understanding media

Week 12

Vehicle Strand: Celebrity Gossip
In this first part of the final class of the module we discuss celebrities and the pleasures we derive from gossiping about them. We consult an issue of Heat magazine, focusing particularly on the stories about Jennifer Aniston's divorce from Brad Pitt, and the fractious Desperate Housewives photoshot for Vanity Fair. We consider Joke Hermes' suggestion that celebrity gossip provides us with an 'extended family' and also with the titilating pleasures of a traditional 'melodrama'.
Required Reading: Branston and Stafford (2010), pp. 323-27 on celebrities.

Environment Strand: Classroom or Cave?
In this second part of the class we engage with McLuhan's ideas about the importance of new media for education. We consider his suggestion that today most learning takes place outside the classroom, and that books and literacy have receded in importance. We close with his claim that studying new media is important both because "whatever pleases teaches more effectively", and because an understanding of the impact of new technologies is important in its own right. We conclude the class with a look at the United Nations' World Food Programme game Food Force, and an evaluation of the module as a whole.
Required Reading: Starkey, 1995.
Optional Reading:
McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, pp. pp. 9-10, 18, 68, 100-03, 114, 126.

Module Forum
Topics under discussion in the Module Forum this week include the pleasures of celebrity gossip, the privacy of media personalities, electronic education resources, the relevance of Media Studies, and David Starkey's prejudices.

Case Study
If you choose to write a Case Study using the concepts drawn from this week's vehicle strand you will need to concentrate on some aspect of stars and celebrity.
Useful Reading: Branston and Stafford, 2010, pp. 323-27; O'Sullivan, Dutton and Rayner, 2003, Ch. 3; Dyer and McDonald, 1998; Dyer, 2004.
If you would rather make use of McLuhan's ideas about the importance of media education, or the use of new media for education, you may wish to select a particular medium and consider what, or how, it teaches us.
Useful Reading: McLuhan, 1960; McLuhan, Hutchon and McLuhan, 1980.
Whatever you choose, you will probably want to arrange a tutorial with the Module Tutor. For more information on the Case Study see the section on Assessment in the Module Handbook.

For Next Week You Need To...
(1) Complete your Case Study (see the Module Handbook for details of this assignment).

If you're stuck or confused, post your problem on the Module Forum or .