IYLSSIF 3: Mapping the Field

The third in an epic, six-part series of lectures from my intro to graduate studies lecture course, which I’m posting online in the hope that others will find them useful. [Part 1 Here, Part 2 Here; the lectures are unedited — hence, you might be a bit confused by a few inexplicable notes and slides about administrative issues]. We started off by describing the premise of the class, then discussed how students could find their own position within the program and the field — and now we hope to help students map that field, to appreciate its breadth and the various intellectual and create traditions it draws from. Be forewarned: this one’s epic.




  • Oz Skinner
    Conferences/ CFPs
  • Mobility Shifts

Professional Websites

  • Also a place where some people post reading responses, research notes, inchoate ideas


  • Library Research

SLIDE 3: Conferences

  • OZ SKINNER re: Critical Themes
  • Reference “Conference Tips” guide
  • SLIDES 4-7: CFPs
    • Value of learning to write abstracts
    • Listservs
    • Look for professional organizations (recall last week)
    • Talk to advisors who share your interests

SLIDE 8: Professional Website

  • Increasing # of academics have “web presence.”
  • Many of our faculty think it should be obligatory for our students to have one, too (as is required in Parsons’ MFADT)
  • Instead of requiring you to create a website, for now, we simply want you to consider whether or not – and if so, how – you want to a “public professional presence”
    • Independent Exercise: Creating Public Persona
  • Several functions: as portfolio, as chronicle of your work, as a “file” for organizing your materials, as a writing “practice space,” as a reflection space, etc. – we’ll talk more about this next week
    • SLIDE 9: Jenkins:
    • Recall Jenkins’ discussionof the value of blogging to his students at MIT
      • Cultivate reputation as “public intellectuals”
      • Get feedback on work
      • Space for “just-in-time” scholarship
      • Window on the work of the university, the process of research
        • Post out-takes from publications
  • Margaret Kimball, “Your Blog Is Not Your Resume”
    • Manage your ideas; Develop goals; Practice communicating w/ various publics; Practice design skills; Connect w/ others
  • “Opening up,” making transparent, our work as scholars/artists/producers – justifying our existence, making clear why we deserve public support, funding, etc.

SLIDE 10 Jonathan Sterne

SLIDE 11 Sterne’s PERSONAL site: SuperBon

SLIDE 12 Kathleen Fitzpatrick

SLIDE 13 Jentery Sayers

SLIDE 14 Jesse Shapins

SLIDE 15 Tanya Toft

SLIDE 16 Wordsinspace

  • If time allows, you’ll look more closely at some of these sites in your discussion sections this week.
  • If you know of other exemplary grad student sites, please tell me about them!

You can find out about new work in the field via social media – new forms of networking – but alos via old-fashioned library research

SLIDE 17 Library Research

Recap of what we were to have discussed last week

Tour of Library Resources: Library Website

  • Please review FINDING SOURCES guide
  • Ask a Librarian / Library Events / Reference Appts
  • Google will not show everything – consider algorithms, fact that much research material is behind paywalls
    • Need to combine Google with other database searches!
    • And yes, we still need to GO TO THE LIBRARY
    • Search for Books in Google Books, Bobcat
      • May need to go to Bobst!
      • ILL
      • Electronic Resources
        • Periodicals Searcher    
        • What if there’s no full text in library databases? Go to NYU computers, search for hard-copy or request ILL
        • Library Research Services!

Moving on to this week’s lesson…

SLIDES 18-23 Library Resources Consulted for This lesson


  • Opportunity for Institutional Critique
  • Important to know this material – commonly integrated into intro classes
  • There are times when students’ lack of familiarity with the field’s terrain becomes a problem – e.g., thesis proposals, even proposals for seminar/studio projects (e.g., students commonly propose to study “effects,” or propose new theories – e.g., information theory, visual studies – that already exist

MAPPING THE FIELD IS A POLITICAL ACT – What you include/exclude says much about how you define the field

SLIDE 24  Daniel K. Wallingford, A New Yorker’s Idea of the United States of America, 1939

SLIDE 25  Saul Steinberg, View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976

Cartographic historian Matthew Edney: “each map’s character is determined by the context within which the map was made and used, a context formed from an amalgam of social needs, power relations, and cultural conventions.” (Ackerman & Karrow 121)

SLIDE 26  Nina Katchadourian: Austria, dissected paper map, 6 x 9 inches, 1997

Austria describes itself as “the heart of Europe.” This photograph shows the entire Austrian road network, dissected from a paper map and formed into the shape of a heart (

  • How much context does one provide in a map?

SLIDE 27 Mark Lombardi, Bush Market, 1999

Historian Susan Schulten, on maps of America: “the most powerful maps in the nation’s history have been tools of exploration and discovery, statements and projections of national coherence and power, and instruments to explain the fundamental shift in spatial understanding brought by the modern era.” (Ackerman & Karrow 205)

SLIDE 28 Situationist Maps: Guy Debord, Naked City, 1957; Constant Nieuwenhuys, Symbolische voorstelling van New Babylon (symbolic representation of New Babylon), 1969

SLIDE 29 William Faulker, Map of Yoknapatwpha County from Portable Faulker, 1945; another version in Absalom, Absalom, 1936

SLIDE 30 Matthew Bennett, Mayberry

Cartographic librarian and historian James Ackerman distinguishes between the itinerary map: “primarily concerned with the representation of a single route or corridor of movement” – and the network map, which “describe[s] an entire system of routes or pathways within a place, region, or country” (Ackerman & Karrow 39)

  • You need to map out some itineraries that can help you find your way through the network of our field

Personal – Place-based – Representations

Recall from last week: SLIDE 31 Map of Tenderness (Carte du Tendre) Sentimental Geography

  • Inspired by Clelie, Historie Romaine, novel by Madeleine de Scudery (1607-1701)
  • Topographic allegory, representing stations of love as if real paths and places

SLIDE 32 Giuliana Bruno, film historian, in her Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film, simultaneously traces the spectator’s — the moving, feeling, gendered subject’s — engagement with cinema and cinematic spaces; while she also retraces the history of cinematic apparatus, filmic space, and exhibition

As we plot out our own itineraries, we need to know what terrain we’re working within – What’s the Map of Media Studies?

SLIDE 33 What’s the Map of Media Studies?

  • Liberal Education Tradition
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Design Education

Important to remember that media studies is part of the tradition of liberal education

History Of Liberal Education:

SLIDE 34 Diderot’s Systême figuré des connaissances humaines, Encyclopédie, 1851 (figurative system of human knowledge)

SLIDE 35 Rafael, School of Athens, 1509-10

  • Plato gestures upward, symbolizing ethereal realm of eternal forms; Aristotle holds arm parallel to ground, symbolizing the concreteness, the worldliness, of his contribution

SLIDE 36 Aristotle’s Politics, Book VIII: “there is a kind of education in which parents should have their sons trained not because it is necessary, or because it is useful, but because it is liberal and something good in itself”; “To aim at utility everywhere is utterly unbecoming to high-minded and liberal spirits” (Roosevelt 3)

  • In general, liberal education is associated with “broad knowledge,” “transferrable skills,” ethics, and civic engagement
  • Smacks of elitism – but in an ideal world, all would have an opportunity to partake in this sort of education

SLIDE 37 Aristotle Educating Alexander

“The amount of ‘useful’ knowledge imparted to young people, Aristotle goes on to explain, should ‘never be large enough to make them mechanically minded.’” (Roosevelt 3)

“Liberal education was conceived of as having an ethos that contrasted with and in some ways counteracted the ethos of the marketplace.” (Roosevelt 3)

“The assumption was that the polity required forms of knowledge and habits of mind that were different from the forms of knowledge and habits of mind required by the economy.” (Roosevelt 3)

    • You are more than your profession. Of course it’s great if you learn knowledge and skills as part of your liberal education that can be applied in the workplace – but we need to remember that that knowledge is ours, not the marketplace’s

SLIDE 38 Laurentius de Voltolina, Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia, Einzelblatt, 14th c.

Political aims of liberal education flourished during Roman Empire (Cicero), replaced by religious aims of medieval scholasticism

SLIDE 39 Seven Liberal Arts

“Medieval universities taught the seven liberal arts: the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy) (Peters)

SLIDE 40 Kant Lecturing (Königsberg, 1755-96)

Kant’s The Conflict of the Faculties: argued against graduate education in 18th c. Prussia in which there was a “lower” philosophical faculty and “higher” faculties of theology, law, medicine; Kant “argues that since philosophy is concerned with truth and reason, it is philosophy that should provide the standards with which to judge the ‘higher’ professional schools”; “philosophy is needed both to demystify and to judge the direction of the disciplines that are closest to the seats of power – in Kant’s world, church and state” (Roosevelt 4)

  • “The liberal arts are essential to civic life, for they alone can nurture the skills of critical thinking and objectivity necessary for judging the powerful commercial forces that affect our lives” (Roosevelt 4)

SLIDE 41 Diderot’s Encyclopedia, 1750- (Memory, Reason, Imagination; History, Philosophy, Poetry)

SLIDE 42 Weitsch, Alexander von Humboldt Portrait, 1806

“the humanities date from the early nineteenth century, when universities were taking shape as institutions of research, as initially associated with the Humboldt tradition in Germany… The understanding of knowledge as a product of research had been preceded by at least two alternative conceptions of knowledge, either as self-awareness (Delphi Oracle: ‘know thyself’) or as traditional learning, administered and passed on by a class of learned people” (Jensen)

19th c: university rationalized into the social sciences: history, economics, sociology, psychology, political science, and anthropology (Peters)

Late 19th c: founding many large private universities, inspired by German models and devoted to scientific method and specialized research; “stress on specialization and the free electives system increasingly came to be seen as creating a ‘political as well as an intellectual empty space’” (Roosevelt 5) –

SLIDE 43 Meanwhile, Thorstein Veblen (economist/sociologist who taught at TNS) critical of underlying ‘pecuniary’ purposes of American universities

PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION – companion to or competition for liberal arts?

Robert E. Lee started first journalism program at Washington & Lee in 1868; positioned “printing as an adjunct to a curriculum in the classics” (Sloan 3)

“In many of its incarnations, journalism has had a disciplinary status closer to that of law or medicine than to art history or literary studies” – “Its functionalist research orientation …made it instrumental in the definition of the ‘new’ social science discipline of mass communication, where it was joined by radio and television, but not, with a few notable exceptions, film.” (Uricchio 26-7)


How media studies arose from that newly rationalized university

The most common story about media studies

Cultural Context for Rise of Social Science: SLIDE 45 Newspaper Row, 1873-5

Mid 19th – early-20th c: Modernity + Mass Society: industrialization, urbanization, modernization increase social differentiation and psychological isolation (Fascism, Nazism); mass refers to a “distinctive pattern of social organization” (Lowery & DeFleur 11)

SLIDE 46 Early Press + Movie Theaters

“by the second decade of the twentieth century, three distinct mass media waves had swept across the western world in quick succession, fundamentally altering the exercise of state power, the construction of the citizen, and public memory itself.

  • The cheap rotary press,
  • film, and
  • radio…”

media occupied an increasingly significant part of the information infrastructure essential to the functioning of democratic governments and the capitalist system” – Hitler’s Germany of Stalin’s Soviet Union (Uricchio 26)

Later 20s: “moralists and critics had posted warning about the effects of the popular press” thru 19th c. (17);

Great War: “American way of life seemed to be deteriorating” – blamed, in part, new motion pictures (18) – “people were concerned about the problem of media audiences (Lowery & DeFleur 18)

Development of Tools of Research: prior to 20s, there was “little in the way of systematic investigation of the effects of mass comm. w/in what we would today call a scientific perspective” (14); “Communication research is an extension of the methodology and theory-building strategies of the social and behavioral sciences.” (Lowery & DeFleur 15, 18)

  • Durkheim’s numerical data on deaths by suicide
  • 20s: teaching of statistical techniques; birth of content analysis
  • Early 20th c: rise of sociology: Tonnies (gemeinschaft, gesellschaft)

30’s onward: “Sustained research in the field of mass communication and media studies”  (Williams 23)

SLIDE 47 Mass Society Criticism: 1920s-50s:

  • Mass media are a negative and disruptive force in society and should be controlled
  • Mass media have the power to directly influence the attitudes and behavior of ordinary people
  • People are vulnerable to the power of mass media b/c they have become isolated and alienated from traditional social institutions
  • Social changes brought about by disruptive influence of mass media will result in advent of more authoritarian and centrally controlled societies
  • Mass media bring about decline in cultural standards and values (Williams 29)

SLIDE 48 Propaganda Analysis and Public Opinion: inter-war years; Harold Lasswell’s Propaganda Techniques in the World War (1927); Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion (1922)

“[Walter] Lippmann’s Public Opinion is the originating book in the modern history of communication research” (Carey 22) – Lippman “established the tradition of propaganda analysis and simultaneously, by framing the problem not as one of normative political theory but as one of human psychology, opened up the tradition of effects analysis that was to dominate the literature less than two decades after the publication of PO.” (Carey 24)

SLIDE 49 Magic Bullet Theory as a point of departure – informed by Darwinian models, which portrayed media audiences as “irrational creatures guided more of less uniformly by their instincts” (Lowery & DeFleur 13)

  • Direct effects: hypodermic needle; magic bullet


Payne Fund Studies: “psychological field experiments conducted by Peterson and Thurstone to study the impact of exposure to one or more films on children’s attitudes toward social issues” + quantitative approach using “biographical technique to probe the influence of the movies on children’s daily behavior” (Lowery & DeFleur 381); “The movies did seem to bring new ideas to children, influence their attitudes, stimulate their emotions, present moral standards different from those of many adults, disturb sleep, and influence interpretations of the world and day-to-day conduct” – may have been true, since movies were so new (41); conclusions reinforced the “legacy of fear that had been kept alive by strident denunciations of the evils of propaganda during the same decade and by the widely held beliefs about the horrors of newspaper influence current during the late nineteenth century” (Lowery & DeFleur 41); used survey, content, experimental methodologies

CLICK: Radio Panics: War of the Worlds – of 6 million who tuned in, one million were panicked; study intended to focus on panic behavior, w/ mass communication not a primary interest

  • Invasion from Mars: Cantril’s multimethod study of “how the American public responded to Orson Welles’s ratio dramatization of War of the Worlds suggested…how to combine qualitative and quantitative methods…” (Jensen 156-70)


SLIDE 51 People’s Choice: Media in a Political Campaign: study of media influences on voters in Erie County, OH, during presidential election of 1940; “prompted a fresh look at social relationships as an important part of the mass communication process” (Lowery & DeFleur 383); innovated use of panel interviewing techniques

  • media reinforce rather than change people’s positions”; “overall, media serve democracy” (Jensen 156-70)

CLICK: Audiences for Daytime Radio Serials: uses and gratifications (Herzog) – differences between heavy and light listeners; uses: emotional release, satisfying wishful thinking, social depictions in play provided them w/ advice applicable in their own lives

CLICK: Experiments with Film Persuading the American Soldier in WWII: studies use of films for indoctrination and training films during WWII – see if films could change beliefs and attitudinal orientations of new recruits

  • Film experiments on American Soldiers: “series of experimental studies were conducted on Frank Capra’s Why We Fight films, asking to what extent they might not only provide information, but also shape attitudes” (Jensen 156-70)

SLIDE 52 Persuasion: Search for Magic Keys: learn how to change people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors – search for a systematic theory of persuasion

  • Yale Program of Research on Communication and Attitude Change (Carl Hovland); Found only short-term changes

CLICK: Personal Influence: 2-Step Flow: Katz & Lazarsfeld

  • Research agendas often shaped by issues raised in political debate; much commercial funding
  • Lazarsfeld’s Personal Influence study: funded by two commercial sponsors: McFadden magazine publisher and Roper polling organization – Lazarsfeld and Katz defined “two-step flow

SLIDE 53 Project Revere: Leaflets as a Medium of Last Resort – “understand ways of communication with large populations scattered into the hinterland from cities that would become targets if the unthinkable happened” (Lowery & DeFleur 387)

SLIDE 54 Television in the Lives of Our Children: Schramm – “focusing on the way children made use of television, the functions if performed for them, and the satisfactions or gratifications they derived from viewing”; children watched to be entertained, to acquire new info, to participate in social activities associated w/ viewing (Lowery & DeFleur 388)

CLICK: Agenda-Setting: McCombs and Shaw: media tell us not what to think – but what to think about

SLIDE 55 Violence and Media: social unrest during 60s: National Commission of the Causes and Prevention of Violence’s Media Task Force – “conclude that television had to be considered a possible contributing factor in explaining why there were so many forms of violent behavior in American society” (Lowery & DeFleur 391); extended in cultivation research

CLICK: First 50 years of research contributed to : demise of Magic Bullet Theory; Uses and Gratifications Theory; Agenda Setting Theory; Adoption of Innovation Theory; 2-Step Flow and Diffusion of Info; Limited Effects; Modeling Theory (people act out patterns of behavior – these depictions serve as imitable models); Social Expectations Theory (can learn norms, roles and other components of social organization from media); Cultivation Theory (George Gerbner – heavy viewers see world as more violent)

Meanwhile: SLIDE 56 Information Theory: Claude Shannon + Bell Labs – “A Mathematical Theory of Comm” published in 1948


SLIDE 57 Michael Delli Carpini: asked about origin of field: growth of mass media, fear of their propagandizing effects, concern about the stability of democracy, emergence of new technique for studying social phenomena; draws on traditions from humanities (e.g., rhetoric), social science (e.g., political science and anthropology), sciences (e.g., information technology, cybernetics, psychology) and professions (e.g., law, policy, journalism) (Dervin & Song)

SLIDE 58 Ron Rice, UCSB: concerns about propaganda from WWI and WWII; rise of audience research with introduction of radio; influx of European sociologists and social psychologists after WWII; growth of urban studies and concern over transformation of communities and rise of mass society; rise of grad education w/ GI bill; influx of immigrants (Dervin & Song)

CLICK: Barbie Zelizer, Penn: origins: post WWII, development of social science research councils, gravitation toward funded research on media effects, increasingly present role of media as new actor in public sphere (Dervin & Song)

SLIDE 59 James Carey calls this standard history a “sketch and a caricature” – there is “some truth” to it, but it’s also “powerfully misleading” (17). “[T]he standard history had, or at least was subsequently endowed with, a practical political purpose. It attempted to negate or at least deflect the characteristic critiques of modern, liberal, capitalistic democracies.” (18)

Mass society theory was a “straw man” – “the actual demolition often concealed the real intent behind the creation of work both the history of mass communication research and theory of mass society, namely, the attempt to contain and neutralize those intellectuals pursuing a critical theory of modern society, among whom the Frankfurt School, exiled in America, was merely the most prominent group” (Carey 19) – will address in your Ideas classes

SLIDE 60 Chicago Philosophy ClubChicago School of Social Thought: “The work of Dewey and his colleagues is often omitted from the standard history of mass communication research, but it, along with Lippmann and liberal theory (e.g., J. S. Mill’s On Liberty), provides the necessary linkage between the theory of the public and freedom typical of the nineteenth century and the theory of media effects typical of the twentieth” (Carey 24)” – pragmatism

            Pragmatic Foundations of TNS – as seen in 1925 Brochure

Daniel Czitrom, Media and the American Mind: “In the 1890s, a trio of American thinkers began the first comprehensive reckoning with modern communication in toto as a force in the social process. Charles Horton Cooley, John Dewey, and Robert Park each ascribed enormous significance to the sum of recent advances in media technology, and each placed the implications he saw at the center of his larger social thought. Together, they construed modern communication essentially as an agent for restoring a broad moral and political consensus to America, a consensus they believed to have been threatened by the wrenching disruptions of the nineteenth century . . . “(p. 91).

  • Chicago School Sociology: behavior best explained in relation to social constructs and physical environment

SLIDE 61 “The convergence of the three traditions in the late 1930s at Columbia was only a microcosm of a much larger and ragged debate in North America and Europe in the years between the wars about what we have come to call – with reluctance, enthusiasm, or habit – mass communication. A diverse company included Dewey, Walter Lippmann, George Herbert Mead, Lewis Mumford, Kenneth Burke, Margaret Mead, Robert Park, Harold Lasswell, Floyd Allport, Robert Lynd, Edward Bernays, Robert Merton, Lazarsfeld, I.A. Richards, F.R. and Q.D. Leavis, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Rudolf Arnheim, Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Leo Lowenthal, and Antonio Gramsci, for example, all explored the meaning, in their ways, of new forms of mass culture. Thinkers of this period faced the economic, political, and spiritual fallout of World War I, the rise of mass production, fascist politics, broadcasting, audience measurement, public relations, and survey research, for example.” (Peters 137)

SLIDE 62 “Hopefully, the range of forefathers – and foremothers – will grow as inquiry is freed to take the best ideas from anywhere, regardless of provenance.” (Peters 138)



Media Studies draws from

  • Rhetoric (Western and Eastern)
  • Linguistics (e.g., Semiotics)
  • Literary criticism: biographical studies of major authors; historical approaches to artworks and their place in genealogy of styles, forms thematic; New Criticism (close readings of ‘the texts themselves’); formalism (“defamiliarize” reality); generative model of language
  • Hermeneutics (“clarify the nature and conditions of interpretation, with reference both to the text and to the activity of the reader” [21]; Ricoeur);
  • Phenomenology (“defensive reaction against the reductionism, in the form of either positivism of ‘psychologism,’ which was then seen to threaten a humanistic understanding of consciousness as a lived and interpreted whole; phenomenological tradition insisted on the unique qualities and insights of ordinary human experience; interpretive studies of social life; Husserl – “to the things themselves,” human consciousness, or intentionality, is always intentionality of something;
  • Art history: Gombrich provided tools for examining form, perspective, color, iconography in film and tv; Panofsky’s iconology; media studies took up art history’s only marginal interest in relationship between arts and their social context
  • Film Studies: “academic research on film from the outset defined it primarily as an art form”; “Growing out of literary studies in several national contexts, film studies have remained comparatively segregated from other media studies” (31); “Film scholarship remains characterized by its aesthetic research questions, its ‘textual’ analyses, and its grand theory” (32); constructivist and formalist traditions; realist tradition; the gaze; minor interest in film production and reception


Take One Example: SLIDE 64 Film School (arrived 1950s): you’ll read a historical text during our Film Studies Focus Area week

  • Film taught to illustrate other subjects; as an integral part of liberal arts’ commitment to moral/civic education (Decherney 451, 455)
  • Late 60s: “cinematologists” fighting for “recognition of cinema study as an autonomous discipline” (Grieveson 169)Film study would become part of the “liberal arts,” distancing itself from the mass culture debates of the 1950s and the fearful anxieties about the…politically deleterious effects of film as manifested in the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations of Hollywood.”
  • SLIDE 65 Film Taught in Seminar or Studio?

1979 Int’l Federation of Film Archives conference in Brighton, England: new film historians

SLIDE 66shift from medium-specific histories – film’s history in particular – to media history” – “Film’s own history and developmental trajectory, and its assumed agency with regard to ‘derivative’ media such as television, have been recast in the light of an array of precedent technologies, practices, and notions of mediation” (Uricchio 23)


SLIDE 67 Toronto School: Innis, McLuhan, Eric Havelock, Edmund Carpenter, George Grant

  • importance of media form; media structuring human mind and human cultures


SLIDE 69 Bauhaus + Vorkurs

  • Founded 1919 – same year as TNS
  • Foundational Course – abstractions + general design principles
    • Color, composition, materials, 3-D form
    • Language of Vision / Verbal Language
      • Graph / Grid / Translation / Figure
      • Drew from theories, like semiotics, that you’ll be exposed to in Ideas class
      • Demonstrates mutual influence of theory and practice
  • Desire to find “unity” among the arts; erasing boundary between craft and art training
    • One instructor teaches method/technique; another teaches “creativity” and formal language (Bailey)
    • SLIDE 70 Translation: “drawing correspondences between graphic, linear marks and a range of non-graphic experiences such as color, music, spiritual intuition, and visual perception” (Lupton & Miller); “exchanging symbols from one system with symbols from another”
      • Correspondences btw visual and verbal languages?
  • Likewise, our Concepts class fosters as “cross-platform” approach
  • Classes foster translation of argumentation between verbal, visual, sonic, etc.

Evolution in design education? (Bailey)

  • ACADEMY: Master-Apprentice model for craft + Academy-studio for fine art
    • Student possesses talent specific to discipline, learns technique by imitation
  • BAUHAUS: Group-workshop model
    • Students possess creativity that spans disciplines; method of teaching is invention, emphasizes formalism
    • Intro of Foundation Course of “general principles for all disciplines


SLIDE 72 “The boundaries of the field of communications have been unclear from the beginnings. Somewhere between the liberal arts/humanities and the social sciences, communications exists in a contested space where advocates of different methods and positions have attempted to define the field and police intruders and trespassers. Despite several decades of attempts to define and institutionalize the field of communications, there seems to be no general agreement concerning its subject-matter, method, or institutional home. In different universities, communications is sometimes placed in humanities departments, sometimes in the social sciences, and generally in schools of communications. SLIDE 73 But the boundaries of the various departments within schools of communications are drawn differently, with the study of mass-mediated communications and culture, sometimes housed in Departments of Communication, Radio/Television/Film, Speech Communication, Theatre Arts, or Journalism departments. Many of these departments combine study of mass-mediated communication and culture with courses in production, thus further bifurcating the field between academic study and professional training, between theory and practice” (Kellner 1995).

  • At TNS, you’re in the School of Public Engagement – defined by praxis and civic consciousness



Meyrowitz (1994): “no common understanding of what the subject matter of the field is” (qtd Williams 4)

Golding and Murdock (1978): “embracing a staggering and often unbounded range of interests and topics’ (qtd Williams 4)

Levy and Gurevitch (1994): “impression of a field that is everywhere and nowhere” (qtd Williams 4)

SLIDE 75 Rather than lament that communication isn’t one of the six social sciences, we should regard it as a “newer, nascent way of organizing inquiry” (Peters 132)

CLICK: “we cannot succeed in academia by imitating the established fields. We have to boldly strike out in a popular and interdisciplinary manner that runs directly counter to the dominant trends in the academy” (McChesney 100)

CLICK: Move from 3R’s – reading (input, decoding), ‘riting (output, encoding), ‘rithmetic (computation or processing) – rooted in post-war pedagogical models, to 4C’s: cognition, culture, control, communication – a model in which “communication might find a more distinct place among the social sciences, by virtue of its several theoretical and methodological subfields that would necessarily center on the exchange and flow of information quite apart from considerations of cognition and culture per se.” (Beniger 23)

SLIDE 76 “…disciplines are defined not by cores of knowledge (i.e., epistemologies) but by views of Being (i.e., ontologies) (Shepherd 83)

Disciplines are defined more by faith than knowledge; their beliefs and practices depend on views of Being which they witness, not cores of knowledge that they claim.” (Shepherd 84) – “Academic disciplines…are distinguished not by the parcels of existence that they study, but by the views of existence they afford.” (Shepherd 84)

CLICK: “…it is precisely the nature and purpose of disciplines and their disciples to forward a unique view of Being among all the alternatives and say, ‘There is something primary, or essential, about this particular view.’ Disciplines depend on disciples acting as advocates for the ontology they forward, making implicit and explicit arguments that their view ‘matters.’” (Shepherd 84)

Could conceive of communication as “cross-disciplinary,” achieving legitimacy through its association with other disciplines; as anti-disciplinary, just as much a rhetorical construction as any other discipline; or it could argue “for a definition of communication as foundational” and conceive of a Being grounded in communication, a life “communicationally constructed” (Shepherd 90)


SLIDE 78 “Our fields are defined less and less by the professional passport we bear than by the literatures (broadly defined!) we read, teach, and contribute to.” (Peters 133) — CLICK: … and by what we make – CLICK: FIELDS ARE DEFINED THROUGH THEIR PRACTICE


Recall: Historian Susan Schulten, on maps of America: “the most powerful maps in the nation’s history have been tools of exploration and discovery, statements and projections of [spatial] coherence and power, and instruments to explain the fundamental shift in spatial understanding brought by the modern era.” (Ackerman & Karrow 205)


Several key figures in our field have remarked repeatedly on the centrality of a “rigorous grounding in political and social theory, radical and mainstream” (McChesney 99) + general historical and cultural literacy

SLIDE 80 “New media literacies include the traditional literacy that evolved with print culture as well as the newer forms of literacy within mass and digital media…. [We] must expand [our] required competencies, not push aside old skills to make room for the new.
Beyond core literacy, students need research skills…. Students also need to develop technical skills…. Yet, to reduce the new media literacies to technical skills would be a mistake on the order of confusing penmanship with composition….
As media literacy advocates have claimed during the past several decades, students must also acquire a basic understanding of the ways media representations structure our perceptions of the world; the economic and cultural contexts within which mass media is produced and circulated; the motives and goals that shape the media they consume; and alternative practices that operate outside the commercial mainstream” (Jenkins 19-20)

SLIDE 82 If we continue to view ‘making’ and ‘analyzing’ as mutually exclusive categories, then our students will never receive the full benefits of what media studies as a field of practices and knowledges has to offer.” (Hershfield & McCarthy 112)


SLIDE 83 Flexibility must be a valued characteristic of communication workers, and generating flexibility requires a different sort of education than that needed to train somebody to fill a slot. The need for increased critical thinking skills cannot be underestimated… It is the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information that will allow communicators to train themselves to take on future jobs… We must give our students a general communication education with a large conceptually based core of classes. There will still be a place for classes that give students technical skills for entry-level jobs, but these must be subordinate to classes that teach critical thinking, law, history, mass media and society, international communication, and so on.” (Shoemaker 150-1)

SLIDE 84 O’Grady: CLICK: Media studies = “the exploration of the creation, the aesthetics, and the psychological, social, and environmental impact of the art forms of photography, cinematography, videography, radio, recordings, and tapes within the broad framework of general education in the humanities” — CLICK the “new humanities” (O’Grady 116-7)

READ: O’Grady’s Model for Media Studies Curriculum: instruction in “new image-making technologies…while simultaneously being exposed, through film rentals, slide collections, and exhibitions, to the best work of the past and present”; “discussions of theory and aesthetics; topics not ‘taught’ as formal units but regarded as perpetual and ultimate concerns. This whole process of viewing, making, comparing, debating was conceived as one undivided…stream of creation” + instruction in “humanities – literature, philosophy, music, and the fine arts – the experiencing and formal analysis of the great texts, compositions, and art works from the beginning of civilization to the present” – “image-makers…should be rooted in the ways in which man had imaged forth himself and his concerns in the traditional media which continue to be lively and influential.” + behavioral sciences – “creators of media should be knowledgeable about and responsible for the psychic and social consequences of their work” (O’Grady 123) + community involvement


Stuart Bailey in “Towards a Critical Faculty,” on Future of Design Education:

  • SLIDE 85 “open discussion about the very nature of being a contemporary artist/designer…; involve direct connections – lectures, seminars, etc. – to the wider humanities disciplines”
  • foster “engaged discussion as part of a historical and theoretical continuum rather than the regular ego-feeling value-judgments of the group or individual crit”
  • SLIDE 86Educating reflexivity – teaching students to observe their practice from both inside and outside – offers students the facility to interrogate their potential roles and their effects”
  • Need to give students “the capacity to change the discipline itself, to completely define the state-of-the-art”
    • SLIDE 87 equipped to ask whether they
      • want to / ought to / refuse to
      • enter into / challenge / reject (the)
      • existing art & design world / industry / academic / market
  • Need to give students “the capacity to change the discipline itself, to completely define the state-of-the-art”

SLIDE 88 John Culkin, founder of Center for Understanding Media, which became our MA program; Culkin was its first director: “Media studies represents the arts and humanities in a new key.” (Culkin, on dept website)

  • “We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re certain it wasn’t a fish”
  • “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us”

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