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Culture as Communication

Semester and Year FA 2013
Course Number IDSEM-UG1193
Section 001
Instructor Vasu Varadhan
Days MW
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



This course examines the concept of culture through its forms of communication. The shift from orality to literacy to electronic media and now digital media has important consequences for the social, political, and economic structures within a culture. If we take as axiomatic that every culture wishes to preserve itself through its forms of communication, we then need to ask ourselves which forms of communication are best suited for this purpose. What happens to cultures when traditional forms of communication are forced to compete with the newer technologies? What do we mean by “knowledge” in the age of information? The impact of written narrative on orality will be discussed as well as the changes brought about by the invention of the printing press. We will examine the development of electronic media, including the newer technologies such as the Internet, and analyze their effects on individual and cultural levels. Readings may include Plato’s Phaedrus , Ong’s Orality and Literacy , Achebe’s Things Fall Apart , McLuhan’s Understanding Media , and Carr's The Shallows . There will also be selected handouts on the impact of social media in the political, social and economic spheres.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)