MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing
MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Featuring a wide assortment of interviews and event archives, the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing podcast features the best of our field's critical analysis, collaborative research, and design -- all across a variety of media arts, forms, and practices. You can learn more about us, including info about our faculty and academic programs and how to join us in person for events, at cmsw.mit.edu.
Bernard Geoghegan, “Learning to Code: From Information Theory to French Theory”
How and why, in the latter half of the twentieth century, did informatic theories of “code” developed around cybernetics and information theory take root in research settings as varied as Palo Alto family therapy, Parisian semiotics, and new-fangled cultural theories ascendant at US liberal arts colleges? Drawing on his recently published book “Code: From Information Theory to French Theory,” and primary sources from the MIT archives, this talk explores how far-flung technocratic exercises in Asian colonies and MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) inspired these varied and diverse audiences in a common dream of “learning to code.” The result is a new history of the ambitions behind the rise of “theory” in the US humanities, and the obscure ties of that endeavor to Progressive Era technocracy, US foundations, and the growing prestige of technology and engineering in 20th century life. Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan is a Reader in the History and Theory of Digital Media at King’s College London. An overarching theme of his research is how “cultural” and “humanistic” sciences shape—and are shaped by—digital media. His attention to cultural factors in technical systems also figured in his work as a curator, notably for the Anthropocene and Technosphere projects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Duke University Press recently published his book Code: From Information Theory to French Theory (2023), based partly on archival research he undertook as a visiting PhD student at MIT around 2008.
Apr 8, 2023
1 hr 18 min
Francesca Bolla Tripodi, “The Propagandists’ Playbook”
The Propagandists’ Playbook: How Conservative Elites Manipulate Search and Threaten Democracy peels back the layers of the right-wing media manipulation machine to reveal why its strategies are so effective and pervasive, while also humanizing the people whose worldviews and media practices conservatism embodies. Based on interviews and ethnographic observations of two Republican groups over the course of the 2018 Virginia gubernatorial race-including the author’s firsthand experience of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, the book considers how Google algorithms, YouTube playlists, pundits, and politicians can manipulate audiences, reaffirm beliefs, and expose audiences to more extremist ideas, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Francesca Bolla Tripodi is an assistant professor at the School of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a a research affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute.
Feb 27, 2023
52 min
Lupe Fiasco presents “Rap Theory & Practice: an Introduction”
An exploration into the underlying fundamental functions, structures, and principles of rap. Open to the public, the talk was hosted at MIT on November 30, 2022. Wasalu Jaco, professionally known as Lupe Fiasco, is a Chicago-born, Grammy award-winning American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and community advocate. Rising to fame in 2006, following the success of his debut album Food & Liquor, Lupe has released eight acclaimed studio albums, his latest being Drill Music In Zion, released in June 2022. His efforts to propagate conscious material garnered recognition as a Henry Crown Fellow, and he is a recipient of an MLK Visiting Professorship at MIT for the 2022/2023 academic year.
Dec 4, 2022
1 hr 29 min
Resilient Witnessing In The Face Of Human Rights Abuses, Distrust, And Deepfakes
Sam Gregory is Director of Programs, Strategy & Innovation at WITNESS, which helps people use video and technology to protect human rights; studies relationship between emergent technologies, disinformation, media manipulation, & authoritarianism.
Oct 5, 2022
1 hr 3 min
The Forensic Citizen Learning From The Past, Preparing For The Future
William Uricchio is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of the MIT Open Documentary Lab, which brings together storytellers, technologists, and scholars to experiment with new documentary.
Oct 5, 2022
1 hr 6 min
The Long & Ambiguous (pre)history Of Audiovisual In The Black Experience
Full title: “Between freedom & oppression: The long & ambiguous (pre)history of audiovisual in the Black experience” Featuring Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Ekene Mekwunye, Jepchumba, and Russel Hlongwane. Chakanetsa Mavhunga is Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mavhunga explores international history, theory, and practice of science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Africa. Ekene Mekwunye is adjunct faculty at the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria, and an award-winning filmmaker, television producer-director, and photographer. Jepchumba is Founder and Creative Director of African Digital Art, a collective and creative space where digital artists seek inspiration, showcase their work, and connect with emerging artists. Russel Hlongwane is a cultural producer, curator of the arts, and creative industries consultant based in Durban, South Africa. His work bridges themes of heritage, modernity, culture, and tradition across artistic disciplines.
Oct 5, 2022
57 min
The Whole World Is Watching How 1968 Helps Us Frame The Present
Professor Heather Hendershot's opening plenary from the "Bearing Witness, Seeking Justice" conference, with initial remarks by Dean Agustín Rayo and Tracie Jones, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Hendershot is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She studies television news, conservative media, political movements, and American film and television history. Her 2022 book is "When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America", available from the University of Chicago Press: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/W/bo183630531.html
Oct 5, 2022
1 hr 10 min
Moving Images In Absentia Courtroom Looking In The Age Of Hyper - Mediation
Kelli Moore is an Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University who examines how media and technology produce legal and political knowledge to inform public debates on visual literacy, race, and other issues.
Oct 4, 2022
57 min
Mary Beth Meehan and Fred Turner, “Seeing Silicon Valley”
Video also available at https://cms.mit.edu/video-seeing-silicon-valley-mary-beth-meehan-fred-turner. Acclaimed photographer Mary Beth Meehan and Silicon Valley historian and media scholar Fred Turner discuss their recently published and award-winning book Seeing Silicon Valley: Life inside a Fraying America, a collaborative exploration of the culture of Silicon Valley — not the culture of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg that we see in the press, but the lives of the men and women who inhabit the Valley and make it work. If Silicon Valley is building the world’s future, Meehan and Turner argue, then we must learn to see through the tech industry’s marketing campaigns. We need to see the kind of society the tech industry is actually creating, in its own back yard. Fred Turner is the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Before coming to Stanford, he taught Communication at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He also worked for ten years as a journalist. He has written for newspapers and magazines ranging from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine to Harper’s. Mary Beth Meehan is an independent photographer, writer, and educator, who has spent more than twenty years embedding herself in communities across the United States. Beginning in her native New England, and continuing in the Midwest, the American South and in Silicon Valley, her work, which combines image, text, and large-scale public installation, stems from her belief in a collaborative process that should function in and for the communities it reflects. Co-opting the scale of celebrity and advertising, Meehan’s portrait banners activate public spaces and spark conversations among and about the people who inhabit them.
May 4, 2022
1 hr 20 min
Charles North - The William Corbett Poetry Series 01
Charles North has published twelve books 
of poems, three books of critical prose, and collaborations with artists and other poets. With James Schuyler, he edited the poet/painter anthologies Broadway and Broadway 2. His New and Selected Poems What It Is Like (2011) headed NPR’s Best Poetry Books of the Year, and he has received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, four Fund for Poetry Awards, and a Poets Foundation Award. He lives with his wife, the painter Paula North, in New York City.
Apr 20, 2022
38 min
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