Visual Studies 295                                     Media Theory and History             Winter 2006, Wed 4:30-7:30 pm, HIB 220


Professor Mark Poster


Office KH 230       Office Hour Wed 3-4pm       Email:


Texts to be Purchased:

     Course Reader (available in the Library)

     Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (MIT Press)

     Mark Poster, ed., Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings (Stanford UP)

     James Der Derian, The Virilio Reader (Blackwell)

     John Johnston, ed., Friedrich Kittler: Essays (G and B Arts International)

     Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation (MIT Press)

     Wendy Chun and Thomas Keenan, eds., New Media, Old Media (Routledge)


Recommended Texts:

     Mark Poster, What’s the Matter with the Internet? (Minnesota UP)
     Félix Guattari, “Machinic Heterogenesis,” in Verena Conley, ed., Rethinking Technologies, Ch. 2 (Minnesota UP)

     Anna McCarthy, Ambient Television (Duke UP)

     Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book (Chicago UP)

     Raymond Williams, Television (Routledge UK)


Readings and Topics:    


Week 1 (January 11): Introduction to Media History and Theory

              Optional Reading: Mark Poster, What’s the Matter with the Internet?, Chapters 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9


Week 2 (January 18): Media as Object of Knowledge

             Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media – Chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33



              W.J.T. Mitchell, “There Are No Visual Media,” Journal of Visual Culture (August 2005) 4:2, 257-266


Week 3 (January 25): The Frankfurt School: Media and Society

            Bertolt Brecht, “On Radio” [in Reader]

            Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry” and “The Culture Industry Revisited” [in Reader]

            Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” [in Reader]


Week 4 (February 1): Media as Culture

             Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings Chapters 1, 2, 7, 9, 11


Week 5 (February 8): Information Machines and Humans

            Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto” [in Reader]

            Jack Johnston, Friedrich Kittler Reader, Chapters 1, 7, 8


Week 6 (February 15): Race and Media

             Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel, "Popular Art and Mass Culture," from The Popular Arts (1964) [in Reader]

             Stuart Hall, "Introduction to Media Studies at the Centre," "Encoding/Decoding," and "Recent Developments in                Theories of Language and Ideology: A Critical Note," from Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in                        Cultural Studies, 1972-1979 (1980) [in Reader]

Stuart Hall, "The Meaning of New Times," from New Times: The Changing Face of Politics in the 1990s (1989) [in Reader].

             Lisa Nakamura, “The Race in/for Cyberspace” (online at click on the “History 182:               The Internet” button and you will find it)


Week 7 (February 22): Media and History

              The Virilio Reader – Chapters 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12   


Week 8 (March 1): Media and History

              Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation


Week 9 (March 8): Media, History and Theory

              Wendy Chun and Thomas Keenan, eds., New Media, Old Media


Week 10 (March 15): Media, History and Theory

              Wendy Chun and Thomas Keenan, eds., New Media, Old Media

Student Assignments:

1.       Students will be responsible for the discussion part of each class, coming to class prepared with questions, comments, etc. about the readings.

2.       In the fifth week of the quarter, each student will turn in a two page paper proposal, indicating the argument and the content of their project along with a list of 10 references, either articles or books.

3.       Starting in the sixth week, each student will present a critical discussion of one or two chapter(s) from the Chun/Keenan reader evaluating how the author treats the problem of theory and history in relation to media.

4.       On the basis of the proposal, each student will write a 20 page paper that relates material from the course to their own research project. The papers will be due early in finals week.