(Offered as ENGL 486 and FAMS 456.) How can we write histories of media? How are media written about, used, designed, preserved and sometimes discarded? Where are the relics of past media stored and what do these alternative paths not taken and now forgotten futures of media say about different historical moments and the present? This seminar will explore theories and practices of media archaeology and historiography by both examining different scholarly responses to the above questions while also learning about forms of media preservation at various archives throughout the semester. We will move through different historical periods, from the magic lantern performances and phantasmagoria of the eighteenth century through film and the phonograph, and then on to recent digital media and magnetic storage technologies like the floppy disk, hard drive, and personal computer. Throughout the seminar we will continue to ask how media landscapes of the past provide a context for our contemporary engagements with media and also emphasize how the histories we will explore point not only to technological experimentation and change but also to how these media were to engage with the senses of the body. We will read theoretical and historical texts by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Jonathan Crary, Lisa Gitelman, Tom Gunning, Katherine Hayles, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Friedrich Kittler, Vivian Sobchack, Paolo Cherchi Usai and Siegfried Zielinski. One three-hour class meeting and one required screening per week.
Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Johnston.