Transforming Humanity: Modern Life and the Media
For 500 years, the Western world has considered the humanities – studies of humanity – to be Greek and Latin or, more recently, philosophy, literature and art. Late in the nineteenth century, however, a conjunction of rising affluence and literacy together with mass production and improved transportation led to a burgeoning of the media – successively the press, cinema, radio and television broadcasting, recording (first of sound, then of video) and most recently on-line media – thus transforming people's capacity to communicate. That burgeoning, however, was not driven by a widespread increase in the application or expression of the humanities. Rather, the media came to redefine humanity, provide more powerful and varied opportunities to communicate and pervade people's lives. Yet, the frameworks within which people could study communication and media remained constrained by conventional academic structures. They tended to learn 'about' these things rather than 'how' to perform or produce them. This paper argues for a transformed approach to the study of communication and media – based on communication and media practice – that would also transform the humanities.
Keywords: Humanities, Professions, Practice, Media
Professor Frank Morgan
Professor, School of Design, Communication and IT, The University of Newcastle