Course: GER211
Instructor: Fore
S 2016

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

This class is a survey course of the most important writings in the recent field of media theory. It examines the writings in a chronological order, going through all of the most important media: the camera obscura, the gramophone, cinema, TV and the web. Some of the themes examined through all of the writings are language and orality, the disembodiment of seeing, the role of the body in a technological world, media and ideology. Some of the most famous authors read in the class are Derrida, Kittler, Heidegger whereas the others are authors more specific to the field of media theory. Besides introducing the students to the field of media theory, the class asks questions about how the media influences the way we perceive ourselves and we see the world. This is a very broad question and indeed the essays and the exams allow students to approach this question from the aspects that they have found more interesting in the class.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

  1. Lecture
Lecture is very fast-paced, since Prof. Fore is reading from his notes written in a very elaborate language and there is a lot to cover. The lectures go over the readings and explain them. In slides, some important quotes from the readings are displayed. It is hard to take notes of everything, one might have to do with very shortened bullet points of the lecture or simply try to internalize as much of the lecture as possible simply by listening. This is why one has to have read the texts for the day's lecture beforehand to make the most of the lecture.
  1. Precept
In precept we discussed the readings and many times ended up trying to clarify passages of the text. In the next section the readings for the class are explained.

Learning For and From Assignments

The class has about 100 pages of reading per week, two short essays, one 150-words response weekly, a midterm and a final examination. For Spring 2016 the students could choose to write a 12 page paper in lieu of the exam.
  1. Readings and short response
The readings for this class can be very dense at times, so it could take longer to go through them than expected. This is especially true for the readings that are more philosophical. However for these harder texts you will not be asked to explain every argument in detail, but for an understanding of the general ideas. So don't be scared if this is the first time you are encountering something like Derrida's writing and it is impossible to go past the first sentence. Since the exams have ID questions, reading study groups would not be a good idea for this class. It is extremely important to underline passages that seem important and write some notes in the margins since for the final you will be asked to write essays using quotes from the texts reads.  After doing the readings you are to write a short 150 words response online. If while reading you find something that interests you, or you have a short thought about it, write it down immediately, since that could be a good candidate for your response.
  1. Midterm
The midterm was very short, 25 minutes, and you were asked to identify the source of 3 short passages. To prepare for the midterm you could go through all of the slides with Prof. Fore's quotes and also through all of the passages that you have underlined in your readings. Remember to memorize the title of the text as well, not just the author!
  1. Final Examination
I took the final exam instead of writing a paper so I am going to talk about the exam. This time the exam was a three hour take-home although Prof. Fore had initially planned for it to be in class: this might be the case in the next semesters. We were asked to write two essays, using three of the texts we had read for each and we were asked to quote passages from these texts to support our arguments. I have to essay that writing this final was a rush! The topics given were thematic, for example: the disembodiment of seeing, the immateriality of bodies, the ideological influence of the media. They were broad enough that you had a lot of freedom in terms of choosing the texts you were going to write about. The topics are very important ones for the field of media theory and during the exam I had to accept that I would not be able to write everything I wanted to about the topic, given the time limit. There was also no time to go through the texts I had chosen and pick my quotes carefully, rather I had to be content with the quotes that I had underlined and were more stuck in my mind. This means that when preparing for the exam it is important to underline some of the most important passages of the text and write a note on the side that summarizes the content of the passage in two-three words. Then you could go through the passages underlined two or three times so you can recall some of them. Do not worry if you do not possess a good knowledge and "underlining" of each text since the essay topics give you enough freedom to choose the texts you feel more comfortable with.
  1. Short essays
There are two short essays, two pages long each. For these essays Prof. Fore gives a topic and then you can choose your own example from which you approach the topic. For example, in one of the essays we were to analyze a movie scene of our choice using a text we had read in class. Since we are pretty attached to a certain forms of media, it is possible to choose some example that one finds interesting and have fun writing a short essay about it.

External Resources

Encyclopedia Britannica or Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online to look for all of the philosophical and media-theory terms that you are unfamiliar with.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

This course can be used as an EC requirement or as a class for a German Certificate. During the class we watched many movie clips and other forms of media but that is not the main focus of the class: this is a more theory-heavy class than one would expect.
Introduction to Media Theory

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