Communication and Culture | Media, Politics, and Power: (Topic: Ethnographic Approaches to New Media: Configuring the Object of Analysis in New Media Research)
C620 | 24076 | Mary L. Gray

M, 2:30 PM-5:00 PM, Location: TBA

Open to Graduates Only!

Professor: Mary L. Gray
Office: Mottier Hall 214
Phone: 855-4379

Backstory (motive for the course): The qualitative analysis of media
technologies—particularly those considered “new”—has become
increasingly important to a number of fields, from communication and
science studies to new media studies design. In order to make the
qualitative study of new media as vigorous and grounded as possible, I
suggest we 1) contextualize new media as a kind of information system
coming from a rich history of “newness,” 2) plumb the “old”
methodological toolbags of classical ethnography and qualitative
analysis more broadly, and 3) investigate what to tweak or rethink in
applying qualitative analyses to the study of new media and/or its
role in our lives.

Focus (course goals): In this course, we will examine current
understandings of what constitutes ethnography and survey texts that
talk about technologies as politically complicated relations of power.
From this foundation, we will address the rapidly growing body of
qualitative analyses examining new media in order to better equip us
to modify these principles for our own studies of “new media.” You may
approach the course in one (or both) of two ways. First, if you plan
on doing ethnographic research of new media as part of your doctoral
thesis, then this semester can be used for locating, gaining access
to, and undertaking a pilot project at your research site, with the
readings guiding you in possible themes. Your final work will be a
project description. Second, you may choose to concentrate on the
social and theoretical issues raised by the texts being studied. In
this case, you will be expected to turn in a theoretical essay
discussing general issues in the study of new media with an eye toward
situating new media in these past and ongoing analyses.

*Because this is a 600-level course, it will provide both a survey of
current scholarship in the field and specific interrogations in and
across disciplines concerning the course themes.

*Course will be a seminar format and will incorporate a course message
board to facilitate discussion outside of the seminar meeting times;
attendance will be taken and count towards final course evaluation.

*Authors studied will include Nancy Baym, John Campbell, James
Clifford, David Hakken, Christine Hine, Emily Ignacio, Steve Jones,
Lori Kendall, Beth Kolko, Lisa Nakamura, and Nina Wakeford.
*Continues themes and ideas presented in C507: Methods of Ethnographic
Research in Communication and Culture.

*Designed to improve students’ abilities to critically examine the
uses of ethnographic approaches in the study of new media technologies
and/or the study of how media (new or otherwise) fit in the flow of
everyday life and the production of cultural meaning.

*Assignments will include weekly written reading responses (2 pages
typed); individual and group presentations with an associated paper
approximately 3-5 pages in length; weekly postings of discussion
questions to the course’s Oncourse message board; a book review
(approximately 2000 words) for submission to a targeted journal or
online resource identified by the student; a final project or seminar
paper for presentation to the class at large. Students will also be
required to complete a draft version of an IU campus IRB application
appropriate to their actual or a hypothetical research design over the
course of the seminar.