Category Archives: Social Media

Issues & Perspectives in Communication Theory, Fall 2011

Comm 6010, Fall 2011
Class: Tuesdays 4:30-7:00 PM, 1020 One Park Place South
Office: 738 One Park Place South
email: ted@tedfriedman.com
website: http://www.tedfriedman.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tedfriedman

Course Description

Communication is a wide-ranging field encompassing the study of speech, journalism, film, television, video games, the internet, and every other medium through which people exchange information. Scholars bring an array of approaches to their work, from historical digging to quantitative data collection to ethnographic interviews to textual analysis. And they address a broad range of issues, from aesthetics to psychology to politics and beyond.

Communication is less a single discipline than an interdisciplinary meeting ground. At the same time, a series of key conversations runs across all these varied areas of study. This course is designed to help new Communication M.A. students get their bearings in this rich, complex field, as you begin your graduate study. It will introduce you to the ideas, arguments, and ongoing questions which organize our field.

Readings

The course-pack for this class is sold by Bestway Copy Center, 18 Decatur Street SE (on the first floor of One Park Place South).  Additional optional readings will be shared via the Twitter hashtag #commtheory.

Class Schedule

8/23    Introduction

8/30    Communication and Culture
James Carey, “A Cultural Approach to Communication,” Communication as Culture (London: Routledge, 1992): 13-36:
http://www3.niu.edu/acad/gunkel/coms465/carey.html
Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”:
http://hypergeertz.jku.at/HyperGeertz-1970-1979.htm
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”:
http://godsaveprint.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/mechanicalrepro1.pdf
Ted Friedman, “Introduction,” Electric Dreams: Computers and American Culture (NYU, 2005): http://www.tedfriedman.com/electricdreams/2005/02/introduction.php

9/6    New Media
Henry Jenkins, “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture”: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/starwars.html
Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,” Wired 12.10 (October 2004):
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
Marcus Boon, “Introduction” and “What Is Copying?” In Praise of Copying (Harvard UP, 2010), 1-40: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/boon/
Ted Friedman, “The Rise of the Simulation Game,” Electric Dreams: Computers and American Culture (NYU, 20005): https://tedfriedman.com/electric-dreams/electric-dreams-chapter-six-the-rise-of-the-simulation-game/

9/13    Narrative and Genre
Walter R. Fisher, “Narrative as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument,” Communication Monographs 51 (1984): 1-23.
Hayden White, “The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory,” The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987): 26-57.
Thomas Schatz, “Film Genre and the Genre Film,” Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981): 14-41.

9/20    Semiotics
Kaja Silverman, “From Sign to Subject, A Short History,” The Subject of Semiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983): 3-53.
Jonathan Culler, “Saussure’s Theory of Language,” Ferdinand de Saussure, rev. ed. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986): 27-64.
Christian Metz, “Some Points in the Semiotics of the Cinema,” in Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, and Leo Braudy (eds.), Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 168-178.

9/27    Ideology
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Ruling Class and the Ruling Ideas,” in Durham and Kellner (eds.), Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001): 39-42.
Raymond WIlliams, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory,” in Durham and Kellner (eds.), Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001), 152-165.
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”:
http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/SWA/Some_writings_of_Adorno.shtml
Roland Barthes, “Myth Today,” Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 109-159.

10/4    Hegemony and Resistance
Stuart Hall, “Encoding, Decoding,” in Simon During (ed.), The Cultural Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2007), 90-103.
Celeste Condit, “Hegemony in a Mass-Mediated Society: Condordance About Reproductive Technologies,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 11 (1994): 205-230.
Dana Cloud, “Hegemony or Concordance? The Rhetoric of Tokenism in ‘Oprah’ Winfrey’s Rags-to-Riches Biography,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 13 (1996): 115-137.
Celeste Condit, “Hegemony, Condordance and Capitalism: Reply to Cloud,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 13 (1996): 382-384.
Dana Cloud, “Concordance, Complexity and Conservatism: Rejoinder to Condit,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 14 (1997): 193-97.
Celeste Condit, “Clouding the Issues? The Ideal and the Material in Human Communication,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 14 (1997): 197-200.
Research proposals due

10/11    The Public Sphere
Jurgen Habermas, “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article,” in Durham and Kellner (eds.), Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001): 102-107.
Phaedra Pezzulo, “Resisting ‘National Breast Cancer Awareness Month’: The Rhetoric of Counterpublics and their Cultural Performances,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 89 (2003): 345-365
Bent Flyvbjerg, “Habermas and Foucault: Thinkers for Civil Society?” British Journal of Sociology 49.2 (June 1998): 210-233:
http://flyvbjerg.plan.aau.dk/CIVSOC5%200PRINTBJS.pdf

10/18    Psychoanalysis
Kaja Silverman, “The [Semiotic] Subject in Freud and Lacan,” The Subject of Semiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 126-193.
Barbara Creed, “Film and Psychoanalysis,” in John Hill and Pamela Gibson (eds.), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 77-90.
Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz, “Integrating Ideology and Archetype in Rhetorical Criticism,” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 77 (1991): 385-406.
Ted Friedman, “Jung and Lost,” Flow 9.12 (May 2009):
http://flowtv.org/2009/05/jung-and-lost-ted-friedman%C2%A0%C2%A0georgia-state-university-atlanta%C2%A0%C2%A0/

10/25    Gender
Ann Brooks, “Postfeminist Variations within Media and Film Theory,” Postfeminisms: Feminism, Cultural Theory and Cultural Forms (London: Routledge, 1997): 163-188.
Judith Butler, “Preface (1999)” and “Preface (1990),” Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1999), vii-xxxiii.
Alexander Doty, “There’s Something Queer Here,” Making Things Perfectly Queer (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993): 1-16.

11/1    Race and National Identity
Michael Omi & Howard Winant, “Racial Formation,” Racial Formation in the United States (New York: Routledge, 1994): 53-76.
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities chapters 1-3 (New York: Verso, 1983), 1-46.
Arjun Appadurai, “Disjunctures and Difference in the Global Cultual Economy,” Modernity at Large (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 27-47.

11/8    Postmodernity, Posthumanism and Transhumanism
Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Duke UP, 1990), 1-52.
Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology , and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” Simians, Cyborgs and Women (Routledge, 1990), 149-181, 243-249.
David Abram, “The Ecology of Magic,” The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than Human World (Vintage, 1997):
http://www.primitivism.com/ecology-magic.htm
David Abram, “Language and the Ecology of Sensuous Experience: An Essay with an Unconstructive Footnote”: http://www.aislingmagazine.com/aislingmagazine/articles/TAM33/monotheism/DavidAbram.html
Ted Friedman, “The Politics of Magic,” Scope 14 (June 2009):
http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/article.php?issue=14&id=1138
Ted Friedman, “Vertigo,” Flow 10.08 (September 19, 2009):
http://flowtv.org/2009/09/vertigoted-friedman-georgia-state-university/

11/15    No reading – research presentations begin

11/22    Thanksgiving Break – no class

11/29    No reading – research presentations continue/party at Ted’s house

Final papers due 12/6

Assignments

The class assignments add up to total of 100 possible points. Your final grade for the class is determined by adding up your grades for each assignment, adjusting for attendance, then applying the final number to the following scale:

A+    100-98        B+    89-88        C+    79-78        D    69-65
A     97-93        B    87-83        C    77-70        F    64-0
A-    92-90        B-    82-80

I. Co-lead discussions of three readings– 15% of final grade for each reading (45% total)
You will sign up to co-lead discussions of three readings over the course of the semester. The discussion of each reading will be co-led by two students. One leader is responsible for presenting background information on the author(s) and the article. For that presentation, you should research the author’s background, and survey the influence of the essay via http://scholar.google.com. If available, incorporate a short video clip of the author speaking. The second leader is responsible for introducing a contemporary media example, and suggesting how the article’s ideas might be applied to the example. Together, the leaders should prepare a short 1-page summary of the key facts about the author(s), article, and media example. Note: it is not necessary to summarize the article beyond brief 1-2 sentence statements of its key arguments. Further exegesis will be developed in lecture and class discussion.

II. Final Paper – 55% of final grade
Write a 15-20 page paper applying one or more theoretical approaches from the class to an object of study in your area. For example, you might develop a semiotic analysis of a news program, a psychoanalytic reading of a film, or a Marxist analysis of a political speech. You should demonstrate your understanding of important concepts and terms, and you should use the concepts to provide new insight into the object you’re examining.

• A one-page proposal is due October 11. I will schedule individual meetings
with you to discuss the proposal.
• You will give a short (10 minute) presentation of your research project on November 15 or 29.
• The final project is due December 6.

III. Attendance Adjustment
As Woody Allen put it, “80 percent of success is showing up.” It’s less than that in this formula, but the bottom line is that you can’t contribute to the class if you’re not there. You’re allowed one unexcused absence for the semester. After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your grade total. Excused absences include medical and family emergencies. You will be expected to schedule any employment responsibilities around this class, or accept the consequences of missed classes for your grade. If you do need to miss a class, please contact me ahead of time, and make arrangements to catch up on missed material.

Policies

Academic Honesty
The university’s policy on academic honesty is published in On Campus: The Undergraduate Co-Curricular Affairs Handbook, available online at http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwcam. The policy prohibits plagiarism, cheating on examinations, unauthorized collaboration, falsification, and multiple submissions. Violation of the policy will result in failing the class, in addition to disciplinary sanctions.

The Internet makes it easy to plagiarize, but also easy to track down plagiarism. Bottom line: Don’t plagiarize. It’s wrong, and it’s not worth it. There’s always a better way. Cite all your sources, put all direct quotations in quotation marks, and clearly note when you are paraphrasing other authors’ work.

Incompletes
Incompletes may be given only in special hardship cases. Incompletes will not be used merely for extending the time for completion of course requirements.

Changes to the Syllabus
This syllabus provides a general plan for the course. Deviations may be necessary.

Course Evaluation
Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State University.  Upon completing the course, please take the time to fill out the online course evaluation.

New Interview on the Diet Soap Philosophy Podcast

SF writer Douglas Lain interviewed me for his philosophy podcast, Diet Soap. We talk about myth, ideology and flying saucers:

The essay of mine we talk about, “Myth, the Numinous and Cultural Studies,” is part of the book I’m working on, A Centaur Manifesto: Mythos & Logos on the Commons. I have more to say about Jung in “Jung and Lost,” and more on centaurs & cyborgs in The Politics of Magic.”

PostMarxisms, Summer 2011

COMM 6160/8980, Summer 2011
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 4:45-7:30
1020 One Park Place

Course Description
Is Marxism dead? If so, what other forms of critique and imagination can help us think beyond the injustices and unsustainability of global capitalism? What can we learn from the successes and failures of the Marxist project?

The goal of the course is to take stock of the value and legacy of the Marxist critical tradition for contemporary debates about culture and politics. Over the seven weeks, we’ll alternate reading Marx himself with work by theorists engaging his legacy.

Required Texts

Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1
Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right
Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital
Slavoj Zizek, Living in the End Times
Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying
Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things

In addition to the readings, you will also be required to watch or listen to David Harvey’s series of lectures, Reading Marx’s Capital. It’s available in a variety of streaming and downloadable formats at http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital.

Schedule

6/7    Introduction
6/9    Capital, chapters 1-2; Harvey, classes 1-2

6/14    Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right
6/16    Capital, chapters 3-6; Harvey, classes 3-4

6/21    Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital
6/23    Capital, chapters 7-11; Harvey, classes 5-6

6/28    Slavoj Zizek, Living in the End Times
6/30    Capital, chapters 12-15; Harvey, classes 7-9

7/5    Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
7/7    Capital, chapters 16-25; Harvey, classes 10-11

7/12    Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying
7/14    Capital, chapters 26-33; Harvey, classes 12-13

7/19    Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things
7/21    Research Presentations/Party at Ted’s house

Paper due 7/28

Assignments

The class assignments add up to total of 100 possible points. Your final grade for the class is determined by adding up your grades for each assignment, adjusting for attendance, then applying the final number to the following scale:

A+    100-98        B+    89-88        C+    79-78        D    69-65
A     97-93        B    87-83        C    77-70        F    64-0
A-    92-90        B-    82-80

I. Book Discussions – 6160: 20% of final grade each; 8690: 15% of final grade each
You will sign up to lead, with a group, discussions of two of the assigned books (other than Capital). To prepare for the discussion of the reading, research these questions to put the reading in a broader context:

What is the author’s background? What discipline is the author trained in? What else has s/he written? In which journals has s/he published?

What was the reception of the book? How was book reviewed? What criticisms have been made of the author’s work? How has the author responded? Whom has the author influenced?

Then, meet with your group to prepare for a class discussion. Don’t bother summarizing the work. Rather, address on these areas:

Theoretical debates: In what theoretical debates does the work intervene? Where does the author stand? Whom does the author criticize? How does this work move the debate forward?

Examples: Pick 2-3 media examples that are either directly addressed by the author, or that can be illuminated by applying the author’s ideas. Show a representative sample from the text (any clip should be no more than 5 minutes). Discuss how the author would (or does) interpret the example. What are the strengths and limitations of this interpretation? What alternate interpretations are possible?

Outline the key topics of discussion in a short (1-2 page) handout for the class. There’s no need to include more detail, or to prepare a PowerPoint presentation – the focus should be on presenting material orally and facilitating a good class discussion.

II. Contemporary Capital example – 10% of grade
For one week’s reading in Capital, bring in a relevant contemporary example so that class can assess the applicability and value of Marx’s ideas today. Choose a text to present to the class to get the discussion going, such as a video clip.

IIi. Outside reading presentation – 8690 only: 10% of grade
PhD students will read one additional book, and give a 15-20 minute presentation on the work to the class, summarizing the book’s key arguments, the critical response to the book, and how its ideas relate to the themes of the course.

III. Final Paper – 50% of final grade
Write a paper on a subject relating to the ideas of the class. 6160: 12-15 pages. 8690: 18-25 pages. Doctoral work will also be expected to meet a higher standard of theoretical sophistication.

A one-page prospectus is due July 5. I will schedule individual meetings with you to discuss the prospectus.
You will give a short (10 minute) presentation of your work in progress on July 21.
The final paper is due July 28.

IV. Attendance Adjustment
As Woody Allen put it, “80 percent of success is showing up.” It’s less than that in this formula, but the bottom line is that you can’t contribute to the class if you’re not there. You’re allowed one unexcused absence for the semester. After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your grade total. Excused absences include medical and family emergencies. You will be expected to schedule any employment responsibilities around this class, or accept the consequences of missed classes for your grade. If you do need to miss a class, please contact me ahead of time, and make arrangements to catch up on missed material.

Policies

Office Hours
Office hours are by appointment. I’m usually available to meet before and after every class.

Incompletes
Incompletes may be given only in special hardship cases. Incompletes will not be used merely for extending the time for completion of course requirements.

Assessment
Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation.

Disability
Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought.

Changes to the Syllabus
This syllabus provides a general plan for the course. Deviations may be necessary.

Media and Popular Culture Take-Home Final Exam

Media and Popular Culture, Spring 2011
Take-Home Final Exam

Instructions

Answer any 5 of the 10 questions below. Each answer should be at least one complete page long. The exam should be typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point. The exam is due by 5 PM on Wednesday, May 2. You can either drop it off in my office mailbox (738 One Park Place South) or email it to me at tedf@gsu.edu.

Your response should demonstrate that you have carefully studied and understood class readings, lectures and discussion, and can apply ideas from the course to individual texts. When questions refer to specific authors, you should clearly address the ideas of those authors, demonstrating your understanding of their arguments.

Questions

1. Pick any contemporary media text. (You can choose a film, TV show, book, graphic novel, advertisement, game, website, or any other source.) Drawing on Omi and Winant’s Racial Formation in the United States, discuss the text as a “racial project.”

2. Pick any contemporary media text. (You can use the same text for multiple questions, or different texts if you prefer.) Drawing on Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, discuss the representation of gender in the text. How does the text reflect the “postfeminist” era?

3. Pick any contemporary media text. Drawing on Alexander Doty’s “There’s Something Queer Here,” discuss queer readings of the text.

4. Pick any comic book or animated text. Drawing on Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, discuss the “pictorial vocabulary” of the artwork. Draw a triangle on the page and show where the art fits in relation the vertices of “reality,” “language,” and “the picture plane,” then explain why.

5. Pick any game. Drawing on Ralph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Video Games, discuss what makes the game fun.

6. Pick any game. Drawing on McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H3ORY, discuss the “gamespace” of the game and how it relates to the world outside the game.

7. Compare your own experience and that of your friends to the generational sensibility described in Emily Nussbaum’s “Say Everything.”

8. Pick any contemporary media text. Drawing on Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, discuss how the text helps create a sense of national identity.

9. Pick any contemporary media text. Make a “culture-jammed” version of the text.

10. Visit a park, garden, or other nature space. Turn off all electronic devices. Sit quietly for at least 10 minutes observing the landscape and animals. Describe the experience, and compare it to your usual pace of life.

What I’ve Been Up to the Last Five Years

I recently had to write up what I’ve been working on over the last five years for my “post-tenure dossier,” so I thought I’d excerpt that here to explain how I got from Electric Dreams: Computers and American Culture to Centaur Manifesto: Mythos & Logos on the Commons. The language is pretty jargon-heavy and a little stilted, a function of the three-page limit and institutional context. One of my goals is to write the book itself in a much looser, more direct and conversational voice, closer to the way I try to be in the classroom. In fact, transcribing and editing my lectures is the next step in getting Centaur Manifesto written. I’d appreciate any feedback, either in the comments below or via Twitter, where I’m @tedfriedman.

—-

My first book, Electric Dreams, was largely inspired by the rise of “cyberpunk” science fiction in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a cyberpunk author, William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberspace,” and science fiction both influenced the development of computer technologies and provided the richest exploration of their potential consequences. By 2000, the subcultural sensibility first expressed in Gibson’s novels had become ubiquitous in the form of The Matrix and its sequels.

In the twenty-first century, however, a cultural shift appeared to be occurring. The blockbuster genre of the 2000s was not science fiction, but fantasy, in the form of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises. At the same time, the energy of cyberpunk appeared to be spent, and the most vital and influential genre writers were emerging instead out of fantasy fiction and comics.

Fascinated by this development, I began to research the history of the fantasy genre, and to search for new theoretical models to help explain the shift from science fiction to fantasy. I began my work on fantasy media with “The Politics of Magic: Fantasy, Technology & Nature,” which was published in 2009 in Scope, an online peer-reviewed media studies journal published by the University of Nottingham. I argue in the essay that the trope of magic is a powerful tool for making sense of computer technologies. A computer program is a kind of spell, deploying highly-structured language to allow the user to transcend the constraints of time, space and gravity within cyberspace. At the same time, the concept of magic is rooted in the ancient practices and beliefs of animism, and the contemporary appeal of fantasy suggests a deep cultural desire to return to a more rooted relationship to nature in the context of global environmental crisis.

In “The Politics of Magic,” I discuss the influence of feminist scholar Donna Haraway’s 1986 essay “Manifesto for Cyborgs,” which called on technophobic theorists to engage the oft-ignored genre of science fiction. I suggest that the time is ripe for a “Centaur Manifesto” to similarly address fantasy, which today is often likewise dismissed as mere escapism. Haraway picked the figure of the cyborg because it is a hybrid creature on the border between human and machine, reflecting how all of our lives are dependent upon and intertwined with technology. Similarly, the centaur is a magical hybrid of human and animal, culture and nature.

In addition to Haraway’s ideas, “The Politics of Magic” incorporates the work of historian of science Morris Berman, phenomenological ecocritic David Abram, and actor-network theorist Bruno Latour. Looking to dig deeper into the historical roots of fantasy, I began researching theories of myth, a concept which once held great sway in critical theory, but which has more recently fallen into disrepute among poststructuralist scholars wary of essentializing metanarratives. I turned first to Joseph Campbell, whose Hero with a Thousand Faces has been hugely influential on generations of Hollywood screenwriters and spiritual seekers. Frustrated with the limitations of Campbell’s approach, I concluded that what was truly distinctive about Campbell’s ideas stemmed from the influence of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, a student of Sigmund Freud who broke with his mentor over their differing ideas about the role of the unconscious. Freud emphasized the need for the ego to control a dangerous id, while Jung also saw in the unconscious a source of wisdom. Jung found in myths and fairy tales evidence of a “collective unconscious” rooted in deep archetypal structures.

Jung has been widely dismissed by contemporary critical theorists as irredeemably essentialist. But a new generation of “post-Jungian” scholars persuasively argues that Jung was a far more subtle, dialectical thinker than the caricature, and that his ideas remain relevant. The release last year of The Red Book, an illustrated manuscript of “active imaginations” that Jung kept private for almost 100 years, has led to a renewed interest in his ideas. In Jung’s concepts I have found new tools to help explain contemporary American culture. As I write in “Jung and Lost,” while film studies emerged in the 1950s and 1960s under the influence of Freud,

“today it is Jung’s shadow which looms over much of American culture. The most commercially successful Hollywood genres of this decade are fantasy and superhero movies, subjects which in previous generations were viewed as kids’ stuff, but today claim a larger portion of culture than ever before. These genres reject conventional models of realism and psychological depth. Instead, they embrace magical storytelling and characters of outsized dimensions and godlike powers. These qualities have led them to be largely dismissed by conventional cultural critics (beyond fan studies scholars who have tended to emphasize audience reception over the textual properties of the stories themselves). But these same qualities are well described by the Jungian language of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Their roots are in the storytelling traditions of myth and fairy tale – exactly the genres Jungian analysts have always most valued.”

Jung and Lost” is one of six invited columns I wrote from 2008-9 for Flow, an online media studies journal published by the University of Texas. In “Myth, the Numinous, and Cultural Studies,” I make the case for a renewed engagement in cultural studies with the concept of myth. In “Strat-O-Matic and the Baseball Tarot: Sense and Synchronicity in Sports and Games,” I suggest that Jung’s concept of synchronicity – “meaningful coincidence” – can help explain the power of randomness in play. And in “Vertigo,” I move beyond Jung to other models of the numinous, arguing that the parallels between poststructuralist theory and Buddhist philosophy can help critical theorists think past “the linguistic turn” to escape “the prison-house of language.”

Another of my pieces for Flow, “Tweeting the Dialectic of Technological Determinism,” addresses the role of Twitter in the Iranian protests. And in “The Play Paradigm,” I suggest “What Media Studies Can Learn from Game Studies.” I have also “curated” two pieces for In Media Res, the digital humanities site now published by Georgia State, and guest-edited a week for the site on pop music. I look forward to expanding my role in the project.

I am now in the process of turning my work of the last few years into a book, A Centaur Manifesto: Mythos & Logos on the Commons. The goal of the book is to bring together post-Marxist ideological criticism with post-Jungian depth psychology. I have published all of my recent work in open-access journals, and I hope to have the manuscript for Centaur Manifesto reviewed through the “open peer review” process, which could bring together readers from cultural studies, religious studies, depth psychology, and the fantasy community. I will regularly be blogging about the book at tedfriedman.com, and tweeting as @tedfriedman.

Summer Graduate Seminar: Post-Marxisms

This summer I’ll be teaching a graduate seminar, “Post-Marxisms.” Here’s an overview:

Is Marxism dead? If so, what other forms of critique and imagination can help us think beyond the injustices and unsustainability of global capitalism? What can we learn from the successes and failures of the Marxist project?

The goal of the course is to take stock of the value and legacy of the Marxist critical tradition for contemporary debates about culture and politics. Over the seven weeks, we’ll alternate reading Marx himself with work by Jameson, Derrida, Zizek, Hardt & Negri, and others. We’ll also rely for context on David Harvey’s online lectures on Capital and Francis Wheen’s history of its writing.

The class will be organized around a series of key terms in Marxist theory, including dialectical materialism, ideology and political economy. As we go, we’ll be looking to see how the Marxist tradition might offer fresh ways to think about contemporary concepts such as convergence culture, network theory, the high-tech gift economy, the digital commons and transhumanism.

Assignments will include presentations on the readings and a final paper. PhD students will give an additional presentation on an outside reading and write a longer paper.

I’m really excited about the chance to work through these questions with you, and eager to incorporate your own interests and concerns. So feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions, or any suggestions for readings or assignments.

Grammy Night Reflections on Projection

From tweets the night of February 13, 2011.

In Jungian terms, technological determinism is projection: giving power to machines that really belongs to ourselves.

Projection is necessary & valuable – it’s what Robert Johnson calls “carrying your gold” when you’re not ready yet to carry it yourself.

But maturity & wisdom comes when we withdraw projections. See people & things for who & what they are in themselves.

Withdrawing projections means realizing the power was within you all along. Your anima pop godess. Your puer rock star. Your Buddha-nature.

In Electric Dreams I call this “the dialectic of technological determinism.” We project onto technology our utopian visions of the future.

————-

Electric Dreams Introduction on TedFriedman.com