ENGL 395 B1: Media, Culture, and History: "In Medias Res: Media and Social Meaning"

A. Hasenbank

As readers and users of modern media, we continually encounter texts both as something new and as something already built into a network of existing cultural meanings and commercial and technological systems. What does it mean to come in to media already in progress?

This course will introduce students to frameworks for critically analyzing different media forms by situating them in their historical contexts and by considering the social practices associated with encountering, using, consuming, and responding to different texts. We will examine how “new” media forms draw on understandings from previous systems, and how familiar texts can be updated and re-invented by both creators and audiences. We will consider how media offer sites for social participation far exceeding mere reception.

This course will first provide a theoretical language for discussing media and social practices, including readings by Raymond Williams, Marshall McLuhan, Laura Mulvey, and Lisa Gitelman. We will then turn to three more focused topics of study, looking at adaptation (Hutcheon) and versions of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye; looking at popular culture and transmedia audiences (Hall, Jenkins); and looking at intertexuality and layered texts in the podcast Within the Wires. Additional readings will supplement these discussions.