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Mobile Phone Cultures

ENGL 295.401
also offered as: CIMS 295.401
MW 5-6:30

Over the years, the mobile phone ceased to be just an extension of the landline telephone as a range of locative, social and networked media converged into it. Thus, the complicated mobile device that scholars research today might more appositely be termed “mobile media” rather than just “mobile phone.” And yet, particular histories and futures of telephone, including proto-skype technologies like videophone, are elided in the shift of nomenclature from mobile phone to mobile media. Even as they have global impact, mobile media technologies influence and are influenced by socio-cultural factors in specific places, and so mobile media cultures are both global and local at the same time.


In this course, we will be studying the revolutions in youth culture, desire, gender norms, and political propaganda that are emerging as new hardware, apps, and internet services are being added to mobile media. Some of the questions we will be addressing are: In countries like India and Brazil, how are WhatsApp and viral spread of political propaganda connected? How has mobile internet revolutionized streaming video cultures in different parts of the world? In what ways have memory cards changed the way people listen to and access “pirated” music? How have social media transformed socialities as ephemeral snaps and swiped intimacies become part of the “new” phone cultures? Assignments will include using mobile phones to create Instagram curations as well as a written final paper (about 2000 words).

fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major