MSTU4010 Spring 2009

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 Theories of Communication - Spring 2009
Teachers College • Columbia University
Wednesdays, 5:10 to 6:50 p.m.
308 Lewisohn Hall
  • Frank Moretti, Instructor
    • fmoretti@columbia.edu
    • Office Hours: 603 Lewisohn Hall, by appointment (please contact Teresa Gonzalez to make an appointment at teresa@columbia.edu or 212 854-1692)


  • Ruthie Palmer, Teaching Assistant
    • Office hours @ 2nd Floor, TC library, Monday 5-6 and by appointment
  • Optional Weekly Discussion Group: 2nd Floor TC library, Monday 7-8pm


Schedule: Spring 2009
Wednesdays, 5:10 to 6:50 p.m.
308 Lewisohn Hall

MSTU4010 Spring 2009 Course Resources
Description and Requirements
Course Blogs
Suggestions and Feedback
Course Bibliography



1/21
The Role of Historical Perspective and Placing Contemporary Problems in a Historical Context
View in class:

Version 3.0: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpEnFwiqdx8&feature=related



1/28
Ahistorical approaches to contemporary problems: Poverty, Genocide, and the Environment.
Required Readings

Create Your Blog
Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion


2/4
The Information Society
Required Readings

  • Dyson, E., Gilder, G., Keyworth, G., & Toffler, A. "Cyberspace and the American Dream",pp.31-41; Read
  • Castells, M. "An Introduction to the Information Age", pp.138-149; Read
  • Castells, M. "The Information City, The New Economy and The Network Society", pp.150-164; Read
  • Surowiecki, James, "Wisdom of Crowds", Listen
  • Lanier, J. "Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism"; Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



2/11
Theories I
Required Readings

  • Dewey, John, "The Public and its Problems", Read: whole book EXCEPT ch. 3 and ch. 6 [Buy]

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



2/18
Required Readings

  • Benjamin, Walter; "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", pp. 217-251. Recommended: Hannah Arendt's introduction. Read
  • Dewey, John, "The Public and its Problems", Read: Last chapter
  • "Metropolis", Directed by Fritz Lang [Collective viewing after class]

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



2/25
Required Readings

  • Polanyi, "The Great Transformation", pp. 136-170; Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



3/4
Required Readings

  • Mills, C. Wright, "The Power Elite", pp.3-29, 269-297; Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



3/11
Required Readings

  • Marcuse, Herbert, "One Dimensional Man", pp.1-55;

Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



3/25
Mid-Semester Retrospective

Retrospective on all the theorists we have studied thus far.

  • Follow the "Questions and Discussion" link and prepare accordingly.


Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



4/1
Required Readings

  • Barthes, Roland, "Mythologies"; [Buy] Read pp. 109-127 in "Myth Today", as well as "The World of Wrestling", "The 'Blue Blood' Cruise", "The Face of Garbo", "The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat", "The Brain of Einstein", and "Striptease"

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



4/8
Required Readings

  • Veblen, Thorstein, The Theory of the Leisure Class, chapters 1-4, pp.1-62;

Read

Supplemental Readings

Questions and Discussion



4/15
Required Readings

  • Habermas, J., "The Public Sphere", pp.350-355; Read
  • Papacharissi, Z., "The Virtual Sphere", pp.379-392; Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



4/22
Required Readings

  • Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound" (Buy)
  • Democritus (will be handed out in class on 4/22)
  • Plato, Allegory of the Cave from Book 7 of The Republic: pp. 208-214 only; Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



4/29
Required Readings

  • Latour, Bruno. The Politics of Nature (pp. 9-32), Read

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion



5/6
Contemporary Exploration and Summary
Required Readings 

  • Delillo, Don. "The Falling Man", whole book
  • Trailer from Project Rebirth (to be viewed in-class)
  • Final Blog Essay due (this replaces the 9/11 project)

Supplemental Readings
Questions and Discussion










Schedule: Fall 2008
<span id="1" /> September 3
Interrogating the Present I: Introduction

Discussion Question
  • Reading actively to form, share, and inform your views.
Discussion leader:Robbie McClintock and Ruthie Palmer

Required Readings

  • Ernest Hemingway, Indian Camp. This is a very short text that we will distribute and spend a portion of the class reading and interpreting together.

<span id="2" /> September 10
Interrogating the Present II: Globalization

Discussion Question
  • How do the views of Gray and Friedman converge and diverge? What in their views do you find particularly illuminating in forming your own ideas about current way of the world?
Discussion leader: Amy
Required Readings

  • John Gray, "The World is Round," The New York Review of Books, Vol. 52, No. 13, August 11, 2005 Read
  • Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Picador, 2007), Chapters 1, pp. 3-51 Read
  • Manfred B. Steger, Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), Chapters 1 & 2, 7 & 8, pp. 1-36, 113-135. Read ISBN: 019280359X
Supplemental Reading

  • Freeman Dyson, "Our Biotech Future," The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 12, July 19, 2007 Read
  • W.J.Thomas Mitchell, "Work of Art in an Age of Cybernetic Reproduction," Modernism/modernity, Vol. 10, No. 3, Sept. 2003, pp. 481-500 Read from Project Muse
For Future Reference

  • Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism by Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994)
  • Some texts on globalization (forthcoming).

<span id="3" /> September 17
Interrogating the Present III: A Digtial Age?

Discussion Question
  • How do the views of Moglen and Lanier converge and diverge? What in their views do you find particularly illuminating in forming your own ideas about the effects of digital media on the way we think and communicate?
Discussion leader: Ruthie
Required Readings

  • Eben Moglen, "The Dot Communist Manifesto"; Read
  • Jaron Lanier, "Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism"; Read
Supplemental Reading

  • Cass Sunstein, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), Ch.1-3, pp. 21-102. Read
For Future Reference

For more on intellectual property issues:

<span id="4" /> September 24
Interrogating the Past I: Oral Epic Identities

Discussion Question
  • How did Homer think deliberation about a course of action takes place? How can his understanding of deliberation inform your own?
Discussion leader: Kyle
Required Readings

  • Homer, The Iliad, Richard Lattimore, trans. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), Book 1, pp. 59-75. Read
Supplemental Reading

  • Hesiod, Theogony, pp. 53-82; Read
  • Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963), Chapters 2-4, pp. 20-86 Read

For Future Reference:

  • Bibliographic supplement on oral epic poetry


<span id="5" /> October 1
Interrogating the Past II: From Formula to Concept

Discussion Question
  • How have techniques for defining abstract concepts developed in human experience and what made them possible? Were they historical creations or part of the inborn cognitive endowment of human beings? Did they come naturally, given some minimum of intelligence? Or did they depend on some necessary cultural inventions and if so what ones?
Discussion leader: Kristine Rodriguez
Required Readings

  • Heraclitus, Fragments, Robin Waterfield, trans., The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) pp. 32-48. Read
  • Protagoras, Fragments, Robin Waterfield, trans., The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) pp. 205-21. Read
Supplemental Reading

For Future Reference

  • Bibliographic supplement on early Greek philosophy

<span id="6" /> October 8
Interrogating the Past III: Plato and Reasoned Identity

Discussion Question
  • Is preparing a person to lead an examined life a feasible educational objective? What claim on educational practice should it have?
Discussion leader: TBA
Required Readings

  • Plato, Republic, Reeve, trans., Synopsis & Book VII. Read
Supplemental Reading

  • Plato, Apology, Grube, trans. Read
  • Plato, Protagoras, Lombardo-Bell, trans. Read
  • Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963), Chapters 1 & 11, pp. 3-19, 197-214. Read
For Future Reference

  • Bibliographic supplement on Socrates, Plato, and ancient Greek educational thought

<span id="7" /> October 15
Interrogating the Past IV: Virgil and Roman Civic Pedagogy

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Lou
Required Readings

  • Virgil, The Aeneid, Allen Mandelbaum, trans. (New York: Bantam Dell, 2004) Books VI & VIII, pp. 131-160, 188-211. Read

<span id="8" /> October 22
Interrogating the Past V: The Art and Architecture of Iconographic Literacy

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: TBA
Required Readings

  • Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, anon. trans., (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004), Book V, pp. 159-182 Read
  • Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1966), Chapters 1 and 4, pp. 1-26, 82-104. Read
Supplemental Reading



<span id="9" /> October 29
Interrogating the Past VI: Print and Its Cognitive Effects

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Lindsey Terwilliger
Required Readings

  • Elizabeth Eisenstein, "Some Conjectures about the Impact of Printing on Western Society and Thought: A Preliminary Report" in The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1968), pp. 1-56 Read
Supplemental Reading

For Future Reference

  • Bibliographical supplement on print as an agent of cultural change.

<span id="10" /> November 5
Interrogating the Past VII: The Construction of Civic Imaginaries

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Dino
Required Readings

  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (New York: Verso, 1991) pp. 1-46. Read.
Supplemental Reading

  • Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004) pp. 23-30 and 155-173. Read

<span id="11" /> November 12
Interrogating the Media I: The Telegraph

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Kristina Fell
Required Readings

  • James W. Carey, "Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph," Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 201-230. Read
  • Carey Clip 1: What interested you in the telegraph? Watch
  • Carey Clip 2: The telegraph reconfigures culture Watch
  • Carey Clip 3: Time and the telegraph Watch
Supplemental Reading

  • James R. Beniger, The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), Introduction, pp. 1-27 Read

<span id="12" /> November 19
Interrogating the Media II: Communication and Systemic Change, circa 1930

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Tina
Required Readings

Supplemental Reading



<span id="13" /> December 3
Interrogating the Media III: Communication and Systemic Change, circa 1965

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Kyle
Required Readings

  • Marshall McLuhan, Understanding media: the extensions of man (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, [1964], 2003), Sections 1-3, pp. 17-60. Read
  • Marshall McLuhan, Understanding media: the extensions of man, Section 31, Television, pp. 411-446. Read
Supplemental Reading


<span id="14" /> December 10
Interrogating the Media IV: The Place of the Real in a World of the Virtual

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: Jeff
Required Readings

  • Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Charaacter: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998), pp. 15-31, 76-97. Read
Supplemental Reading



<span id="15" /> December 17
Summary: Where are we?

Discussion Question

Discussion leader: TBA
Required Readings

  • Ronald J. Deibert. Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) pp. 1-44. Electronic Reserve.
Supplemental Reading



Quick-look Syllabus
Session Date Texts
1 1/21 Shift Happens
2 1/28 Stern, Sachs, Collier, Appadurai
3 2/4 Dyson, Castells, Surowiecki, Lanier
4 2/11 Dewey
5 2/18 Benjamin, Dewey, Movie: Metropolis
6 2/25 Polanyi
7 3/4 Mills
8 3/11 Marcuse; Metropolis essay due
9 3/25 Mid-semester retrospective
10 4/1 Barthes
11 4/8 Veblen
12 4/15 Habermas, Papacharissi
13 4/22 Aeschylus, Democritus, Plato
14 4/29 Latour
15 5/6 Delillo
Session Date Texts
--1-- 9/3 Hemingway
--2-- 9/10 Gray, Friedman
--3-- 9/17 Moglen, Lanier
--4-- 9/24 Homer, Havelock
--5-- 10/1 Heraclitus, Protagoras
--6-- 10/8 Plato
--7-- 10/15 Vergil
--8-- 10/22 Hugo, Yates
--9-- 10/29 Eisenstein, Johns
Paper 1
--10-- 11/5 Anderson (Imaginaries)
--11-- 11/12 Carey (1890)
--12-- 11/19 Burgess (1930)
--13-- 12/3 McLuhan (1965)
--14-- 12/10 Honesty and Truth
Paper 2
--15-- 12/17 The medium the message?

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