On the Limitations of Form
My name is Megan Billman and I am a third year student concentrating in Modern Culture and Media. During my time at Brown I have become very interested in the intersection of media and development and have pursued every opportunity to learn and think more about the relationship between these fields. I have worked as a research assistant on a Public Health project in Mali, West Africa and have spent a lot of time as a volunteer workshop coordinator at the local arts non-profit, New Urban Arts, where I have facilitated workshops in which students engage with the local community and present their findings in media form. I have worked in many different media, with words, with metal and most recently with movement, and am committed to a sustaining a dynamic relationship to information. I hope to pursue a career which combines media production and community engagement, in which I might continue to be experimental in my attempts to interpret and represent information and may arrive at a better understanding of the ways in which the presentation of information influences our response to it.
I would love to be a part of this seminar on Global Media. I bring to it enthusiasm for and experience in critical theory and media production and would benefit greatly from an introduction to historical perspectives on the role of media and a foundation in classical international relations theory.
As for Barthes’ “Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers” I found this essay a meaningful way to attempt to come to terms not only with each other in our respective roles as students and instructors, but with the project on which we will embark. As we set out to learn more about the various ways in which we ‘inform’ ourselves about the world, Barthes determinedly reminds us of the limitations of the forms with which we work. He writes, “writing can tell the truth about language but not about reality”(320). I would like to consider the ways in which other modes of representation (for example, photography) might also be said to be “on the side of the law.” Do new journalistic forms like blogging and cell phone photojournalism subvert the law to which official language has traditionally been subjected?
Additionally, I would like to explore the relationship between class and the composition of the media establishment. Barthes writes that the proletariat occupies “the place of the unconscious” of bourgeois discourse but that though “other,” this “other” is itself but a “different bourgeois discourse.” What implications might this theory have for the relationship between formal media sources and grass roots level journalism made possible by new technologies?
I bring these questions and many more to this meeting of media- ward minds. With hopes to explore them with you all.