This course will engage the complex role of mediated communication in American society, from the individual to society at large. Consequently, in this course we will:
learn of a variety of theoretical frameworks used to analyze media audiences, producers, and effects.
analyze the role of media in politics, consumption, and other aspects of culture.
think critically about media and sharpen our media literacy skills.
All sections of this course use the same book, but this one is skewed towards new media because of my interests.
This is an active learning course meaning that you will be engaged with activities such as class and group discussion, participating in and designing class exercises, collaborative note-taking, and peer assesment.
"The promotion of independent and original scholarship ensures that students derive the most from their educational experience and their pursuit of knowledge." Violations include cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and participating in or encouraging dishonesty. I will, and have, report violators to the Office of Student Conduct.
Come to class on time and with the readings and assignments completed. There are no provisions for missed exams or late assignments. If I notice you messing with your phone, then you are messing with your phone too much. If I think your use of a computer is distracting you and others, I will put you on the spot (e.g., ask you to immediately send me your notes). Such deviations from classroom professionalism and respect may result in dismissal from class and demerits against your grade.
In general, if you have an issue, such as needing an accommodation for a religious obligation or learning disability, speak with me before it affects your performance; afterwards it is too late. Do not ask for favors, rather show iniative and a willingness to work.
Preliminary descriptions of assignments are provided but may change prior to formal assignment.
All assignments should be double-spaced, 12 point font, 1-inch margins. Format your essay according to an approriate style/citation (APA, MLA, Chicago) guide.
Media Analysis (choose one)
24-Hour Media Fast Essay – “Unplug” from electronic mass media for a 24-hour period (no computers, cell phones, radio, television, etc.) and afterwards reflect on the place of media in your life relative to our readings and discussion.
Media Criticism - Choose a movie or television series and apply some of the concepts and techniques we've learned in class. For example, you might apply what we've learned about interpretation, ideology, or gender/class/race.
The essay should be ~800 words (~3 pages).
You will be required to send a reading response for a handful of readings. We might use an email list, BlackBoard, or Google Docs. Please title your response approriately.
Formula (we will discuss weights/pts)
30 Class participation (including peer assessment)
15 Midterm exam
10 Media Analysis
15 Final exam
In this class' grading scheme, a "B," for example, is not a subtraction from an initial state of an "A," but rather recognition of good and thorough work.
A = Excellent. Writing demonstrates impressive understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Written work is fluid, clear, analytical, well-organized and grammatically polished. Reasoning and logic are well-grounded and examples precise.
B = Good. Work demonstrates a thorough and solid understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Written work is clear and competent, but is somewhat general, a bit vague, or otherwise lacking in precision. While analytical, writing presents more description than analysis. Arguments are solid but not thoroughly original or polished.
C = Fair. Work demonstrates a somewhat fragmented understanding of readings, discussions, themes and ideas. Shows acquaintance with readings and ideas, but not intellectual engagement. Written work is choppy and argument somewhat difficult to follow, examples are vague or irrelevant, and ideas are imprecise. Work veers toward underdeveloped ideas, off-topic sources or examples, personal anecdotes, creative writing, memoir, etc.
Lawrence Grossberg, Ellen Wartella, D. Charles Whitney, J. Macgregor Wise
MediaMaking: Mass media in a popular culture
d=2006 ed=2nd p=Sage is=0-7619-2544-9
(referred to as "MM" below).
I still use the handbook I acquired as an undergraduate; it's wonderful to have a concise and easy guide for questions (e.g., when does punctuation go outside a quote mark?). When I give feedback on composition issues, I will reference this handbook:
A pocket style manual with 2009 MLA and 2010 APA updates
These practices include guides on: The Craft of Reading; Making Sense of Concepts; Achieving Balance in Discussion; Some Thoughts on Presenting; Writing Class Essays; and Feedback on Writing: Rubric and Writing.
What is the landscape of contemporary media making? What insitutions and their relations are implicated in media making?
MM “Media People and Organizations” ch=3 pp=65-98
Jan 27 Fri
How ought we understand the economics of media making? This chapter uses a Marxist/critical perspective on media (e.g., use and exchange value) to review the affect of scale, profit, and market structure on the content that is available to us.
Write a short response on meaning/interpretation and your own example "text".
Feb 10 Fri
This is a difficult chapter. It introduces the ideas of ideology and ideological power and defines three types of theories (realistic, humanistic, and constructionist). Each of these theories are explored in terms of their meaning, their implications for struggle, and how a theorist of each might look at Princess Diana's death differently.
MM “Ideology” ch=7 pp=193-216
Feb 15 Wed
MM "Producing Identities" ch=8 pp=219-252
Feb 17 Fri
Today we will be talking about identity again, but this time in the online context.
Let's revisit the issue of race and media in the context of current events and culture.
How does media today affect the issues of race we discussed earlier? Does the Internet offers a place for black created media content? How ought we understand Jeremy Lin's popularity in light of earlier racial narratives, the model minority myth, and the American dream ideology?