The message and the media

Will this help to contextualise how far, or indeed whether, media determines learning?

A five-part ‘media history’ series starts at 11pm tonight, 14th June on BBC Radio Three, and runs every night this week. It’s called “Rewiring the Mind”, runs in ‘The Essay’ slot, and it looks at ways in which media have shaped ways of thinking since about 1900:


The Essay: Rewiring the Mind, 11pm, Radio 3::

The historian of broadcasting, David Hendy, explores the ways in which the electronic media have shaped the modern mind.

Episode 1 (Monday 14th June): “The Ethereal Mind”:

How did wireless conquer the world in the early years of the twentieth century, and how did a fascination with radio among scientists and writers unleash new ideas about the transmission of thought and the utopian potential of invisible forces?

Episode 2 (Tuesday 15th June): “The Cultivated Mind”:

How effective were the efforts of the BBC to improve the ‘public mind’ between the wars? Did broadcasts such as W.B. Yeats’s poetry recitals or E.M. Forster’s talks foster ideas of a ‘spiritual democracy’ and an enlightened citizenry?

Episode 3 (Wednesday 16th June): “The Anxious Mind”:

Tonight the reporting of the Holocaust in 1945 and television coverage of the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion in 1986. If media have made us all witnesses to horror and tragedy do they also help us to come to terms with suffering, or just leave us depressed at the wrongs in the world?

Episode 4 (Thursday 17th June): “The Fallible Mind”:

Two seminal TV programmes: the American drama Marty, broadcast in 1953, and the BBC’s Face-to-Face, from 1960, used unflinching close-ups to reveal human beings as flawed individuals. Did they make us more compassionate – or just more obsessed with the private lives of others?

Episode 5 (Friday 18th June): “The Superficial Mind”:

Might the Internet, despite its wonderful power as a repository of information and creativity, be slowly degrading or enhancing our mental abilities? Are our brains ready for it?

(Presenter: David Hendy. Producer: Matt Thompson).

The series will also be available to listen to on BBC I-player for up to seven days after broadcast.

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