This is an archived course. Visit the most recent syllabus.

Course Description

An overview of twelve media technologies: writing, manual printing, mass printing, photography, telegraphy, telephony, motion pictures, sound recording, radio, television, computers, and the internet. We will examine the technical development of each technology, the function of each, and the impact each had on the cultures adopting it.

Time and Place

Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:20 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 264
Section: MEDST 100–02 (8177)


Juan Monroy


Office Hours

G Building, Room 102-D
Mondays, 5:00 - 6:00 PM

Schedule an appointment

Also available remotely on Google Hangouts by advance appointment.

Course Materials


The textbooks for this course are available through online retailers, such as Amazon, through Textbookx, and on reserve at Rosenthal Library.

The following textbooks are required:

And I recommend the following book if you want a deeper look at each media technology:

Review Materials

Under each class, I will post on this site the following review materials:

Use these materials to prepare for the midterm and final exams.


We will not be using Blackboard for this course. Instead, consult the Course Website for the syllabus and Google Classroom for submitting assignments.

G Suite for Education

This course will use G Suite for Education using your QC CAMS (often referred to as the QC Active Directory) account. Below are instructions for how to activate your QC G Suite for Education account (titled “Step 1” below) and how to join our course on Google Classroom (titled “Step 2” below). New QC students and students enrolled at another CUNY campus will have to take an additional, first step (titled “Step 0” below).

About Google accounts

You can have more than one Google account. If you use Gmail, you already have a Google Account: it is likely a personal Google account. Google offers organizations, businesses and educational institutions G Suite accounts for its users. Since you’re enrolled at Queens College, you have access to a QC G Suite for Education account.

You cannot access QC G Suite for Education using your personal Gmail or another G Suite account.

You can be logged into both accounts at the same time, but you will likely have to switch between accounts to access your QC G Suite for Education account versus your personal G Suite.

Step 0: Activate your QC Username

Students New to Queens College, Recently Transferred to QC, or Enrolled at another CUNY Campus.

You must first activate your Queens College username and email account at

The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.

Step 1: Activate Your QC G Suite for Education account

Information Technology at Queens College offers detailed instructions for activating (or claiming) your QC G Suite for Education account. The process comes down to four steps.

  1. Go to
  2. Log in with your complete Queens College username (e.g.,
  3. From the QC authentication page, sign in with your QC CAMS account. Use your QC CAMS username (e.g. jmonroy100) and your QC CAMS password. (If you’re having trouble contact the QC CAMS Help Desk at 718–997–4444.)
  4. Accept the terms of service.

You can access your QC G Suite for Education account at

Your Google G Suite for Education username is [Your QC AD username], for example,

About Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a barebones, learning management system that you will use to submit your assignments and I will use to grade your work. We will not be using Blackboard.

I will also post announcements to Google Classroom instead of emailing everyone in class. However, you should use email to contact me, instead of the private commenting system in Google Classroom because it doesn’t work properly.

Step 2: Join Google Classroom

Google has instructions for joining a course in Google Classroom. The process basically comes down to four steps:

  1. Go to Google Classroom.
  2. Sign in using your QC CAMS login.
  3. Click the “+” to “Join class.”
  4. Enter the code I provided at the first meeting (for face-to-face classes) or via email (for online classes).

I highly recommend downloading the Google Classroom mobile app for iOS or Android. If you allow push notifications, you will immediately receive important announcements from me and learn when assignments are posted.

Use the QC G Suite for Education Apps

We will be using some QC G Suite applications in this class.

  • Google Docs is a cloud-based, word-processing application. It is comparable to Microsoft Word on your personal computer except that all your documents are stored in your Google Drive. Be sure you’re using your QC G Suite account, not your personal Google account. Download the Google Docs mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Meet is a video-based, communication platform used for remote office hours. Download the Google Meet mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Forms is a survey and data collection platform that we will use for quizzes in some courses. There’s a bug in Forms that requires you to authenticate using your QC G Suite account on a web browser if you navigate to the quiz from the Google Classroom apps. To avoid this bug, I recommend taking the quizzes on a desktop computer.
  • Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage platform. Your QC Google Drive offers unlimited storage, compared to 15 GB with your personal Google Drive. Download the Google Drive mobile apps for iOS or Android.


A majority of access issues can be resolved switching to your Queens College Google account. This article describes how to switch between Google accounts.

Another resolution that always works is to log out of all your Google accounts in your web browser and then logging back into your QC G Suite account at


This class consists of four components. You cannot satisfactorily complete this course without all four of these.

Attendance and Participation

Please be present in each class.

Each class session will form the basis of the material I expect you to know for the exams. We will cover the historical, technological, and economic context relevant to each electronic media technology. Although I will post review questions each week, they serve as poor substitutes for attending and participating in each week’s class.


Please read the assigned course material prior to each week’s class. Consult the Course Schedule (below) for the required reading assignments.


All assignments must be completed on time in order to receive full credit. Late assignments will be penalized according to the policy listed below.


Exams comprise half of your course grade and are designed to reward regular attendance and diligent studying. Exams will be administered in class and must be taken at the specified date and time.



For in-person classes, regular attendance is required. Attend twelve or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than four classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

For hybrid course, regular attendance is required. Attend seven or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than three classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

This policy does not apply to online courses.

Verification of Attendance

You must be present or participating in class during the verification of attendance period. Otherwise, I will report you as not attending and you will be dropped from the class.

The verification period is as follows:

  • fall and spring semesters: the first three weeks of classes
  • summer and winter semesters: the first four days of classes

Academically-related activities include, but are not limited to:

  • physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
  • submitting an academic assignment;
  • taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
  • attending a study group that is assigned by the school;
  • participating in an online discussion about academic matter;
  • engaging in an online academically-related activity, or initiating contact with the instructor to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course or ask a course-related question.

Note: Logging into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate participation in an academically-related activity by the student.


Digital devices are prohibited in class. Unfortunately, students in the past have failed to use computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. in a professional, responsible, or productive manner, and, as such, you are not allowed to use these devices in class after the first class session.

You’re welcome to print out the slides ahead of time—they are available on this website—and to take notes on paper. I recommend buying a spiral notebook, some nice pencils, and a portable pencil sharpener to do this.

Further, if I find you engaging in any other disruptive behavior, such as passing notes, instant messaging, chatting, photographing, or texting, I will remove you from the classroom and have you withdraw from the class.

Late Work

Please submit your work on time. Late quizzes and take-home final exams will not be accepted. In-class exams must be taken at the date and time listed below unless other we make other arrangements. All other work will be penalized as follows.

Fall and Spring Courses
After a 24-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After one calendar week, the assignment will not be accepted, and you will likely fail this class.
Summer and Winter Courses
After a one-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction up to 24 hours after the deadline. Late work will not be accepted after 24 hours.
All courses
No work will be accepted after 11:59 PM on the day of the final exam.

“Incomplete” Grades

There are no incomplete grades for this class except in the case of a documented emergency in the final weeks of the semester. If you experience such an emergency, please contact me immediately, and we will work out a schedule for you to complete the outstanding work before the beginning of the following semester.

But aside from these circumstances, no late work will be accepted and no “incomplete” grades will be granted. If you have difficulty keeping up with coursework, consider giving yourself extra time to complete assignments, reducing your overall course load, and/or taking this class at a later semester.

No Extra Credit Assignments

There are no opportunities for extra credit. As a matter of fairness, your grade will be based on the work assigned to all students.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion. Examples of Academic Dishonesty include cheating, plagiarism, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents.

Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. Obtaining Unfair Advantage is any action taken by a student that gives that student an unfair advantage in his/her academic work over another student, or an action taken by a student through which a student attempts to gain an unfair advantage in his or her academic work over another student.

For tips and information on how to maintain academic integrity, consult Writing at Queens document, “What is Plagiarism?”.

Computers, Tablets, and Mobile Phones

Please refrain from using your digital devices during class. Also remember to silence your mobile phone, or turn it off to save your battery.

It is particularly rude to use your devices in class because it distracts not only me but also the students around you. And others can see what you’re doing.

Students must surrender mobile phones, tablets, and computers on exam days.

QC Email

Do not use the commenting system in Google Classroom to communicate with me.

Always use your QC email account ( This is the only way I can communicate with you, other than face-to-face meetings or via video conferencing.

Students with Disabilities

Queens College has a history of commitment to the enhancement of education of students with disabilities. The Office of Special Services for Students with Disabilities was established in 1974 to provide equal opportunities for a college education to academically qualified students with physical disabilities. The office offers comprehensive support services to students with various disabilities. Queens College prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and it ensures full access and equal opportunity to qualified students with disabilities to all academic programs and social activities on campus.

To receive these services, a student must first register with the office in Kiely 171. To do so, you must bring proper documentation pertaining to the nature of your disability from a qualified professional. To learn more about CUNY Assistive Technology Services and the office located at Queens College, call (718) 997–3775 or visit Kiely Hall 173. For more information, visit The Office of Special Services.

Help with Writing

One of the most important skills you will learn throughout your education is writing. If you cannot write, you will not succeed at communicating your ideas and will endanger your professional development.

The Writing Center at Queens College offers free assistance to students with writing. Please visit the center at least once for each writing assignment you have for your classes this semester. You can schedule a one-hour session or drop in to consult an on-duty tutor.



For each of the twelve media technologies, you will take a quiz on the lecture and reading materials. Each quiz is due by the end of the Wednesday before the relevant class, noted below and on Google Classroom.

  • Due: Day of Class, 12:00 PM
  • Ten of twelve quizzes are required
  • No late quizzes will be accepted
  • Weight: 30%

Media Technologies and “The Cycle”

At the midterm exam, I will assign you one of five media technologies addressed in The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu.

Write a 1,500-word of summary of how your assigned media technology follows the pattern of what Wu terms “The Cycle.” Your summary should address the timeframe of that technology and also confront at least three of the following steps of the “The Cycle”:

  1. The invention and adoption of the media technology;
  2. The technology’s disruption of an existing, incumbent technology;
  3. The consolidation of number of actors controlling that technology
  4. The division of the media technology industry due to a newer technology or regulatory action;
  5. The reorganization of the media technology industry into another consolidated industry with a few entities controlling it.

Follow these guidelines for formatting and submitting your paper.


Midterm Exam

The midterm exam is an in-class exam, consisting identification and short essay questions. The exam will cover the course material from the first half of the course.

Use the review guide to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.

  • Thursday, March 16, in class
  • Weight: 20%

Final Exam

The final exam is an in-class exam, consisting identification and short essay questions. The exam will cover the course material from the second-half of the course.

Use the review guide to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.

  • Thursday, May 25, 6:15 – 8:15 PM
  • Weight: 30%

Course Schedule

February 2 • Welcome

February 9 • Writing

The first media technology was writing because it allowed humans to store, transmit, and retrieve knowledge in ways that oral cultures simply could not.

Class Cancelled due to Winter Storm

Please watch the two video lectures posted on Google Classroom.


February 16 • Early Print

Early print allowed information to be printed in books that were produced using manual (hand-operated) machines, such as the medieval printing press. Beginning in the fifteenth century, the printing press would shape modern Europe.


February 23 • Mass Print

The steam engine and the attendant industrial revolution of the eighteenth brought mass production. The mechanical printing press brought new print forms—inexpensive books, newspapers, and magazines— and the attendant mass culture of the nineteenth century.

  • Fang, Chapter 3, “Mass Print: Reaching Still More”
  • Kovarick, Chapter 2, “The Commercial and Industrial Media Revolution, 1814–1900” (recommended)

March 2 • Photography

Beginning in the 1830s, the reproduction of light becomes a mechanical, photochemical process, that produce images that both memorialize individuals and bind together entire cultures.

  • Fang, Chapter 8, “Photography: Personal and So Much More”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 4, “Giving Vision to History” (recommended)

March 9 • Telegraph

Electricity and communication merge for the first time in the electromagnetic telegraph of the 1840s and annihilate space and time in the nineteenth century.


March 16 • Midterm Exam

We will take our midterm exam today in class.

Use the review guide to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.

March 23 • Telephone

Though hardly designed to do so in 1876, the telephone renders many functions of the telegraph obsolete. Throughout the twentieth century, the telephone emerges as a communication utility controlled by a monopoly.

  • Fang, Chapter 6, “Telephone: Reaching without Touching”

March 30 • Motion Pictures

A combination of earlier photographic technologies yields the motion picture camera in the 1890s and the emergence of a popular entertainment form in the 1900s.

  • Fang, Chapter 9, “Silent Film: The Audience Awaits”
  • Fang, Chapter 10, “A Movie Century: Moving Us”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 5, “Cinema: The Image Comes Alive” (recommended)

April 6 • Sound Recording

In the late nineteenth century, the recording of sound evolves from preserving speech to disrupting the printed music industry and establishes a commercial industry producing musical sound recordings.


April 27 • Radio

Radio emerges as the first technology to transmit an electromagnetic signal without a physical medium, potentially undermining every other communications media theretofore established.

  • Fang, Chapter 11, “Radio: Helping Us Through the Rough Years”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 8, “The New World of Radio” (recommended)

May 4 • Television

In the 1930s, television emerges as electromagnetic motion pictures—known as video—transmitted using radio signal. Television would have cannibalized broadcast radio were it not for the radio companies developing television in the first place to cannibalize themselves.

  • Fang, Chapter 12, “Television: Pictures in Our Parlors”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 9, “Television: A New Window on the World” (recommended)

May 11 • Computers

Computers emerge as a media technology with digital media—the merger between modern media forms and computable code.

  • Fang, Chapter 13, “Computers: Beyond Calculation”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 10, “Computers” (recommended)

May 18 • Internet

Developed as a distributed computer network transmitting binary code as packets, the Internet emerges as the connective tissue for digital media throughout the world.

  • Fang, Chapter 14, “The Internet: The World at Our Finger Tips”
  • Kovarik, Chapter 11, “Digital Networks” (recommended)

May 25: Final Exam

We will take our final exam today in class.

Use the review guide to prepare for the exam, including surveying the format of the exam.