The artifacts of contemporary culture are increasingly born digital, yet the challenge of understanding how they work, what they mean, and how they might be curated for future generations. This course explores the production, transmission, and reception of born-digital artifacts, from music and image files, to memes, to Web content, to videogames and their paratexts, and other software. Primary analysis of digital artifacts themselves forms the core of the course, but the course also draws on fields such as media studies, bibliography, archival studies, internet history, and videogame studies to understand the infrastructures and social contexts that affect what will count as the future cultural
heritage of the digital era. Guided by readings, lectures, and case studies, the course will enable students to explore questions that are currently facing digital preservation and curation within and beyond the academy. What does it mean to treat a video game as future cultural heritage? How is digital rights management shaping the born-digital cultural record? Who determines how digital materials are archived and curated for the future? How does understanding the materiality of digital objects affect social and power relationships in the present?
The course will involve primary study of digital objects at a technical level, which may include introductory-level analysis of code, but no prior coding knowledge is required.
Exclusion course: VIC327H1: Digital Material Culture