Introduction

Hello,

My name is Derek Min. This is the last class required for the completion of my history major. It is the sixth history class I have taken here at Framingham State, and my third with Dr. Adelman. I know that the subject of media and communications is Dr. Adelman’s specialty as a historian, so I am really looking forward to this class. We may not stop and think about it, but both media and communications are a huge part of our everyday lives. In fact, as I am writing these very words, I am engaging in a process of communication with the rest of the class through WordPress. As it is such a big part of our lives, studying how media and communications affected and defined the lives of people throughout history is something I am excited about. I want to see how they engaged with their available mediums. In my own time, I have in fact thought about how media and communication was different in the past than it is today, even within my own lifetime. For example, I have thought of how, when I was very young, if someone had wanted to know the scores of sports games, they would have had to wait for the newspaper, or for a specific television program in order to find out, rather than just googling “NBA” on their smartphones. It is these kinds of changes that are so intriguing to me. I know that most of the topics we examine will predate this time period, but I am equally, if not more interested in examining the evolution of media and communication in eras that I am not so familiar with, and to see how they paralleled the lives of the American people.

I am curious about the methodologies we will use to study these topics. Despite what I said about having thought on this subject before, I have never really thought about how to go about studying the history of media and communications as an academic discipline. Will it more so involve examining evidence of forms of communication and media, like looking at old letters and advertisements, or will we be looking at people talking about advents of media and communication? I guess I would imagine that it will be a combination of both. I’m also curious about whether we will be studying this subject from a “top down” or “bottom up” approach (meaning will we be looking at it through the perspective of famous historical figures, or rather everyday people)? Again, if I had to guess, I think it would be some combination of the two.

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