“Media Studies is the new Rhetoric.” Discuss (20 marks).

This is a concept I dimly recall hearing previously, but only really swam into my consciousness this evening, driving down the M6 while listening to an amusing rant by Philip Pullman to Eddie Mair on PM. The item concerned reports that some schools are pushing pupils to drop English Literature GCSEs in favour of Media Studies, which the establishment casually assumes is a bad thing. Pullman suggests – and he’s not alone – that we shouldn’t be so dismissive, that Media Studies is the natural heir to that pillar of classical education, rhetoric. And I think he may have a point.

We’ve never been so assaulted by materials and publications designed, with considerable skill and application, to drive home some point for a paying customer. Call it advertising, call it publicity, call it propaganda – structurally, it’s all the same. Perhaps understanding the techniques and tools is essential armour for today’s youth? And ironically, if Media Studies can teach skepticism, it’s a lot more use than much of science teaching.

Anyway, I’m in Leeds for a couple of days. Then possibly Cumbria for a couple of hills, weather and accommodations permitting. If I can get GPRS dial-up working via the new phone (replacement seems rock solid, fingers crossed), there might even be pictures. Don’t hold your breath.

3 thoughts on ““Media Studies is the new Rhetoric.” Discuss (20 marks).”

  1. Some hardass Computer Scientists of my acquaintance have asked me in that slightly sneery way what it is that a PhD in Media Studies can possibly consist of. I tell them that, more or less, Mel studies snobbery. It’s even true.
    Meanwhile, one of her mates works in the Media Studies department at a school which shall remain nameless. Every year, he wangles his A-level students in to see a certain daytime television show (which shall also remain nameless, but tends to involve audience discussion, shock, revelation, trauma, abuse and discord, even if it takes a few extra takes to get it down pat) being recorded. It seems to provide a pleasing sort of jolt, as well as a great day out.

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