FWIS 176: Writing with and about Social Media


“If you have any trace of interest in social media, the internet 2.0, ethnographic research, social phenomenon, relationships of all kinds online, or human culture online, TAKE THIS FWIS. The “capstone” of this course is a final ethnographic research paper on a topic of your choice. You formulate an argument and supplement it using field work from online platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This project can be incredibly interesting and fun, especially if you choose a topic that you are passionate about. This made collecting data, exploring ideas, and crafting narratives feel like rest instead of homework…. Coming into this course, I was hard stuck on thinking linearly and with conformity. After conducting my own research, listening to class discussions, and questioning long-standing frameworks in society, I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty and value of anthropological research.”

Former student

Social media is everywhere. From social justice hashtags like #BLM and #MeToo, to the market power of popular TikTokers, to the sometimes earth-shaking tweets from the President of the United States, whether we like it or not, social media is part of our everyday lives.

In this course, we will explore social media from a number of perspectives: we will learn its history; explore its technicalities; think critically about its content; and ultimately seek to understand why and how social media has quickly become a mainstream tool for written and audiovisual communication.

The course is divided into 4 units:

  1. The Theory, Study, and Ethics of Social Media
  2. Identity on Social Media
  3. Navigating Relationships Online
  4. Social Media as a Tool for Activism

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