HIS 350L • US Media, Commerce, Culture-W
This upper-division undergraduate seminar is a writing and reading intensive course centered around the question Who owns the popular media? It is almost a truism that we live in a highly mediated world. We are inundated everyday by mass produced messages, music, and images. Who controls the images and messages circulated through the US media? We will examine the history of the US media as both a successful corporate product and as an important tool for the formation of personal and community identity. People use the mediabe it television, newspapers, film, or musicto create identities for themselves, build social and political coalitions, and sometimes challenge the very institutions that deliver the media to their doorsteps. The course will center around two historical case studies: the news media, and the international music industry. We will examine each industry through a number of theoretical or methodological lenses, including cultural theory, business history, legal history, and political history. We will also learn about oral history methodology and conduct oral histories about peoples use and understanding of the media.
Tentative Assignments: Biweekly critiques (ranging from 3 to 8 pages) of the assigned readings: 40% Class participation REQUIRED: 30% Interpretive essay (10-12 pages) based on oral histories conducted by students: 30% Total writing assignments: 25-30 pages
TENTATIVE books: John Fiske, UNDERSTANDING POPULAR CULTURE Neil Postman, AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH Richard Kaplan, POLITICS AND THE AMERICAN PRESS: THE RISE OF OBJECTIVITY, 1865-1920 Stuart Ewen, P.R.: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF SPIN Edward Samuels, THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF COPYRIGHT Siva Vaidhyanathan, COPYRIGHTS AND COPYWRONGS: THE RISE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND HOW IT THREATENS CREATIVITY Robert Burnett, GLOBAL JUKEBOX: THE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC INDUSTRY Susan Crafts, et. al., MY MUSIC There will also be a required copy packet of articles and primary documents.