In this talk, Victoria Cain provides a brief overview of some of the themes of her new book, Schools and Screens: A Watchful History, and a deeper dive into a few defining experiments with educational media in twentieth century US schools. Her talk will focus on the struggle of successive generations of education reformers who attempted to meet massive social and economic crises through careful instruction in media viewing and collective discussion. Cain will consider how and why these reformers came to conclude that “civic spectatorship” was essential to modern education and democratic participation, and reflect on the significance of their experiments for schools today.
Victoria Cain teaches in the Department of History at Northeastern University. She is the author of Schools and Screens: A Watchful History (MIT, 2021), as well as numerous articles and chapters on media, technology and education, and the co-author, with Karen Rader, of Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History (Chicago, 2014). Her newest project explores the history and politics of adolescent privacy.