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My Academic Plans

My academic goal is to become a media scholar or critic—with an emphasis on the cultural/sociological aspects of media history in its various forms. I am interested in exploring the mutual influence and interplay between media and especially late-nineteenth-early twentieth century American cultural history.
The areas of study of which I’m concerned are socially significant for the broader context of modern, Western history. How media interpreted and often defined history through its representation of specific seminal events or moments as well as whole historical eras or periods are subjects with which I look forward to working. For example, one area I am considering for a future study is that of media’s role in past political/social anarchy—both in how it portrayed anarchical events and figures and how media was utilized by the anarchists, themselves.
I believe my work could involve a diverse audience—and could eventually evolve into forms other than books, articles, etc.; however, it is fundamentally academically driven and would, therefore, primarily evoke interaction with other scholars —especially those whose own work entails the studies of media, history or sociology.
Some courses that are relevant to my plan of study and interests include: “Televisuality”; “Media Practices: Film Form”; “Documentary: Its Art and History”; “Avant Garde and the Moving Image”; “Discourse Analysis” and “Methods of Rhetorical Analysis.”
I plan on doing a thesis—and will most likely have as my topic the use of the moon as symbol, inspiration and subject in Western film and song. Since producing my abstracts and literature review, I have discovered that there is a deficit of research concerning the moon in relation to Western entertainment media–therefore, this is the area I will be concentrating on.
I intend to utilize the aforementioned three abstracts, literature review and general research regarding lunar lore that I have already completed for this class (Understanding Media Studies.) In completing my thesis I will use both qualitative and quantitative methods—i.e. hermeneutics, semiotics and content analysis, along with plenty of illustrations, sketches and excerpts from Western music and movies. The aforementioned “Methods of Rhetorical Analysis” course that I am taking this spring with Dr. Carol Wilder should serve me well in my thesis work.
I have several faults concerning my academic abilities. One of the most notable relates to the composing of literature reviews—where a ‘fleshing out,’ as it were—of source materials and discussion is a necessary skill—but it is one in which I am weak. I am currently re-reading the information about literature reviews Dr. Mattern made available and studying the comments by Teaching Assistant Adams on the recent effort I made for the Understanding Media Studies class. Hopefully, the ‘art’ of composing good literature reviews is one that can be perfected through practice and diligence. I have already learned much more regarding the basics of writing both abstracts and literature reviews in the Understanding Media Studies course than I did in the entirety of my undergraduate career.
For my future projects I hope to draw on my proficiency in speech and rhetorical analysis as well as my ability to locate and obtain sources and documentation—all of which are skills that are particularly applicable to thesis work.
When plotting my academic plans my first consideration is my 12-year-old son, Arie. I am a single parent, and Arie—who is extremely autistic–requires much time and devotion. Other considerations include my age (47), health (not great) and financial circumstances (pretty bad.) For example, I would love to pursue the Sociology of Media Doctorate—but am not sure if this idea is ‘doable.’ On a more positive note, my son’s autism has inspired me to delve into an exploration of semiotics in order to pursue its possible connection or relevance to some of the sensory, social/communication issues that are usually considered the core or ‘classic’ symptoms of autism.
As an out-of-state, online student, my access to the resources of the New School (not to mention the city of New York) is extremely limited—as are the connections or any networking possibilities I have with my classmates, professors and so forth. Currently, my options include the online classroom ‘environment’ (Blackboard), e-mail and of course, the telephone. I hope to at least visit the New School sometime in the future.
There is a wealth of courses within the News School for Social Research that I would love to take. Here are a few examples: In the area of Historical Studies, I am interested in “Gender, Politics, History”; “Religion, Politics and Society”; “Globalization and the Anti-Capitalist Tradition” and “19th Century Political Theory.” In the Political Science sphere: “Political Legitimacy”; “Machiavelli”; “19th Century Political Theory: Marx, Mill and Hegel”; “Readings on the Right” and “Modernity and its Discontents.” In Anthropology: “ “The Visible God” Money and Society”; “Themes in the Anthropology of Religion and Secularism” and in Sociology: “Political Culture, Then and Now”; “Media and American Modernity”; “Empire: Politics and Aesthetics”; “Proseminar in Politics, Culture and History” and “Civil Society and Democratic Life in the Post-Colonial World: A Tocquevillian Perspective.” Further, I was very impressed with Dr. Paolo Carpignano—both with his lecture in the Understanding Media Studies class and with his ‘Televisual’ website. He is someone with whom I especially look forward to taking a class and working. Also, I feel that I have really benefitted from Dr. Mattern’s lectures as well as her work. In the past I have contemplated the history and plight of the changing face of America’s downtowns—and Dr. Mattern’s ideas concerning space, building and the pertinence of architecture to the study of media have captured my imagination. I would definitely enjoy taking a class with her that reflects her research and academic orientation.

Further, having had Dr. Peter Haratonik as our final lecturer was a treat. As a history buff with an undergraduate minor in the subject–I specifically enjoyed Dr. Haratonik’s lecture and ideas–and am very excited by the prospect of taking many courses with him and exchanging thoughts regarding the subject we both seem to love–one in which he holds valuable knowledge and experience.
Finally, during the upcoming holiday break I intend to refine and expand my Intellectual Autobiography as well as the entirety of my career/educational blog in order to better elucidate my professional aims and ongoing academic projects, ideas, information and resources.

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