Thursday, December 18, 2014

black mountain college in color

when we think of black mountain college, we think in black and white.

we think they taught in black and white,

learned in black and white,

worked in black and white,

and ate in black in white.

last spring, during a research visit to the western regional archives, i found the photographs of nell goldsmith. nell was a student at black mountain college from 1942-44. she studied architecture with larry kocher, drawing with josef albers, and weaving with anni albers. and in her spare time, she took photographs. color photographs.

(this photo and all the color photos that follow come from the nell goldsmith heyns collection at the western regional archives. i have archived a portion of the collection as a flickr set.)

through nell's lens, we get a whole new take on the college. we see the blues of lake eden and the beiges of the farm.

through nell's lens, we see black mountain college during the war years, when nearly all male students joined the war and the student population became almost entirely female.

with war-time restrictions on building materials and the studies building largely finished, the college shifted focus from building to farming. the farm was run by farmer ross penley, evangelized by college treasurer/math professor ted dreier, and managed by woodworking professor/BMC MVP molly gregory. in nell goldsmith's photo below, we see molly gregory (right) - in color! - with student patricia "patsy" lynch.

during the war years, the farm's student farmers were almost entirely female. i have been studying the farm for the last few years and i've always been struck by this unique stage of the farm's history. during the war, the farm was incredibly productive, supplying the college with seasonal vegetables, all of their dairy (milk and butter), and occasional beef, pork, and poultry.

i used to think of the war-time farm and its student farmers in black and white, like this

and this

now, through nell's lens, i see some of them -- including, below, jane "slats" slater (BMC student, 1940-45), patsy lynch (BMC student, 1942-48), and mary brett daniels (BMC student 1943-45) -- in color.

Monday, November 24, 2014

final project / final reflection

final project / reflection for intro to media studies

1. as we have been working towards in the last few days, select an app, a web site, or a platform that you love, love to hate, are bewildered by, can't be without, or can't stop thinking about.


2a. write a 2-page typed reflection about it. be sure to include at least one terrifyingly interesting reading about your selection and one connection to another once-new media technologies discussed in class this semester.


2b. create a project about it. make sure your project includes some form of dimensionality (discussed in class). group projects highly encouraged. be imaginative!

3. on monday, december 1, bring your paper, your project, or a part of your project to class. during class you will give and receive feedback from others.

4. incorporate at least one piece of feedback into your project.

5. bring your paper or project to class on wednesday, december 3. somewhere on your paper or project, acknowledge the source of your feedback. be ready to discuss.

keep in mind: wednesday, december 3rd is the last day of class for intro to media studies. this class has no final exam. GOOD LUCK.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

media fast homework assignment

media fast homework assignment for intro to media studies

1. sometime between monday, november 17, and sunday, november 23, stop using all modern media. you can read books and magazines and newspapers and comics, but stop using media that is electronic or digital. no iphones, no facebook, no text. no tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs, record players, or radios. no CD players, digital cameras, or tape recorders. stop using media that runs on a power cord or batteries. mark the time your media fast begins.

2. continue your fast for as long as possible - the longer, the better.

3. when your absence from media becomes dangerous, impossible, or unbearable, return to them. note which device you broke your fast with and record the time.

4. calculate how long your media fast lasted.

5. take some time -- a few hours, a day -- to reflect upon what just happened.

6. in one page -- and no more -- share your findings. make sure your name is on the page and bring it to class on monday, november 24.

tip: think about the timing of your media fast and strategize accordingly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

popular music exhibit project

Popular music exhibit project for Intro to Media Studies

1. For your next project, you will design a pop-up exhibit devoted to popular music.

2. Your topic can be your favorite band, your all-time favorite song or album, your favorite genre, or something else ("3 metal bands I can't live without!"). Your approach can be objective (what makes the band great) or subjective (what makes the band great to you).

3. Your exhibit can feature digital stuff (screens, MP3s, video, digital photos) but it must also include tangible stuff (an album review from an old issue of Rolling Stone, a ticket stub of that concert that changed your life, a t-shirt, you name it). Put another way, your exhibit can be comprised of entirely tangible stuff or be a mixture of tangible and digital but it can't be entirely digital. A open laptop blaring a song and streaming a video does not make an exhibit.

4. Your exhibit must contain at least three interesting artifacts. We've been discussing artifacts in class for a while so think hard and creatively about what you use. This is the portion of the exhibit that will make or break your project.

5. The exhibit should be cohesive. Your artifacts should speak to one another and they should follow a similar style or pattern. The pieces of your exhibit should be put together smartly and with thought.

6. The exhibit should tell anyone looking at it something about its designer (you). In other words, use the exhibit to share something about yourself.

7. For ideas and inspiration, take a look at the flickr set "the classroom as museum" from when I assigned this project three years ago.

8. Exhibit due in class on Friday, October 31. No late work accepted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

moving image of students and faculty on the farm truck at black mountain college

photograph by helen post, circa 1936-37. animation by brent brafford, NCSU libraries.

(Image from Helen P. Modley Collection, Black Mountain College Collection, Western Regional Archives, Asheville, North Carolina.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

intro to media studies, fall 2014

MS 100: Intro to Media Studies
Section 1: MWF 10:30-11:35 am, Cowell 417
Section 2: MWF 11:45 am-12:50 pm, Harney 143

Professor David Silver
Office/Hours: Kalmanovitz 141, MW 9-10 am & by appointment
Contact: dmsilver [ at ] usfca [ dot ] edu / @davidmsilver

This course
introduces students to the field of media studies with a focus on media history and cultural studies. Beginning with the printing press and ending with social media, students will examine various media eras and developments and begin to appreciate the complex interactions between media and larger cultural, artistic, economic, political, and social conditions. Along the way, students will be introduce to USF media studies professors and various media-making opportunities on campus.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

Be able to explain the key developments and social actors of media history;

Be able to explain how these key developments were and continue to be embedded within larger cultural, artistic, economic, political, and social conditions; and

Become familiar with USF media studies professors and various media-making opportunities on campus and in the city.

Wed, 8/20: Introduction, distribute syllabi.

Fri, 8/22: Read Ken Auletta, “Outside the Box: Netflix and the Future of Television,” The New Yorker, February 3, 2014,

Unit One: Words

Mon, 8/25: Read Richard Campbell, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos, "Newspapers: The Rise and Decline of Modern Journalism," Media & Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (2010): pp. 278-291.

Wed, 8/27: Read Jim Forest, "Servant of God Dorothy Day," The Catholic Worker Movement, 2013,

Fri, 8/29: Read Eric Alterman, "Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper," The New Yorker, March 31, 2008,

Mon, 9/1: Labor Day: No class

Wed, 9/3: Read, front to back, a 9/1 or 9/2 print issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. Observe everything. Bring entire paper to class and be prepared to discuss.

Fri, 9/5: Guest lecture: Teresa Moore, associate professor of media studies and faculty advisor to the Foghorn. Readings to be determined.

Mon, 9/8: Read Campbell et al, “Magazines in the age of specialization,” Media & Culture (2010): pp. 312-336.

Wed, 9/10: Read Jean Kilbourne, “‘The more you subtract, the more you add’: Cutting girls down to size,” Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel (1999): pp. 128-154

Fri, 9/12: Midterm 1

Unit Two: Images

Mon, 9/15: Read Steven Lubar, “Pictures,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions (1993), pp. 51-64.

Wed, 9/17: Read Kate Bevan, “Instagram is debasing real photography,” The Guardian, July 19, 2012,; Clive Thompson, “The Instagram Effect,” Wired, December 27, 2011,; and Olivier Laurent, “The New Economics of Photojournalism: The rise of Instagram,” British Journal of Photography, September 3, 2012,

Fri, 9/19: Read Scott McCloud, “Setting the record straight,” from Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993), pp. 2-23.

Mon, 9/22: Read Steven Lubar, “Movies,” in InfoCulture (1993), pp. 199-211.

Wed, 9/24: Guest lecture: Danny Plotnick, adjunct professor in media studies and director of film studies minor. Read Mark Taylor, "It Lives: Artists’ Television Access Turns Thirty," KQED Arts, September 4, 2014

Fri, 9/26: Visit from Career Services Center.

Mon, 9/29: No class. In place of class, students will work on their comic/graphic novel reflections and begin reading Wednesday's Campbell et al chapter.

Wed, 10/1: Read Richard Campbell et al, “Television and cable: The Power of Visual Culture,” Media & Culture (2010): pp. 193-218.

Fri, 10/3: Read course-sourced readings on cable/long-form series like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and The Wire.

Mon, 10/6: Read Emily Nussbaum, "The Host in the Machine: Late-night blahs," The New Yorker, May 19, 2014,; Terry Gross, "Late Night 'Thank You Notes' From Jimmy Fallon" (39 minutes), Fresh Air, NPR, May 23, 2011,; Jacob Bernstein, "The Morning Muse of Television," New York Times, May 9, 2014,

Wed, 10/8: Guest lecture: Dorothy Kidd, professor and chair of media studies and faculty advisor to KUSF. Read Dorothy Kidd's "'We Can Live without Gold, but We Can't Live without Water': Contesting Big Mining in the Americas," forthcoming in Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff, editors, Project Censored 2015 (2015), pp. 223-243.

Fri, 10/10: Midterm 2

Unit Three: Sounds

Mon, 10/13 Fall Break: No class.

Wed, 10/15: Read Steven Lubar, “Radio,” in InfoCulture (1993), pp. 213-241.

Fri, 10/17: Read: Lubar, “Radio” (continued).

Mon, 10/20: In-class group exhibits about the history of radio.

Wed, 10/22: Guest lecture: Miranda Morris, Coordinator of KUSF. In preparation for Miranda’s visit, take some time to list to Also, watch Kim Kinkaid’s “How to become a KUSF DJ” (2:06 minutes), USFtv, May 6, 2014,; and Cristina Pachano-Lauderdale’s “KUSF Rock-n-Swap” (3:59 minutes), USFtv, September 30, 2013,

Fri, 10/24: Guest lecture: Shawn Calhoun, Associate Dean, Gleeson Library.
Mon, 10/27: Guest lecture: Marjorie Schwarzer, administrative director of University of San Francisco's graduate museum studies program. Watch “Riches Rivals & Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America” (57 minutes),

Wed, 10/29: Read course-sourced readings on popular music and culture.

Fri, 10/31: Individual popular music exhibit due in class.

Unit Four: Putting it all together

Mon, 11/3: Guest lecture: Brent Malin, associate professor of communication and affiliate faculty of cultural studies, University of Pittsburgh. Readings to be determined.

Wed, 11/5: Read Dr. Suess, "The Lorax" (1971); and Jennifer Lance, "Selling Out the Lorax: 70 Different Product Tie Ins," Eco Child's Play, March 1, 2012,

Fri, 11/7: Readings on Disney and convergence from Richard Campbell et al, Media & Culture (2010): pp. 11-14, 58-62, and 462-466.

Mon, 11/10: Class prep for group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit.

Wed, 11/12: Group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit.

Fri, 11/14: Read Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?” New York Review of Books, November 25, 2010,

Mon, 11/17: Read Dave Eggers, “We like you so much and want to know you better,” excerpt from the novel The Circle (2013),

Wed, 11/19: Student-sourced "terrifyingly interesting" reading about favorite/most interesting/go-to app, platform, or web site.

Fri, 11/21: Read: Joseph Bathanti's The Mythic School of the Mountain: Black Mountain College, Our State, Spring 2014.

Mon, 11/24: Media Fast homework assignment due in class.

Wed, 11/26: To be determined.

Fri, 11/28: Thanksgiving break: No class

Mon, 12/1: Final review and class party

Wed, 12/3: Final exam

20% -- Quizzes, homework, and in-class assignments
15% -- Midterm 1
15% -- Midterm 2
15% -- Individual popular music exhibit
15% -- Group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit
20% -- Final exam

Course Costs
All readings will be provided to students as PDFs or are available for free online. I may require students to print out some of the readings. Finally, students are required to purchase one print version of the San Francisco Chronicle for a whopping one doallar.

Attendance Policy
Missing class, or attending class unprepared, will significantly affect your final grade. If you do miss class, contact a classmate to find out what we discussed in class and ask to borrow her or his notes. Then, do the same with a second classmate. After doing this, if you still have questions about missed material, visit me during office hours or email me.

Course Rules
1. No late work accepted.
2. No drinking out of non-reusable containers during class.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

summer undergraduate research assistantships with the USF community garden

The Urban Ag minor at USF is looking to hire three undergraduate research assistants to manage the USF Community Garden this summer. The RAships run from May 19, 2014 - August 8, 2014.

RA duties include:

1. Plan and plant summer garden beds;
2. Maintain garden - weeding, watering, oversee irrigation, manage compost;
3. Plan, manage, and implement weekly community work days - publicize work days, organize group tasks, and hold open garden hours;
4. Work on monthly community dinners at St. Cyprian's;
5. Work with Upward Bound students teaching garden skills;
6. Harvest and deliver fresh produce to Booker T. Washington Community Service Center's food pantry;
7. Maintain @USFGarden's multiple social media platforms;
8. Start starts for fall classes; and
9. Keep the garden kitchen clean.

Ideal candidates have experience in the USF Garden (either through workdays and/or classes), work well in collaborative situations, are self-directed, and enjoy working with the public. Each summer research assistant will work a total of 100 hours over the summer and be paid $10.55/hour. Undergraduate RAs will report to Novella Carpenter.

Interested USF students must email David Silver (dmsilver [ at ] usfca [ dot ] edu) no later that 5 pm on Wednesday, May 7. In your email, please describe your qualifications, state your availability for summer, and tell us why you want the job. After consulting with Novella Carpenter and Justin Valone, David will notify all candidates by Friday, May 9. Good luck!