sterne, Jonathan, et al. (2008). The politics of podcasting. The Fibreculture Journal, 13.

Weiner, J. (2014, December 14). The voices: Towards a critical theory of podcasting. Slate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - SCREENS I - Television

Williams, Raymond. (1975). The technology and the society. Television. (pp.9-31). New York: Schocken Books.

Spigel, Lynn. (1988). Installing the television set: Popular discourses on television and domestic space, 1948-1955. Camera Obscura, 16(1), 9-46

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - SCREENS II - Netflix

Auletta, Ken. (2014, February 3). Netflix and the future of television. The New Yorker.

Lapowsky, Issie. (2014, May 19). What television will look like in 2025, according to Netflix. Wired.

Hallinan, Blake., & Striphas, Ted. (2014). Recommended for you: The Netflix Prize and the production of algorithmic culture. New Media & Society, 1-21.

Marx, Nick. (2015, April 21). Industry lore and algorithmic programming on Netflix. Flow, 21(6).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - MOBILITY I – The Automobile

Volti, Rudi. (1996). A century of automobility. Technology and Culture, 37(4), 663-685.

Rockwell, Margaret T. (2009). The facelift and the wrecking ball: Urban renewal and Hamilton’s King Street West, 1957-1971. Urban History Review, XXXVII (2), 53-61.

Bilger, Burkhard. (2013, November 25). Auto correct: Has the self-driving car at last arrived? The New Yorker.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - MOBILITY II – The Mobile Phone

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Making voice portable: The early history of the cell phone. Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life. (pp.19-40). London: Routledge.

Arceneaux, Noah. (2005). The world is a phone booth: The American response to mobile phones, 1981-2000. Convergence, 11, 23-31.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - SYMPOSIUM

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - SYMPOSIUM