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= Start a New Dossier =
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Revision as of 00:54, 8 April 2010

Media Archaeology

Media Archaeology course syllabus (Spring 2010)

Over the last decade or so, scholars in several disciplines have embarked on a series of media-archaeological excavations, sifting through the layers of early and obsolete practices and technologies of communication. The archaeological metaphor evokes both the desire to recover material traces of the past and the imperative to situate those traces in their social, cultural, and political contexts--while always watching our steps. This graduate seminar will examine some of the most important contributions to the field of media archaeology.

The course follows a research studio format in which students undertake archaeological projects of their own in the area of forgotten, obsolete, or otherwise "dead" media technologies. This might include papyrus, Athanasius Kircher's seventeenth-century magic lantern, or the common slide projector, discontinued by Kodak in 2004. Our goal is to introduce students to the skills and resources necessary for producing rigorous research on such obsolete and obscure media. It will include an exposure to scholarship in media archaeology; an intensive introduction to research methods; instruction on the localization and utilization of word, image, and sound archives; and an emphasis on restoring media artifacts to their proper social and cultural context. The course stems from the premise that media archaeology is best undertaken, like any archaeological project, collaboratively. Hence the course follows a research studio model commonly used in disciplines such as architecture or design.

New Dossiers--Spring 2010

3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Acoustic Coupler

Animal Magnetism

Cel Animation

Daguerre's Diorama

Dance Card

Duplicating Polygraph

Euphonia Speaking Machine



Indus Valley Seal

Macintosh TV



Mosso Ergograph




Phrenology (Craniology)

Reverse Polish Notation


Signet Ring


Teddy Ruxpin

Town Crier

Underground Missile Silo

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Critical Techniques

As a group we are developing a series of Critical Techniques that help facilitate the analysis of dead media artifacts.


Some entries in the archive are drawn from the Dead Media Project, an email list devoted to the topic started by Bruce Sterling and more recently moderated by Tom Jennings. The email list is now dead.


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