CMST 3HC3 History of Communication
Academic Year: Winter 2018
Instructor: Dr. Christina Baade
Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329A
Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23736
Office Hours: 2:30-4:30, Wednesdays
- Course Objectives
- Textbooks, Materials & Fees
- Method of Assessment
- Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties
- Additional Policies and Statements
- Topics and Readings
- Other Course Information
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 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 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 difference between oral, literate, and electronic consciousness? What are the strengths and weaknesses of using this framework in historical analysis?
--> 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:
All readings and other course materials are available on Avenue to Learn.
Method of Assessment:
Your grade will be based on the following:
15% Tutorial attendance and participation (due date: ongoing)
10% Assignment 1: Research question and annotated bibliography (due date: noon, Friday, 2 February)
10% Assignment 2: Primary source analysis (due date: noon, Friday, 2 March)
20% Assignment 3: Historiography (due date: noon, Friday, 23 March)
10% Assignment 4: Media history timeline (due date: noon, Friday, 28 March)
10% Midterm exam (covering weeks 1–5; in class: Wednesday, 14 February)
25% Final exam (cumulative; to be scheduled by Registrar)
See http://registrar.mcmaster.ca/calendar/year2003/sec_109.htm for the grading scale.
Tutorial 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 downloaded readings/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.
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 and how to access high quality peer-reviewed research in lecture and tutorial. For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Electronic submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 2 February; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 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 the 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. Electronic submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 2 March; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 5 March.
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. Electronic submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 23 March; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 26 March.
Assignment 4: Media History Timeline (10% of final grade)
For this assignment, teams of 2–3 students will create a timeline of 12 to 20 slides on TimelineJS (https://timeline.knightlab.com) that communicates a narrative for a media technology (e.g., the telegraph), media form (e.g., advertising), media organization (e.g., the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), policy (e.g., CanCon), or media work by a particular group (e.g., African American newspapers). The topic should relate to at least one course reading, but groups are encouraged to conduct additional research using peer-reviewed secondary sources. The best timelines will demonstrate the significance of an aspect of media history; present a clear chronology; utilize visual, textual, and (if applicable) sound/video materials; and provide accurate citations for all sources. Each group should submit a link to its timeline and spreadsheet; a downloaded copy of the spreadsheet; a 500-word essay discussing their narrative focus and choices; and a complete bibliography (following the Chicago Manual of Style). For more information on this assignment, please see the guidelines on Avenue. Electronic submission due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 28 March; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 2 April.
Midterm exam (10% of final grade)
The midterm exam will help you reflect on the readings, lectures, discussions, and assignments for the first part of the course. It covers material from weeks 1–5 and will be administered during class on Wednesday, 14 February. The midterm exam will include multiple choice, short answer, and short essay questions.
Final exam (25% of final grade)
The final exam will help you reflect on the semester’s readings, lectures, discussions, and assignments. It is cumulative and will be scheduled and administered by the Registrar. The final exam will include multiple choice, short answer, and short essay questions.
Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:
Policy on missed work, extensions, and late penalties: All assignments are due on the electronic due date indicated in the syllabus (i.e., the date and time deadline for submitting the electronic copy to Avenue Dropbox). Any submission after that date will mean that the assignment is late. However, assignments will be accepted after the electronic due date for up to one week without any penalty; this applies to both electronic and hard copy versions of the assignment. No assignments will be accepted later than one week after the electronic due date. 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.
Policy on the midterm exam: There will be no makeup midterm exam; instead, the final exam will be reweighted to 35% of the final grade. Because the final exam is cumulative, students who take both the midterm and final exams will be awarded whichever is higher: their score on the midterm or their score on the 40% of the final exam covering weeks 1 to 5. (The change will be made to the midterm mark if the final exam mark is higher; the change will be made to the 40% of the final exam covering weeks 1–5 if the midterm mark was higher.)
Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:
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:
- Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
- Improper collaboration in group work.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: Why Study Media History?
Topics: Course expectations, objectives, and themes; what is media history?; historical methods; primary and secondary sources
Godfrey, Donald G. “Editor’s Note: Why Teach Historiography or Study Media History?” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 5, no. 3 (2007): 405–9. (Wednesday, 10 January)
Gitelman, Lisa. Excerpt from “Introduction: Media as Historical Subjects,” 1–8, 157–58. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. (Wednesday, 10 January)
Week 2: Newspapers: Publics, Counterpublics, and Democracy
Topics: Nineteenth-century newspapers and reading publics; case study: the African American press; secondary sources: what is peer-reviewed research, and how do I find it?
McNairn, Jeffrey L. Excerpt from “‘The Most Powerful Engine of the Human Mind’: The Press and Its Readers” (2000), 128–39. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Monday, 15 January)
Washburn, Patrick S. “The Early Black Press,” 11–37, 208–12. The African American Newspaper: Voice of Freedom. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2006. (Wednesday, 17 January)
Douglass, Frederick. “Our Paper and Its Prospects.” The North Star, December 3, 1847. From Documenting the American South. Accessed January 2, 2018. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/support15.html#menu_links (Wednesday, 17 January)
Week 3: The Rise of Ad Agencies and the Commercial Press
Topics: The rise of advertising and how newspapers changed in the late nineteenth century; ad agencies; crafting a good research question
Sotiron, Minko. “Public Myth and Private Reality,” 10–22, 165–68. From Politics to Profit: The Commercialization of Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1890-1920. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997. (Monday, 22 January)
Johnston, Russell. Excerpt from “Newspapers, Advertising, and the Rise of the Agency, 1850-1900” (2000), 150–61. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Wednesday, 24 January)
“How to Write a Research Question.” From Assets Coming Together for Youth, York University. Accessed December 31, 2015. www.yorku.ca/act/CBR/ResearchQuestionInfoSheet.doc. (Wednesday, 24 January)
Week 4: Communication and the Nation
Topics: Time, space, and conceptualizing a nation; the telegraph: networking modernity
Innis, Harold A. Excerpt from Introduction to Empire and Communications (1972), 35–39. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Monday, 29 January)
Sussman, Gerald. “Nineteenth-Century Telegraphy: Wiring the Emerging Urban Corporate Economy.” Media History 22, no. 1 (2016): 40–66. (Wednesday, 31 January)
--> Assignment 1 due: electronic copy due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 2 February; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 5 February.
Week 5: Sound Technologies: Transforming Inventions into Media
Topics: Plastic aurality: early sound technologies (focus on the phonograph); telephones, gender, and the public/private divide; primary source analysis
Sterne, Jonathan. Excerpt from “Plastic Aurality: Technologies into Media,” 181–86, 188–92, 199–204, 213–14, 384–87, 389, 391. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. (Monday, 5 February)
Martin, Michèle. “The Culture of the Telephone,” 140–66, 185–87. “Hello, Central?” Gender, Technology, and Culture in the Formation of Telephone Systems. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991. (Wednesday, 7 February)
Week 6: Radio: Early Adopters and Intimate Publics in the 1920s and 1930s
Topics: Early radio; hobbyists and modern masculinity; intimate publics
Douglas, Susan J. Excerpt from “Exploratory Listening in the 1920s,” 55–72, 363–65. Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination, from Amos ’n’ Andy and Edward R. Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern. New York: Random House, 1999. (Monday, 12 February)
Loviglio, Jason. Excerpt from “Introduction: Radio’s Intimate Public.” Radio’s Intimate Public: Network Broadcasting and Mass-Mediated Democracy. xiii-xxvi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005. (Monday, 12 February)
--> Midterm exam: administered in class on Wednesday, 14 February
Reading week, 19–23 February: NO CLASS
Week 7: Orality and Literacy
26 February; note: no class on 28 February
Topics: Orality, literacy, secondary orality: concepts and critiques; writing a historiography
Ong, Walter J. Excerpt from “Some Psychodynamics of Orality,” Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (1982), 5–9. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Monday, 26 February)
Sterne, Jonathan. Excerpt from “The Theology of Sound: A Critique of Orality.” Canadian Journal of Communication 36 (2011): 208-13, 219-22. (Monday, 26 February)
--> Assignment 2 due: electronic copy due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 2 March; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 5 March.
Week 8: Paying for Radio
Topics: Writing a historiography; how to pay for radio?; commercial v. public service; radio advertising
“How to Write a Historiography.” Online History Workbook. Trent University. Accessed 31 December 2015. https://www.trentu.ca/history/workbook/historiography.php. (Monday, 5 March)
Vipond, Mary. Excerpt from “Who Is to Pay for Broadcasting?” Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting, 1922-1932 (1992), 198–206. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Monday, 5 March)
Marchand, Roland. Excerpt from “Abandoning the Great Genteel Hope: From Sponsored Radio to the Funny Pages,” 88–110, 382–86. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920–1940. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985. (Wednesday, 5 March)
Week 9: Television, Domesticity, and the Nation in the 1950s
Topics: Television and domesticity in the 1950s; feminist media history; the Massey Commission; the CBC and public service television
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. (Monday, 12 March)
Hogarth, David. “Public-Service Broadcasting as a Modern Project: A Case Study of Early Public-Affairs Television in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Communication 26 (2001): 351–65. (Wednesday, 14 March)
Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences [Massey Commission]. Part II Introduction. Report of the Royal Commission on National Development in Arts, Letters, and Sciences, 1949–52. Ottawa: E. Cloutier, Printer to the King, 1951. Library and Archives Canada. https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/massey/h5-439-e.html.
Week 10: Broadcasting in Canada
Topics: Technological nationalism; First Nations television
Charland, Maurice “Technological Nationalism” (1986), 308–23. In Canadian Cultural Studies: A Reader. Ed. Sourayan Mookerjea, Imre Szeman, and Gail Faurschou. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009. (Monday, 19 March)
Roth, Lorna Frances. Excerpt from Introduction, 1–24, 244–46. Something New in the Air: The Story of First Peoples Television Broadcasting in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991. (Wednesday, 21 March)
Schertow, John Ahni. “Canadian Media Colonialism and the Revitalization of Indigenous Languages.” IC Magazine, July 11, 2016. https://intercontinentalcry.org/canadian-media-colonialism-revitalization-indigenous-languages/. (Wednesday, 21 March)
--> Assignment 3 due: electronic copy due to Avenue Dropbox by noon on Friday, 23 March; a hard copy of the assignment with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 26 March.
Week 11: CanCon and Web Histories
Topics: CanCon; popular music, a case study; early histories of the internet
Henderson, Scott. “Canadian Content Regulations and the Formation of a National Scene.” Popular Music 27, no. 2 (2008): 307-15. (Monday, 26 March)
Rosenzweig, Roy. “Wizards, Bureaucrats, Warriors, and Hackers: Writing the History of the Internet.” The American Historical Review 103, no. 5 (1998): 1530–52. (Wednesday, 28 March)
Suggested: Campbell-Kelly, Martin and William Aspray. Excerpt from “From the World Brain to the World Wide Web,” Computer: A History of the Information Machine (1996), 105–16. In Daniel Robinson, ed. Communication History in Canada, 2nd. ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2009. (Wednesday, 28 March)
--> Assignment 4 due: electronic copy due to Avenue Dropbox by noon, Friday, 28 March; a hard copy of the assignment (see guidelines for which parts to submit in hard copy) with a printout of the rubric attached is due at the start of your tutorial on Monday, 2 April.
Week 12: Web Histories, Continued
Topics: internet historiography; digital archives; whose stories are told?
Allen, Matthew. Excerpts from “What was Web 2.0? Versions as the Dominant Mode of Internet History.” New Media & Society 15 (2012): 260–75. (Monday, 2 April)
Wortham, Jenna. “How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History.” New York Times, June 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/magazine/how-an-archive-of-the-internet-could-change-history.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fjenna-wortham&action=click&contentCollection=undefined®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=1. (Wednesday, 4 April)
Week 13: Conclusions
Topics: Conclusions; final exam overview
--> Final exam to be scheduled by the Registrar
Other Course Information:
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.