Media discourse in the United States tends to portray matters such as austerity, war, and environmental degradation as being unpleasant, albeit familiar, aspects of modern life. Similarly, our health care system ignores widespread suffering – even though the consequences of such a policy were depicted as early as 1842, by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of Red Death. By January 1, 2021, a report from the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington predicts that COVID-19 will have caused 2,342,648 deaths worldwide, with another 9.8 million people being infected daily.
This course examines recent documentaries, most from abroad, whose premises and perspectives examine a world which has grim and worsening inequities. The pandemic shows the consequences of tolerating this state of affairs. The syllabus will list the links to the documentaries, which should be streamed online (some for a fee of $3 or $4), along with a schedule of when each documentary should be viewed. Also, each week a list of recommended readings will be sent to each student. Class will consist of discussion.
Instructor William S. Solomon researches and writes about mass media, with emphases on news, media history, and cinema. He was on the faculty at Rutgers University.
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