Media. Cultural Studies. Writing.



Author Archives: michaelddwyer

We make the community we want.

We make the community we want.

It always stunk in the summer at Roboto.  “Like an onion farm,” my buddy Pat would say. There wasn’t any air conditioning, just a box fan that they’d usually stick behind the drummer. You had to keep the door closed to keep the noise from disturbing the neighbors too much, so even when the air got moving there wasn’t anywhere for it to go. Cram in 50 to 100 punks (each with their own personal and deeply felt commitments toward showering, etc) and after the first act the air would get heavy with the kind of stink that gets stuck in the bottom of your lungs. It fogged up my glasses and the plate glass in the front door.

I loved it there. The Roboto Project changed my life, and not just because I saw a lot of bands and made a lot of friends there. It radically remade my …

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for your life, 2015.

for your life, 2015.

I am, as those who know me well can attest, a person with quite a weakness for dumb things. Whether it is a puzzle, or a bit of math, or a trivia question or a leaky faucet or a computer issue, show me something dumb and I will get stuck on it. I don’t know why this is. If I just get it in my mind that I *should* be able to do something, it’s hard for me to not see it through. Even (especially?) if it’s not important at all, I lack the good sense to just let it be.

I did, by the way, eventually …

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Sound Tracks: Pop Music through Media

Sound Tracks: Pop Music through Media

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.…

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I thought about a lot of things in Paris.

I thought about a lot of things in Paris.

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 …

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It Takes the Village

It Takes the Village

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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.…

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The radical power of doing your own thing.

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 …

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The Joy of Media Studies

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.…

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Mapping our Lives with College Memes

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

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