This semester I am teaching a class at Lang, titled Mediated Subjectivity: Politics and Subjectivity in the Networked Public Sphere.

Course Description

With their emphasis on constant sharing and updating, social network sites, blogging platforms, photo and video sharing services, are reshaping contemporary culture by providing virtually infinite opportunities for self-expression and conversation. While theorists such as Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Clay Shirky, and Yochai Benkler celebrate the democratic potential embedded in online participatory culture, political scientists and philosophers such as Cass Sunstein, Slavoj Zizek and Jodi Dean maintain that the echo chamber effect of social media as well as the possibility of realizing one’s fantasies in digital environments have the unintended effect of obfuscating actual power structures and therefore our ability to act upon them. By addressing this bifurcation in contemporary theorizations of cyberculture, the course analyzes online participatory culture not only for its content but also as an extension of the media that enable it. In particular we will be asking what kind of forms of subjectivity are set in motion by media that demand users to provide constant responses, sharing, and updates. Further, students will have the opportunity to test these critical and theoretical problems by analyzing web-based phenomena such as online role-playing games, social network sites, blogs, viral videos, image boards, and news aggregators.

Week 1. Introduction to the Public Sphere

August 29

Class Introduction

August 31

Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, pp. 1-12, 27-37. Available on Blackboard.

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, pp. 1-16, pp. 180-185. Available at

Week 2. Criticism of Habermas’s Public Sphere

September 7. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Social Text 25-26 (1990): 56-80. Available on Blackboard.

Week 3. Secrecy and Transparency in the Networked Public Sphere

September 12 (Emily)

Jodi Dean, Publicity’s Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy, pp. 15-19, 34-46. Available on Blackboard.

Raffi Khatchadourian, “No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency,” The New Yorker. Available at

September 14 (Max)

Jay Rosen, “The Afghan War Logs Released by Wikileaks, The World First Stateless News Organization,” Press Think. Available at
Farhad Manjod, “The WikiLeaks Paradox. Is radical transparency compatible with total anonymity?” Slate. Available at

Geert Lovink and Patrice Riemens, “Ten Theses on Wikileaks,” available at

Jack Z. Bratich, “Kyber-Revolts: Egypt, State-friended Media, and Secret Sovereign Networks,” MediaCommons,

— Projects: End of Ideation (individual) —

Week 4. Web 2.0: The New Architecture of Participation

September 19 (William)

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Chapters 1-3, pp. 1-54

September 21 (Dorry and Mario)

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, pp. 55-80

Watch “Clay Shirky on Institutions vs. Collaboration,” TED Talk, available at

Watch Clay Shirky, “How Social Media Can Make History,” TED Talk, available at

Week 5. …and Its Critics

September 26 (Mollie)

Cass Sunstein, 2.0, pp. 46-96. Available on Blackboard.

September 28 (Amy)

Matthew Hindman, The Myth of Digital Democracy, available at

Jodi Dean, Blog Theory, pp. 1-13.

— Projects: End of Brainstorming and Design (collective) —

Week 6. The Open Source Revolution & Commons-based Peer Production

October 3 (Lynlea)

Watch Revolution OS, USA, 2001. Available at

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, pp. 237-259.


Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Chapter 2, available at

October 5 (Amanda)

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Chapter 5, pp. 109-142

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, pp. 59-81, available at

Week 7. Network Theory & Power-Law Distributions

October 10 (Daria)

Albert Lazlo Barabasi, Linked, 9-54. Available on Blackboard.

October 12

Albert Lazlo Barabasi, Linked, 55-92. Available on Blackboard.

— Projects: End of Execution (collective) —

Week 8. The Twitter Revolution Must Die

October 17 (Julia)

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, pp. 143-160.

Malcolm Gladwell, “Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted,” The New Yorker, available at

October 19

Ethan Zuckerman, “Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention”

Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, pp. 67-81. Available on Blackboard.

Ulises A. Meijas, “The Twitter Revolution Must Die,”

— Projects: End of Outreach (collective) —

Week 9. A Week Without Google

October 24 (Veronica)

Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Googlization of Everything, pp. 51-72. Available on Blackboard.

Listen to “The Case Against Google,” On the Media

Thomas Claburn, “5 Reasons Google+’s Name Policy Fails,” Information Week,

October 26

Projects: Reports and Presentations

Week 10. Affective Networks

October 31

Jodi Dean, Blog Theory, pp. 19-53.

November 2

Jodi Dean, Blog Theory, pp. 61-69, 75-86, 99-104, 108-126.

Week 11. The Force of Anonymity

November 7

Michele Knobel & Colin Lankshear, “Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production.” In A New Literacies Sampler, pp. 199-228. Available on Blackboard.

Julian Dibbell, “Radical Opacity,” Technology Review,

Michele S. Bernstein et. al. “4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community,”

November 9

Adrian Crenshaw, “Crude, Inconsistent Threat: Understanding Anonymous,”

Gabriella Coleman, “From the Lulz to Collective Action,” MediaCommons,

— Projects: End of Ideation (individual) —

Week 12. Managing Friendship and Status in Social Network Sites
November 14
danah boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” Available at
danah boyd and Alice Marwick, “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience,” New Media and Society. Blackboard.

November 16

Mizuko Ito et. al., Hanging out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, pp. 79-115. Available on Blackboard.

Week 13. Social Network Sites and Privacy

November 21

danah boyd and Eszter Hargittai, “Facebook Privacy Settings: Who Cares?” First Monday,

danah boyd, ”Facebook and Radical Transparency (a rant),” Apophenia,

— Projects: End of Brainstorming and Design (collective) —

Thanksgiving Break

Week 14. Gaming

November 28

Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, pp. 1-27. Available on Blackboard.

Gonzalo Frasca, “Simulation vs Narrative: Introduction to Ludology,” available at

November 30

Alexander Galloway, Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, pp. 1-38. Available on Blackboard.

Watch “Jane McGonigal: Games Can Make a Better World,” TED Talk, available at

Week 15. Network Exploitation or Network Expropriation?

December 5

Christian Fuchs, “Labor in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet,” available at

December 7

Adam Arvidsson and Elanor Colleoni, “Value in Informational Capitalism and on the Internet. A Reply to Christian Fuchs.” Available on Blackboard.

— Projects: End of Execution and Outreach (collective) —

Week 16. Digital Socialism & Remix Culture

December 12

Kevin Kelly, “The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online,” Wired,

Jaron Lanier “On Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” available at

December 14

Watch Rip: A Remix Manifesto, 2009. Available at

Projects: Report and Presentation

Final Comprehensive Take-Home Assignment

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