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First-Year Research Seminar: Normalcy and Media

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG785
Section 001
Instructor Kevin Gotkin
Days TR
Time 6:20 PM - 7:35 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


What does it mean to act or be normal? In what ways do media determine how we imagine normalcy? In this course we will consider media as a broad category, including a range of technologies, objects, texts, and even collective feelings. We will discover normalcy as a fragile and curiously inconspicuous concept, exploring its development in the U.S. since the mid-19th century. We will consider the role of media in, for example, gay and lesbian activists’ campaign to depathologize homosexuality or how the charity telethon genre presented ideas of dis/ability to enormous audiences in the latter half of the 20th century. As we tour these cases and others, students will work independently to produce original research. In four essays, students will select media artifacts to study, reviewing appropriate literature and designing methods for examining an object’s capacity to enforce or dismantle ideas about “the normal.” As a writing-intensive journey, this course will train students in the skills required to render complicated thinking. Primary readings will include works by Langon Winner, Donna Haraway, Paul Preciado, Joseph Dumit, and Steven Epstein.


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Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)