2019-2020 Catalog

MAC 260 Topics in Digital Culture

This intermediate topical course addresses new and evolving issues around digital technologies and networked publics, examining their social, cultural, political, and global ramifications both on- and off-line. Coursework will engage digital media theory and scholarship. May be repeated once for credit when offered with a different topic.

The Art and Politics of Virtual Reality

Recent years have seen an explosion in consumer-grade virtual reality (VR) technologies — devices like the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR have brought a wealth of new experiences to audiences and users, both inside and outside their homes. The new wave of VR content and hardware may feel unprecedented; in fact, the history of VR begins over a century ago. This course will examine “reality” and the “virtual”, two long-contested terms, through the lenses of history, culture, embodiment, and space. Students will walk the boundaries of “virtual reality” through readings, screenings, workshops, and VR experiences. Through this work, students will enter the discourse surrounding VR, where they will struggle with the complicated political questions that surround VR as an art form: Who gets to define what is ‘real’ and what is not? How (and for whom) is something ‘virtual’? What kinds of rules, procedures, laws, and people should govern these strange spaces and places we call “virtual reality”? And how can VR be used not simply as a vehicle for entertainment or escape, but also a space for cultural questioning, activism, and social change? This course is connected to the Oxy Cinematheque Series that will occur during select evening course sessions.

Introduction to Game Studies and Culture

Games are changing how we create, mediate, and understand our world. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of game studies with a media studies and design focus. Students will read research, play games, analyze games, and think through game design. Students will also examine issues facing gaming culture. A survey of subjects will describe the foundational theories of the field, identities and game culture, and implications/effects of gameplay. Topics to be explored include disability, education and games, cheating, sexuality and games, narratives, addiction, news games, and violence.

Who Owns the Internet?

This course takes a historical, critical, and experiential approach to the competing sets of interests that have struggled over control of the internet since its inception. These players - military, academic, corporate, activist, regulatory, user, etc. - will be explored through sets of readings, screenings, field trips, and hands-on workshops. Central to our inquiry will be questions of infrastructure, surveillance, and resistance, as they mark out the terrain, on which digital culture thrives, and, through which, major actors exert their influence. Students will have the opportunity to both learn about digital cultures and work in digital modes in this course, with hands on components emphasizing geo-spatial analysis, multimedia presentation, social media engagement, and webmaking.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts