Spring 2012 – Global Media Economies after Convergence

Professor Michael Palm, Communication Studies
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15pm,
209 Dey Hall – UNC Chapel Hill

The rapid development of new media technologies over the past few decades has tempted observers to describe the world as somehow shrinking. The internet, for example, has broadened and blurred the social, cultural and economic horizons of many people around the globe; however, only small and select portions of the world’s population are online. New technologies like the internet are being utilized in unprecedented (and familiar) ways, by players new and old, to create meaning and value out of mediated texts, images and interactions. Media production, distribution and consumption take place today within cultures and economies that are often trans- and inter-national (if seldom “global” in any literal sense). We use media technologies to enrich, empower and entertain ourselves, and others, but at the same time media and media culture are also still used to exclude, exploit and oppress people. Accordingly, in this course we will study how media technologies have enabled people to connect themselves to others – socially, culturally, economically, and politically – but we will not lose sight of how the media “haves” at the same time continue to prohibit the “have-nots” from joining their ranks.

In this course we will study particular media forms, content, customs and cultures, as they move along and across borders both official and de facto. Over the course of the semester you will familiarize (or reacquaint) yourself with vital concepts and categories for studying the cultural  politics (and political economics) of mediated culture. These concepts and categories include: “culture,” “economy,” “media,” “capital,” “labor,” “value,” “appropriation,” “mobility,” “migration,” “diaspora,” “globalization,” “multiculturalism,” “hybridity,” “cultural politics,” “consumption,”  “political economy,” “deindustrialization” and “postcoloniality.”

On most days, one student will make a 5-10 minute presentation in class about the assigned reading, for the purpose of guiding discussion that day. Your written work will consist of three papers: a book review of Epic Encounters, which we will read in its entirety; a term paper abstract and annotated bibliography; and a term paper that incorporates themes and ideas from the course into original research on a topic of your choice.