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London Calling : And We’re Off!

This post was written by Alex Gold, a Senior Theatre Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.

The past two weeks are reading and finals weeks here at Northwestern, which means a mad combination of studying, paper-writing, test-taking and all the other tying up of loose ends that happens at the end of every quarter. But instead of heading back home for spring break as I normally do, I’ll be flying to London to take part in Northwestern School of Communication’s Global Media and Communications Seminar. Visions of Big Ben and enormous English breakfasts have sustained me through many a late-night session in the library and fifteen-page essay lately, and the fact that we’re finally leaving for the trip doesn’t even feel quite real yet.

The School of Communication’s EPICS Office has diligently prepared us for the trip, both logistically (handing out our full itinerary and Oyster cards to use on the Tube) and mentally – all of us going on the trip have participated in a quarter-long course led by Professor Neil Verma. In this class, we’ve studied too many creative industries to count: film, television, digital music, theatre, fine art, and many others. In the process we’ve sought to define what it means to be a “creative” in today’s incredibly global, technologically-driven world. We’ve read everything from Marxist interpretations of the culture industries to a book about iTunes and Napster, watched and studied Tangerine, Slumdog Millionaire, and the Dove “Real Beauty” ads, and prepared dossiers and presentations on HBO’s Vinyl, Art Basel Miami, and countless other cultural touchstones. We’ve done all this in an effort to delve deeper into the global media and communications sectors, really understanding the industry behind the cultural products we all consume on a daily basis. As a graduating senior (yikes…) on the verge of pursuing a career in arts leadership, it’s been an inspiring and fascinating quarter learning about the leaders and systems on the forefront of innovations in the media and culture industries.

One of the most amazing aspects of the London trip is its intrinsic connection to the work we’ve done in the classroom. Every morning during the week, we’ll be taking in lectures set up especially for us at the London School of Economics, hearing from faculty whose work we have studied in class, like Professor Nick Couldry (a cultural sociologist who teaches at the LSE). We’ll also have the opportunity to connect with industry professionals such as Thomas Hoegh (who pioneered the concept of “event cinema” and screening live events with his company Arts Alliance). I can’t wait to actually hear from some of these amazing creatives and thinkers in person.

I’ve been spending my finals week procrastinating by researching sights to see, landmarks to visit, food to eat, and all the incredible sites we’ll be visiting and people we’ll be hearing from in London. This trip is going to be an incredible conclusion to my academic experience in the School of Communication, and I’m sure it’s pretty clear that I can’t wait. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have so much packing to do….