Diving into popular media cultures: international summer school

17 May 2021

Are you a fan of boy band BTS? Did you grow up watching Dragon Ball or Doraemon? Imagine exciting cultural expressions, cinema, animation, fashion, pop music, and comics being explored and discussed with peers. In this summer holiday learning-centred gathering, you would have the chance to consider their inner mechanics and the wider historical picture in which they were generated.

In this special time in history, when the pandemic grips half of the world, an international summer school, organised by the Department of Media and Communication of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University with the scientific support of Mutual Images Research Associations (MIRA) in France, contributes to academic and social life as an on-site event where students can meet, discuss and learn in a traditional, face-to-face dynamic.

“I really wanted to give our students and to others, applying from other universities, the opportunity to again experience a collegial situation,” says Dr Marco Pellitteri, the director of the five-day international initiative and an associate professor at XJTLU.

“This summer school will provide its young participants with solid keys of interpretation and theoretical tools to understand the deep mechanisms by which the various sectors of entertainment media and creative industries operate.”

Creative industries and media cultures as the core

The international summer school will take place from 22 to 26 June, exploring the creative industries and media cultures of Japan, South Korea, and China. A rich theoretical framework and a variety of exciting case studies and cultural expressions will be the focus, with the aim of enlarging and deepening students’ knowledge in these fields.

“Observing a nation’s overall creative output and its expansion and reception abroad is an effective way to analyse and discuss the international, intercultural relations between countries through their cultural/creative production and consumption dynamics,” says Dr Pellitteri.

“China, South Korea, and Japan are the three countries that express the widest amount of popular media entertainment in Asia, but they do it according to different production routines, aesthetics, degrees of digitisation and policy supervision, and cultural logics.

“Moreover, the ways the three national and cultural systems dialogue with each other in relation to their cultural and creative output is utterly interesting to explore and discuss, in particular for students who may be very receptive of these popular cultures.”

A comparative framework will be employed to analyse the current creative industries of China, Korea and Japan through the ways they concretely interact in transnational markets, media outlets, and fan communities; and how the markets and audiences of one national context receive and re-adapt contents from another country’s creative output.

“With a critical approach, students will learn and discuss the problematic dimensions of a transnational circulation of creative and cultural output between the three countries as well as in other Asian contexts, both in a historical perspective and with reference to the current times,” says Dr Pellitteri.

Discovering Suzhou, a cultural and historical city in China

A historical perspective cannot be formed from purely theoretical learning. The international summer school also includes a one-day trip in Suzhou on 26 June.

“Suzhou is an interesting and fascinating location, not only a place to explore, but also an elegant town with a rich cultural history. The immense Tai Lake, where we’ll take the students on the final day of the summer school, is just few kilometres westward of Suzhou,” Dr Pellitteri adds.

“We’ll have a pleasant trip to Xishan island, enjoying a nice walk, exploration in nature, and a taste of traditional delicacies,” he says.

A team of international scholars

Students will attend interactive lectures delivered from researchers and professors from well-known universities all over the world, including the University of Amsterdam, the University of Hong Kong, University College London, and Ateneo de Manila University. Researchers from MIRA will also be involved in the teaching.

“Although the structure and format of the school are entirely on-site, due to the ongoing pandemic, half of the teachers will deliver their lectures online while the other half will be physically present, for face-to-face teaching,” says Dr Pellitteri.

Study, discuss, engage

Year Three and Year Four undergraduates, all masters students, and first-year PhD students, whether domestic or international students, are welcome to apply for a position from any university in China.

“The only informal requirement is that students have a relatively good proficiency in English,” says Dr Pellitteri.

“I do hope students will show a strong motivation to spending a week of study, discussion, and collegial engagement.”

The deadline for application is 28 May.

By Ying Jiang

Edited by Tamara Kaup

17 May 2021