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Over just the last twenty years–beginning with Friendster and MySpace and continuing through Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram–the rise of social media has had a profound influence on the way we live. It has given a new rhythm to our daily routines, shaped the way we inform ourselves and converse with others, and transformed media and entertainment, politics and public discourse, and many other aspects of culture. This seminar course will undertake a broad and critical examination of social media, looking at it from historical, economic, legal, social, and phenomenological perspectives. The topics addressed will include social media’s effects on self-image and self-formation, its influence on protest movements and political campaigns, its use as a conduit for news and propaganda, and the way commercial interests and technical characteristics have shaped its design and use. Through pertinent readings and lively discussions, and drawing on students’ own experiences with social media, the course will illuminate social media’s benefits and drawbacks while providing a foundation for thinking about possible legal, regulatory, and personal responses to this far-reaching and still unfolding social phenomenon.
Format: seminar; hybrid
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
attendance and participation, team assignments, two 5-page writing assignments, final exam
Anthropology and Sociology majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
FMST Core Courses