Join us in welcoming Spring 2018 visiting scholar, Dan Schiller!
Dan Schiller completed his Ph.D. in 1978. A historian of communications, he has been principally concerned with communications systems and institutions as formative elements within the forever-dynamic and –conflicted social relations of capitalism. He has focused principally on the United States context, in works that engage the history of journalism; the intellectual history of communications study; the still-unfolding transition into digital capitalism (a term he coined in the 1990s); and the social history of telecommunications. His conceptual approach has been enriched by working both in communication departments (University of Leicester; Temple University; UCSD) and schools of library and information science (UCLA; University of Illinois). Author of numerous books and articles, Schiller also has contributed frequently to Le Monde diplomatique and has lectured at institutions in East Asia, Latin America and Europe. Presently, he is working to complete an archivally-based study of US telecommunications from the 19th century Post Office to the Internet.
During the Spring 2018 semester Professor Schiller will be teaching Information in Society.
This seminar provides conceptual foundations and historical benchmarks for analysis of what we will call systems of information provision. The analytical entry-point is that a more-or-less definite conception of society - and of key structuring processes of the modern world – are a prerequisite for valid study of information. Which theory of society we elect will strongly influence how we situate information. Schiller will adhere loosely to a (heterodox) Marxian conception; students need no prior acquaintance with this theory to benefit from the course. The course begins by situating information in the transition to capitalism in early modern Europe. This presents both theoretical and historical issues, for how we define capitalism has much to do with the place of information within its emergence. The same is true for debates about other engraved historical processes and events: imperialism, state formation, political and industrial revolutions. The second half of the course explicates information within several 20th-century US-centric and international contexts - from the New Deal to the Cold War and on to the present. A research paper is required.