Intro to Media and Participation 2008 - 2009

on 3 December 2008 at about 21:11

[Crossposted from CEMP] Today we began the Media & Participation theory option. This post provides a brief outline of the session, and pointers to where we can go from here.

There are some things you need to do if you are doing this option. The first is to register in the CEMP forum, so you can contribute to this thread. The second is to go to this page in the wiki and add yourself. Finally, when you've read the rest of this post, you might want to sign up for one of the sessions here.

Just plain fun
Just plain fun by sume

This year is different

I've taught the Media & Participation unit for two years now, and very rewarding it has been. There's still something that bugs me about how units like this are structured. Every week I go away and find case studies and examples, I read books and think about how to present the arguments of theorists in ways that make sense. I create slides which hopefully present useful synopses of ideas, and to do this I must synthesise all the material so I'm quite sure I know enough to do a coherent lecture.

All of these activities ensure that I learn a lot about Media & Participation. In fact, it turns out that in research into how people learn, the most effective way to learn something is to be responsible for teaching someone else. It's almost as though the university institution is set up the wrong way round - teachers do most of the learning, instead of the students!

Now this year is different because instead of lasting 6 weeks, the unit lasts 12 weeks. In the new year there are 5 more lectures, each a fortnight apart. A fortnight is either:

Red Pill Blue Pill

So I offered those of you who attended the lecture the choice between the red pill and the blue pill: red pill, I do 5 lectures as usual; blue pill you decide how to do the unit.

We had a very small majority in favour of the blue pill. Cue people waking up in pods of fluid, choking as a robot unplugs you from the matrix.

Your ideas

So, we broke into groups and I asked you to think about what you wanted to learn about; how you might want to learn it.

There were a number of different subject areas which came up, as well as a number of different formats. Some people wanted to have debates; others wanted me to talk for an hour, and then open up for discussion for a half-hour; some people suggested that you students should do research and provide case studies each week. I liked a lot of the ideas, but of course we can't implement all of them.

My ideas

In return for sharing your ideas, I showed you the usual structure of the unit from previous years. Each week, I would ask students to do something in advance of the lecture, and I'd try to weave the student contributions into the subjects for each week. Invariably, students would post their contributions at about midnight the night before the lecture, so most of the time, I was totally winging it.

Now, the content from previous years is still available. The schedule is here, and you can see all of the weekly assignments and the lecture subjects.

Messy compromise

The solution we eventually agreed to was that in every 'off' week, a different group of students and myself would meet to plan the following week's lecture. We'd all contribute to deciding who will do what - research, reading, case studies, etc. Of course, this will have to be elective - I can't force anyone to 'participate' in each session. So the only way this will work is if you decide what it is you want to learn about media and participation, and volunteer to plan a session about it.

Lecture subjects

We can stick roughly to the themes from previous years for each lecture, or we can try to cover new ground, depending on what each group would like to do. The first thing we need to do is find out who wants to be involved in the first lecture of the new year, which is six weeks away, on Weds 14th January. I need up to eight people to volunteer to go first. We'll meet next Monday at 3.30pm (venue TBC) to plan it. You'll then have 5 weeks (count em! FIVE weeks!!!) to plan for that session. So please sign up for session one on this wiki page here.


This unit has to be assessed by a 2000 word essay: that's pretty much written in the law of the unit specification. What you can do is choose what subject to write your essay about. Probably it is likely to be a subject you'd like to do a lecture session on. That way the work you do to help prepare for the lecture can feed into your essay.


As I've tried to emphasise, I think the more you take control of what you do, the more you'll learn. I'm not being original here, I'm shameless nicking from Mike Molesworth's work in IMS. And David Gauntlett talks about similar ideas in his recent inaugural lecture at Westminster. Watch this video, because it's good:


Most of all, participation should be liberating. It should be rewarding. It should be empowering. That's the point. I think we agreed in today's lecture that we'd all like to learn something and pass the unit. So let's do it.

Lecture archive

  • Media & The Body Readings
  • The Use of Theory
  • Play
  • Production - [Critical Media Concepts and Contexts]
  • Narratives: Endlessnesses and Existence
  • Narratives: Endings, Meaning and Morals
  • Narratives: Performers and Players
  • Narratives: Performers and Players
  • Narratives: Familiarity and Strangeness
  • Intro to Media and Participation 2008 - 2009
  • Narratives: Stories and Structures
  • Narratives: Opening and Introductions
  • The Writerly Text: Part 1
  • Media & Participation: Identity
  • Media & Participation: Truth
  • Media & Participation: Citizenship
  • Media & Participation: Culture
  • Ownership of Ideas: Part 2: The History of Copyright
  • Ownership of Ideas: Part 1: The Romantic Author
  • Bournemouth Soundseeing: collaborative authorship
  • Marx's Critique of Capital: 101
  • Key concepts: Ideologies ...a historical view
  • Narrative and Structuralism and the brothers Grimm
  • Intro to Digital Media at BU
  • Small Print

    Joe Flintham 2000 - 2015

    Long form: Menticulture

    Professional Services: Fathom Point