“If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1889)
What does an educated person need to know about information and news, opinion and fact in the digital age? This is the guiding question that will lead our exploration of so-called “fake news,” disinformation, misinformation, and other forms of problematic information this term. As we are often reminded, we now inhabit an increasingly complex and confusing hyper-fast media landscape, where traditional forms of journalism and reporting have been radically reshaped and even supplanted by emerging forms of digital media. This course will give you the tools to engage intelligently in the major issues of our time; to analyze media of all kinds; to parse out the subtle distinctions between various kinds of problematic information; and to find credible, carefully-researched, and accurate journalism, news, and opinion on a variety of topics.
This course will help you
- Develop a broad sense of literacy, which in this course means the capacity to think, read, and write about complex ideas and their historical, socio-cultural, and political dimensions;
- Apply your developing literacy to public life and what it means to be an engaged and well-informed citizen of a democracy;
- Speak and write intelligently and confidently about the historical, cultural, economic, and political development of “fake news,” misinformation, disinformation, satire, “culture jamming,” and other forms of problematic information;
- Develop and support a compelling argument concerning fake news and problematic information as an idea in your own experience and research;
- Analyze media artifacts in order to understand how they “work”;
- Develop a basic understanding of how technology (and especially digital media) have changed how people get news, share ideas, and learn about the world and the social and cultural impact thereof;
- Recognize and understand the multidisciplinary nature of a concept like “fake news” and its connection to major questions in epistemology (i.e., the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge and various theories about how humans can know, where our opinions comes from, how we learn, etc.);
- Read and understand challenging academic texts such as scholarly articles and monographs; and
- Learn how to parse out the often subtle distinctions between various kinds of problematic information and where/how to find credible, carefully-researched, and accurate news and information of all kinds.
Click here for the Course Syllabus; check back soon for course materials, handouts, projects, a full list of course readings/resources, and student work.