Next semester I’ll be teaching a University Seminar called Sound Tracks: Pop Music through Media, a course that explores the way that the industry that surrounds the production of pop music has shaped the cultural meaning of music itself, and influenced the development of other media forms (Hollywood film, television, video games, and media technology). The course will first consider the structure of the music industry (Unit 1), then examine cultural phenomena like stardom, genre and ideology through pop music (Unit 2), next analyze the interaction between hardware developments like the cassette deck and the iPod on the “software” of the album and the “leaked” single (Unit 3), and finally explore the relationship between pop music and screen media (film, television, and the Internet).
Course description below, after the jump.
The little liberal arts college that I call home has made a name for itself for its extensive study-abroad programs. A significant majority of our students spend at least a semester abroad, and nearly all of them use their passports as part of an academic experience during their undergraduate career. Students are required to fulfill a “Global Connections” requirement before graduation, which is defined as “a sustained cross-cultural experience.” Something that the University calls “ID courses” are one way students can fulfill the Global Connections requirement without spending a full semester abroad.
When I found out that the Office of International Affairs had approved my partner’s proposal for an ID Course called “Americans in Paris,” I was excited for her. She had previously assisted on a Freshman “Spring Preview” course that traveled to Paris, and was keen to design a course of her own that focused on the American expatriates …
The following are my remarks presented to the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference on the panel “Landscapes and Soundscapes of Film Noir” on Saturday March 9 2013. The annotation (((*))) marks a point at which you should advance the accompanying visual presentation, which can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2013scms.
Text after the jump.…
There are many, many things to love about being a member of the Department of Media and Communication, but one of my very favorite perks is the Department’s relationship with the Philadelphia Film Society and the Philadelphia Film Festival, which was held this year in October, and Arcadia students and faculty had the opportunity to see loads of great films there. I wasn’t able to catch as many films there as I’d wanted, but I did get to see some great ones: THE SESSIONS, STEP UP TO THE PLATE, the short THE PROCESSION, HOLY MOTORS and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. But perhaps my favorite experience at the festival this year was seeing GAYBY, the lovely little comedy written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki.
Part of what makes GAYBY so charming is how deceptively simple its premise is. Jenn wants to get pregnant, can’t afford fertility treatments or in vitro procedures, so she asks her college best friend Matt to impregnate her the old fashioned way. Matt is gay, hijinks ensue, you can fill in the blanks from there. Except you can’t, exactly–the film is able to avoid and often subvert those well-worn conventions from all of those television sitcoms that have toyed with the scenario since the mid 1990s. It’s not fine cinema, and it’s not trying to be. It’s just a clever and fun movie.
In teaching my undergraduate Media Studies seminar, I often illustrate concepts that students find abstract or complex with examples from pop music, and especially music video. A few weeks ago, I was using a series of clips to run through some dominant concepts in mid-twentieth century media studies, a funny thing happened in my classroom.
I started to play this clip…
…and just as I reached to turn the sound down and start talking about QD Leavis, my students started singing. All of them. Loudly.
Unless you were attending Deep Springs College and were too busy herding cattle by day and reading Nietzsche by night this spring to notice, your campus probably had its own “College Memes” page on Facebook. My own alma mater, the University of Miami (woosh, woosh) has several FB meme pages, each with approximately 2000 likes (this for a school with about 10,000 undergrads).
The Huffington Post, itself the newspaper equivalent of an internet meme in some ways, covered the phenomenon this February, after multiple college-centric meme figures had established themselves nationwide–Sheltered College Freshman, Lazy College Senior, Scumbag Steve, etc.
These College Memes pages are essentially all the same: you have your standard “One does not simply walk into [place where students routinely walk into]“; your various jokes about the quality of dorms, dining hall food, or campus social life; some scattered laments on the order of “Oh, my school is so full of hipsters!”; and the occasional “HAI, I don’t take my assignments seriously: LOL!”¹
A friend of mine posted this cartoon from The New Yorker’s caption contest on Facebook the other day, accompanied by the comment: “Holy shit! They finally did it! And yes, I submitted ‘My wife is a slut.'”
This struck me as weird, because a) It’s sort of an unremarkable cartoon b) I had no idea this friend cared about New Yorker caption contests (I thought that was just Roger Ebert?) and c) the incongruous ‘shock’ misogyny coming from him.
My first piece for Negative Dunkalectics went up today. It’s about grief, my dad, and the 2012 Boston Celtics, but mostly it’s about how we use sports to understand our lives. Or about how I do, anyway. Give it a read if you have a moment. It’s called “On Windows Closing”
It is a strange time to be a Celtics fan. Rajon Rondo is one of the most uniquely talented and uniquely limited players in the NBA. Ray Allen’s jump shot remains staggeringly beautiful, and the work he does running off screens remains astounding. Paul Pierce still has an array of stepbacks, upfakes and pull-up shots from the elbow. And Garnett remains the quarterback of the team’s strong defense, calling out switches, stepping out on pick and rolls and grabbing seven or eight rebounds a game. In short, the Celtics still look like the Celtics. But in this young season, it’s abundantly clear that they are not the same Celtics that they were before. (MORE)
I’ve started and re-started this post six times already, trying to come up with an intriguing angle on Girls to the Front, the book by Sara Marcus that occupied the coveted “first-book-Michael-will-read-after-the-school-year-ends” for 2010-2011. For the seventh attempt at writing this entry, I’m going to try a simpler approach. Read this book. Trust on this.
More after the jump.