Associate Professor, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication
"In order to engage in politics, or build a market, or create art - you have to communicate. At our core, we are beings that communicate. This is what makes us human."
Ted Magder attributes the burgeoning interest in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication to communication technology. "It's become such a big part of our lives, that we are more aware than ever before that communication is the fundamental human condition. In order to engage in politics, or build a market, or create art - you have to communicate. At our core, we are beings that communicate. This is what makes us human!"
Magder is currently looking at how the flow of communication and media across borders is affected by the various rules, laws, and codes that regulate it. "These rules either inhibit, enhance or encourage the flow of communication and media. They somehow have an impact on their movement, and that interests me."
At the moment, Magder is looking specifically at how media travels across the borders of Korean and Japan. "I have two students assisting me with this. One of them is fluent in Japanese, and the other is familiar with Korean. They're going to help me penetrate a language barrier, and also gather data for me." Eventually, Madger hopes to use the information he uncovers for a book about world communication.
It was Magder's book, Canada's Hollywood: The Canadian State and Feature Films, that got him interested in the subject of international media and communication in the first place. The book is about the efforts in Canada, dating back to the earliest parts of the 20th century, to build a feature film industry that would produce and distribute films made by Canadians for Canadians.
"This movement was a response to the then abundance of American films in Canadian theaters," he explains. "The concern in Canada was that if your media market is dominated by product from one country - and that country is the United States - you run the risk over time of making it more difficult for people to identify themselves as Canadians."
Magder's book, Franchising the Candy Store, is a short monograph that looks at trade disputes. Writing it, he says, got him fascinated with the international trade agreements that began to take hold in the 1990s. "These agreements established the way that media and communication move across borders to this day." Magder is considered to be one of the first people to acknowledge that international trade agreements are crucial to the passage of media across borders.
Magder was born and raised and Canada and received his Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto. He decided to move to New York because, he says, "Many consider the city to be the media capital of the world. And that's why NYU is ideal for me and my work. It's the perfect place to study the impact of media on the modern world."
Another reason he emigrated was the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication's commitment to an international appreciation of media, which dovetails with his own. "I do a lot of research abroad and every summer we offer a joint study aborad course with the University of Amsterdam in the area of media and globalism. We hope one day to offer a graduate program that requires our students to travel abroad with faculty as part of the curriculum."
It is also Magder's hope that the department become the preeminent department in communication studies on the east coast. "I want to help make it one of the leading centers for research and scholarship in the world, with partnerships that span the globe and reach every continent. We want to be a department that is very much at the fulcrum of a network of international scholars and teachers and students."