Connections 20088. From Manet to Colbert: "Negotiating New Media"
Modernism and Mass Culture ARTH 250 examines French modern art as a series of responses to the forms of an emergent mass culture in the 19th-century: lithography, photography, newspapers, the cafe-concert and other commercial entertainments. Media and Society SOC 175 explores the political and economic exigencies of the production of more recent and contemporary forms of mass-produced culture—radio, television, film, social media—in the 20th and 21st centuries. In both courses, students are asked to consider how media representations are constructed ideologically, and not transparent descriptions of a historical moment. They are encouraged to examine the ways in which media reveals the values of the culture that produced it.
Because both courses highlight creative responses to mass produced culture (alternative art movements in ARTH 250 and new forms of media creation in SOC 175), this connection offers a meaningful cross-examination of how media has been actively appropriated to critical ends by its users. In 19th century France several avant-garde artists (Courbet, Manet, for example) borrowed the outward appearance of popular imagery to create paintings that were openly critical of many of its assumptions and values. Today, some of the most popular forms of television entertainment (Colbert Report, The Daily Show) repurpose the raw footage of network news, in order to dismantle its messages. In the vast technological and historical discrepancies between these modes of negotiating new media, students taking both courses can weigh the efficacy of various models of active engagement.