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Mass Communication 210

Social History of the Media

Number of Credits: 3

Length of Course: 14 weeks

Classroom Hours per Week: 4

Prerequisites: Mass Communication 110 and 12 credits

Corequisite: English 100

Text: Communication in History (6th Ed), Crowley and Heyer

Course Description:

The course explores, from prehistory to the present, the relationship between social change and systems of human communication. We examine the origins of symbolic representation, and appraise the consequences of the adoption of symbolizing technologies within a variety of social contexts, from oral culture, through scribal and print cultures, to the globalized networking culture of today. Emerging themes of continuity and change broaden our appreciation of the ways in which our present conditions have been anticipated in earlier times.

Course Schedule:

Week Chapter
Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 Record-keeping, Civilization, and Media
Week 3 Writing: Art, Craft, Power
Week 4 Orality and Social Literacy
Week 5 Manuscript Culture and Monopolies of Knowledge
Week 6 The Printing Press as an Agent of Social Change
Week 7 The Rise of Journalism and the Public Sphere
Week 8 Electricity, the Telegraph, and the Telephone
Week 9 Photojournalism, Moving Pictures, and Sound: Commodifying Mass Society
Week 10 Radio: a Public Voice in a Commercial World
Week 11 Television as Transitional Technology
Week 12 Mobility and Networking: New Media and Popular Control
Week 13 Living through a Revolution


Mid-term Exam 15%
Final Exam 20%
Assignments 30%
Project 20%
Participation 15%


Ian Chunn, B.A., M.A. (Toronto), B.Ed. (British Columbia)
Jean Hebert, B.A. (British Columbia), M.A. (Simon Fraser)

Transferability: see