Artifice and Agency

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Final Exam: Part Two

Option One:

The description for our class began with a question: "What is the shape and what might be the significance of a transformation from a mass mediated public sphere into more p2p networked public sphere?" Choose any two texts from the first part of the course (any of the texts we read up to, but not including, the Cintra Wilson piece) to describe how, in your own view, the emerging peer-to-peer networked public sphere differs most significantly from the mass mediated public sphere that preceded it. I have no expectation at all about how sweeping, how deep, how hopeful, how fragile you have come to believe this transformation truly is, nor do I have any expectation about what each of you will finally decide the significance of this transformation truly amounts to.

Option Two:

The texts we have discussed in the second part of the course (Cintra Wilson, Edward Said, Susan Faludi, Michelangelo Signorile) each seek to map the terrain of the media environment of the moment in which they were writing, and through this mapping to diagnosis barriers to a more "objective understanding" of complex social and cultural realities and, hence, to the achievement of social justice as they see it. But is it really true that "celebrity," "Islam," "feminism," "homosexuality" are produced by the institutions of mass media in the same ways in these accounts? Do the populist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist commitments of these authors align as one might superficially expect them to do in their accounts of media and in their (sometimes only implicit) recommendations? Choose any two texts from among these four and highlight ways in which what might initially seem to be parallel or even interdependent analyses appear, on closer scrutiny, to be proposing significantly different understandings of the media landscape with significantly different implications for activism. Conclude by indicating how the differences you have noticed might offer insights for contemporary activism associated with these various political struggles in the changed media landscape of p2p networks.


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