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Local Media

ENGL 2982.401
also offered as: CIMS 3782 / ARTH 3782
Tuesday 1:45-4:44pm

We may be tethered to global networks, streaming content from around the planet, joining in conversation (or conspiracy) with folks from all corners of the earth, but we also live in places with local characters and concerns, among people with local needs and contributions. What happens when we lose the local media — the newspapers and broadcast outlets — that bind and inform our localized communities? In this course we’ll consider the important roles served by our place-based media, as well as what’s lost when our local modes of communication collapse. But we’ll also consider what might be gained if we think more generously about what constitutes local media — and if we imagine how they might be redesigned to better serve our communities, our broader society, and our planet. Through readings, listening and screening exercises, occasional in-class field trips and guest speakers, and low-barrier-to-entry in-class labs, we’ll study local news; local book cultures, including libraries and bookshops and independent printers; local music scenes, including performance venues and record shops and music reviewers; local infrastructures of connection and distribution, including post offices and community digital networks; local data creators and collectors; local signage and interactive public media; local emergency communication resources; local whisper networks and town gossip; and a selection of other case studies that reflect students’ interests. Because this new course is still in development, the assignments haven’t yet been finalized — but students can tentatively expect to write one or two short papers; share one low-pressure in-class presentation; participate in a few small (and ideally enjoyable) design workshops and group exercises; and, in lieu of a final exam, contribute a written or creative piece to a collective class publication, perhaps a local media field guide that we’ll design and publish in collaboration with local makers.Prof. Shannon Mattern


English Major Requirements
English Concentration Attributes
College Attributes