Communication Excess and Avoidance


Silences and absences make communication possible. Each medium, whether spoken or printed, projected or computed, has peculiar silences ranging from elegant to tragic, comic to painful, fleeting to eternal. Superabundant digital media, on the other hand, raise acute questions about communicative excess and possible needs to disconnect.

While technologies of communication and use receive much scholarly attention, technologies of avoidance and non-use receive comparatively little. The course will develop frameworks for rethinking the limitations and demands we place on our own uses of media, which can be applied to numerous digital examples, especially mobile technologies.

Among other conclusions, we must expand the ideas of  “communication technologies” and even “communication” itself to accommodate tools and practices both old and new for carving out quiet. Such questions will be addressed alongside the cultural and technological history of communication excess and absence.

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




COMMS 702: 30 points