Introduction to Communication and Media Studies
Is the Internet making us stupid? Is Facebook selling our souls? Does a selfie-stick make us narcissists? This course is like a communication time machine touching on early media technologies, like the telegraph, and travelling right up to today—an age of online surveillance where personal tastes are fed by algorithms. This course gives you the tools to cut through the clutter and decipher facts from spin.
Communication and Science
The power to influence opinions increasingly lies with those who can most widely and effectively disseminate a message. When there was a measles outbreak at Disneyland, SARS in Toronto, or when a campaign launches to raise awareness about mental illness, we can see how small, but vocal groups can vie for the spotlight. This course examines such topics as risk, medical issues and environmental changes and asks what makes scientific topics different from other forms of knowledge when communicated to the public.
Could video games be considered art? What do video games teach us about narrative, aesthetics, and failure? What can we learn about the people who produce video games, the communities that surround them, and the cultures that obsess over them? This course is for those who can appreciate that games are serious business. Prepare to spend time engaged in the action while studying the fastest growing yet least understood aspect of mass digital culture.
Digital Media Industries
Google. Facebook. Apple. Instagram. This course challenges students to improve their media literacy and move from consumers to critics. We look under the hood of the biggest digital media industry players and examine their impact on us as well as their influence over “old media” industries including music, TV, film and publishing. We examine new forms of labour that are associated with these platforms (Vine celebrities, YouTube stars, hacktivism…) and ask what role they play in our political and social life.
Global Media and Popular Culture
Why do we care when Rihanna’s Instagram feed mysteriously vanishes? Should we take celebrities seriously as humanitarians? Is there any reality in reality television? In this course we examine our complex relationship with these forms of entertainment and discover that we are not only users of media but we are used by it.
What has happened to the way we talk about the weather? There’s a whole new language for everybody’s favourite form of small talk: from special storm trackers to “feels like” temperatures, to heat indexes and wind chill warnings. This course gives students the tools to examine the extent to which our understanding of the environment is always mediated. What we know about climate change, for instance, comes from representations of it through satellite images, maps and photos. We will also look at the environmental impact of communication technologies themselves such as server farms that make up the backbone of what we call “the cloud”.
Storytelling in the Digital Age
Stories make ideas stick. In the era of PowerPoint and 140-character messages however, many of us have forgotten how to tell a good story. And yet there is reason the age-old art of storytelling is making a comeback as the business buzzword of the year; it has been recognized as the skill that every individual in the Internet Age must master. In this hands-on creative writing seminar, we put storytelling at the centre of communication and explore a range of techniques for writing stories that make audiences care.