Much of the extant literatures dealing with information technologies, new media, and digital culture either overlook or oversimplify the complexity of technology as a social phenomenon. For communication graduate students, this course will provide a theoretical foundation for further study in the department’s core area of technology & society. The course is also appropriate for graduate students in areas of the social sciences and humanities who are interested in a grounding their research in theories of the social, political, and cultural contexts for and implications of technological change. While the internet and other new information technologies of our present day are certainly at the foreground of many of our research interests, this course will take a broader view to theorize communication tools and technologies — including historical approaches, comparisons to “old” media, and a look at the impact of technological innovation more generally (e.g., technologies of the body.)
At the end of the course, students should be able to
1) Identify key literatures, topics, and debates in the area of technology & society from a broad multidisciplinary perspective and locate their own research interests within these debates;
2) Use the theoretical basis of this course to ground further research, prepare for qualifying exams, and do continued coursework in the technology & society area in communication or within their home departments;
3) Develop an extended paper on a topic of their choice related to course material; and
4) Begin independent, professional-quality research in the area of technology & society.