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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Virtual Republic: American Politics in the Media Age

Instructor(s): Ronald Seyb, Government

Is the American "mediathon" sapping the public's interest in, engagement with, and knowledge of politics? In this seminar, students explore the influence of the mass media on political debate, political engagement, and public policy in the United States. We trace the development of the mass media from the turn of the 20th century to the present, assessing critically the claim that this development has contributed to an increasing coarsening of political discourse, a growth in public disaffection with politics, and a diminution of the government's capacity to solve pressing social and economic problems. We will examine the effect of radio and television on political oratory, the genesis and evolution of "political marketing," the rise of an adversarial press, and the implications of the "new media" for American politics.

Course Offered