Media History 1945 – Present Spring ’16

Posted on September 14, 2016 | Category :Uncategorized | Comments Off on 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.  

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