koganbot asked: I once read a brief paperback overview of the Cultural Studies field and noticed the lack of any mention of people like Lester Bangs and Tom Wolfe; not only weren't they in the canon, they weren't even in view. Seems wrong to leave people who do a good job of studying culture out of ones idea of Cultural Studies. What about media literacy? Although those two didn't write about how to teach kids about media, they sure were the ones, when I was young'un, teaching *me* about media. Thoughts?
Media literacy is pretty wildly interdisciplinary, and there’s not really a set “canon” of thinkers in it, though lots of names reoccur, from pedagogy theorists (John Dewey, Paolo Friere) to media theorists (Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman) to the large field of currently-publishing folks. A colleague of mine is working on a “Media Literacy Grandparents” project that runs the gamut from community and local access media production to Wittgenstein.
But more generally I would say that ML is a field where a lot of people mingle, but few consider it a “home base” discipline. You’ll find rock critics in it — I already know a bunch of people I would consider in the orbit of ML that assign Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion book, say — but you wouldn’t necessarily say that “Carl Wilson is part of the media literacy field.” In my mind, rock criticism as a “field” has some of the same benefits and challenges of ML — there are a lot of important figures in it that aren’t hemmed in by academic jargon and norms, but also it’s not always taken seriously by self-identifying academic fields and seems to fall between the cracks of different disciplines.
I wouldn’t be surprised if people who teach cultural studies do read/assign/use rock critics. But there’s never really been a place where rock critics are obviously “part of the team” — they come in as needed, and aren’t wrapped into the foundations. Certainly rock criticism is part of my intellectual foundation, but I’ve never figured out where it “fits” in terms of the intellectual foundations of entire fields of study. Media literacy has its own intellectual foundations and is its own field, but it sits uncomfortably in the foundations of other related disciplines.
EDIT: The one exception I can think of here, actually is Simon Frith, who coincidentally (or not) is as close to the media literacy community (by way of cultural studies) as any critic I can think of.