Spring 2017: Global Media, Global Identities?

Global Media, Global Identities?
Friday, April 7, 2017 — 1:30–4:45 p.m., with reception following
The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection
Hillyer Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008
Free and open to the public

From the telegraph to twitter, from Hollywood to Bollywood to Nollywood, from broadcast networks to “unbundled” streaming services, the rise and spread of new forms of mass-mediated culture has been a defining feature of the modern world. While we often speak casually of the globalization of culture, its actual dynamics, however, remain largely mysterious.

How have mass-mediated forms of culture developed in different periods and in different geographic locales? Can we speak of the global or transnational spread of mass media – or even of technological determinism or cultural imperialism – or does the global spread of mass media defy totalizing narratives and require attention to local appropriations and reworkings? How has the political economy of the culture industries shaped the geographic diffusion of mass media? And, perhaps most importantly, what has the impact of these developments been on forms of political and social subjectivity? How have new forms of mediation shaped the imaginaries of modern subjects, and the constitution of national, regional, and transnational identities? To what extent are all people now “global subjects”?

This symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the complicated relationships between modern forms of media and modern forms of identity. Through specific case studies as well as theoretical reflection, we will explore new ways to address these important questions. Explicitly examining the assumption that new technologies produce newly global identities, the symposium aims to promote fresh models for thinking about the state of modern global culture.


A Tale of Two False Endings to World War I
Heidi Tworek
Assistant Professor, International History
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Fellow, Transatlantic Academy, German Marshall Fund, 2016–17

“A Noisy Heaven and a Syncopated Earth”: The Transcolonial Reverberations of Vernacular Phonograph Music
Michael Denning
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American Studies and English
Yale University

Global Media as Comintern Aesthetics
Steven Lee
Associate Professor, English
University of California, Berkeley

Symposium Chair

Sam Lebovic
Assistant Professor, History
George Mason University