Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication and Culture (Topic: Media Heritage: History, Culture, and Memory)
C334 | 12323 | Hain, M.

MTuWThF, 1:10 PM-2:25 PM, C2 100

Instructor: Mark Hain

What can we tell about the past from the long-ago popularity of a
film or song?  Likewise, what can we tell about our own culture from
the current popularity of a film, song, television program, or newer
media artifacts?  Why do we feel that we can “read” someone’s
personality based on the music, TV shows, films, books, and
magazines she or he likes?  Further, do we construct our own
identity based in part on our favorite media?  How do we account for
films, music, or stars that enjoyed great popularity in the past,
but are now forgotten?  What do we make of media artifacts that are
valued more in retrospect than at the time they were current?
This course will engage with such questions by examining media
artifacts such as films, television programs, popular music,
advertisements, video games, blogs, wikis, WebPages, and other
Internet-based phenomena, and their capacity to shape our sense of
history and culture.  Throughout the course, you will be encouraged
to think critically about how such media artifacts function as
social and historical indicators, and how they might serve
as “clues” to the past-- as archives or “time capsules” that record
and preserve audience concerns and values; as components in the
construction of both personal and cultural memory; and as “cultural
capital” in a system of social identities.  While many of the course
readings focus specifically on film, we will determine strategies to
apply their concepts to a multitude of media artifacts.  At the same
time, we will investigate the increasingly complex intertextual
network that informs media artifacts and our readings of them.
To sharpen our understanding of the many roles media artifacts play
within a culture, you will analyze these functions in a “learn by
doing” capacity by constructing a media artifact of your own.  In a
course-long project built from sequential research assignments, you
will construct a webpage, publish a zine, or produce a short video
analyzing a media text of your choice.  Through the process of
making your own media artifact, you will be exploring how social and
cultural contexts impact taste, personal and cultural memory,
historiography, and the role of individuals in preserving cultural