Social/Media: Critical Inquiries into Internet Cultures

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 50
8 Credits per quarter
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Social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and others permeate our society and daily lives. You may check one or more of these platforms regularly to keep up with friends, communities, or news, or notice their increasing importance in social groups, popular culture, and politics. And yet we rarely step back to examine the structure of these ubiquitous websites and how we use them. In this half-time (8 credit), remotely instructed daytime program, we will critically explore a selection of social media sites and phenomena through theory, media studies, cultural studies, and anthropology. How do these technologies offer new opportunities for individual well-being, creative work, and social action? In what ways do they represent enhanced forms of distraction, surveillance, exploitation, and inequality? Centering on the notion of the digital commons, we will consider the possibilities for shared cultivation of knowledge, art, and community via online platforms.

Program activities include seminar on academic readings, computer labs to analyze websites under study, essay and response writing assignments. Students will take a qualitative, ethnographic approach to social media, through a careful documentation and analysis of particular digital sites and situations. Ethnographic work will culminate in a short audio podcast; as part of this work, students will gain proficiency in the use of audio editing software.

To successfully participate in this program students will need access to a computer or large tablet with a keyboard, mic, and video camera (using a smartphone is possible but not preferred); a secure wifi connection; and a space for videoconferencing. Students should expect to participate in 4 hours of synchronous (live) activities each week using Zoom, Canvas, Slack, and occasionally other social media accounts.  Our approach will emphasize synchronous participation; however, if students find themselves regularly unable to join in due to technology or personal circumstances, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.


Fall 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (8): 10211
Winter 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (8): 20075

Academic details

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$30 in winter quarter to cover a required reader


In Person or Remote
Remote (F)
Remote (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2020-10-22 Student fee increased to $30 (was $25)