Cross-listed as EMAC/ATEC 6372: “Approaches to Emergent Media and Communication: Cognition, Culture, and Communication” and ACN 6V81: “Special Topics: Cognition, Culture, and Communication.”
This course covers radical theories of and methodological approaches to three core aspects of the study of the human: cognition, culture, and communication. We will look at challenges to common assumptions about these three aspects and work to build an alternative understanding of them relevant to work in emerging media and communications and human-computer interaction.
We will examine a host of radical challenges to this traditional picture of separate, hierarchically organized ontological categories. We will examine critical and constructive approaches that treat cognition as embodied and enacted, constituted by culture and communication, socially and technologically distributed, extended, and mediated, as well as approaches to culture and communication which recognize them as inherently cognitive activities, rather than the epiphenomenal residue of the operation of individual minds. Rather than individualism and reductionism, we should think of cognition, culture, and communication as mutually co-constituting. We should not study them separately, but instead we should examine cognitive-cultural-communicative (C3) processes and systems. We will look at different theories of the nature of C3 processes and systems as well as qualitative empirical methodologies for their study. Students will apply their understanding of C3 systems to emerging media systems in particular.
Theories and Methods
This course uses several theoretical perspectives and methodological frameworks, and many of them alternatives to the orthodox approaches in cognitive science, psychology, communication, anthropology, and sociology. Here are the main ones you will become familiar with in the course:
- Situated Cognition / Situated Action
- Distributed Cognition
- Cultural Psychology / Cultural-historical Psychology
- CHAT / Activity Theory
- Cognitive Ethnography
- Action Research / Participatory Action Research
In general, methodological discussions in this course will focus on various forms of qualitative research method.
Textbooks are available at Off Campus Books
- Jean Lave, Cognition in Practice (1988)
- Edwin Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild (1995)
- Michael Cole, Cultural Psychology: A Once and Future Discipline (1996)
- Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (2005)
Addition required readings will be made available via course website.
Further Suggested Readings
- Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern
- Taylor & Lindlof, Qualitative Communication Research Methods
- Donald Norman, The Psychology of Everyday Things / The Design of Everday Things
- Seminar attendance and participation / discussion questions
- Weekly assignments and activities
- Research proposal – proposal for empirical research on a C3 system, based on theories and methods learned in the course.
- Choose one:
Click to see readings and assignments.
- 1/15 – Introduction
- 1/22 – Traditions in Psychology and Cognitive Science
- 1/29 – Situated Cognition I – The Problem of Cognitive Theory in Practice
- 2/5 – Situated Cognition II – Putting Practice in Theory
- 2/12 – Distributed Cognition I – Ship Navigation as a Cognitive Process
- 2/19 – Distributed Cognition II – The Social Organization of Cognition
- 2/26 – Distributed Cognition III – Learning in DCog Systems
- 3/5 – Distributed Cognition IV – Cognition as a Cultural Practice + Cognitive Ethnography
3/10-3/16 – Spring Break!
- 3/19 – Cultural Psychology I – A Tale of Two Psychologies
- 3/26 – Cultural Psychology II – Keeping Culture in Mind
- 4/2 – Cultural Psychology III – Researching Cultural-Historical Activity Systems
- 4/9 – Actor-Network-Theory I – Following Controversies
- 4/16 – Actor-Network-Theory II – Tracing Associations, Reassembling Collectives
- 4/23 – Productive Encounters
- 4/30 – Presentations & Wrap-Up