Below are some sample topics courses offered in the last few years.
Explorations in Play and Creativity
The course examines the last 100 years of social scientific research on creativity in well known creative individuals and in the creative life of "so-called" everyday persons. We will take "life themes" approach to the development of creativity in famous creators (Darwin offers a classic case study, for example). We will also explore the important of creativity and innovation in business and industry. Of relevance also is how our everyday communication, media, and information practices are actually experienced, and how they can be studied using naturalistic or quasi-naturalistic methods that put the researcher in situ.
History of the News Media in 20th Century America
The course looks at the news media not as freestanding institutions but as a part of American politics and culture in the 20th century. It explores several periods of major change, including the Progressive era, the Depression, the Red Scare, the civil rights movement, and others. During these moments, journalists and news institutions interacted in complex ways with political actors - while at the same time both expressing and helping to shape public attitudes about key events and policy decisions. The class examines these interactions of political actors and the public with the media in an effort to understand the underlying ideological and cultural currents of American life.
Media and Politics
The audience remains elusive, despite many attempts to understand, study, and measure it. Each week we will explore one of these methods and concepts, examining its contributions and limitations to understanding media and culture. While we will occasionally discuss what audiences/ do/ (in their various guises as readers, viewers, writers, citizens, and activists), the main focus of this course is to examine how the object "audience" has been constructed through a variety of research methods and theoretical frameworks. The course is roughly divided into two parts: The first part will be a survey of canonical debates and problematizations in media studies. After establishing this base of knowledge, we will explore how recent political, economic, and technological transformations have produced new forms of media practices (especially interactivity and collective participation) that once again challenge the notion of a self-identical audience.