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American Professor Speaks with HSE Students Online about Media Imperialism

American Professor Speaks with HSE Students Online about Media Imperialism

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American professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett, author of the book Media Imperialism, one of the biggest studies of the contemporary media landscape, is among the international teachers recruited to deliver remote instruction at HSE University this year. His research interests include media, propaganda and international news agencies.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett earned his doctorate in Sociology at the Open University (UK). His dissertation focused on international news agencies, which formed the basis of his first books, The International News Agencies (1980) and Le Traffic des Nouvelles (with Dr. Michael Palmer) (1981). He taught for the Open University and, later, Leicester University (Centre for Mass Communication Research) before moving to the USA in 1998 where he has taught at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona; Bowling Green State University Ohio; and California State University Channel Islands.

In Russia, Oliver Boyd-Barrett is mostly known for his monograph Media Imperialism: Continuity and Change (with Tanner Mirrlees), which was translated into Russian and published in 2018. His other recent book is RussiaGate and Propaganda (2020). Routledge will publish Conflict Propaganda in Syria: Narrative Battles in 2021.

Prof. Boyd-Barrett delivered a series of lectures on ‘Critical Political Economy of Media’ in 2021 for the master’s programme in Critical Media Studies at the HSE Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design. For his students in Moscow, he provided an overview of research on media and propaganda in the context of international news. This includes detailed studies of several conflicts in the Middle East as well as US-Russia relations. 

Ilya Kiriya, Head of the HSE School of Media

This academic year, we’ve launched a new English-taught master’s programme, Critical Media Studies. A significant portion of it is intended to be delivered by international instructors. We held negotiations with our colleagues last summer when it wasn’t yet clear whether they would be able to come to Russia to teach in person.

When it became clear they would not, the university administration’s initiative to recruit leading professors for online instruction has become a great solution for us. The opportunities for a renowned professor to find two weeks in their busy schedule to come to Moscow are much lower than for them to connect to Zoom once a week. Organizing online teaching is also much simpler: we don’t need visas, tickets, etc.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett has already been a visiting professor at HSE University, and we had planned a conference with his participation as a key speaker in September 2020. At the same time, we had planned to organize a series of his lectures for HSE students during his visit. But the pandemic ruined these plans: the conference was cancelled, and Prof. Boyd-Barrett’s classes had to be postponed to January with his agreement. Ilya Kiriya says it all turned out well: ‘He didn’t just talk, but showed videos and films, and he also involved students in discussions. Today, we are discussing an opportunity for him to work with our students again in a year.’

Marina Kalashnikova, student of the master’s programme in Critical Media Studies

Professor Boyd-Barrett taught part of our course on critical political economy of media.  Personally the most memorable part of the lectures was devoted to propaganda.  It was very useful and inspiring to learn about the origins of propaganda and its connection with symbolic power in the context of American history.  It was great listening to a person working on the topics of media imperialism and globalization.

Hala Rajab, student of the master’s programme in Critical Media Studies

I would like to thank HSE University for giving us the opportunity to be introduced to Professor Emeritus Oliver Boyd-Barret from Bowling Green State University, who joined us at the beginning of this semester as a lecturer for the first part of political economy course 2021. For me, I was so fortunate to have the chance to discuss many critical international issues through these sessions and to draw on some of his valuable experience in this specialty. I am glad to say that it was a wonderful and very useful experience.

The professor gave high marks to the professionalism and scholarly calibre of his Russian colleagues. He was also impressed with HSE University students: their English language skills, their willingness to engage in dialogue and their enthusiasm for the subject.  

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, visiting lecturer at HSE University

Teaching graduate students at HSE is one of my most meaningful recent pedagogical experiences. I can think of few things more vital than fostering better dialogue and university-level understanding between Russia and the United States. As we stand at the precipice of tectonic shifts in international relations, the perils of climate change and the threat of nuclear conflict, we scholars find ourselves entrusted with a unique and sacred mission: to reach across international borders and help nurture collaborative sense of our complex world.

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