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COURSE NAME: "Digital Media Culture "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Kwame Phillips
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30-12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 220

This course provides students with a number of theoretical approaches to critically assess how digital media function and their expanding and expansive role in contemporary culture. The course further investigates digital media convergence in order to develop a critical lexicon that can both chart its development and engage in intellectual interventions in its use within the transformations occuring in more traditional cultural forms such as television, film, popular music, print, and radio. Special emphasis will be placed on the specific cultural, political, economic, and social issues raised by digital media forms.

The course will attempt at first to define the domain of Digital Media, proposing it as the amalgamation of different traditional media
forms into new digitally based varieties. Subsequently the course will analyze the various forms which Digital Media has assumed and
concentrate on the specific issues –cultural, political, economic, technological and social—that the various forms raise.

This is a lecture and discussion course. We will shift back and forth between discussing theoretical and practical issues in relation to
digital media culture media and their relation to society. Lectures and discussions will be supported with several multi-media content.
Students are strongly encouraged to propose their own choice of media material for the class.

Students will be expected to test ideas from the class by using new media tools, such as blogs and social networks.
Readings will be a combination of traditional texts and new media texts available online. 



By the end of the course students will be able to:

1. understand emerging media practices and their impact on traditional models of mass media. 

2. understand and analyze how digital media use contributes to shape personal identities and social relationships.

3. recognize the influences that digital media is expressing in the cultural, social, economical and political spheres.

4. learn some key concepts such as hypertextuality, interactivity, remediation, web 2.0, communicative capitalism, digital labor, digitization, Internet, network society, collective intelligence, remix culture, online/offline, algorithm, e-democracy, sharing economy, hacktivism, the network economy, online media activism, digital piracy, creative commons vs. copyright, regulation, ethics, changing concepts of time and space, and convergence culture and connect them to diverse forms of popular culture (e.g. films, novels) and to the use of digital media in everyday life. 


Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical IntroductionJones and HafnerRoutledge978-0415673150  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The New Media Theory ReaderHassan and ThomasOpen University Press978-0335217106  

Participation and AttendanceStudents will be expected to have done all the readings and to attend and contribute in all classes. Students may be asked to lead discussions once the seminar series is underway.10%
Midterm Critical PaperStudents are required to write a research paper that is appropriate to the course material. The topic is open, but must focus on some form of digital media product or products and be analyzed using one or more of the theoretical approaches discussed in the course. 3000-3500 words. 1.5 spacing and 12 point font. The inclusion of images are encouraged where appropriate. 20%
Final PresentationThis will take the form of 15-20 minute group presentations. Presentations will again focus on some form of media product or products and be analyzed using one or more of the theoretical approaches discussed in the course. The presentations will be judged on the following criteria: critical thinking, quality of information, organization, visual design, oral presentation, grammar and spelling, and teamwork. 20%
Project OutlinesStudents will be required to provide a one page outline for the midterm and final projects. This will be due at the latest, one week before the project is due.10%
Weekly Reflection VideosA total of 10 weekly reflection videos (2­-5 minutes in length) on the theoretical approaches covered in the course will be required. 20%
Final Critical PaperStudents are required to write a research paper that is appropriate to the course material. The topic is open, but must focus on some form of digital media product or products and be analyzed using one or more of the theoretical approaches discussed in the course. 3000-3500 words. 1.5 spacing and 12 point font. The inclusion of images are encouraged where appropriate. 20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Please note that frequent absences automatically lower your participation grade.
Also consider that you will lose one half letter grade for any absence over 4 (e.g. 5 absences, half letter grade lost).
Anything above 8 absences will result in failing the course.
If you have a serious health problem, which causes you to miss more classes than this class allows, you can ask the Dean's Office to
consider whether you may warrant a exemption from this policy.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1.1: Intro / What’s new about digital media? / mediation
Week 1.2: Information everywhere / library guide

Readings: “Is Google Making us Stupid?” / UDL: Chs. 1-2 


Week 2.1: History of the Internet and the World Wide Web 

Week 2.2: The pre-digital

Readings: UDL: Chs. 3

Week 3.1: Digital Tools: Multimodality (Reflection video #1)

Week 3.2: Digital Tools: Online Language and Social Interaction (Men haha in every text)

Readings: UDL: Chs. 4-5

Week 4.1: Digital Tools: Attention Structures (Reflection video #2)

Week 4.2: Digital Tools: Critical Literacy

Readings: UDL: Chs. 6-7 

Week 5.1: Time and Space (Reflection video #3)

Week 5.2: Time and Space

Readings: Naye, “Consumer Sublime” (NMTR: 1.4) / Carey (NMTR: 5.1) / Digital Ground, Ch. 1 (digital­ground.pdf)

Week 6.1: Embodiedness (Paper outline due) (Reflection video #4)

Week 6.2: Socially Mediated Publicness 

Readings: Digital Ground ch. 2 (refer to digital­ground.pdf above) / Barry, “On Interactivity” (NMTR: 4.1)

Week 7.1: Digital Practices: Online cultures and Intercultural Communication (Reflection video #5)

Week 7.2: Digital Practices: Games, Learning and Literacy / Digital Literacies at Work (Midterm paper due)

Readings: UDL: Chs. 8-9

Week 8.1: Digital Practices: Collaboration and Peer Production (Reflection video #6)

Week 8.2: Digital Practices: Social Networking

Readings: UDL: Chs. 10-11

Week 9.1: Open and Closed Systems (Reflection video #7)

Week 9.2: Open and Closed Systems: Hackers, makers, cybercultures

Readings: Zitrain (Intro and conclusion from downloadable book) / Lessig, Remix (ch. 1 and 2 from downloadable book)

Week 10.1: Convergence Culture (Reflection video #8)

Week 10.2: Convergence Culture

Readings: Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins: Jenkins­Introduction.pdf; Jenkins­Chp4.pdf; Jenkins­Chp6.pdf 

Week 11.1: Remix (Reflection video #9)

Week 11.2: Mash-up, intellectual property (copyright)

Readings: UDL: Chs. 3 / Kelly, 1,000 true fans: Kelly­BeyondFree.pdf / Remix Chs. 1-7

Week 12.1: Democracy (Presentation outline due) (Reflection video #10)

Week 12.2: Democracy

Readings: John Naughton, “Blogging and the Emerging Media Ecosystem” / Barber, “Pangloss, Pandora or Jefferson?” (NMTR: 4.2)

Week 13.1: Group presentations (4 groups of 3)

Week 13.2: NO CLASS

Week 14.1: Group presentations (4 groups of 3)

Week 14.2: Group presentations (4 groups of 3) / Wrap up