Course Offerings

courses > 2017 spring

Martians in New Jersey: Media, Performance and America in 1938

THAR 275.403

crosslisted as:
TR 0300PM-0430PM
In the most famous of Halloween pranks, in 1938, Orson Welles broadcast the annihilation of the world, and in doing so, blurred the bounds between fiction and reality. Told through a series of newscasts, the program, “The War of the Worlds,” led many to believe that Martians had indeed attacked the United States. Aired as radio was becoming a leading source of entertainment and news, this radio play would become one of the new medium’s most recalled, and most controversial, programs. In this course, we will use the story of Welles’s play to open a window into the United States in the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II. That story will help us consider America’s early engagement with radio and the mass media, the possibilities for storytelling on the air, and the connections between media and manipulation. To explore such topics in depth, performance will be a key component of the course: Students will develop and deliver a “broadcast” of the play, through which we will consider radio theater and the world of “War of the Worlds.”
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