Telegraphs, Pneumatic Tubes and Teleportation; Or, the Way We Communicate Now

Instructor: Maeve Adams

From the telegraph to Twitter, man’s inventions have aspired with increasing ingenuity to contract space and time, bringing people closer together over ever greater distances. Since the invention of early telecommunication in the nineteenth century, writers and artists have pondered the ways that communication technologies have reshaped the social lives of humans—the ways, for example, they change what it means to “reach out and touch someone,” what it means to be a social self. While critics have fretted over the dangers of losing ourselves (and our grammar) to machines, defenders remain fascinated by the practical and conceptual elegance of devices that transport our voices, and thus our selves, to one another. This course will address this persistent fascination in works ranging from classical philosophies of rhetoric and modern media theory to nineteenth-century fiction about telecommunication and dystopian film about the dangers posed by such innovations. We will likely cover works by Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Terry Gilliam, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and others.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 7-9pm
February 01 — March 07, 2012
6 weeks

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