Death & Media
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5220
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
Death is the only absolute in life-it is not the “if” question, but the “when” question that either shadows our lives or illuminates them. This course asks the question: How have contemporary media reshaped our consciousness and helped reposition our attitudes toward death? Once considered the ultimate taboo, death has become the ubiquitous content and narrative staple of film and television entertainment, popular music, the shock appeal of advertisements, the theme of computer/video games, and the occasion for national media spectacles of mourning and social bonding--in fact, one might argue, death is the ultimate “media event.” When we are talking about cyborgs, vampires, terrorists, capital punishment, silicon-based life forms, dead princesses or immortal artists, we are also thinking about death. We cannot separate the moral and ethical debates over euthanasia, suicide, abortion, terrorism, war, and “ethnic cleansing” from debates about the ethics and aesthetics of the representation of death. The seminar focuses on some of the ways death is--or is not--being addressed by contemporary media. Readings will include texts by Barthes, Becker, Bataille, Baudrillard, DeLillo, Freud, Russell, Sobchack, and Sontag, among others. Sessions will engage with experimental, documentary, and fiction films, videos and audios, photographs, ads, and web sites. Students are expected to conduct outside research in developing focal areas for seminar presentations, discussions, and papers.
Open to Graduate students.