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JTC 311 - History of Media

  • 3 credits

CSU General Catalog Description: Media development, growth, trends within context of political, social, and economic change.

About the Course: Prospective communications professionals, media consumers and history buffs living in today’s highly interactive, digital world can benefit from insights about how oral, textual, graphic and electronic communications have evolved.

This upper-division course is open to undergraduates and graduate students in all majors as well as guest students. The class goes beyond a cursory overview of famous people and dates (found in most introductory mass media courses) to examine how communication has shaped the way people acquire, use and share information. In fact, today’s interactive, electronic media environment has roots in the emergence of books, newspapers and magazines, point-to-point communication, and broadcast media.

The course takes largely a social history approach, taking into consideration how political, economic, social and technological factors shaped how people communicated in the past and how we interact with others today.

Students will complete 3 essay exams (90 pts.), 2 short thought papers (20 pts.), and a class project (40 pts.) that allows them to delve into an aspect of media history of particular interest to them. The course is organized into 15 weekly modules that allow students to flexibly accommodate their busy schedules and pace their work. During the summer term, students have the option of completing all requirements in 8 weeks or can take 11 weeks to complete the course on an extended, less frenzied schedule.

Topics (subject to change) include:

Unit 1 - Early Communications

  • Media in Today’s Digital Age
  • Origins of Communications
  • Oral v. Print Culture
  • Print Culture and Books
  • Early Information Sharing

Unit 2 - Rise of Mass Media

  • Newspaper and Magazine Publishing
  • Telegraphy and Telephony
  • Photography and Phonography
  • Mass Entertainment: Movies
  • Mass Entertainment: Early Broadcasting

Unit 3 - Modern Media

  • Computing and Mobile
  • Modern Print Media
  • Modern Broadcasting and Multimedia
  • Modern Entertainment Media
  • Topics in Media History

Important Information

Students are encouraged to order their textbooks in advance from the CSU Bookstore or any other online bookseller.

Course requirements and weekly topic are subject to change.

Textbooks and Materials

Please check the CSU Bookstore for textbook information.  Textbook listings are available at the CSU Bookstore about 3 weeks prior to the start of the term.


Kirk Hallahan
Kirk Hallahan

9702171500 |

Kirk Hallahan, a Colorado State faculty member since 1996, brings 19 years of professional experience, a keen interest in communications history, and experience teaching classes about media in society to the web version of this popular Colorado State course. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his studies included media history and quantitative methods in history. His undergraduate degree at UCLA included film and broadcast history and coursework devoted to the history of science and technology and 20th century American history. He has published articles and conference papers on the work of public relations pioneers Ivy Lee and Edward L. Bernays.