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IDSEMUG 1941 - Media & the Humanitarian Impulse: #thisclasswillsavetheworld

From the power of the ‘Like’ button and hashtag-activism to the media frenzy surrounding a celebrity visit to help out in disaster-struck Haiti or other exoticized locales, this class engages with histories of humanitarianism, their antecedents within empire-making, and the shifting ways in which technology and digital cultures today have often helped, sometimes hindered, and regularly complicated humanitarian efforts and modes of communication. Guiding questions include, but are not limited to: what motivates the humanitarian impulse—understood as an individual’s need to advocate, act, or raise awareness about a particular issue or crisis? How have humanitarian issues and crises historically been publicized through the media, whether at the level of the individual, non-profit organization, nation-state, or intergovernmental organization? How has digital culture impacted the more traditional relationship between ‘the media’ and humanitarianism? And, what effects—if any—do digital culture enacted as activism have on existing humanitarian dilemmas? While this course emerges from critical theoretical and historical foundations within media studies, cultural studies, political science, and studies of capitalism, colonialism, and independence, it also relies upon participatory culture, meaning students will engage with and critically reflect upon social media. Course materials will include a wide-range of media—such as film and virtual/augmented realities—and possible readings from Susan Sontag, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Jonathan Crary, Michael Barnett, Barbie Zelizer, Aimé Césaire, Lilie Chouliaraki, Susie Linfield, and Roopali Mukherjee and Sarah Banet-Weiser, among others. Class Notes: This course may be combined with a 2-unit, competitive internship arranged by Gallatin. Internship information will be forthcoming.
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Spring 2021, Spring 2019, Spring 2018
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