David Golumbia’s course “Challenging Media Studies” at Virginia Commonwealth University provides a topical survey of issues in current digital media studies. Dr. Golumbia passed out a list of dozens of topics that were possible entry points into the class. Students voted on which topics they wanted to discuss, and each group dove into creating their own content for their topic. Throughout the semester, students spend about a week or two each on topics involving digital democracy, social media and sociality, social media activism, digital language, race and gender in digital media, games, the digital divide, digital politics, transparency/openness, online education, software studies, and the singularity.

The class is experimental in nature and is designed to encourage challenging discussion.

Visiting the students:

Since this class is experimental in nature and designed to encourage challenging discussions, students were immediately engaged in the topics. (Allowing them to shape their own syllabus helps!) Visiting this class is a distinct experience because the participatory nature of the class meetings encourages the development of unique projects.

So far, groups have given presentations on topics of social media, the impact of digital technology on sociality, digital photography, and trolling. Each group is responsible for finding two or three short articles, videos, or other media to share with the class. The groups present major topics and questions for discussion to the rest of the class and then the rest of the class is engaged in a lively class discussion. Their syllabus is a work in progress, but they are finding some great material as they research their topics!

Final Update

The students worked on various projects throughout the semester, although much of their work involved in-class discussions. You can check out a few snippets of their conversation here:

Thoughts on Twitter…


Language and Technology…

We are also excited to bring you Rachael’s exploration into Facebook [site no longer live]. We were going to bring you more, as we always wish to do, yet the students received an extension on their final projects. Lucky students.

Course Stats

Professor: David Golumbia
Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University
Course: Digital Studies, ENGL 391
Project: Exploring issues in digital media studies
Participants: Six groups
Some Readings/Viewings:

  • All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis
  • From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner
  • Misunderstanding the Internet by James Curran, Natalie Fenton, and Des Freedman