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Special Topic Courses

This page contains descriptions for special topics offered at SILS (regularly offered courses are listed separately). Special topics courses are developed to cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum. Not all courses are offered each semester. See the course schedule for availability.

Special Topic Course Descriptions: Fall 2024

INLS 490-308: Semiotics of Culture; Fox, Michael; 3 credits

Semiotics, or the study of signs and the conveyance of meaning, may be considered as foundational to a wide array of disciplines, including, and perhaps especially, information science. In this course, you will learn the basics of semiotic theory and how it is applied to various cultural forms: everyday things and their mythologies, the so-called semiosphere, advertisements and press photographs, mass media in general, and art, film, and new media, including code.

INLS 690-209: Misinformation and Society; Tripodi, Francesca; 3 credits

How do we know what we think we know? This course will examine the concept of mis-dis-mal-information over time – what it is, when it occurs, and how ideas of “truth” and “facts” are connected to the social construction of knowledge more generally. Readings and assignments will consider the sociotechnical dimensions of disinformation, examining how/why false narratives are created, believed, shared, and used for political and/or monetary gain. Finally, we will study the democratic implications of problematic content with an emphasis on understanding the ideological nature of falsehoods surrounding the 2024 Presidential Election in the U.S. Through a contextualization of misinformation, we will work toward proposing possible solutions for how we might fix or combat an ever-present and evolving problem as well as use hands-on learning to discover what makes an effective disinformation campaign.

INLS 690-222: Social Informatics; Jarrahi, Mohammad; 3 credits

Understanding technological innovation, computerization, and the context of technology use are central to comprehending the social fabrics of our today’s society. The object of this course is to explore different conceptualizations of how technology plays a role in shaping organizations, communities, and societies. We will draw on multiple theoretical developments from the field of Science and Technology Studies (e.g., actor-network theory and social construction of technology), social informatics and computer-supported cooperative work to enable a better understanding of the interaction between humans and technology at personal, organizational and societal levels.

This course involves reading, reflecting and discussing some classic sociotechnical work, along with research emphasizing the application of a sociotechnical perspective in understanding the role of information and communication technologies, and knowledge communities. This course helps [graduate] students gain a broad and conceptual understanding about sociotechnical issues and theories. More specifically it enables students to understand and explain the complexities inherent in the context of technology use and the many ways individuals, groups, organizations adopt and relate to ICTs.

INLS 690-269: Queer Archives and Libraries; Ott, Elizabeth; 1.5 credits (class meets October 14 through December 4, 2024)

This is course covers the history of collecting, preserving, and describing LGBTQ materials in archives and libraries. The course considers the history of LGBTQ grassroots collecting and community archives (e.g. the Lesbian Herstory Archives), as well as formal institutional collections (e.g. the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University or the LGBTQIA archives at the San Francisco Public Library). Additionally, the course reviews the ethical challenges associated with documenting queer sexuality and identity, and centers theoretical approaches to library work that use a queer lens, such as queer archival methodology and queer bibliography.