In this class we will study a wide range of recent scholarly writings on elemental media. What does it mean to live in a moment of both carbon overload and data overload in our atmospheres? What do the environmental perplexities of our time have to do with informational ones? We will explore the links between such apparently natural phenomena as the sky, the atmosphere, the ocean, fire, or soil and such obviously unnatural ones as drones, computer networks, submarine cables, audiovisual culture, and genetic modification. It was only the late nineteenth century that the term “media” came to refer to institutions of mass communication such as the press, film, radio, and so on and to this day the term retains its historical sense of natural habitats or environments. Media theory gives us a way to ask a question that many scholars and citizens have been posing in our moment: just what is nature in an age when human action has so radically reshaped life on Earth?
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher.
Also HUMS 462, FILM 405