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Struggle for the Word: History of Media I

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1055
Section 001
Instructor Stephen Duncombe
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Foundation Requirement   SOC



The history of the media is the history of struggle, a battle waged over words and images: who produces them, who has access to them, whose interests are served by them, and how they are interpreted. Media power has traditionally been the province of elites, from Church and State to multinational communication conglomerates. But this is only one side of the story, for everyday people have also fought for their right to speak and be spoken to. Media has moved from the elite to the masses, in the process becoming "democratized"…but also often commodified. Beginning with the printed word, and moving from the Bible through political pamphlet and popular song, the commercial penny press and immigrant newspapers, and ending with the web, this course will use the history of the printed word to explore enduring questions of power and culture. Texts will range from the Korean Sutra of the Great Incantations to the forced confessions of a barely literate sixteenth-century European miller; from Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson to Frederick Douglass; and from the literature and essays of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Ursula Le Guin to the historical and contemporary appeals of marketers and advertisers.



Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)