Beyond the News: Media, Theory and Global History
Last Updated: 11/17/2008
Fall and Winter quarters
Major areas of study include history, political economy, historical sociology and media analysis.
Class Standing: Sophomores or above; transfer students welcome.
This program will not be accepting new students winter quarter.
The world is in the midst of rapid transformative, often very painful, social change. How do we understand, assess, and act on this ongoing change? Why do populations around the world and even within individual countries have very different analyses of the nature and impact of this change? Where do we get our information about the world and current events, and how do the information industries enable or impede our ability to engage politically?
The primary sources of information for most citizens are the mainstream press, television, and radio. We will begin the program with a careful look at the mainstream media, conducted in part through reading, watching, listening to, and critiquing major news sources. We will see that there is a significant gulf between the political and historical understanding that emerges from the news, on the one hand, and that which emerges from a theoretically informed understanding of long-term systemic change on the other. The program operates from the premise that in order to fully grasp and take informed action on current issues as we move through the 21st century, we must have a broad analytical framework for assessing a large number of interrelated issues as well as a solid historical understanding of their origins and development.
We will investigate not only how, but why, the media falls short, and as we both consume and critique the news media, we will also delve into theory, political economy, and history. We will focus on particular regions of the world including, but not limited to, Latin America and India. Events in late 2008 will provide further focus -- Iraq is likely to be of interest. Colonial pasts and neo-colonial presents will be center stage. And we will take up particular issues -- the deepening division between wealth and poverty within and between nations, shifting global power, and deepening world-wide struggles over resources, for instance. With the historical depth and theoretical understanding we develop we will return to today's headlines and attempt a thoughtful and action-oriented assessment of the present.
Our news will come from U.S. sources, but also from English language sources from around the world. Our critique of the media will focus on the U.S. media, but students will be welcome to extend that critique, given sufficient interest and relevant language abilities. While the media focus will be primarily on international political news, a student-directed portion of the program will be devoted to critiques of other cultural industries (film, TV entertainment, advertising, social networking Web sites, etc).
Student work will culminate in a carefully prepared research paper, combining media critique and substantive theoretically informed historical analysis, at the conclusion of the winter quarter.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in the social sciences, history, education, media analysis, and informed citizenship.
Planning Units: Society, Politics, Behavior and Change
|November 17th, 2008||Restriction against joining program winter quarter added.|