The Central and Eastern European region has undergone significant political, economic, social, and cultural shifts in recent decades bound up with the fall of Communism, the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc, the transformation from socialist to capitalist economies, as well as the rise of the European Union and efforts to create a unified Europe. The focus of this course is to explore these shifts in terms of their relationship to culture, communication, and media. There will be two overarching themes to the course. First, the course will focus on the ways in which the field of Intercultural Communication can come to bear on understanding the power dynamics involved in recent shifts in the region. Second, we will draw on the field of Critical Media Studies to explore the specific role that media culture (defined as a set of interrelated industries, texts, audiences, and practices) has played in these shifts as well. In so doing, the course will explore the ways in which media and communication help citizens to negotiate tensions between the construction of new forms of local and national identity whilst at the same time the, potentially conflicting, efforts to create a unified Europe. The course will explore the challenges that immigration and globalization pose to constituting national and regional identities and the ways in which these play out in communication, the production and reception of media, and other forms of cultural practice.
We will travel to four main locations that have each experienced these shifts in significant, though distinct, ways and have developed differing responses: Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, and Ljubljana. In each of these places, we will explore the role of communication and media culture with a particular focus on how the demise of socialism, fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of the European Union, and new waves of immigration have implicated cultural identities as well as forms of media production, representation, and reception in these places. In addition to meeting with local scholars, media producers, and sites of media production, we will visit historically significant sites and museums to contextualize each city’s history, culture, communication practices, and media culture. We will also visit with city film commissions, ministries of culture, and other governmental and non-governmental institutions to consider relationships between media, culture, and the broader political, economic, and social formations taking shape in contemporary Europe.