Image Credits: Hayri Dortdivanlioglu


To lay a foundation for understanding design and research methods for the systemic study of design, media, and computing technologies. 


The purpose of this course is to lay a foundation for better understanding of design and research methods and their grounding in philosophy of knowledge. Students will learn how research questions and methods as themselves ‘designed’ in the ways that they are positioned to frame problems, collect and share evidence and claim their validity, and shape arguments in response to theoretical and practical problems. This will faciliate the understanding of theory and practice as deeply intertwined, entangled in social and cultural ideals and values while rejecting a relativistic standpoint that renders all knowledge claims as equally valid. The course will include discussions, guest speakers, viewing, and workshops to examine various methodological strategies and their tactics in action.


  • Understanding the philosophic foundations of digital media design and research methodologies
  • Engaging critically and creatively with design and research methods by tracing their history, unpacking their politics, and critically engaging their epistemic validity
  • Employing theories presented in this course to identify/frame problems and choose methodologies that are best suited to address them


I strive to create an open and inclusive learning environment built upon feminist ethos of curiosity, generosity, humility, and respect coupled with practices of listening, experimentation, and collaboration. I will explain the details of this on the first day of classes and look forward to your particular ways of following, extending, and amending the above by expressing what they might entail in your words and actions.


Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2003. 
Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. They say, I say: The Moves That Matters in Academic Writing. 2006. Highly Recommended
Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Little, Brown Spark, 2008.
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor, 1995.

Course Foundations
This course is inspired and informed by the following:
Buchanan, Richard. “Systems Thinking and Design Thinking: The Search for Principles in the World We Are Making.” She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 5, no. 2 (2019): 85–104. 
Dewey, John. Logic: the Theory of Inquiry. 1938.
Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575-599. 
Harding, Sandra G., ed. The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. Psychology Press, 2004. 
hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress. 2014. 
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Crossing Press, 2012. 
Lury, Celia, and Nina Wakeford, eds. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. Routledge, 2012.
Levine, Donald N. Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America. 2006.
McKeon, Richard P. On Knowing—The Social Sciences. 2017. 

Listening and Viewing Assignments 
In addition to reading, you will be assigned to watch videos or listen to podcasts. These materials an essential part of the course that will be drawn upon in class discussions. 

Weekly Writing 
To engender class discussion, students will write short entries on the readings ahead of each session. Writing assignments are due at 5pm every Wednesday unless otherwise instructed. 

How will this class help me with quals?
It is important to note that the aim of this class is *not* to prepare for quals. Rather, the aim is for you to begin your research trajectory by learning about the plurality of epistemic approaches: What are the possible ways to approach your research interest? How can you write a proposal and identify meaningful ways to craft hypotheses and collect evidence? What do these choices imply for the communities of knowledg that you engage with and the kinds of impact you can make? The good news is, however, that leearning to answer the above questions, alongside many excercises and foundations we learn, are applicable to your preparation for quals inclusive of learning how to read, how to think through similarities and differnces ways of knowing and writing, and how to frame and communicate your own response to authors and readings. 

Course Schedule


Week 1: Jan 13

  Philosophy of Knowledge and the Demand of Pluralism
  In Class – Class Introduction
– Is philosophy of knowledge relavant to digital media studies?
– How to read?
– Concept mapping excersice (based on: Booth, Wayne C. “The rhetorical stance.” College Composition and Communication14, no. 3 (1963): 139–145.)

Week 2, Jan 20

  Scientific Strategies | Objectivity and Efficiency
  Required – Weaver, Warren. “The mathematics of communication.” Scientific American 181, no. 1 (1949): 11–15.
– Miller, George A. “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” Psychological Review 63, no. 2 (1956): 81.
– Video: Mouse Pointers and Fitts’s Law
– Video: Classical and Operant Conditioning
  Recommended – Turing, Alan M. “Computing machinery and intelligence.” In Parsing the Turing Test, pp. 23–65. Springer, Dordrecht, 2009