[iDC] sharing "new media" curricula/potentials

Tiffany Holmes tholme at artic.edu
Sat Jan 20 22:58:55 EST 2007

Dear all,

Trebor has invited me to moderate a discussion related to new media  
and education.

I'd like to try to pick up on some of the exciting conversation that  
Margaret Morse and others generated about the relevance of practice- 
based PhDs in the new media field.  The topic I hope to explore is  
the potential of the nebulous arena of "new media" to generate a  
truly interdisciplinary undergraduate or MFA-level curriculum---one  
that promotes community and participation across campus.

New media is a nomadic discipline that has invaded communication  
departments, trickled into photography departments, swirled through  
film and video curriculums, and has now begun a slow infiltration of  
the sculpture, fiber, painting, and design areas too, as well as many  
other disciplines.   As Grant Kester recently pointed out, new media  
is "the most intensively capitalized art movement in the history of  
modernism."  That said, given the rapid expansion of new media  
departments what standards, or criteria are there among faculty to  
define the guiding curricula and community focus?

For incoming MFA students, a "Department of New Media," is often  
advertised as an interdisciplinary arena.  Yet, once those  
prospective students arrive on campus to study in the "Department of  
New Media", those individuals feel isolated and potentially  
disconnected from the group of students pursuing more established  
practices in fine arts or those pursuing professional degrees in  
engineering and the like.  Margaret Morse actually alluded to this  
earlier: "Contemporary grad students of new media 'working on the  
cusp of leisure/pleasure' spend hours and hours in pursuits that have  
few concrete outcomes suggests that there is something about the  
subject of new media itself that may be more fragmentizing and  
elusively virtual."

I'm curious share ideas with IDC listers who have built or  
participated in new media degree programs recently.  Here are just a  
few questions to start out with:

How do your new media programs relate to the campus at large---at  
universities, art schools, smaller institutions?

Are there isolationist tendencies in the new media programs?  Are IDC  
listers enrolled or teaching in "new media-related" programs that  
have defined goals to create community/interdisciplinary  
collaboration---as well as teach programming and all the "software"  

What should students studying "new media" be learning?  Is there a  
"literacy" in the field that could be identified?  Would it help the  
discipline of "new media" to have defined competencies at the  
undergraduate and graduate level?

I look forward to sharing conversation and ideas over the next week.

Best, Tiff
Tiffany Holmes, Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Art and Technology Studies
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
112 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60603
Phone: 312-345-3760,  Fax: 312-345-3565
Mobile: 312-493-0302

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