Media and Critical Theory

Term: Spring 2009

Subject Code: GSOC

Course Number: 6104

The aim of this course is to examine those distinctive � yet highly controversial � accounts of the media developed by the early members of the Frankfurt School and to assess their relevance to the understanding of contemporary media culture. This semester, we focus on the relevant works of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Siegfried Kracauer. The course will explore their critical analyses of the multi-dimensional development of the various media, and the shift from print to electronic media (radio, film and TV), a shift itself interwoven in complex ways with mass culture and politics. We will explore their original accounts of the spectacle of commodity culture and the growth of the media and entertainment industries in nineteenth century Europe. Throughout, we will critically approach substantive debates that form the background of these analyses concerning the crisis of democracy and the emergence of Fascism, the aestheticization of politics, and the transformation of the public sphere.


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