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New Media and Society: Media philosophy


Admission requirements

Only available for Book and Digital Media Studies students and BDMS exchange students.


Communication is an essential and basic characteristic of the human species. Developments in communication technologies, from writing to digital media, have influenced the inscription and transmission of human culture through the ages. The nature of the technology used for communication has a major impact, both on society and on the content of cultural expressions. A change of medium is a sociotechnical process characterised by a mixture of continuities and discontinuities, much of which can be shown to follow directly from technological properties of the technologies involved. Today, digital media influence and disrupt existing patterns of storage, distribution and access to information. Digitisation is changing the role of all traditional media, including books. The position of authors, publishers, booksellers as well as that of readers is affected. Existing categorisations of media blur, new content genres come available on-line and the media industries are restructured by the process. Moreover, in the age of interactive media the audience is taking on a new role as a producer of content. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to medial change in general, and to the significance of the digital medium for present-day culture and society in particular.

Course objectives

Students learn to understand the broad social and cultural implications of the introduction and advance of new mediums and the recurring patterns that characterise medial change as a sociotechnical process. To gain insight in the role of media as ‘transformative technologies’ in social and cultural history students will study the transmission of text and the other information modalities (sound, still and moving images), and familiarise themselves with key concepts, definitions and models in the study of textual transmission and communication. In the analysis of the role of the media particular emphasis will be on the current wholesale adoption in contemporary Western society of digital technology for inscribing and and communicating information and knowledge and its social consequences.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

One-hour lecture plus one-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method


  • Assignments: Three posts of 300 words each (on questions or statements provided weekly)

  • Course paper


  • Assignments (25%)

  • Course paper (75%)


A new course paper can be submitted

Inspection and feedback

How and when a paper review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the paper results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the paper results, an paper review will have to be organised.

Reading list

  • Van der Weel, Adriaan, Changing Our Textual Minds: Towards a Digital Order of Knowledge, Manchester UP, 2011

  • Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media, from Gutenberg to the Internet (London: Polity Press, 2010)

  • Selected articles (full bibliography to be provided).


Enrollment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, email:

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


F.E.W. Praal MA

Coordinator of Studies Media Studies