Media in Cultural Context

Photo of a hand holding a folded piece of paper with another strip of paper piercing through it to form a locked letter. The paper lock reads: This is a paper lock, now a papered seal with signet impression. The sealing wax acts as an adhesive.

Jana Dambrogio holds a model of a highly secure locked letter; one used by Queen Elizabeth I of England, her spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, and poet John Donne in the 16th-century. Dambrogio reverse-engineers historic originals to figure out how they once folded and secured shut to become their own envelopes. Students participated in a letterlocking workshop led by Dambrogio on session 12. (Image courtesy of Jana Dambrogio and Sarah Manguso. Used with permission.)


MIT Course Number

21L.715 / CMS.871

As Taught In

Fall 2015


Undergraduate / Graduate

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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This seminar is about the pleasures and power of reading. From the Sumerian clay tablets of more than four millenia ago through the spectacular emergence of the electronic text, the written word—in all its forms—has captivated the human mind, embodied our insights into the world around us, and made enduring our most profound artistic creations and scientific discoveries.

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Stephanie Frampton. 21L.715 Media in Cultural Context. Fall 2015. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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