2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Exasperating Masterpiece

Posting this mostly to prove that I can remain rational even when I encounter criticism of classic Star Trek, which certainly had its silly moments, but which offered many, many serious adult treatments of social issues. If you like your science fiction overlong and overserious, may I recommend Star Trek: The Motion Picture? 2001 is a completely different genre of science fiction. The docking waltz sequence is still striking and…

How Zuckerberg’s Facebook is like Gutenberg’s printing press

Historian Niall Ferguson notes that Silicon Valley is not that interested in history, which is one reason why technological gurus keep making the same mistakes. Technology that decentralizes power brings its own problems. According to Ferguson: “The idea that witches live amongst us and should be burned went as viral as anything that Martin Luther said … Indeed, it turned out that witch burning was more likely to happen in…

An Hour of Monastic Silence in Media Studies Class (plus an awesome drum solo)

I announced that my 300-level Media and Culture class would spend an hour in monastic silence, collaborating on a Google Doc. I expected the students would understand I was helping them get into the mood to appreciate the 14th century setting of The Name of the Rose. What I didn’t expect was an awesome drum solo. I had already encouraged my students to approach The Name of the Rose the…

‘A slow-motion disaster’: Journalism museum in talks about possible building sale

Last year, SHU did not sponsor a bus trip to Washington D.C., so I did not arrange a field trip to the Newseum. Seeing a chunk of the Berlin Wall, an antenna from the World Trade Center in front of a display of 9/11 front pages from around the world, Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski’s cabin, and historical printing presses were highlights for me. This humble educator did think that the building…

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

It was pleasurable to encounter a familiar reference to Plato’s Phaedrus (which I just assigned in my Media & Culture class) in this Atlantic article on memory in the digital information age. With its streaming services and Wikipedia articles, the internet has lowered the stakes on remembering the culture we consume even further. But it’s hardly as if we remembered it all before. Plato was a famous early curmudgeon when…