Welcome to Technology and Modern Civilization (HU335HYB). This is an interdisciplinary, upper-level humanities course. Interdisciplinary means that we will study history and theories from multiple academic disciplines and specialties.
We focus on the history of information technologies from the electric telegraph to the present loosely based on James Gleick’s The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (2011). You will read a wide variety of texts that begin with the prologue of the Gleick text, and include communication theory (ex. Shannon and Weaver’s “Mathematical Theory of Communication,” 1948), medium theory (ex. McLuhan’s Medium is the Massage, 1967), history (ex. texts on Babbage, Bell, and others), science (ex. Bush’s “As We May Think” essay, 1945; Dawkins’ application of evolutionary biology to memes, 1976+), technology (ex. Berner-Lee’s CERN proposal for the World Wide Web, 1989), and social media (ex. The Atlantic’s “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely,” 2012), to name a few.
You will learn how information technologies affect not only how we communicate, but also what we communicate and what we value. By studying the history of information technologies and communication from a humanities perspective, you will strengthen your understanding of the potential benefits and dangers of seemingly innocuous mediums that have become ubiquitous and sometimes invisible to us. You are encouraged to critically evaluate the texts to determine what is likely true, not true, or partially true, and figure out how to apply knowledge from the texts to larger issues.
This is being taught as a hybrid course, which means that we will meet in the classroom, you will work with students outside of the classroom, and we will also meet online. I’ve been teaching hybrid courses for several years and have received a great deal of feedback from students. They have repeatedly acknowledged that one of the greatest challenges of these types of courses is time management. Because of the hybrid format, it can be easy to “forget” to submit assignments and engage in online discussion as required. You will receive some email reminders from me, but you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that you submit your work on time. It may be helpful to schedule the time for this course every TTh as if you were attending class.
On this site, you will find links to my office hours and contact information. If you have any questions, you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of your modules, assignments, discussion boards, and quizzes can be found on Canvas. We meet in the classroom (COAS Room 202) on Tuesdays each week. All other work is done in your own space. You can find the course syllabus here.