Theoretical Foundations of Communication – Digital Media History

Please only make an offer if you are knowledgeable about communication theories.

Instructions: Create a media history of a present technology. First, choose a contemporary media technology or an aspect of a media technology (i.e., Instagram; SMS/MMS; emoji communication; iPhone, etc.). This is your “media object.”
Then, research the history of this media object, including any “old media” which may have informed its design, function, and popularity today.

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Format: Write an essay on your chosen media object to answer the questions below.
You can include text, images, and audio-visual materials in your essay.

Assignment requirements: Include the following in your essay:
● The history of your media object (1-2 pages):
○ Use scholarly materials as much as possible here. Google Scholar and
the library website are good places to start.

● Historical precursors (1-2 pages):
○ What earlier media forms can shed light on your contemporary media
object? Explain well how you make this/these connection(s)

● Relevant communication and media studies theory: drawing on theories we have
seen in class and in the readings since the Frankfurt School, offer at least
three ways of “making sense” of this contemporary media object (2-3

○ For ex.: What would Adorno and Horkheimer say about your media
object? What insights would Janice Radway, Edward Said, or Stuart Hall
provide? Look through the course syllabus to find relevant resources.

● Full list of references using the APA style guide. The Purdue Online Writing Lab
provides an excellent overview of various style guides, including APA.

Example: You decide to research emoji. You would need to look at:
● The history of emoji: where did they come from? Who decides what gets to be an
emoji? When did it emerge? How? With which means? Who
developed/commercialized it? Who was targeted by its development? What is the
process by which new emoji are introduced?
● Historical precursors: are there other examples of visual – rather than text-based
– communication that might provide insight into our contemporary use of emoji?
● Relevant communication and media studies theory: Stuart Hall’s work on
Representation would allow you to theorize the use of emoji skin-tone modifiers
Habermas might be concerned about the role of emoji in the public sphere, and
the relationship between emoji communication and democracy; etc.

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