Columbia Courses, Spring 2010

Three more Columbia courses on Top of Professor John’s Network Course (see below).

Members of the J-school Communications faculty are offering the following courses for spring in addition to the Networks course – Prof. Gitlin’s description tk.

SOCIOLOGY OF NEWS. Prof. Michael Schudson. Monday, 10-12.

This seminar reviews leading works of social science (particularly in sociology, political science, and communication studies) that analyze the character and role of the news media in society — and that do so from different theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary points of view. The focus is primarily on the news media of the United States but the course will situate the American case in cross-national perspective. The first half of the course will center on the most influential works of the past three decades. The second half of the course will focus on developments of the digital age, especially the past five years. Students will be urged to keep tabs on —  and write research papers about —  developments in digital journalism, whether in on-line startups or websites of mainstream media (but other paper topics are also welcome). Syllabus available upon request.


What does “true to life” mean when applied to the stories journalists tell using ingredients in the world instead of, or along with, words? How do ideas about the authenticity of visual images develop and play out in a profession that grounds its identity in its claim to accurately represent reality? In a wide-ranging exploration of those questions, we will consider historical, ethical, social, and aesthetic aspects of the relationship between journalism and visual media from the daguerreotype to cinema verite to citizen-journalism-by-cellphone. We’ll look at the assumptions, conventions, ethical standards, and moral dilemmas that attach to the production and reception of photojournalism and documentary film, and how those have changed over time; how viewers and critics responded to them; and what sort of debates and controversies they have inspired. The focus will be American, though relevant work from other countries will be included. Assignments will include weekly readings, viewings of photographs and films, an in-class presentation, a final paper, and vigorous, informed classroom discussion.

MAKING PUBLICS. Prof. Todd Gitlin. Tuesday, 2-4. Current debates about the internet and democracy echo older questions about the nature of public life in the modern world.  This seminar surveys major theories of the hyperconnected society (Castells, Benkler, et al.) as well as precursors (Dewey, Lippmann, et al.), with an eye to overarching social analysis and anthropological speculation on the arrival of a new way of life, mixed with a tincture of prophecy.


COMMUNICATION RESEARCH PROBLEMS. Prof. Todd Gitlin. Thursday, 2-4. Required of Columbia Communications Ph.D.candidates, this seminar guides students to identify and explore their dissertation topics.

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