New Media, Spring 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas
20160 NMAC 4460.01 WM 9:30-10:45 CoAS-120 Spring, 2019
Microsoft’s new design language.[1]

This seminar explores our inexorable movement from atoms to bits — from the centralized media landscape of the twentieth century, to that of the current bazaar of networked digital cultures. What does it mean to be citizens of a digital world? Do we invent our technologies, or do they invent us? Welcome to New Media.

New Media represents a paradigm shift in the ways we produce and consume culture, and these shifts are, in turn, changing us. This course examines the theories of media: from those based on the physical (record players, tape recorders, VCRs, newspapers, books, records) to those based on digital information (computers, VR, DVRs, MP3s, etexts, video-on-demand). Both the theoretical and practical will fall under the purview of this course: not only will we consider the art and business of “new media,” but we will extend our digital fingers and participate in the discussion.


Welcome to NMAC 4460, your Senior Seminar in New Media. The document you’re reading is your syllabus. Everything you need for this class is on this page or linked off of it. Bookmark it now and return here if you get lost or confused.

For a head start on how to approach all work in this course, see “How to Do Well in My Class” and “Research & Response.”

Please read this document and those it links to carefully at the beginning of the semester. There is much information to process, and it can be somewhat daunting — especially if you read cursorily. If you are confused, do your best to work through it by (re)reading this document carefully and completely, searching this site, or consulting the FAQ. I promise, there is an answer to your question. If all else fails, you may contact me. Trust yourself to follow directions and find the answers. Be careful and deliberate.

Since you are seniors in the New Media and Communications program, I expect that you are all veteran users of new media. I’m assuming, since you’re taking this course, that you are comfortable with working by yourself and have a basic Internet fluency. Much of what we do in this course will involve using digital media, but also challenging our conventional uses and attitudes toward them. Please enter with an open mind. NMAC 4460 is also designed to let you — the students — discover and create your own knowledge using the powerful digital devices we all have access to. You will learn more about my approach shortly. If you’re curious to know more right now, you might want to read my teaching philosophy and peruse the articles under HackEdu.

Again, read this syllabus through carefully before beginning. You might want to take notes as you go, jotting down questions you have. I bet they are answered by the time you’re ready to begin the first lesson. Again, welcome.

Course Information

NMAC 4460: Senior Seminar in New Media
Prerequisite At least a “C” in ENGL 1102
Description This is a survey of new media theories and praxis. It positions new media in relation to the humanities and traditional media.
Classroom Hours 3 per week.
Credits 3 credits.

This course optionally offers the undergraduate research portion of the Experiential Learning@MGA program.[2] This optional program is meant to involve students in applications of learning beyond the classroom. It will be accomplished through the course research component (see Project) and the submission of a research journal at the end of the class. See me early in the semester for more information, or if you intend to use this course to complete this requirement.

Instructor Information

Gerald R. Lucas
Office CoAS-117 (Macon campus), Department of Media, Culture & the Arts
Office Hours See Contact
Email gerald.lucas [at] mga [dot] edu

I try to make myself as available as much as possible during the first couple weeks of a semester, including evenings and weekends. If you need to chat with me, email me and we’ll arrange a video conference via Skype (or similar service), if necessary. Please do not expect a response after 5pm on weekdays or anytime during the weekend. I may be available, but I also need some down time. Thanks for your understanding.


With a successful completion of the NMAC 4460, students will understand:

  • the influence of networked digital technologies on communication, art, and culture in a global context;
  • the unique properties of new media;
  • the historical and cultural contexts of new media from theory to praxis;
  • the legal and intellectual property concerns that new media challenges, particularly in the proprietary and open source communities;
  • the political responsibilities of new media use;
  • the distinction between various theoretical approaches to new media in cultural and academic contexts;
  • how new media affects the evolution of the “human.”



Required Texts

  • Murray, Janet H. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: the Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Negroponte, Nicholas (1996). Being Digital. New York: Vintage.
  • Wardrip-Fruin, Noah; Montfort, Nick, eds. (2003). The New Media Reader. Cambridge: The MIT Press.[3]
  • Various Links and PDFs[4]

Recommended Texts

Your course book(s) or readings should always accompany you to class, as we will make heavy use of them in our daily discussions. Please do not come to class without it: we need the book for class activities, in-class writing, and all aspects of our study. PDFs must be printed if they are used in class. Failure to do so will earn you an absence (see Attendance).

You should also bring an ink interface of some sort, as well as dead trees on which to take notes. Notes should not only reflect good listening skills, but individual interest in every topic discussed in class.

Supplementary Documents

At several points throughout the semester, your reading assignments will entail essays that are not in the above texts. These additional readings will be made available to you as PDFs via Google Drive: request access. You will need to download them, print them (or put them on your device), and bring them on the day we are covering them in class. Failure to do so will earn you an absence.


This course has three requirements: exams, research project, and participation.


Pro Tip
Share a Google Doc with every member of the class. Use it to collaborate on class notes each day we meet. Consider it a master study document.

Students’ knowledge of the course texts and lecture materials will be tested with a midterm and a final exam. These exams will test your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize this material, and your creativity in going beyond the discussion and lecture materials. The exams will include vocabulary, identification, and interpretation. All exam grades will be based upon objective knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of insight, precision, and originality.[5]


A formal research project will combine any aspects of the course topic into a well-researched, focused, and original project (see Research). This project could be a standard research paper, a significant Wikipedia contribution(s), or an approved digital approach to a topic. A proposal for this project will be due before midterm (see Schedule). A follow-up conference may be required to nuance your idea; you may, of course, discuss your ideas with me at any time.


Regular class attendance and active participation in classroom discussion are required. Some assignments will occasionally count for participation: online discussions, training, exercises, library tasks, short writing responses, reading quizzes, peer editing, the viewing of a film, and similar activities. Your participation in group activities and your preparation for class will be weighed heavily in evaluation: participation, effort, and attitude will count significantly. You should not sit in class like you’re watching TV: learning requires active participation and enthusiasm (see Student Behavior).


Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the following course policies. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight. In addition, students are responsible for reading, understanding, and adhering to all Middle Georgia State University student policies, including those linked on the Syllabus Policy page.[6]

Drop Date
March 6, 2019

Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date. After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy before dropping/withdrawing from class.

Assignments and Deadlines

Your work represents you. Everything you turn in for evaluation should exemplify the very best of your professional self. Late work is unacceptable and will receive a zero. Technical problems do not excuse late work. Plan ahead and turn in your work on time. Last-minute work submissions are ineligible for revision for a higher grade.


Poor attendance will negatively affect your grade. You must endeavor to attend every class, and it is your responsibility to ask a fellow classmate what you missed; in-class assignments, like quizzes, cannot be made up. Too many absences will constitute class failure. Please read the attendance policy carefully.


Communication is integral to success, no matter what we’re talking about. In a digital world, these literacies are particularly important. Not only should you develop and perfect your communication skills while in college, you need to use those skills everyday with your peers and professors.


Evaluation depends on overall student performance: depending on the successful completion of all requirements, participation, and attitude. Some requirements are weighed heavier in evaluation, but all are essential to successfully complete the class. Letter grades are based upon a traditional ten-point scale. Grades for this class will be based on the point system.


Willful or accidental plagiarism will result in automatic failure of this class (with a grade of an “F”) and will be pursued to incite the utmost penalty for such dishonesty. Academic falsehood, in any form, will constitute class failure.


All writing in this course should be supported with both primary (readings I assign you) and secondary (sources you find yourself) texts. All suppositions must be supported with evidence, whether they appear on a forum post, a blog post, a Wikipedia article, or class discussion. In other words: research is an integral component of everything you do in this course. Any ideas that are not supported might as well not be written.


This schedule represents the ideal outline for our study this semester. Yet, like all best-laid plans, we may not be able to keep up with our agenda. Please be flexible and try to look and read ahead whenever possible. We will do our best to stick by this schedule, but I will inform you verbally whenever there is a change in or an addition to an assignment. Getting these updates is solely your responsibility. Therefore, this schedule is tentative and subject to change contingent upon the needs of the students and the professor, and dictated by time and other constraints which may affect the course. This schedule reflects only an overview of the assigned reading and other major course assignments. It may not indicate specific class session assignments or activities. Specific assignments are often given in class.

1 01/07 Classes Begin -
01/09 Introduction
2 01/14 Foundations Read: Cortázar “Axolotl”; all posts under Defining New Media
01/16 Monday’s intro and discussion continued.
3 01/21 No class today — MLK Holiday
01/23 Read: Borges “The Aleph”; Bush, Licklider, Turing, and Wiener (Under “Foundational and Transitional Thinking”)
4 01/28 Revolution and Democracy Read: Sterling, “Maneki Neko”; McLuhan, from Understanding Media: Ch. 1 “The Medium Is the Message” (NMR) and Ch. 4 “The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis”
01/30 Read: Sterling “Deep Eddy”; Enzensberger; and Boal (Under “Being Digital”)
5 02/04 Digital Humanities Read: Di Filippo “A Short Course in Art Appreciation”; Lucas “Defining Digital Humanities”; Marche “Literature Is Not Data”; Pressner, et al “The DH Manifesto”; Lucas “Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0”
02/06 Langdon Winner “Mythinformation” (NMR 587); Robert Coover “The End of Books” (NMR 705); Stuart Moulthrop “You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media” (NMR 691)
6 02/11 Open Source View: Revolution OS. Read: Richard Stallman, “The GNU Manifesto” (NMR 543); Eric Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” (PDF); Bill Gates, Open Letter to Hobbyists (Weblink); Bruce Perens, Open Source Definition (Weblink)
02/13 Catch up. Project proposals due.[7] Sign up for conferences.
7 02/18 Midterm In-class midterm.
02/20 No class.
8 02/25 Conferences No class. Conferences in CoAS-117.
02/27[8] No class. Conferences in CoAS-117.
9 03/04 Participatory Culture Read: Negroponte Being Digital
03/06[9] Read: Henry Jenkins, Introduction to Convergence Culture; “Courtney Love Does the Math”
10 03/11 Cyberspace Read: John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” and “Declaring Independence”; Tim Berners-Lee, “On the 25th Anniversary of the Web” and commentary; Sherry Turkle, “Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in VR”; Alexandra Alter, “Is this Man Cheating on His Wife?”
03/13 Read: Julian Dibbell “A Rape in Cyberspace”; Neal Stephenson, from Snow Crash
11 03/18 Spring Break
12 03/25 Cyberdrama Read: Murray Hamlet on the Holodeck
03/27 . . .
13 04/01 Ludology Read: Stuart Moulthrop, “From Work to Play”; Espen Aarseth, “Genre Trouble: Narrativism and the Art of Simulation”; Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”
04/03 . . .
14 04/08 Posthumanism Read: Haraway “A Cyborg Manifesto”
04/10 Read: Kurzweil, “Reinventing Humanity”; Joy “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us”; . . .
15 04/15 Catchup & Project Work
16 04/22
17 04/29
05/01 Projects Due
18 05/03 Final Exam Friday, 8-10a


  1. Carman, Ashley (May 5, 2017). "Microsoft's design video features a completely redesigned desktop and email app". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  2. "Experiential Learning@MGA". MGA. 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  3. Buy this book immediately, as you will need it first and use it throughout the semester.
  4. Request access.
  5. See the various resources available on this web site to help. They should assist in exam prep and provide guidance for your study throughout the semester.
  6. See the MGA website's Syllabus Policy Page the policies linked thereon.
  7. These should be submitted at least one day before your scheduled conference. Proposals that do not contain at least five solid sources in a preliminary bibliography will be returned as incomplete.
  8. Midterm grades due.
  9. Drop date.