Class Readings

Part I – Print (and its predecessors)

Week 3 — Week of September 12

Topics:   Coffee Houses and Print Culture, Photography, and a splash of written language/printing press

Reading — Tuesday:   Readings from James Gleick’s The Information, Prologue-Ch.3 (Canvas)


A History of Photography, by William Jerome Harrison. [Skim chapter one (which starts on page 7 and ends on page 12) and read chapter 2 (pg.13-20).]
—  Brian Cowan, The Social Life of Coffee, 2005.  — In Canvas, week 3

—  Semiotics — a selection Joe will bring to class

—  Chinese Characters for Beginners — Joe will bring to class


Part II – Early Networked Communication 

Week 4 — Week of September 19

Topics:  History of the Postal Service, modern journalism (newspapers/magazines), and a splash of telegraph/telephone

Reading — Tuesday:  Winston, 19-66


Excerpts from James McGrath Morris’s biography of Joseph Pulitzer (See Canvas)

Richard John, Spreading the News, 1-24 (See Canvas)

This article/Video:

This article on Pulitzer by Jack Shafer at Slate:

This post, “But is it journalism?” by Jeff Jarvis at his blog:

Part III—Broadcasting 

Week 5 — Week of September 26

Topics: History of Film, Radio, TV

Reading — Tuesday:

  • Chapter 3 in Downey’s Technology and Communication in American History.
  • Winston’s book: 67-87
  • Margaret Graham essay, in A Nation Transformed by Information, pages 137-169 (to be posted on Canvas)
  • Fang, A History of Mass Communication, pages 89-100 (posted on Canvas–check pages numbers carefully)


  • Winston’s book: 88-99, 126-143
  • Edgerton/Rollins, Television Histories, pages 1-18, 19-36, 244-260 (to be posted on Canvas)


Week 6 — Week of October 3

Topics:  Advertising and Propaganda

Reading — Tuesday:  Readings from Garth Jowett & Victoria O’Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 5th Edition.  Posted on Canvas.

            Thursday:  William M. O’Barr, “A Brief History of Advertising in America,” Advertising and Society Review, v. 6.

Also see selections from from Edd Applegate, Personalities and Products: A Historical Perspective on Advertising in America, on Canvas.

Part IV – Information in the Digital Age


Week 7 — Week of October 10

—     Topics: Early Computers, Role of war/military in creation and spread of information/computing technology (WWII, Cold War, ARPANet); Rise of Mainframe and personal computers

Reading — Tuesday: Vannevar Bush, As We May Think”; Winston, 147-242


  • William C. Meadows, Comanche Code Talkers of World War II, preface, 100-134, On Canvas
  • R. A. Ratcliff, Delusions of Intelligence, Ch. 1, 4.  On Canvas.
  • Leo Beranek, “Roots of the Internet: A Personal History,” Massachusetts Historical Review, 2 (2000): 55-75,
  • Chris Christensen, “Polish Mathematicians Finding Patterns in Enigma Messages,” Mathematics Magazine, 80, no. 4 (Oct., 2007): 247-273,

Week 8 — Week of October 17

Fall Break — No class Tuesday, October 18

Topics: Networks and the Internet

Reading — Thursday: Winston, Chapters 15-18; Rosenzweig, 179-202

Week 9 — Week of October 24

Topics: Hackers and Hacking Culture

Reading — Tuesday: Douglas Thomas, Hacker Culture, Chapter 1 (on Canvas); TED Talk on Hacking

            Thursday: Online discussion — via Reddit discussion 


Week 10 — Week of October 31

—     Topics: Video Games;  Expansion/Commercialization of the web; Web 2.0+

—     Reading — Tuesday: Rosenzweig, 85-91 (CD-ROMs and textbooks); Allan H. Weis, “Commercialization of the Internet,” 1992 (On Canvas)


Week 11 — Week of November 7

Topics:  Trust, Citations, “truth” in the Digital Age; Wikis

Reading — Tuesday:  Rosenzweig, 28-50 (Historical Knowledge online); 51-82 (Wikipedia & History); 155-178

            Thursday: Zerby, The Devil’s Details, Ch. 1,2,4,7; Grafton, The Footnote, Ch. 5-7; Bugeja & Dimitrova, Vanishing Act, Ch. 3-5  [All on Canvas]


Week 12 —Week of November 14

Topics:  Group week – 3-4 groups read separately on topics and present to class

Reading — Tuesday: 

1)       Pop Culture treatment of the Digital Age (Hackers, Geeks, Tech)

Adam, A.E. “Hacking into Hacking: Gender and the Hacker Phenomenon.” ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 33, no. 4 (December 2003). Found at Project MUSE:

Urbas, Gregor. “Criminalising Computer Misconduct: Legal and Philosophical Concerns.” ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 34, no. 1 (June 2004). Found at Project MUSE

2)       Coding/Programming

Grace Hopper and the invention of the information age [electronic resource] / Kurt Beyer.  Available through UMW libraries. Read Chapter 1 and 12

Scan over…




3)       Identity in the Digital age



1)       Pop Culture treatment of the Digital Age (Hackers, Geeks, Tech)

Brey, Philip. “Evaluating the Social and Cultural Implications of the Internet.” ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 35, no. 3 (September 2005). Found at Project MUSE:


2)       Coding/Programming

Sections 1-3


3)       Identity in the Digital age

Part V – Looking forward

Week 13  — Week of November 21

Topics:  Infographics and the Rise of Visual Literacy; Copy Right/Copy Wrongs

Reading – Tuesday:  Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights & Copywrongs, Ch. 1, 5 (Canvas)

— Thursday — Thanksgiving — No Class


Week 14  — Week of November 28

Topics:  History of Digital History and Its Future

Reading — Tuesday: Rosenzweig, xxi-xxiv, 3-27, 92-153, 203-236

            Thursday: Winston, 337-342, Orville Vernon Burton, “American Digital History,”  Social Science Computer Review,; Johnny Ryan, A History of the Internet and the Digital Future, Ch. 10, 13 (Canvas)

Week 15  — Week of December 5

—     Varied topics

Reading — Tuesday: Group day – 4 groups read separately on topics and present to class

1)       (Re)search in age of Google — See Canvas

2)       Social Networks — See Canvas

3) Digital Divide/Information Divide-  AND

4) Future of Newspapers/magazines/books-  AND

One Response to “Class Readings”

  1. […] version and then a 2.0. Students had the opportunity to steer both the content focus of the class (choosing readings) and the types of projects they would complete. This included students choosing to make […]

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