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Media Morphologies (Instructors: William B. Warner, UCSB and Lisa Parks, UCSB) (Spring 2006) (graduate seminar)

[Course site]

In both film and literary studies, there is a strong tendency to study media history and media culture so that it delivers discrete “objects”, “texts”, and “visual and sound artifacts,” for close interpretation and study. One can find this procedure among scholars who favor “great” or “popular” media texts. While the history and discursive procedures of film and literary studies makes this bias quite understandable, this course attempts to take a different path. We want to pay attention to some of the most striking features of modern media forms, practices, and technologies: they facilitate mobility, transfers, adaptation, deformation, reformation, networking, mutations within the media infrastructure, and many species of communication (one to one; one to many; broadband, narrowband, etc.). All these transformations in the form of media are implicated in new spatial configurations and new (often accelerated) media temporalities. If there is a general logic to these morphologies of media, we hope our course will begin to explore them.

This will involve shifting beyond narrative and frame-based approaches and moving toward theories and histories of media that try to account for media forms and cultures that take shape across different platforms, environments and communities. We hope the course will help to generate new ways of conceptualizing media forms and cultures in the digital age.

  tl, 03.09.06

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