Theory and History of Media Technology


INF3009H — Theory and History of Media Technology

Historical and theoretical perspectives on technological change and its social implications provide a foundation for intensive study and critical analysis of new communication technologies. A grasp of the social, political and economic contexts in which technologies emerge allows the student to discern the way culture both shapes and is shaped by information and communication technologies. Course topics are thus chosen to broadly acquaint students with key historical moments in the history of technology and in the historical situatededness of academic knowledge production regarding media and technology. They provide a framework in which early theorizations of media and technology are studied to enrich current understanding of media. The course also provides grounding in a range of theorizations to give the student a broad overview of the multiplicity of approaches and methods that can aid investigations of technological change in social contexts. This graduate seminar explores the history of “new” media as agents of change in cultural, social, and spatial infrastructures, economies, and cultural politics.

By remembering that every media was once new, and that we need new theory to conceptualize new media, students will investigate how the emergence of new interfaces change communication relationships, information dissemination, audience practices, and consequently the way we think about the world and ourselves. Having in mind that each media reflects old media, but also brings up the new, one must learn how to critically think about each new medium by taking into consideration its specific characteristics.