An introduction to the study of media technologies and their social impact. We will move somewhat chronologically from the emergence of writing systems through the printing press, photography, and the development of moving images – these mechanical technologies of documentation and communication each initiated a subsequent ripple of social and cultural changes in their time. We use ‘media archaeology’ to describe the way in which these social-historical conjunctures, as seen through the lens of media history, offer us a lens to examine the nature of representation, signs, modernity, visual culture, and changing ideas about the role of technology. We will examine the moments of transition across these innovations, looking for traces of the social and structural changes they presented.
This course is also intended to function as a prerequisite for the 4000-level follow-up course “Media Archaeology: Signal and Data,” and for other advanced Media Studies courses.