DTEM 1401

Fall 2021

M/R 4-5:15

Office locations: 711 Martino; meetings by appointment and Mondays 1-3 PM

Course Description

DTEM 1401 will introduce you to key ideas in the field of digital media studies and explore implications of living in a digital age. This course investigates the constant evolution of digital media technologies and investigates the emergence of older forms of “new” media—from the original internet to big data, from graphical user interfaces to social media platforms. As we do so, we will focus on how we use digital media, how that use impacts individual identities, behaviors, and relationships of power, and how that use is always governed by infrastructure, policies, and platform features.

Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

  • Historicize and give social context to media technologies commonly considered “new” media.
  • Develop and demonstrate competency in analyzing social, economic, and technical issues associated with the internet and mobile communication technologies. 
  • Understand contemporary debates over changes in identity, education, work and play associated with the emergence of digital media and technology. 
  • Recognize how digital media constantly impact and/or structure their everyday social interactions, spaces we inhabit, and seemingly mundane or rote behaviors. 

Course Texts:

All course readings will be online or sent via email.

Course workload

Participation/Weekly Assignments (25%) I will base this grade on your thoughtful contributions to class discussions, activities and group work. I will not base this grade on mastery of the materials. Keep up with the readings to stay in the conversation! You will also help each other work through your projects by KINDLY and thoughtfully offering suggestions and critiques.

In addition to thoughtful class participation, the participation portion of your grade includes a concept-connect: a brief presentation on ONE idea/concept from our scheduled readings (we will sign up at our first meeting). You’ll explain one concept and then connect it to an example that illustrates the concept, think ‘show and tell.’ You do not need to present on the entire reading, and I will deduct points if you do! Instead, find a concept/idea/question from the reading and create a show and tell for the class. You will also need to pose a discussion question to the class that follows up your concept. I ask that you lead a brief discussion after asking your question(s).

Exams (midterm/final) (50%): multiple choice, short answer. The tests will be created through Google forms. I will send you a link to the test at 10 AM the day it’s scheduled and you will have until, at least, 8PM that evening to complete it. The tests are open note/open reading.

Final (Group) Project (and all the necessary stages of work) (25%):  Digital Labor Mixed Media Paper: In an effort to understand how digital media and technology shape our world, we’ll consider the labor that goes into making and sustaining such media. For this portion of your grade, you will need to focus on one form of digital labor—any type of labor that makes, reproduces or keeps the internet going. You can focus on any type of labor in one of the following three areas: physical (hardware, devices, fiber, cables), technical (coders, software, user experience, content development), or the affective (the moods, interpersonal or psychological ways we use/refuse digital media). You could examine anything from coders, critics, to yourself. Details to come. Mixed media essays consist of two components: a non-textual digital work (images, photographs, video, software, installations, etc.) and a textual statement (1000-1500 words) that explains the work. These two components work in concert to create a “mixed media essay.”

You should include two readings from the course. You should also include ONE outside, scholarly reading. You’ll need to create a short, 5 minute media presentation to share with the class.


100=A+                        79-77 = C+

99-93=A                      76-72 = C                                            

92-90=A-                     71-70 = C-

89-87=B+                    69-60 = D

86-83=B                       Below 58 = F


RULES/POLICIES: No cheating, no plagiarism. Respect each other and different opinions.


Fordham’s university-wide policy is that 4 unexcused absences results in a failing grade. If you miss four or more and due to an emergency, family, personal, or medical reason, you must notify both myself and your class dean of the issue at hand with appropriate documentation. It is your responsibility to get readings/assignments for missed days from other students, and you are encouraged to come to my office to discuss topics you’re unclear on.

Final grades are FINAL: I do not negotiate grades. Do not ask. I do not need to hear about your GPA, or what grade you need or must get. You are responsible for your grades. Regardless of what other faculty tolerate, I do not negotiate grades with students.  ALL GRADES ARE FINAL. If you wish to learn more about why you earned the grade you were assigned, you must see me in person during my posted office hours. Nonetheless, students should remember that coming early and often for help does not guarantee that I will pass you.  In the final hour, you need to demonstrate proficiency in the material, no matter how hard you tried. Coming to class, trying hard/studying many hours in college is a given.  In the end, you must produce college-level work.

******I will probably change, delete or ADD readings to this schedule.  I will always give you notice but you must come to class to stay abreast of any changes.

******Do not be offended if I call you and do not be offended if I do not call on you! I will try to call on everyone at least once over the course of the semester so be prepared.

******Please email me if you are having trouble with the course material in anyway.

****** Academic Integrity/Plagiarism: Plagiarizing in any way, shape or form will result in a zero for that assignment or test. I will report it to your advisor, class dean, and fill out a report for the academic integrity committee to review. I take this very seriously so please see me if you’re nervous about properly citing your work. By being enrolled at Fordham University students are bound to comply with the University Code of Conduct, which includes, but is not limited to the Standards of Academic Integrity as outlined in the Student Handbook.If you have any question concerning the plagiarism policy or about documentation of sources in work you produce in this course, speak to me about it. Plagiarizing includes passing off any work you have not created as your own (scholars, bloggers, people you pay to write a paper, etc.), as well as turning in papers you’ve written for another class.

Preferred Name Policy: Some members of the Fordham community are known by a name that is different from their legal name. Students who wish to be identified by a chosen name can contact their CMS faculty members via email and request their chosen name and pronoun be used.[Faculty are welcome to supplement this as well]

Disabilities: All students, with or without disabilities, are entitled to equal access to the programs and activities of Fordham University under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you have, or think you may have, disabilities, please get in touch with The Office of Disability Studies at disabilityservices@fordham.edu or 718-817-0655. The office will coordinate with faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure that the facilitation of reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with documented disabilities is provided. We encourage faculty to add more than the required legal language related to disabilities, and to invite students to come to you with any difficulties related to ODS or their disabilities.

Student Resources

Writing Center: If you struggle with the writing required in this course, please make use of the Writing Center. For more information about their services see https://www.fordham.edu/info/20126/writing_center

Counseling and Psychological Services: University life is full of challenges. Fordham offers support for anyone who feels like they need help dealing with the pressures of life as a student. 

CPS offers resources on issues like anxiety, coping strategies, COVID and mental health and so on on its website, and provides individual and group counseling and therapy in a safe and confidential setting. For more information about their services see: https://www.fordham.edu/info/20031/counseling_and_psychological_services

There is also a Crisis Text line available—text START to 741-741 to use it. 

Food (shelter, etc) insecurity Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact your class dean for support. I also urge you to contact me, or our dept chair, about this. I understand you may not want to share such information with professors who you see all the time, but Fordham has few policies in place, and our support may be helpful.

Academic Coaching: Any student who struggles with time-management and/or organization is invited to one-on-one academic coaching sessions (typically once a week for 45 minutes). Please contact disabilityservices@fordham.edu for more information.


Sept 8                           Intros

                                                Module 1: Defining Newness, Studying Media

Sept 9                           “What’s new about new media?” Lisa Gitelman and Goeffrey Pingree URL: http://web.mit.edu/transition/subs/newmediaintro.html#top

Sept 13                         “Lessons from the History of the Internet” by Manuel Castells (website)

Sept 16                         “The Socio-technical Interface” (website)

                                                Module 2: Infrastructure and Access

Sept 20                         “Introduction: Against Flow” (website)

Sept 23                         Augmented Urban Realty, URL: https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/augmented-urban-reality

                                    “The Geography of the Internet” by Manuel Castells (website) pages 208-231

Sept 27                         “Unequal Uptake” by Astra Taylor (website)

Sept 30                         Module 2 wrap up, review, discussion

                                                Module 3: Political Economy and Labor of the Internet

Sept 30                         “Hope Labour” (website)

Oct 4                            “Nested Precarities of Creative Labor in Social Media” by Duffy et al (website)

Oct 7                             BAN (2005) ‘The digital dump: exporting reuse and abuse to Africa’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tVdTBnBXw0  (website)

Cobalt Mining has High Human Cost WaPo  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/                               

Oct 11                          No class

Oct 14                          Midterm

                                                Module 4: Identity and Representation

Oct 18                          Race and Racism Online, Jessie Daniels

Oct 21                          “Drinking Male Tears: Language, the Manosphere and Networked Harassment” by Marwick (2018) (website)

Oct 25                          “The qualified self: Social media and the accounting of everyday life” by Humphreys (2018) (website)

Oct 28                          Module 4 wrap up, review, discussion

                                                Module 5 Media Effects

Nov 2                           Liu et al (2019). Digital Communication Media Use and Psychological Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis (2019) https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/24/5/259/5583692?casa_token=9Q4MBSGeOG4AAAAA:pie5QYTBn5-dX-wTYfIR96j1fsjNVs7UbyE4dwZK3VDt_ehlUCaeqc5JoxsF4AXQCe_koEa74Jb1.

Nov 4                           Dubois, Elizabeth (2018) “The Echo Chamber is Overstated” https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/blog/the-myth-of-the-echo-chamber/

Nov 8                           New Rules of Engagement: How Adaptation to Online Media Changes Older Adults’ Social Connectedness.”  https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/25/2/182/5823243

                                                Module 6 Algorithms, Surveillance, Privacy

Nov 11                         Boulomwini, Joy Gender Shades interactive http://gendershades.org/overview.html

“Algorithms” by Tarleton Gillespie

Nov 15                         “Algorithms of Oppression” selection from Safiya Noble (website)

Pushmann + Burgess “Big Data Big Questions” https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/2169

Nov 18                         Hintz et al (2017). Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society

Nov 22                         cont

Nov 29                         catch up, wrap up, review, discussion   

Dec 2                           Presentations

Dec 6                           Presentations

Dec 9                           Presentations