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EDEC 612: Media Literacy A brief overview of key concepts, terms and philosophies.

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Presentation on theme: "EDEC 612: Media Literacy A brief overview of key concepts, terms and philosophies."— Presentation transcript:

1 EDEC 612: Media Literacy A brief overview of key concepts, terms and philosophies

2 Key concepts and definitions →Media: (plural of “medium”) Refers to devices, channels or tools that are used to store and transmit information. →Analog: Media that makes use of a continuous signal to store information. Analog devices record data linearly from one point to the next, usually by altering the physical surface of the medium. (Ex.: Print media, records, audio and video tapes, visual art that requires painting, chiseling or sculpting, etc…) →Digital: Electronic media where data is stored digitally using binary code, a computing system that codes information using the numbers 0 and 1. (Ex.: Compact discs, USB keys, MP3 audio files, AVI/MP4 video files, etc…)

3 Technological determinism “The medium is the message” McLuhan argues that the medium not only influences how information is presented to the consumer but also determines the message that is conveyed. For McLuhan, the most important elements to understanding media are the technical aspects of different communicative forms.

4 Critics and critiques Raymond Williams challenges McLuhan’s thesis, claiming that if the medium is the message, there is nothing left for us to say or do. Williams acknowledges that the choice of medium impacts how information is presented and subsequently processed but invites us to consider a broader spectrum of social factors that influence the intent of the communicative process. These factors include political agendas, power differentials and economic gains.

5 Implications for teaching →Digital media facilitates the dissemination of large bodies of information to a large amount of people. We are increasingly overexposed to messages whose intent, to borrow Williams’ expression, we rarely question. →McLuhan suggests that one of the more important responsibilities teachers must assume is to aid their students in sifting through and making sense of the mass of images, sounds and messages they are exposed to inside and outside the classroom. →As educators, we must not simply view media as a tool that facilitates the development of more interactive curricula. It is our duty to critically examine the types of media we use and to be aware of the social and political agendas we endorse by making these choices.

6 Why linguistics in a media course? →The spoken word, along with hand gestures and signals, is one of the earliest forms of media. Oral traditions were a primary means for the transmission of information from one generation to the next. Consider the African griot and the Middle Eastern hakawati (storyteller). →The reliance on speech did not allow for widespread dissemination of information and was rather inaccurate, due in part to intentional distortions and the fallibility of memory. →Despite these drawbacks, linguistic theories are helpful in understanding modern forms of media.

7 Words, texts and intertextuality Julia Kristeva borrows extensively from the work of philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. She pays particular attention to “his conception of the ‘literary word’ as an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings.” (p. 65) Applied to media, intertextuality translates into multi-modality, where each modes represents a different form of media. Films are multi-modal in that they are the intersection of audio, visual and textual media. Web- based media synthesize modes to a higher degree. McLuhan might have stated that the media are the messages.

8 Dialogue, circulation and the construction of meaning(s) “All meanings are intertextual” – John Fiske →If language and media, as the intersection of multiple texts, are fluid constructs, the meanings these modes of communication are not pre-determined (regardless of authorial intent). →Meanings are generated through the circulation of texts and through dialogue between texts and between readers of these texts. →Meanings are negotiated and contested, fashioned and refashioned. They are influenced by socio-economic conditions and the political zeitgeist.

9 Language, media and dominant social values Frantz Fanon explains that “un homme qui possède le langage possède par contrecoup le monde exprimé et impliqué par ce langage.” Within language and media are embedded tacit values that represent the ideals of dominant social groups. Through habit and repetition, we begin to accept these values, images and assumptions as social truths and cease to question their veracity.


11 Implications for teaching Classrooms are, in a sense, intertextual in that they are the intersection of each student’s experience, knowledge and worldview. Higher degrees of student engagement and the establishing of a dialogic relationship between teacher and students can help develop new understandings. This collaborative process of meaning making strays from traditional top-down pedagogical approaches. The integration of certain forms of media into curricula has the potential to facilitate dialog and exchange within classrooms.

12 The Frankfurt School and critical theory

13 The mass public and public masses →The invention of the printing press by Johanness Gutenberg enabled the mass reproduction of written texts. Prior to this, all duplication of texts occurred manually. →Radio and television broadcasting are largely responsible for the synchronous consumption of mass media by a large body of people. →This congression of individuals is not geographically bound and allows producers of mass media to generate targeted messages aimed at specific age, gender and socio-economic demographics. →The rise of publication houses and broadcasting companies creates a monopoly on what Marxists refer to as “the means of production.”

14 Mass media and the nomothetic impulses of the culture industry “A comfortable, smooth, reasonable and democratic unfreedom in advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical progress.” – Herbert Marcuse →The prevailing forms of social control are technological in nature and reflect the values of dominant social groups. These nomothetic impulses are important to the reproduction of the status quo. →What are these dominant social groups and what values do they endorse?

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