The Craft of Writing
R1B 001 | CCN: 23962
Instructor: Myke Samuels,William R Morgan
Date / Time: Tu/Th 3:30pm - 4:59pm
In David Cronenberg’s 1983 sci-fi horror film, Videodrome, Professor Brian O’blivion, a pop-culture analyst loosely based on Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, remarks as follows:
The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena — the videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television.
What is the nature of the (television) screen? What is the relationship of the screen to the political problems of the past and of the present? This course begins questions such as these; it begins with an investigation into the seemingly all-pervasive power of new media technological devices. Broadly, our course begins with the question, how we ought to understand the predicament of our increasing enmeshment within a culture of the screen?
During the course of the semester, we will pursue this line of questioning along three distinct fronts. In the first unit, we will take up the question of screens head-on via the work of French media philosopher Jean Baudrillard. In the course’s second unit, we will look behind the screen, so to speak, to investigate the material aspects of the screen’s production and of labor productivity in general. During this unit, we will focus on the writings of Karl Marx. In the third unit, we will turn our attention to the Martinique philosopher, Frantz Fanon, to ask historical and present questions about race and the relationship of race and colonialism to the media conditions we have outlined already.
In the concluding weeks of the semester we will bring the three pillars of our course–media, capital and race–together in pursuit of a capacious and creative analysis of various present phenomena.