Making Media Theory | College of Arts

Making Media Theory

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Making Media Theory


Marcel O’Gorman        University of Waterloo

Jason Lajoie            University of Waterloo



This course is an investigation and demonstration of hands-on approaches to the study and practice of Media Theory, a field that lives on the borderland of the Digital Humanities. We will look at various research methods, including critical making, applied media theory, and speculative design, before crafting our own media theoretical projects and asking whether or not they qualify as Digital Humanities practices. This a course that recognizes how the term “hands-on” itself invokes simultaneously the neoliberal politics of contemporary maker culture, Heidegger’s concept of ready-to-hand, and a disability studies critique of hackathons. Put otherwise, participants in this course will look critically at experimental research methods, engage carefully in media analysis, and develop critical making skills without leaning on naïve statements about the value of physical labour. Above all, this course invites scholars and students of media to engage directly with the materiality of their field of study, transforming them from technology consumers to technology developers and activists. As the playful title indicates, the course is about both the creation of media theory as an academic practice (making Media Theory) and also about the transformation of media into theory (making media theoretical).

The course will be built on a critical handbook called Making Media Theory that is currently being authored by the instructor. In the first class, we will take apart the words making, media, and theory, to establish a ground upon which methods and projects can be built. Over the course of the week, we will consider multiple perspectives on making, guided by readings in queer theory, feminism, disability studies, critical race studies, Indigenous studies, and the philosophy of technology. Participants will produce a project in the course that will involve soldering and light fabrication. They will come away with an expert knowledge of the practices of critical making, and they will be prepared to pursue their own hands-on projects to complement their research in the Digital Humanities and beyond.




Eventbrite - DH@Guelph Summer Workshops 2019

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.