Uncategorized Archive

Media History 1945 – Present Spring ’16

TS 40b-Media History II 1945-Today

Spring 2016, UC Davis


Location: Wellman 7
Instructor: Kris Fallon
Schedule: Monday/Wednesday 10:30-11:50
Office Hours: Mondays, 12-2 & by appt.        
Office: 224a Cruess                         
Mailbox: Cruess Hall
Grad. Instructor: Eric Taggart


Introduction: Today we tend to approach media as a range of different ‘flavors’ of content that that we can access on our computers and other digital devices.  Want to watch TV or a movie? Login to Hulu or Netflix.  Need a book? Download one to your kindle or tablet.  Looking for photographs of a place you plan to visit? Google Image search.  Hear a song you like? There’s an app for that.  And this doesn’t include the tweets, clips, posts and photos we create and share with our friends and the world at large using these same tools.  While many regard these changes as a chance to level hierarchies, dis-intermediate industries and democratize the power of communication, others view them as the final stage in the commodification of everything, an opportunity for major corporations (and the state) to profit from and spy on everything we do.  But how did these technologies come to occupy such a central role in modern life? And how can they portend such drastic, and drastically different, futures?


The answer to these questions lies in the development of digital technology in the post-WWII historical hotbed of cold-war paranoia and countercultural rebellion.  By tracing the various individuals and institutions who have shaped the development of computers and digital technology over the last half-century, we can begin to unravel how these tools have reached the center of commercial, cultural and civic life.  While technology constantly pushes us to consider the future and replace what’s old with the newest thing, our focus will be on futures past and the routes we have taken to arrive at a point where we can arguably claim that all media are digital media.  


Description: This course will provide students with an overview of the history of media technologies from the end of the second World War to the present, focusing in particular on the emergence of computers, networks and other digital technologies and the impact they have had on traditional media forms including television, radio, newspapers and other broadcast forms. During the first half of the course we will gain a solid background in the emergence of the first digital computers during and just after World War II and their subsequent development in the military/academia/industry settings during the mainframe era of ‘big iron’ through to the development of the ARPANET.  In the second half of the course, we will turn our attention to the emergence of the ‘personal’ computer, the Internet and world wide web, and mobile computing alongside brief considerations of the impact of digital media on other media forms.  

Film History 1945 – Present Winter ’16

Cinema & Digital Media 41B
Film History 1945 – Present

Winter 2016, UC Davis


Location: 147 Olson Hall                                           Instructor: Kris Fallon

Schedule: Mon & Weds 1-2pm, Thursday 6-9pm                e-mail: kfallon@ucdavis.edu

Office Hours: Thursdays, 12-2 & by appt.         phone: (530) 754-2599

Office: 224a Cruess                          Mailbox: Cruess Hall


Course Description: This course will provide students with an overview of film history from the end of WWII to the present day. We begin from the supposition that film history is intimately linked with social and political history, and that significant moments in one sphere will reflect and influence developments in the others.  Consequently, our focus will be on those films and texts that bear out these connections, from the earliest sound films in the classical Hollywood era to the multimedia environment of today.  Along the way we’ll cover several significant genres and movements including classical and post-classical Hollywood cinema, experimental and avant-garde cinema, Italian Neo-Realism, the French New Wave, Third World and non-Western Cinema, and film in the digital era.  Throughout our journey we’ll consider the complex relationship between culture and the moving image, and hence our study will focus on both the broad context and the close reading of individual scenes, shots and sequences.  In addition to general readings on the history of film (provided by David Cook’s A History of Narrative Film) we will also consider analyses of individual films to gain a sense of how to watch and write about film.


The course is roughly broken up into the following sections.  We’ll begin with a look at the effect of World War II on European and Japanese cinema in both fictional and non-fiction contexts.  As we’ll see, even the most allegorical film can bear witness to pressing historical events.  Next we’ll return briefly to Hollywood in the 1950’s and consider its response to several threatening developments: the emergence of television, the HUAC Hearings and the break-up of the studio system.  We’ll then look abroad once more to consider several European and non-Western film movements in France, Germany, Africa and India.  And finally, we’ll end by considering the role of film in the digital age.

Technologies of the Self – Spring 2016

Technologies of the Self

Critical Theory 200B STS 250, Spring 2016

Instructor: Kris Fallon

Schedule: 1-4 Tuesdays

Office Hours: 12-2 Mondays

Office: 224a Cruess                          Mailbox: Cruess Hall
Course Description: While current social and digital media appear to signify an unprecedented focus on celebrating “me”, the ability to explore and document the self using technology is an enduring interest that stretches back to the earliest cameras and beyond.  Indeed the self-portrait is a longstanding gesture in Western Art that has found unique expression in a variety media.  As the medium of the self-portraiture has shifted, the definition of the self has evolved alongside the technological and artistic means for doing so. This course will explore four models of the self that have emerged alongside various technologies and scientific theories in the 20th century.  Readings will include selections from Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Gilbert Simondon, Norbert Weiner and others.  Alongside these texts we will consider a variety of forms of self-portraiture, including photography, documentary film and digital/social media.

The Politics of Networks/Network Politics Spring 2015

The Politics of Networks/Network Politics

Spring 2015

STS 250/CRI 200b, Mondays 1–4

Instructor: Kris Fallon

Office: 219 Voorhies


Office Hours: Mondays, 11-1
Description: From social networks to transportation networks to information networks, the network as a concept has become one of the dominant metaphors of the digital age. But are networks themselves benign forces capable of equalizing social relations and undoing the established hierarchies which they seek to undermine? Or are they instead an ever-more perfect panopticon, reinforcing existing regimes of surveillance and selective marginalization? This course will investigate the alternately radical and repressive power of networks. Rather than approaching networks as an abstract relation among individual entities or an ontological description of material relations, we will focus our attention on the space between. As a metaphor for describing the world, the figure of the network has served to structure evolving social and political structures, and as these structures have shifted they have in turn altered our conception of what the network is, and what it can be. To find this middle ground we will study both the theory and reality of different networks.
Required Texts

Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social

Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Multitude

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks

Alex Galloway, Protocol

Jussi Parrika, Digital Contagions

Manuel Castells, Rise of the Network Society & Networks of Outrage and Hope

Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age

Thacker & Galloway, The Exploit

Fred Turner, From Counter Culture to Cyberculture