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What Is Media Studies?

Part of my recent failure to be especially entertaining or enlightening here in the land of Obsolescence has to do with a smallish project that has absorbed increasing amounts of my already skimpy non-teaching, non-committee, non-fretting-about-the-state-of-the-world time: I’m co-coordinating a colloquium that will take place here at Pomona College October 31-November 2. This colloquium, entitled “What Is Media Studies?”, is designed not as a conventional academic conference, but rather as an operational think-tank. The principal speakers will deliver extended addresses, each followed by lengthy open discussions that will include not only the speakers but also other media professionals, artists, teachers, and scholars from the L.A. area and further afield. We hope that our audience will represent the full spectrum of contemporary media practice, pedagogy, and scholarship, such a conversation might take place the multiple constituencies that comprise media studies, constituencies that revolve in such separate circles that we almost never meet. What we hope to consider in the course of the colloquium is less what the field of media studies as it currently exists looks like from varying professional perspectives, than how those particular professional perspectives might be applied in defining the discipline, its objects of study, and its pedagogical practices into the future.

Our speakers include:

Richard Burrows, Director of Arts Education, Los Angeles Unified School District;

James der Derian, Professor of International Relations, Brown University; principal investigator, InfoTechWarPeace; author of Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network;

Meaghan Morris, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong;

Peter Rawley, producer, CEO of EKR Strategies, and former Executive Vice President and Head of International Department, International Creative Management (ICM);

Tim Rutten, columnist, “Regarding Media,” and former city bureau chief, metro reporter, editorial writer, assistant national editor, Opinion editor and assistant editor for the Editorial Page, Los Angeles Times;

Viola Shafik,[1] professor, American University of Cairo; author of Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity;

Jesus Salvador Trevino, Chicano civil rights activist, writer, producer, and director.

If any of you out there will be in the L.A. area that weekend, I hope you’ll consider joining us. E-mail me for more info.

  1. Given the increasing instability in the region, Prof. Shafik may be joining us via video, rather than in person. ↩︎


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