All posts are due by the date and time listed on this page. Keep in mind that these deadlines are typically set twenty-four hours before a class meeting.

[Note: The assignments will be updated no later than a week before the due date for each post.]

9/12 Introduction (Required 1)

For the first post I’d like each of you to introduce yourself. Explain why you’re taking the course and what you hope to get out of it. You could discuss any questions you may have about the history of media and communications coming into the course. This post can be somewhat shorter than the others (approximately 400-500 words).

9/18 Definitions (Required 2)

Offer a brief definition of the economics term you were assigned in class. Further details will be explained in class. In your post, you must use at least two sources (which you may cite using hyperlinks or footnotes). In addition, you may make use of the Wikipedia entry for your term, if it exists.

9/25 Reaction to Franklin (Option 1)

Choose a paragraph from the Autobiography that you found particularly moving and thought-provoking on the issue of media and communications. Discuss what you found intriguing and use the selection to raise one or two questions you think are important in discussing Franklin.

10/2 Early American Newspapers (Required 3)

As part of our discussion of colonial and Revolutionary media, we’ll be undertaking a small research project that you will turn into your blog post. The project involves using the America’s Historical Newspapers database (available through Whittemore Library) to examine news coverage of a specific event. Here’s how it will work:

First, each student will select an event (I’ll display the list in class). For that event, you’ll need to work on a blog post of 600-800 words that does the following:

  • Offer a brief (no more than 100 words) summary of the event you’ve selected. To do this, you may include both information from news coverage as well as reputable online sources (I count Wikipedia in that) so that everyone has a basic understanding of the background.
  • Address some or all of the following questions:
    • What was the news reporting on the event?
    • Where did people discuss it?
    • What did newspapers say about it?
    • How much news was reprinted?
    • How long did coverage last?
    • Was the event commonly linked to other events in the newspaper, either rhetorically or by layout?
    • What types of news stories did the event generate? (Some examples: news paragraphs, essays, advertisements, images, other)

The goal of the assignment is to get you thinking about how media worked in the colonial and Revolutionary eras, so you should be aiming to offer through your discussion some commentary on that issue.

10/11 Reaction to The Coquette (Option 2)

For this response, you should consider how The Coquette represented the state of American media in the 1790s. You may do so with a general consideration of the book as a whole or select a single passage to evaluate carefully. In your response, you should also provide one or two questions you’d like the class to discuss about the novel.

10/16 Reaction to Henkin (Option 3)

This week we are focusing on the first part of The Postal Age, “Joining a Network.” For your post, select one element of Henkin’s argument about how Americans used the Post Office in the nineteenth century. Using one passage you select (and reproduce in the post) as a base, discuss why you found that particular passage and argument intriguing, and what questions it raises for you about the history of communication.

10/23 AAS Visit (Required 4)

During the visit to AAS, we will be examining a number of items from its collection of print and manuscript materials. For the blog post, you should select three items that you viewed and discuss how seeing them in their material form influences the way in which you think about them as artifacts of the history of media and communications.

10/30 Mid-Semester Reflection (Option 4)

At this point in the semester, we have moved into the electronic era of communications. Looking back at the first eight weeks of the course, select one issue from our reading of Paul Starr that you would like to learn more about. Write a post about the issue, including what about it you find interesting and what more you would like to discuss about it.

11/6 Reaction to Hoganson (Option 5)

In Fighting for American Manhood, Kristin Hoganson outlines some of the arguments that Americans made in favor of intervention in the civil war in Cuba in the 1890s. We discussed some of these in class and began to connect them to the visual imagery of magazines (available in the slide show on Blackboard). For your blog post, select one or two of these images and discuss how they related as part of media and communications to the discussion that Hoganson featured (and that Starr noted as well).

11/13 Citizen Kane Comments Thread (Required 5)

Rather than write a separate post about Citizen Kane, your assignment for this week is to participate in a discussion about the film in the comments of a main post. Here are the ground rules:

  • Each student is expected to contribute at least twice to the conversation. That is the minimum requirement, so feel free to continue to contribute further.
  • At least one contribution should be in response to a classmate’s comment.
  • The total contribution should be substantial, that is, a minimum of about 300 words. (You are welcome to exceed that by as much as you like as long as the conversation continues.)
  • You are, as always, expected to be respectful, but you are encouraged to disagree and engage with what others write.

I want to encourage you to discuss any aspects of the film and its relationship to the  history of media and communications  that you find interesting. The week we watch the movie, I will post to the course blog with a set of discussion prompts.

11/20 Morality in the Media (Option 6)

In each of the readings for this session, the author discusses a way in which to regulate communication in order to protect morality within society. In order to do that, each author makes use of a theory of communication. For your post, select one of the authors we read for today and discuss how they framed media in their discussion. What did they think communication consisted of? How did it operate? Where did power lie to shape content? You may also address any other questions relevant from our classroom discussions this semester.

11/29 Reaction to McLuhan (Option 7)

Marshall McLuhan was known as a brilliant but eccentric theorist about communications, and is best known for coining the expression, “the medium is the message” — which is the title of this week’s reading. In your post, explore what you think McLuhan means by that in light of the reading and discussions we’ve had this semester. Does his argument hold up as a matter of history?

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