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Social Studies > Journalism > Media in Transition
 Media in Transition  posted by  duggu   on 12/12/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Ravel, Jeffrey S., CMS.801 Media in Transition, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

A unique typewriter design, with keys arranged in a circular/arc pattern.

Malling Hansen, Writing Ball, 1867: a model of Nietzsche's typewriter. "Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts." (Nietzsche in a letter to Peter Gast.) (Courtesy of the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik, Goethe-Schiller Archive. Used with permission.)

Course Highlights

This course features an extensive list of readings and examples of students' assignments  and projects.

» Watch a video introduction featuring the course instructor.
(RM - 56K) (RM - 80K) (RM - 220K)

Course Description

This course centers on historical eras in which the form and function of media technologies were radically transformed. It includes consideration of the "Gutenberg Revolution," the rise of modern mass media, and the "digital revolution," among other case studies of media transformation and cultural change. Readings cover cultural and social history and historiographic methods.

Special Features

  • Faculty introduction video

Technical Requirements

RealOne™ Player software is required to run the .rm files found on this course site.


Course Description

This class is intended to provide an introduction to changes in media over time; we will also consider moments of "transition" (and regression) from one media form to another. Some weeks will focus on more theoretical questions, such as the changing relationship of media and human consciousness, or the concept of "revolution" in media change, while others will focus on particular moments of transition and their social, political, cultural, and economic implications. We will proceed in a roughly chronological order. Our goal is not to create the illusion of a complete survey of media change in the West over the past two thousand years (an impossible, and thankless, assignment!). Rather, the class should open up new perspectives, primarily historical, that will add depth to your thinking about comparative media today. Some of you may also glean ideas and comparisons from our work together that will be useful for your master's thesis.

Course Requirements

At our first meeting, each participant will sign up for a class presentation on a theme suggested by our common readings. Presentations will take into account required and supplemental reading for each class session. In addition, students are expected to read carefully the required readings for each week, and come to class prepared to share thoughtful questions and comments with the group. Lastly, each seminar member will prepare a final paper of approximately twenty pages in length. In certain well-defined situations, a substantial digital project may, with the consent of the instructor, be substituted for the final paper. The last two class sessions will be devoted to oral presentations of these projects. Instructions for oral presentations and the final paper will be handed out in class.


Assignments and responsibilities will be weighted as follows in determining the final grade:

Class Presentation 30%
Weekly Class Participation 20%
Final Paper / Project 40%
Oral Presentation of Final Project 10%


ses # TOPICS
1 Introduction
2 Framing Questions
3 Codex Books and Medieval Writers and Readers
4 Debating the Print Revolution
5 Printing and the Scientific Revolution

A Visit to the Burndy Library
6 The Stage and the Page, Renaissance to Romanticism
7 Modernity, Media Change and Meaning: The Nineteenth Century
8 Vision: Early Photography

(Guest Lecturer: Prof. David Ciarlo, History Faculty)
9 Sound: The Making of the Phonograph
10 Motion: Early Film and Its Social and Cultural Contexts
11 The Situation Today: A Digital Revolution?
12 Presentations I
13 Presentations II   Tell A Friend