Mass Media Studies: Comparing US and Latin American Media
Proposal for a 6-unit seminar to be offered in Fall, 2002
Faculty Sponsor: Chappell Lawson, Dept. of Political Science
Students in this six-unit
ESG seminar will compare and
contrast aspects of mass media in Latin America and the United
States. We will be translating articles in Latin American
newspapers on topics of interest to both mass-media audiences,
then looking at the different view-points presented therein.
From this perspective, we can explore the larger
political context within which the Latin American articles were
written and how it differs from the political context in the USA.
The idea for this seminar grew out of the recent work at MIT to
increase people's awareness of the case of Lori Berenson, an ESG
alumna who is still being held in jail in Peru. Although the
seminar is built around academic goals, it also has a more
fundamental aim of motivating students to become more actively
involved in the protection of human rights, in Latin America and
This seminar will be held in the spring with at least 3 to 8
politically-minded individuals from ESG and elsewhere (from MIT
Spanish classes, the MIT Media Studies program, possibly even
interested Harvard students). At least half the students should
be able to read Spanish.
Each meeting will look at a small group of articles, roughly
half of which come from the Latin American press. Students will
discuss the topics presented in these articles as well as the
media studies and political background that explain how
corresponding articles from different countries differ. We might
also explore broadcast media and personal reports to the same end.
While there are topics that can be counted on to provide a large
part of the course material (e.g., in Peru: the revolutionary
movements; the Lori Berenson case; the priorities and actions of
the new government), the choice of topics will depend to some
extent on current events which rock both the United States and
the Latin American countries we are looking at.
Towards the end of the term, students will use these discussions
to write near-publishable papers on the themes discussed. These
papers can then be combined into a booklet as the final product
of the seminar. In a sense this final booklet is one goal
of the seminar, and considerable time and thought will be
dedicated to its development and coherence.
The seminar will be led by an ESG student. Prof. Chappell Lawson
(Political Science) has agreed to be the faculty sponsor. In
addition, we have identified a number of guest speakers who can
provide information about methodology and content.
There will be two one-hour meetings per week, probably with the
first introducing a topic and the second exploring it in more
depth after students have had more time to look at and compare
the articles involved.
If you are interested in taking part in this seminar (in the
Fall) or would like to help design it,
please let us know!