Telecommunications | Media History
T311 | 6259 | Terry, H

TEL-T 311 is an overview of U.S. electronic media history, primarily
covering the period from the mid-19th century through the end of the
20th century.  While the focus is on U.S. electronic media history,
we'll also consider non-electronic media history in order to set
media history developments in context and consider non-
U.S. media history where it helps us understand U.S. media history.

The prerequisite is completion of either TEL-T 205 or TEL-T 207 with
a grade of C- or higher.  If you will not have completed one of
these courses prior to the start of the Fall, 2011 semester, you
can contact me ( and I will consider requests,
enrollment limits permitting, to let you in without having completed
the prereqisites.  I'm most likely to consider this favorably if you
are not a Telecommunications major or minor, since the major (and,
typically, a minor) requires that you complete these T-205 and T-207
anyway.  I welcome qualified and well prepared students from outside
Telecommunications, however, so please --if you fall in that
category -- contact me and give me an opportunity to assess your
preparation for the class.

Good background for this class is a sound prior knowledge of U.S.
history, since we'll often set electronic media history in that
historical context and will not have the time, obviously, to
comprehensively cover general U.S. media history of this period.

We plan to cover telegraphy, telephony, broadcasting, cable-TV,
satellite services, the Internet, and interactive electronic media
(including games).  We won't move much into the 21st century because
it's premature to have historical perspective on such recent

Robert Hilliard and Michael Keith's The Broadcast Century and
Beyond: A Biography of American Broadcasting (the most recent
edition) will probably going to be the basic texts
for this class.  However, as I write this description (March, 2011)
I know of at least one other book likely to be released in the
summer that may be better.  I'll make that decision as soon as
the other text is published and I can review it.

There will be both a midterm and a final exam -- both essay (and, in
the case of the final, to some extent comprehensive).  There will
also be written papers, but the nature of those depends on two
related things -- the enrollment in the class and the qualifications
of an AI, if the enrollment justifies one.   The room is large
enough to hold the number of students that justify an AI under the
policies of my department, but history is not a specialization
in our graduate program and so there is no certainty that a well
qualified AI will be available.  If the class is relatively small
(less than 25), the papers will allow you to do independent research
into a historical topic you propose to me in advance and that we
mutually decide upon.  If the class is larger (and if a qualified AI
is available) then there will be multiple shorter papers that enable
you to integrate readings with what happens in class plus (in order
to earn an A) add additional research and materials.   Basically, if
we go down this path, you'll be able to earn no more than a C on
these papers if you only synthesize what has been presented in
class, you can earn a maximum of a B if you accurately synthesize
what has gone in class with the assigned readings and you can earn
a maximum of an A if you bring together what's been covered in
class, the assigned readings plus additional research that you
conduct on your own.  You are likely to be assigned four or so of
these synthesis papers.  A subset of all papers (perhaps 20 or 25)
will be very thoroughly graded each time -- these will receive
letter grades.  Other papers will be skimmed to confirm that they
meet the basic assignments of the paper, but they will not be
graded.  Obviously inadequate papers will receive "F" grades; so
will students who do not submit papers.   Your "paper grade" for the
class will be the average of (1) all papers of yours selected for
grading -- you'll have an equal chance of being selected each time a
paper is submitted, (2) any "F's" you earned for an obviously
inappropriate paper and (3) any "F's" you earned for not submitting
a paper at all.  This system will be run in such a way that every
student will have at least one paper fully graded, but -- with good
(or bad, depending on your perspective) fortune, you might have all
of your papers graded.  I know this sounds complex, but it's a
system I used in Fall, 2010 and it worked well -- it achieved my
primary goals of (1) overcoming the rigorously chronological
arrangement of Hilliard and Keith and (2) making sure that students
did the assigned readings and, accordingly, deepened what they
learned from this class.

Exams will equal 70% of your overall course grade (30% for the
midterm and 40% for the final).  The papers contribute 30% of your
overall course grade.

This course counts toward Social and Historical Studies distribution
requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences. It may, or may
not, also count toward other degree requirements. For more
information about which requirements this course could fulfill see
the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin at If you
have questions, or need additional help, see your academic advisor.

Class meets 1:00pm-2:15pm MW in R-TV 245.

Please contact me at if you have any additional