Right at the start of the new semester, the first research seminars have started. Under the heading “Political Economy of the Media” students address questions of power and political economy in media production. We will do this from the perspective of both cultural studies and political economy, as since the 1980s and the vitriolic attacks between both approaches are long gone. The seminar is taught by Jan Teurlings and Joke Hermes.
Building on these developments, this course will discuss ‘the end of capitalism as we know it’, ‘immaterial’ labour, and the strange phenomenon whereby ‘creative’ work demands we use our imagination and the multitasking and overview skills that we train while gaming or watching television. Work has become imaginative and emancipatory and at the same time subsuming and alienating. The media play a key role in the processes that ‘train’ the modern worker, including all of us. The course will start from an introduction to political economy, the debates of the 1980s, and include themes such as the audience commodity, the feminist critique of political economy, the cultural economy approach and the contemporary debates on immaterial labour and the cultural and digital commons. The aim of the course is to make students aware of political economy as an analytical tool to understand our contemporary cross-media culture, and its relationship to other established ways of studying the media.
Whether the newly animated My Little Pony, the Occupy Movement, journalism culture or the representation of men in the HBO series Girls. Political economy does not lead to demonization of media texts or culture, it provides the critical tools to better understand, enjoy and criticize both.