This course provides students with an introduction to the core concepts and theories of media ecology, an interdisciplinary methodology pioneered by Marshall McLuhan, Jacques Ellul, Neil Postman, and others. The course will investigate the formal characteristics of media and communication technologies to query how these have historically evolved to shape the quality and character of a host culture’s religious and socio-economic practices. Beginning with the medium of the alphabet and moving through the printing press to 21st century forms of electronic and digital media, you will acquire a robust historical and philosophical overview of the major movements in media history, and how those movements have impacted 1.) social, cultural and religious practices, 2.) psychological perception of the sacred, and 3.) economic forces in relation to religious practice. Port of call visits provide students with journaling opportunities to discover which technological forms (and content areas) dominate the visual, acoustic, and semantic environments of a given city. Some guest lectures in port of call cities will be made available for students wishing to go deeper into a given subject area and/or geographical location.
Field WorkCountry: Argentina
Day: 1 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday, 12 November
Our Field Lab in Buenos Aires, Argentina will consist of a morning lecture on Francis and his namesake by Professor Schuchardt, transit to our starting point, and then the full day excursion "Pope Francis Tour" to see the locations of childhood and early youth of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the current Catholic pope. We will also be observing how contemporary Argentinians perceive him, and contextualizing these experiences in light of our readings on Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism by Fanfani, as well as on the life and economic worldview of St. Francis of Assisi. Academic Objectives: 1. Understand the cultural history of Buenos Aires Catholicism 2. Understand Pope Francis childhood and youth context 3. Understand global Catholicism's interest in "global south" and developing nations as venue for growth with history's first non-European pope.