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Visual Culture Studies: Literature and Spectatorship in the Nineteenth Century

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 mass media & the birth of "the public" (McLuhan)

Week 3 from expansionism to empire (Gore Vidal)

Week 4 Libertarianism & the failure of democracy (Rexroth)

Week 5 from Havana Harbor to Pearl Harbor: disinformation

Week 6 realestate & intellectual property (Chinatown)

Week 7 the McCarthy Era (Good Luck and Goodnight)

Week 8 Kennedy: Home of Conspiracies (JFK)

Week 9 poets, hippies and home-grown terrorism (Guerrilla)

Week 10 network news as "white knight" (The Network)

Week 11 Watergate (All the President's Men)

Week 12 Fear and Loathing (the Corporation)

Week 13 Arcadia Burning (An Inconvenient Truth)

Week 14 Conclusion



This seminar will examine?in overview?the relationship of media in the information age to the on-going project of critical modernity, both in the arts and in the broader context of social praxis?primarily with regard to democracy and the institutions of public accountability. Topics for consideration will include media ownership and copyright, the transformation of the public domain into fields of corporate control, public policy, virtual realities and the status of ?the real.? Textual sources will range from the pioneering work of Marshall McLuhan to the latter-day apocalyptic pronouncements of Jean Baudrillard and Paul

Virilio. Events in the historical media will also be examined with regard to the advent of new media and changing conditions of access to information, propaganda and geopolitics. Special consideration will be given to the question of ?terrorism? from

Patty Hearst to Al-Quaeda; public disclosure in the Kennedy assassination, the Nixon impeachment and the Iraq War; corporatism and the commodification of knowledge, the rise of individualism and the impact of globalisation on social infrastructures and legal systems, etc. A large percentage of this seminar will be devoted to analysing visual media, from TV and film to the predominance of the personal computer, mobile communication systems and the future of immersive virtual reality.

ASSESSMENT for this course will be in the form of a short seminar paper (2000-2500 words), as well as participation in class discussions.

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