My approach to teaching this course follows a few different principles:
• Developing networked knowledge. In addition to the “content” of the course (i.e., what we read, as described in the course schedule), the “form” of the course will largely be networked. Instead of using the execrable Blackboard, this semester we will be using WordPress. Now, blogs already have the musty air of the mid–late 20-aughts, but I’m not (yet) ready to dispense with writing as the primary medium of response (so we’re not Tumblr or Instagram or whatever it is that I don’t yet know about as a fusty nearing-middle-age professor—at least not for the bulk of the semester). So blogs it is, but blogs in an intensely referential, networked way.
• Developing some technical capacity. I will be using technologies only of the “open web.” You’ll learn a bit about how to use WordPress, and also learn to use things like RSS feeds and hyperlinks and whatnot (if you don’t already; I imagine many of you do).
• Inquiry in multiple media. Media theorists have many tropes for the network and computational media and how they exceed or frustrate representation. The representational media we have cannot capture the computational media we use, and which structures our contemporary lives. That is, many different media attempt, but fail, to capture the network and its force and work and texture in our lives. But different media have different representational capacities, and so we will study the ways in which these different media remediate network form.
By the same token, in recent theorizing, affect is also supposed to exceed and frustrate representation. Likewise, affect flows differently through different media (below or to the side of representation). Again, we will be tracking affect across different media.
Simply put, this means we will be reading novels, watching films, playing games, looking at digital media art, reading memoir, listening to podcasts, and reading theory. Among other things.
• An emphasis on form, and a matching de-emphasis on content or representation. The idea here is that if the sorts of things that we are studying this semester are marked by failures of representation and the sorts of things that cannot be figured directly as content, we will be paying particular attention to how these media function formally.
• Research, research, research. My main idea is to get you to develop a research project—individual or collaborative—over the course of the semester. In particular, I’m hoping that you’ll get interested in some ordinary facet of contemporary, networked life and render it an object of wonder, curiosity, and investigation. And then make research about it. It’ll be fun!