Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses
Hum 498: Media & the Senses

Hum 498: Media & the Senses

Summer 2008 (20 Students)

Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities

The Syllabus

Syllabus

Computer-Integrated, Project-Based Institute (with a competitive application process) co-taught with Phillip Thurtle, Axel Roesler, and Carrie Bodle (co-designed with approval and support from the Undergraduate Research Program, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and the Mary Gates Endowment for Students at the University of Washington)

Full Title: “Seventh Annual Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities: Media and the Senses”

Official Institute Description

It’s no secret. We live in a media saturated society. We use cell phones to speak to each other; we turn on the television for instant entertainment; we use the Internet to post our thoughts, feelings, and images; and we surround ourselves in cocoons of recorded music. Despite the widespread prevalence of media, however, students rarely get the opportunity to study, in an intensive fashion, the ways that media influence who they are and how they relate to their environment. The Seventh Annual Summer Institute is designed to help students understand the ways that media shape culture by offering a sustained study on the relationship between media and the senses. We intend to use the term “sense” in two ways: as an inquiry into how students “sense” or perceive media and as an inquiry into how individuals make “sense” or create meaning with media. Importantly, concentrating on media and the senses reminds us that individuals relate to their environments through their senses. This, then, allows researchers to ask in what ways do media technologies present the world to people? Paying attention to the senses also invites us to think about the various ways that different media engage the senses. How, for instance, is music perceived differently than two-dimensional art? What are the meaningful effects of those differences?

During the first four weeks of the Summer Institute students will work together in small and large groups in a studio setting. There they will read and discuss key writings on media criticism, the history and philosophy of technology, the role of design in interaction, and philosophies of the body; they will view, listen, and engage visual, sonic, literary, and installation art projects; they will evaluate the role of specific media practices in art and design; and they will gain hands on experience in building media projects. During the last four weeks students will work in small groups on either collaborative or individual projects that explore in greater depth the role of sensation in media. Students will then present their projects at a special symposium at the end of the eight-week Summer Institute. Also, a possibility of exhibiting in-progress work at the School of Art Jacob Lawrence Gallery exists for all students in the Summer Institute during the first week of August.

Program Background

The theme, “media and the senses,” addresses a major research focus for scholars in the arts and humanities and provides students with tangible and important academic benefits. All four members of the Summer Institute teaching team actively research aspects of media and the senses. Carrie Bodle is a visual and sound artist whose work explores the transformations of site facilitated by sound and image. Axel Roesler, Assistant Professor for Action Design in the Program of Design, works on the role of design in facilitating human interactions with the various forms of media. Jentery Sayers, Graduate Student in English, is interested in the intersection of sound reproduction, technologies, and literature. And Phillip Thurtle, Assistant Professor in Comparative History of Ideas, History, and Adjunct in Anthropology, has published work investigating the intersection of information processing, genetics, digital media, and embodiment.

Learning Outcomes

Students enrolled in the Summer Institute can expect to achieve the following objectives:

Learn to transition their everyday engagements with and skills in technology into scholarly research projects in the arts and humanities.

Identify and execute rigorous research projects in the digital arts and humanities, including the analysis and composition of media.

Examine the complex issues related to intellectual property/rights managements and media and consider how those issues function in their own research.

Pursue modes of creative thinking and imagination that carry scholarly potential in the arts and humanities, particularly through projects that stress the role of the senses in the production, circulation, and use of media.

Explore the theoretical and practical intersections of media and embodiment, art and science, and technology and culture.

Present research in the digital arts and humanities in an academic forum.

Closing Remarks

During the Summer Institute’s closing symposium (which was a public event), I gave the closing remarks. Those remarks are available below in PDF.

Closing Remarks

What I Learned

The Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities was not only the first time I authored a proposal for a course (at the University of Washington or elsewhere); it was also the first time I co-taught a class. I learned a tremendous amount from co-teaching, including how to coordinate lesson plans, balance teaching investments across disciplines, co-author course materials, and share the classroom over an extended period of time (e.g., the Institute met for ten to twelve hours per week over the period of two months). More importantly, together with the three other faculty and twenty students involved, I learned how to present arts and humanities research (especially new media research) in a gallery space. This experience was new to me; however, the Institute’s “in process” exhibition received positive reviews, and the students expressed how the gallery experience re-shaped their approaches to scholarship. For more on the Institute, please see the HASTAC column I wrote about it in 2008.

Course Evaluations

Available upon request.

(The second image on the left is a screen shot of the Undergraduate Research Program website, which I designed. The penultimate image is a screen shot of the HASTAC column I wrote about the Institute. The final image was designed by Axel Roesler. All other images are photographs taken by students in the Summer Institute. Images used with permission.)