Friday, March 29, 2024

back to school again

So the class I am taking that started today is from one of my favorite professors Jake Smith, a cultural historian with a special emphasis in media.  We last took his class on the History of the Recording Industry. It was excellent in an unexpected way. Much more depth than I expected and very very interesting so I figured this one had a good chance to being the same. 

Having just finished a class by Nick Davis on Classics of Contemporary Cinema, this seemed like a fine segue into another area of media. 

Here is the syllabus:

Pinocchio to Pok√©mon: The History of Children’s Media

Jacob Smith, Professor, Radio-Television-Film Director, MA in Sound Arts and Industries

When we consider the subject of children’s media culture, we quickly discern a host of contradictory behaviors and attitudes: childhood is seen as a period of timeless wonder, but children are bombarded with all the latest fads and gadgets; we try to insulate children from the adult world, but provide them with media technologies that allow them easy access to it. This class will explore contradictions such as these by exploring the history of children’s media. We will discuss film adaptations of fairy tales and classic children’s literature; children’s television; digital games; children’s music; and online video. Our case studies will allow us to engage with debates about contemporary media culture and the nature of childhood. Children are often understood to be a particularly vulnerable segment of the media audience, and children’s media has much to tell us about media regulation and censorship, theories about media influence, and the media’s role in education and marketing.

March 28       Media and the Construction of Childhood

We begin by thinking about the intersection of popular media and childhood: a crossroads that has long inspired both beloved content and adult concern. Next, we encounter an argument about the “social construction of childhood,” a conceptual framework that will structure our consideration of a “modern” notion of childhood. Our case study this week is the film, Big (1988), which shows how popular narratives might shed light on the history of childhood.

April 4            The Birth of the Children’s Audience: Fairy Tales and Classic Kid’s Lit

We begin our historical survey of children’s media by outlining some of the factors that contributed to a “modern” notion of childhood. Our primary case studies are fairy tales and books from the “golden age” of British children’s literature. Media adaptation provides a method for gauging how notions of childhood change over time, and we examine several versions of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” from the surreal to the spectacular.  

April 11          The Child Movie Audience, Censorship, and the Rise of Disney

This week we encounter the concept of the “moral panic”: a recurring social dynamic in the history of children’s media. Continuing our historical survey, we move to the 1910s and 1920s, when the rise of a child audience for motion pictures spurred a moral panic that movies were corrupting the nation’s youth. We’ll see how that panic helped to pave the way for Walt Disney, and we’ll take Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) as our case study. 

April 18          Postwar Kids Culture

The postwar era was marked by the Baby Boom and a dramatic shift in childrearing advice. This provides us with an opportunity to consider how trends in childrearing literature shape media practices in the home, a dynamic we can apply to more recent examples. With regards to the postwar era, we examine the “Poet Laureate of Permissive Childrearing”: Dr. Seuss. We’ll talk about Seuss’s little-known but fascinating The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). The postwar era was also marked by a new medium – television – and a new moral panic about its relationship to children. 

May 2             Marketing to Children and “Home Alone” Kids

Television ushered in a new era of advertising directly to children. We examine concerns about advertising to kids, the intersection of the toy industry and TV, and influential brands like Barbie and GI Joe. We update this debate with a consideration of online “unboxing” videos. Our historical survey moves to the 1980s and 1990s and the blockbuster Home Alone (1990) has much to tell us about marketing to kids and a new kind of worldly-wise “latchkey kid.”

May 9             Media as Children’s Education 

Television caused concern as a vehicle for advertising to kids, but it also held out the promise of a new kind of media education. This week we investigate educational and prosocial media for kids, with a focus on the history of PBS, the Children’s Television Workshop, and shows like “Sesame Street,” “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” and “Blues Clues.” We consider some of the research on child development that shaped the style of these programs and compare a US and UK model of children’s television. 

May 16           Children’s Play and Videogames

We shift our focus from film and television to videogames, tracking the rise of videogames as a form of popular entertainment and considering them in relation to theories of play. The history of play spaces provides a new perspective on games like Pokemon and Minecraft, as well as the multi-media LEGO franchise. The topics of children’s play and play space also bring up a host of other related issues, including playground design, the “free range kids” parenting movement, and concerns about “nature deficiency disorder” for media-saturated kids.

May 23           Meanings and Effects in Children’s Media; Revolutionary Childhood

This week we engage with one of the central debates about children and media: media violence and its effects on children’s behaviour. We outline some of the main arguments and research regarding media effects, as well as criticisms of that approach. We also examine an ideology of “revolutionary childhood” in Soviet Russia and Communist China, and look at several media depictions of child soldiers.

May 30           Kids Make Media

In our final session, we think about several ways in which children can be active participants in their media culture. First, we examine the history of child actors, who present a fascinating contradiction since they both embody the modern ideology of innocent childhood and go against that same ideology by being professional child laborers. We’ll watch some examples of famous child actors in action and discuss the particular characteristics of children as screen performers. The documentary My Kid Could Paint That (2007) provides a fascinating case study. We also think about kids as filmmakers – something that has become much more prevalent in the digital era. Finally, we consider children’s rights legislation and how it might translate into the active participation of children in media production.

So it promises to be an interesting 9 weeks of classes. 

more Valencia

The market was a bg draw to us - after our visit last year I looked for a rental nearby for the tie we would be in Valencia. It has turned out to be a good news bad news thing.  The place is swarming with tourists making it nearly impossible to just get a coffee and relax. But on the other hand it is centrally located and we are within walking distance of much of the city center. 

Here are 2 photo I took the other night on the way to dinner of the market at night...

and we passed a tattoo parlor with some great ads- 

Then we headed to a terrific marisqueria that we had gone to last year and loved- and we loved it again. 

and then- the next night we went to Llisa Negra - a Quique Dacosta (famous chef from the area) restaurant. It was fabulous- we had the tasting menu and loved it all but especially the caramelized ensaladilla rusa. 

The dish of the night below- 

and then weather finally warmed up and we got blue skies so I took a photo from the living room balcony of the street up to the market (the white building on the left with the three peaked roofs - two visible in the photo)

After I spent an hour at the banco Santander nearby, we shopped at the market and bought all kinds of goodies - strawberries so fragrant that we couldn't walk by them and ate them all in less than eight hours LOL Valencian oranges (unlike our Sevillano ones which are bitter and inedible, these are eating orange- big and juicy) Breads and Charcuterie and a couple of bocadillos for lunch. Some smoked salmon for Easter Sunday breakfast. Then because we had a larger mid day feast we went for pizza for dinner nearby.

one spicy sausage with mushrooms and onions and the other (above) with truffle paste... both were quite good. 

Phil tried the carpaccio starter and I had the veggie lasagna slice as a starter....

an excellent local wine (monastrell) 

Tonight - good Friday- we are scheduled for sushi... with a Brazilian twist. So we will see how that is. Next week we are headed to Madrid to visit Megan, Christian and Oscar. So more to follow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

rainy day

So we are now completely unpacked in our new place - and starting tot find our way around.  We found the chinese store (Suerte which means lucky) to buy soap dishes and a wastebasket and some plastic cups for the bathrooms. Today we went back for some extra hangers 2 for a Euro... big spenders! Unlike our Monsalves VRBO which was overrun with dishes, this place has the minimum four dishes - two small bowls and two larger bowls - three ramekins and no more than two matching glasses in three sizes.... and a partridge in a pear tree!

Otherwise we are just hanging out - the weather is chilly and a sahara dust storm has covered nearly all of Spain and completely covered Portugal. So we have "cloudy" skies and chilly temps as the warmth of the sun is being blocked. It is supposed to move on soon.  

Last night we went to a basque place around the corner - it was raining and we didn't want to be drenched by arrival time at the restaurant.  It was not fabulous but had some worthy moments- 

We are in planning stages for a trip to Madrid to visit cousins Megan, Christian, & Oscar - where we have a day trip booked to Segovia for a special pig lunch! Then shortly after we return, Angela & Lee will be visiting for a few days. And then it's back home to Sevilla.... post Semana Santa and post Feria de Abril. When we left for the month it seemed long but we haven't even been here a week and it seems pretty fast!

a photo of city hall at night.... on the way home one night after dinner- 

our dinner at El Infante - really tasty food - mediocre service - 

We have also reserved for tonight - at a marisqueira that we loved when we went last time. And we reserved for a lunch of true paella (a lunch dish) at the famed Casa Carmela. We pre ordered the special Paella Valenciana. We also have lined up a dinner at Llisa Negra a Quique Dacosta place that we did not get to last time (we chose Vuelve Carolina.) We also have a few other meals planned - including one later in April at a place on the outskirts of the city (that was recommended by Megan.) So more to follow- as usual... and maybe some tourist stuff...