Instructors: Dan Morgan and Jen Waldron
This course examines a number of key debates in the history of visual and verbal media, beginning with the technology of writing itself and moving into the invention of the codex, the printing press, and 19th and 20th century forms of imagistic production. Of particular concern will be modes of competition and symbiosis among various technologies of representation at particular historical moments, such as the relations between speech and print, poetry and theater, painting and photography, and cinema and digital media. Although case studies will be drawn from a number of historical periods, special attention will be paid to the Renaissance and to recent decades, when media of all kinds have come under increasing technological and theoretical pressure. In these periods, we’ll look at debates over spectatorship, translation, synaesthesia, experience, embodiment, technology, publics, and the status of the arts. We will also take several test cases of texts and images that cross from one medium into another as they also move through time and space, such as Shakespeare’s Othello (print, theater, film and graphic novels). Theoretical readings will include seminal texts from Kittler and the Frankfurt School, and will also focus on recent developments in cognitivism and phenomenology as they inform theories of media. Students will have the opportunity to extend the seminar’s concerns to their own areas of research.