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ISP 4760/4860:  Interdisciplinary Core Seminar

Media in America

Winter 2007 (January-April )

Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Wayne State University

Wednesday, 6:00-9:40 p.m., Campus, 4 Credits

In 1807 Thomas Jefferson said: "I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live and die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time." In 1919, the famous muckraker Upton Sinclair defined "journalism in America as the business and practice of presenting the news of the day in the interest of economic privilege." In 1987, respected media commentator Ben Bagdikian noted, "The American audience, having been exposed to a narrowing range of ideas over the decades, often assumes that what they see and hear in the major media is all there is. It is no way to maintain a lively marketplace of ideas, which is to say it is no way to maintain a democracy."

This class will explore the questions these quotes raise. In particular, it will ask:

We shall explore these questions through lectures, invited speakers, films, songs, readings, students' presentations, and class debates.

Texts: 1. A Media in America Reader (150 pages; $12; on sale in class).  2. Upton Sinclair. (1919).  The Brass Check (about $20).

Class Assignments:  Written responses to all class readings and a variety of writing assignments, for a minimal total of 25 pages.

Comparative Level of Difficulty of this ISP Class: Hard.

Prerequisites:  An open mind, curiosity, good reading skills, basic computer skills, ability to attend class every Wednesday evening.

Contact Class Instructor:  Moti.Nissani@Wayne.Edu

Online information about instructor:

Media Links and Resources:

Unrevised (yet) materials of interest from an earlier class:

Final Grades

Class Syllabus

Weekly Schedule

Nightline:   A Guided Discovery Exercise

Fame's Little Day (Sarah Orne Jewett)

Student Papers:


Moti Nissani's Webpage Interdisciplinary Studies Program College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Wayne State University