Course Overview

“Media Archaeology Reconfigured, ” taught by Professor Lori Emerson, attempts to undertake a deep, chronological history of the “field” itself, delving into distant ancestors, both real and potential (such as Plato’s Phaedrus, the machines of Leonardo Da Vinci, the envelope poems of Emily Dickinson, and the chronophotography experiments of Étienne-Jules Marey) and more well-known roots (such as work by Walter Benjamin, Sigfried Giedeon, and Martin Heidegger). With this deep history in place, we then move on to what have become the commonly accepted, canonical works of media archaeology (by writers such as Michel Foucault, Marshall McLuhan, and Friedrich Kittler) to see if we might actually unseat their canonical status by the works that came before and perhaps even open up the possibility for later additions to the field of media archaeology.

What if, for example, we chose to insert the work of Donna Haraway (whose work was published right before and right after the German publication of Kittler’s Discourse Networks) into the late twentieth century lineage of media archaeological thinking – work that offers the in-betweenness of the cyborg and a practice of deep situatedness as a radical departure from the abstract materialism of Heidegger’s notions of nonduality in relation to technology? More, what does her feminist-materialist thinking make possible for the field in the 21st century? Moving further into the late twentieth century, what difference does it make if we insert Bruce Sterling’s proposed Dead Media Project from 1995 as a foundational concept for later works on dead media, imaginary media, and variantology? Can we ourselves think of media archaeology more imaginatively so that it includes contemporary work – much of it by women – on cities, infrastructures, and networks? More importantly, who else can we make room for?

Course Requirements and Policies
Most importantly, I hope you’ll feel comfortable contributing to class regularly. In fact, class will be fantastic if you participate regularly! You’re also required to:

  • Post 7 blog posts reflecting on the meaning/significance of some aspect (not all) of the assigned reading and another 4 blog posts on a visit you took to the Media Archaeology Lab and how your experiments in the lab confirmed or contradicted the reading. All posts are due by 3pm on Tuesday; please also comment on at least one classmate’s post as a way to create a semester-long intellectual community.
  • Give two presentations: each presentation is an opportunity for you to research and present on any artistic works from your assigned time period that engage with the media discussed in the reading; you will add links to the syllabus on your assigned day so that everyone contributes to the creation of a collaborative syllabus. These presentations can be fairly informal and should last about 45 minutes as you walk us through what’s at stake in the art works you’ve chosen to discuss and, again, how they engage with the media from the readings.
  • Create a final project: the project can be of any scope/size you like; ideally you will find a way to undertake a project that both engages with our course material on media archaeology and develops some aspect of your current creative or critical practice.

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

  • Weekly blog posts: 15%
  • Presentation 1: 25%
  • Presentation 2: 25%
  • Final project: 35%
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