Week 1 (January 8+10): Introduction

Andre Bazin, “The Myth of Total Cinema,” What is Cinema, 2 Volumes, trans/ed. Hugh Gray, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 23-27.

Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940).

Charles Musser, “Toward a History of Screen Practice,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies Vol. 9, Iss. 1 (1984): 59-69.


Week 2 (January 15+17): The Digital’s Ever-Present Past

Tuesday: Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), pp. 1-87

Thursday: Jentery Sayers, “Prototyping the Past,” Visible Language 49.3, special issue, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (December 2015), and “Before You Make a Thing.”


Week 3 (January 22+24): Media Archaeology

Tung Hui-Hu, A Prehistory of the Cloud (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015)


Week 4 (January 29+31): Light and Dark

One-page proposal for researching obsolete media, with 5 resources

 Noam Elcott, Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).


Week 5 (February 5+7): Writing Histories of Technology

Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wurtz (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).


Week 6 (February 12+14): Computing

Joy Lisi Rankin, A People’s History of Computing in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2018)


Week 7 (February 19+21): Computational Art

Zabet Patterson, Peripheral Vision: Bell Labs, the S-C 4020, and the Origins of Computer Art (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015).


Week 8 (February 26+28): Video Games

3 page historical survey + 3 sketches detailing potential materials and methods for reconstruction

Laine Nooney, “The Odd History of the First Erotic Computer Game,” The Atlantic (December 2, 2014).

Hito Steyerl, “On Games, or, Can Art Workers Think?” New Left Review 103 (January-February 2017).

Zoya Street, “Queering Games History: Complexities, Chaos, and Community,” in Queer Game Studies, edited by Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2017): 35–42.


Week 9 (March 5+7): Media Environments/Social Histories

Fred Turner, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (University of Chicago Press, 2013).


Week 10 (March 12): Smart Cities


Shannon Mattern, Code + Clay, Data + Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media (Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press, 2017).


Week 11 (March 19+21): SPRING BREAK


Week 12 (March 26+28): Computational Labor

Outline and paper/cardboard/preliminary physical prototype

Lisa Nakamura, “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronic Manufacture,” American Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (December 2014): 919-941.

Jonathan Beller, “Informatic Labor in the Age of Computational Capital,” Lateral 5.1 (Spring 2016).

Evan Hill, “Silicon Valley Can’t Be Trusted With Our History” Buzzfeed (April 29, 2018).


Week 13 (April 2+4): Cyberculture

James Bridle, The New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future (New York: Verso, 2018).


Week 14 (April 9+11): Artificial Intelligence

Ian Bogost, “‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless” The Atlantic (March 4, 2017).

Kate Crawford, “AI Now: Social and Political Questions for Artificial Intelligence”



Week 15 (April 16+18):

Work on final projects/conferences with Prof. Zinman


Week 16 (April 23): 

Work on final projects


The final paper/project is due on Friday, April 26, by noon, via email to Professor Zinman and posted to the class blog.