Connections 20095. Understanding Media, 'Old' and 'New'
In 1967, Marshall McLuhan distilled one of modern society’s most complex and powerful forces down to its most basic function in just five simple words: “the medium is the message”. Basically, what McLuhan meant by this is that the specific properties of a given communication medium profoundly circumscribe the meaning(s) of the messages it delivers, so much so that we cannot hope to fully grasp the meaning of any mediated content without first understanding the medium through which it was delivered.
This connection invites students to interrogate the political-economic, social and cultural dimensions of how mediated content is produced, distributed and consumed. For example, students in SOC 175, Media and Society, consider how advertising in visual mediums works to incorporate individuals into an ideology of consumerism enmeshed in ideologies of race, gender and sexuality. Students in Introduction to New Media are asked to consider how the ubiquity of social media creates both new opportunities and new pressures to ‘advertise’ ourselves to others, and even more generally, to provide unpaid labor in the form of generating the personal data that social media sites monetize in order to generate revenue.
This connection will broaden and deepen students’ historical knowledge of media while also introducing students to a variety of critical, theoretical, and methodological approaches that are grounded in the humanities and social sciences.