To conceptualize the new, to theorize the unknown, one might say, is to experiment with optics; to experiment in such a way is to transpose, to reconvene, and to rearticulate--to revisit. The continuing emergence of digital media in the twenty first century presents precisely this complex state of affairs. It places an additional burden on the innovator: that of reflexivity. Knowing that what one discovers depends on where one stands may lead to knowing about oneself more than anything else. Critical engagement in innovation implies the immensely complex practice of locating oneself in relation to something the appearance of which changes according to position. In short, this is a highly paradoxical, indeed holographic, endeavor.
--Liestˆ½l, Morrison, and Rasmussen, Digital Media Revisited
What is "new media?" English 680N will examine this question from a variety of perspectives, investigating forms and examples of new media as well as the theories that underlie and emerge from these forms. As Liestˆ½l, Morrison, and Rasmussen observe, new media forces us to reflect on our own positions--in front of the screen, in front of the classroom, in both public and private spaces. Our positions converge at the heart of "new media" -- the network -- the nexus of threads that allow for the distribution of information and communication among individuals, groups, and institutions. Networks create the conditions of possibility for new social formations, interactions, and communications. Since new media, in accordance with network logics, does not inhabit one particular discipline, our course will be profoundly interdisciplinary, drawing from areas of study such as communication, law, art, political science, history, science, game theory, economics, international relations, and, of course, rhetoric. Moreover, we will not concentrate our work solely on academic texts; rather, we'll also look at efforts from activists, technologists, programmers, and industry workers to theorize new media.We'll also not look solely at print texts. Much of the work of the course will be online’Äîexamining forms of new media, as well as reading, interacting, and creating online texts.
The class will take a workshop approach, meaning that while we will be reading and writing about new media, we will also be learning how to produce new media. Everyone should be open to teaching and learning from one another as we engage with a variety of technologies, media, and theories.