Across the globe today, we are witnessing the emergence of new political movements, fueled by media technologies, passionately advancing the claims of "the people" against the ruling "political classes". We see the rise of charismatic populist leaders and the simultaneous waning of civic values, and polarized political cultures. In this seminar, designed for sophomore students, we will discuss the cotemporary moment of growing polarization and passionate social media-infused politics, by taking a historical and transnational perspective in our overview of normative theories of media and democracy. We will focus on four core questions throughout the course of the semester: What insights and limitations are offered in theories of the “public sphere” and “deliberative democracy”? How has colonialism and capitalism shaped political imaginaries constituted through the media? How has the rapid expansion and commercialization of media infrastructure transformed political participation? How might we rethink media as space of civil society and contentious politics? Authors may include: Walter Benjamin, Franz Fanon, Jurgen Habermas, Benedict Anderson, Edward Said, Partha Chatterjee, Stuart Hall, Ernesto Laclau, Sylvia Winter, Wendy Brown and Jacques Ranciere.