Speaking the Lower Frequencies

Jacobs, W.R. (2005). Speaking the lower frequencies: Students and media literacy. Albany, NY: State University of New York.

This was the first book to arrive so I dove in.  Jacobs describes some undergraduate courses "media and society" courses he taught at University of Indiana.  He constructed the courses around the concept of the Pensieve, created by JK Rowling in the 4th Harry Potter book.  This stone basin filled with water stores human ideas and experiences.  Users can enter the basin to critically examine these ideas.  So, Jacobs wanted his class to be just such a place where "the instructor deconstructs the participants' (instructor and students) understandings in a way that makes invisible components visible.  Specifically, instructors establish themselves as models for possible articulation of ideas and experiences in a particular time and place, in such a way that students can explore these ideas and experiences in other times and places" (p. 2).  He outlines the three EXs: "teachers expose students to multiple narratives that involves the teachers' own lived experiences, explode those narratives into their constitutive parts based on structural locations (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), and explicate possible new narratives that explore implications of combination of the constitutive parts" (p. 2).  Using this new form, Jacobs suggests, will make the classroom more democratic and encourage students to be critical and engaged citizens.

I'll comment on the book further in future posts, but right now, I'm still digesting.  My graduate work so far has been pretty non-controversial.  Critical pedagogy was mentioned as part of a curriculum course, and I am familiar with more traditional ethnography, but Jacobs gave me a much wider vision of media literacy than I think I had before.  Plus, Jacobs uses lots of words I've heard, possibly used myself, yet don't have firm definitions for: postmodern, heuristic, and hermeneutics.  He quotes Kellner quite a bit on media culture so he is next on my list.

Here's one quote from Jacobs: "I try to teach students that in late modern/postmodern conditions electronically mediated discourse is integral to the production of reality" (p. 99).  And Jacobs quotes Kellner, who uses an idea of media that I really like: "Media culture not only takes up always-expanding amounts of time and energy, but also provides ever more material for fantasy, dreaming, modeling thought and behavior, and identities" (p. 99).

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