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Media Spectacle, the Arab Uprisings, and Constructions of a Democratic Future: Some Critical Reflections

October 25, 2011
08:00AM - 05:00PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

The Annenberg School for Communication presents a colloquium by guest speaker Douglas Kellner, Ph.D., the George Kellner Chair in the Philosophy of Education at UCLA. This event is co-sponsored by Penn’s Department of Urban Studies. Prof. Kellner will present his talk, “Media Spectacle, the Arab Uprisings, and Constructions of a Democratic Future: Some Critical Reflections.”
In a series of books and articles, I have been arguing that the concept of media spectacle provides a key to interpreting contemporary culture and politics, arguing that media spectacle has become a global phenomenon organizing news, journalism, politics, and entertainment. I will discuss a range of political spectacles, from megaspectacles such as:  (a) the 9/11 attacks in 2001 that helped constitute a historical era, (b) the Terror War that characterized the Bush-Cheney, and (c) the 2008 election spectacle that inaugurated the Obama era. I will argue that in addition to politics, war, terrorism and media events constructed and presented as media spectacle, in 2011 revolution and democratic uprisings have also emerged as a powerful form of media spectacle. Engaging the North African Uprisings and what Al-Jazeera calls the “Arab Awakening,” I will discuss how the democratic uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya produce new models of political transformation that have been transmitted throughout the region as media spectacle and have generated intense conflict. I argue that these events provide grounding to use once again the concept of revolution developed by Herbert Marcuse, and I will discuss the sense in which the Arab Uprisings are or are not revolution. I will also discuss the key role of Al-Jazeera as a voice of democratic revolution in the Arab Uprisings.
Please contact Debra Williams for additional information.