Nov 28, 2021  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog

HON 206 - In Search of Reality: Media, Self and Society


Prerequisite, acceptance to the University Honors Program or consent of instructor. This course will be a critical exploration - on both the "objective" and the "personal" level - of the phenomenon conventionally labeled "mass media;" an examination of the origin, history and functions of "mass media" and its pervasive effects on viewers social life and 'private' mental life. What social conditions brought about the phenomena of "mass media"? How do the media, in turn, shape the texture of experiences of social reality and social history? How much of people's version of reality has been shaped, molded and tailored by the media? It would seem that it is not until an event, principle, movement, institution, etc. crosses the media threshold or media membrane that it takes on a solid, legitimate and confirmed reality today. Is the function of mass media to inform, educate, and enlighten or rather to deform and endarken, to train people to become more and more unaware of how people are actually living their lives, more and more actively ignorant? How does the mass media mix with and permeate the texture of intimate experiences of who people are, of how they experience their personal and social identities? This course hopes to develop a keen media awareness that will help students live mindfully and skillfully with the media in this world, instead of unconsciously living in the world of the media. In reference to the great historical transformation, tectonic shift, from the print age to the electronic age, students will inquire into how the medium of Gutenberg's typographic print influenced their frames of reference towards "knowledge" "truth" and "reality"? This course will ask, are TV, the Internet, the Social Media Platforms a neutral technology - like viewing the electric light bulb - or are they actually more of a collective, hypnotic force and organized technique of social control, a la Huxley's Brave New World, or Orwell's 1984, or the Wachowski's The Matrix? Etc. What does the acquired practice called "watching television" (or "reading the newspaper", or "listening to the radio" "surfing social media") actually, phenomenologically, consist of? Do newspapers simply "report" how things are, or do they perhaps function more to promote an ontology of the social world and a disguised form of further entertainment, further distraction? Can people justifiably say that the primary role of the media is to serve as a delivery system for advertisers? How has advertising effected, infected and infested the view of each person? How has the media impacted the experience of political democracy? Letter grade. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits