Undergraduate Course Descriptions
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Power and Misconduct in Popular Music: An Archival Study
- Fall 2022
This course asks students to interrogate power and identity in America’s popular music industries through a close examination of sexism and sexual misconduct. Designed as a research practicum that teaches interdisciplinary methods of archival research, this course explores the challenges individuals face within the cultural and professional landscapes of popular music. We will spend the first half of the semester exploring theories and practices of archives and archiving, developing critical analytical approaches to archival research in media and popular music. In the second half of the semester, students will apply this methodological and theoretical foundation to a focused examination of select case studies. Students will engage with a range of primary sources and archival texts, including memoirs, artist biographies, music histories, documentaries, and traditional and social media to consider how dynamics of power intersect in popular music. This course will provide students with the opportunity to contribute important insight and archival research to a new digital archive on sexual misconduct in America’s popular music industries. Students will gain hands-on experience conducting in-depth media analyses and archival research, which will culminate in the development of a comprehensive research portfolio.
Media and South Asia
This course examines the historical development of media institutions across the Indian subcontinent, and how media texts have helped to shape post-colonial national/cultural/religious/social identities, nationalism, and geopolitical relations. The course looks at how the post-colonial State in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka) has interacted with media industries, and the implications of this interaction.
Advertising and Society
- Fall 2021
This course explores the historical and contemporary role of the advertising industry in the U.S. media system. The course will cover the social history of advertising; the structure of today’s advertising industry; the workings of advertising in digital media; and critical analyses of advertising’s role in society. In addition to academic writings, the class will read industry reports to understand contemporary strategies and processes.
Gender and Media
- Fall 2022
This course examines various images and performances of gender in media focusing on the late 20th century to the present. Using theories from cultural and media studies, film and gender studies, and communication studies, we will explore different processes and practices of gender, specifically in terms of media representations of femininity, masculinity, and other genders. The purpose of the course is to gain insight into the ways in which gender, and its intersections with race, ethnicity, and class, is enacted, represented, and has an impact on cultural formations and communication. We will explore the socio-cultural mechanisms that shape our individual and collective notions of identity and essentially teach us what it means to be gendered masculine or feminine or align with other identifications. The media plays a major role in "constructing" gender, and popular views of what “appropriate” gendering is, in turn, shape how we communicate with each other. In examining cultural myths about gender as well as ongoing debates on gender construction, we will consider how gender is tied in with notions of power, identity, voice, and other defining identity categories (race, socio-economic status, sexuality, etc.) Throughout the course, we will examine a variety of media forms, from film to television to streaming platforms, as well as social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Global Communication: Technology and Development
- Fall 2022
This course will explore the field of global communication, with a focus on the changing landscape of technology and globalization in the digital era. Students will learn about theories and practices of technological social change in the non-Western world. They will be introduced to debates surrounding the uses of information communication technologies for development, drawing on research from Communication Studies and beyond. In order to evaluate ideas in practice, students will examine specific case studies from different countries across the Global South. In assessing the case studies, we will consider both the promises and limitations of technology as a solution for common challenges such as poverty, inequality, and political instability.
Civil Dialogue Seminar: Civic Engagement in a Divided Nation
- Fall 2022
The goal of this course is to help students develop concepts, tools, dispositions, and skills that will help them engage productively in the ongoing experiment of American democracy. This nation’s founders created a governmental structure that sets up an ongoing and expansive conversation about how to manage the tensions and tradeoffs between competing values and notions of the public good. These tensions can never be fully resolved or eliminated; they are intrinsic to the American experiment. Every generation must struggle to find its own balance, in no small part because in every era people who previously had been unjustly excluded from the conversation find a way to be heard. That inevitably introduces new values and changes how enduring ones get interpreted. The challenge of each generation is to develop that capacity to its fullest. The goal of this course is to equip you to engage fully in your generation’s renewal of the conversation. Class sessions will use a variety of modalities: lecture, discussion, case studies, opportunities to experiment with the tools and techniques of civil dialogue, and writing. Each session will include some theory or historical context, a case study, exploration of a key concept of civic dialogue with a related tool or technique, and an interactive exercise. This course is part of a larger effort by the university (called the Paideia program) to help Penn students build these skills.
Film Festival History and Practice
- Spring 2022
Film festivals as we know them emerged as nationalist spectacles and have since become important sites of cultural exchange at global and regional levels. Constantly shifting due to geopolitics and technology, festivals are crucial components in the larger film industry and help to shape film culture, greatly impacting the trajectories of both the life of a film and its makers. Festivals offer a vehicle with which to explore the intersection of art, communications, economics, and politics. Festivals have previously constituted an alternative distribution mechanism for independent and so-called ‘international’ films that may never get a theatrical release and thus offer opportunities for regional audiences to find them. They have also been especially important for nonfiction films. In this course, we will examine the histories of the larger international festivals in North America and Western Europe (i.e. Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Sundance) and also look into smaller festivals that have formed around thematic, regional or cultural parameters. Additional topics include: independent film distribution and exhibition, criticism, funding, film programming theory and practice, differences in regional and niche festivals, tourism, marketing, and social media. Particular attention will be paid to for-profit versus not-for-profit models and explore the relationship of festivals to museums, universities and non-profit arts structures widely. The course will consist of readings, screenings, and guest presentations from festival programmers.
Divine Mediation: Media and the Shaping of Religious Identity and Practice
This course surveys how religious groups interact with media, and how media texts and institutions have played a role in defining religions. The intersections between media and religion are numerous, from the mediated growth of national identities, the rise of online religious extremism, the ingroup/outgroup dynamics within and among religious groups, and the ways in which media is used to legitimize/delegitimize theological positions. We examine how media institutions have played a role in propping up religious norms (both explicitly and implicitly) and the shaping of religious identities. This course looks at media as both enforcer and disruptor, as well as the ways in which religions have been challenged by those with media literacy and access. The evolution of religious practice and social norms can also be linked with technological innovations such as the mass distribution of Bibles in the 15th and 16th century thanks to the printing press, the rise of radio and television messiahs in the 20th century, and the individualization of religious practices through new apps. Fulfills Foundational Approaches: Cross Cultural Analysis.
- Fall 2021
This course examines the main sociological theories and concepts in the analysis of revolutions, popular protest, and social movements. Special attention will be given to three theoretical traditions: resource mobilization, political process, and cultural analysis. We will study narratives, symbols, performances, and old and new media forms in the construction of identities and solidarities and the mobilization of publics. Historical and contemporary cases from the U.S. and around the world will be examined. Students will work in small teams on a term project — an analysis of a social movement or protest event of their choice.
Media, Culture, & Society in Contemporary China
- Spring 2022
This course covers Chinese media, culture, and society from the 1970s to the present. It examines the causes and consequences of social and institutional transformation, with an emphasis on civic engagement, cultural change, and the impact of digital media. In analyzing these developments, the course pays special attention to historical contexts and draws on concepts and theories from sociology, communication, and related fields. The course helps students develop nuanced and sophisticated approaches to the understanding of contemporary Chinese media, culture, and, society and cross-cultural phenomena more broadly.
Sick and Satired: The Insanity of Humor and How it Keeps Us Sane
- Fall 2022
- Fall 2021
This course will examine how and why humor, as both an instigator and peacemaker, might be considered one of the most influential and profoundly useful forms of communication devised by human beings. The unique ability of jokes and satire to transcend familiar literary and journalistic forms for the purpose of deepening (or cheapening) socio-philosophical arguments and to inspire (or discourage) debate and participation in public conversations about innumerable political and social issues will be explored. The fearless analytical nature of both high and lowbrow comedy will be examined, as well as its deflective qualities. The course will enable students to consider, through analysis of both contemporary and historical examples, the political and cultural satirist’s unique role in society as a witness, a predictor and, in some circumstances, an instigator of public and private debate. We will examine the role of satire in revealing and mediating differences between disparate social groups based not solely on language differences, but also on political affiliation, cultural identity, ethnicity, gender, religious fellowship, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic caste.
Masculinity and the Media
- Spring 2022
- Spring 2021
This course examines the construction of masculinity in American and global media, highlighting how masculinity developed in parallel to social, cultural, economic, and political norms. Using case studies and multiple theoretical approaches, we will seek to understand how constructions of masculinity across the world have served to uphold – or challenge – the status quo. Analysis of individual texts across time periods and different cultural contexts will also help us better come to terms with the idea of masculinity – and its proliferation across media platforms.
WARNING! Graphic Content: Political Cartoons, Comix, and the Uncensored Artist
- Spring 2022
- Spring 2021
This course examines the past, present, and future of political cartooning, underground comix, graphic journalism and protest art, exploring the purpose and significance of image-based communication as an unparalleled propagator of both noble and nefarious ideas. The work presented will be chosen for its unique ability to demonstrate the inflammatory effect of weaponized visual jokes, uncensored commentary, and critical thinking on a society so often perplexed by artistic free expression and radicalized creative candor.
Special Topics // America on Record: Music, Culture, and Identity
- Fall 2021
This course asks students to interrogate the idea of America and American identity through the comparative study of popular music. We will use music as a method for exploring issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in the constitution of American culture and in the making and unmaking of the American self. This is neither a linear and comprehensive history of American music, nor is it a musicology course with attention to musical formalism and technique. Rather, it emphasizes music as intercultural communication, a living cultural space where ethnic, racial, national, gender, and sexual identities are both formed and de-formed. While focusing on major musical movements throughout the twentieth — and into the twenty-first — century (minstrelsy, blues, jazz, corridos, salsa, rock, punk, hip-hop, pop, etc.), we will root our thinking through several key critical rubrics: performance, community, activism/protest, industry, memory, affect, power, and technology. This course is guided by the following key questions: What is music’s role in the construction of “America” as a geopolitical idea, as well as the notion of transnational, inter-American identities? We will also pay particular attention to the role of the music industry itself. How has the music industry changed from the days of vaudeville to today? Central themes considered all semester long will include immigration, assimilation, citizenship, and patriotism. Together, we will learn to listen critically to the music that shapes the experiences of who we think we are, as well as impacts our engagement with and socio-cultural understandings of particular historical and political moments.
Special Topics // Good Talk: The Purpose, Practice, and Representation of Dialogue Across Difference
- Fall 2022
- Spring 2022
Good Talk is an exploration of dialogue across lines of difference. This is a non-traditional, student-centered course that is highly personalized to the individual. Instead of promoting a single model for what "dialogue" is, what it looks like, and how it should be done, the course exposes students to multi-media texts representing a diverse range of identities and communication challenges. We take representations of dialogue -- in graphic novels, memoirs, performance, social media, and more -- seriously as sources of dialogic theory. The goal is for you to put into practice your own working theory of dialogue that is meaningful for your values and relevant for the kinds of scholarly, professional, community-based, or personal work you are invested in. This is an SNF Paideia course.
Special Topics // Happy, Sappy, Creepy: Social Media and Feeling
Why does Zoom make you sad? Why does it feel good to troll online? Has digital media desensitized us, or are we more sensitized than ever? In the context of protests against systemic injustice across the world, a global pandemic, and rising inequalities, our relationship with digital media is more complicated than ever. This course discusses call-outs, trolling, leaks, scandals, and activism online through the lens of the emotional, thinking about the pleasure, fear, outrage, disgust, shame, and joy that come with these everyday practices. We'll also examine the ways that our emotions are monetized, shaping and reshaping the platforms we interact with. By developing a critical eye to the platforms we use to protest, socialize, pay bills, and scroll through on a Sunday night, we'll also learn about the way that emotion powers university life, the corporate world, and political movements. Throughout the course, we will read articles and engage with media, including podcasts, videos, and other mediums. This course will help students who want to learn about both the theoretical and practical components of social media, whether you are interested in a career in industry, activism, or academia.
Studying Digital Worlds: Qualitative Social Science for Research
This course will prepare students to design and conduct qualitative research projects that seek to understand the social life of digital technologies and digital media. Students will learn about inductive research design and key qualitative methods such as interviewing, ethnography, and content analysis. We will also explore the ethical challenges of research in digital worlds. This qualitative methods course will equip students to analyze interaction in digital media environments, with apps, and elsewhere in everyday life.
History and Theory of Freedom of Expression
- Spring 2022
If we were to fashion new laws for speech from scratch in our media-saturated, fake news world, would they be different laws from those we have? The rootedness of free speech in our civic DNA springs from enduring philosophical arguments over what truth and knowledge are, what human nature is like, and what we think society owes to and requires from its members. We explore foundational debates at the core of the First Amendment, the evolving interpretation of the amendment by the Supreme Court, its determined historical challengers, and struggles over its applicability to contemporary controversies. We address strong claims that unfettered speech is central to democratic societies and strong claims that society can be made more democratic by removing discriminatory speech from social media and public discourse more generally. Every society limits speech in significant ways. What are these limits in the United States, why are these the limits, and are they the ones we want? This reading and discussion seminar meets for lively, informed dialogue and debate.
Drawing the Blue Line: Police and Power in American Popular Culture
- Fall 2022
- Fall 2021
The police are one of the most heavily imagined institutions in American popular culture. From Cagney and Lacey to Colors, Law & Order, The Wire and The Watchmen, evolving depictions of law enforcement help us to understand larger socio-cultural shifts that have occurred from the post-1968 riots to the dawn of the Black Lives Matter movement in the mid-2010s and police abolition in the early 2020s. Using case study and textual analysis approaches, students will examine how specific police procedurals, movies, and other cultural texts showcase police authority in relation to certain communities, and consider how these texts reflect, uphold and/or challenge prevailing views on law and order and criminal justice. Our explorations of how media and cultural industries have framed policing will pay particular attention to questions of power, race, gender, sexuality, class, and geography. These explorations will also include learning about and learning to dialogue, given the diverse – and often contentious – views about policing in America. Students will have an opportunity to interact with speakers representing different positions that relate to mediated perceptions -- as well as lived experiences of -- policing. Class assignments and activities will enhance students' abilities to productively discuss complex issues that are frequently sanitized or homogenized within U.S. popular culture.
Feminism and the Internet
- Fall 2022
From the earliest message boards and email chains, the internet has given people a way to connect, not just digitally but sexually. Porn, online dating, sex education: digital technology has made it easier for people to find each other and explore sexuality, but these same tools have also been used in relationships that are exploitative and criminal. In this course, we look at the different connections between sex, gender, queerness and the internet: changing policies regulating sex (like FOSTA and SESTA), the platforms that have created controversies around sex (for example, craigslist, tumblr and Grindr) and shifting norms around how sex and sexuality manifest online. This is an interdisciplinary course that brings together internet studies, queer theory, and cultural studies in order to understand the social and historical dimensions of sex, sexuality and digital technologies.
Critical Perspectives in Journalism
- Spring 2022
- Spring 2021
This course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of journalism. It combines theoretical perspectives on the making of news with primary source material produced by and about journalists. Students analyze theoretical material on journalism – about how news is made, shaped, and performed – alongside articles and broadcasts appearing in the media, interviews with journalists in the trade press, and professional reviews. Topics include models of journalistic practice, journalistic values and norms, gatekeeping and sourcing practices, storytelling formats in news, and ethical problems related to misrepresentation, plagiarism, and celebrity.
Youth, Digital Culture, and Online Harassment: A Participatory Research Workshop
- Spring 2022
From trolling to cyber-bullying, online harassment has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic and it disproportionately impacts school-age youth. This ABCS course provides a hands-on opportunity for students to conduct community service and fieldwork investigating digital culture and online harassment. Over the course of the semester, students will review scholarship in Feminist Media Studies and Digital Inequalities, while undertaking participatory focus groups in partnership with students in a West Philadelphia school. In this course, students will merge theory with action through weekly seminars and fieldwork sessions. Together, our community of researchers will produce a collaborative report sharing original findings and evidence-based recommendations on how to prevent and address online harassment. This dynamic, hands-on course is perfect for students who want to tackle real-world communication issues, develop their research skills, and learn more about feminist Communication scholarship.
Journalism in an Age of Information Disorder
- Fall 2021
As audiences navigate the polluted information environment, they increasingly look to journalists to help them understand what is true or false. As a result, newsrooms now publish regular debunks, journalists verify eyewitness footage posted to Twitter in real-time, and a new 'disinfo' beat has emerged with reporters investigating conspiracy theories being peddled on 4Chan, Discord, or Reddit. At the same time, some members of the public see journalists as being part of the problem itself and Trump has famously labeled them as the 'enemy of the people'. This course will examine the major shifts that have happened in the information ecosystem since 2005 and will explore how they have impacted journalism. Each week, we will consider a current challenge US newsrooms are facing, for example: the rise of social networks and the resulting collapse of the local newspaper industry, the media manipulation campaigns aimed at hoaxing and tricking newsrooms into amplifying false or divisive content, and the new pressures on 'objectivity' as journalists report on stories related to the current political and social climate. This course will focus on the practical strategies journalists and newsrooms will be adopting in the run-up to the Presidential election including hearing from reporters who now work on this new 'disinfo beat'.
Understanding the Political Economy of Media
- Spring 2021
This course has two aims. First, assuming that communications are central to any society, it situates media systems within larger national and international social relationships and political structures. Second, this course critically examines the structures of the communication systems themselves, including ownership, profit imperatives, support mechanisms such as advertising and public relations, and the ideologies and government policies that sustain these arrangements. Considering case studies ranging from traditional news and entertainment media to new digital and social media, the course provides a comprehensive survey of the major texts in this vibrant sub-field of media studies.
Media, the Apocalypse, and the Undead
- Spring 2022
Global media industries have long been fascinated with the idea of the apocalypse, particularly humanity's attempts at survival against (seemingly) mindless hordes. Whether in the form of zombies or infected masses, cultural industries' preoccupation with humankind's collapse - and potential resilience - has led to lucrative film, comic, and television franchise universes. Using texts from around the world, including - but not limited to - The Night of the Living Dead, The Walking Dead, Black Mirror, Reality Z, Dead Set, KL Zombie, The Road, Ravenous, Bird Box, Train to Busan, Kingdom, Adventure Time, and The Girl with all the Gifts, this course invites students to explore the ways in which media and cultural industries seek to define human existence through the Otherness of the undead/infected. Central to the course will be an examination of the ways in which post-apocalyptic portrayals of human survival amidst rampaging hordes include important commentaries and subtexts about race, gender, power, and class, as well as the connections to a political moment or era.
Filming the Future of Philadelphia
- Fall 2022
This workshop is a rare opportunity to learn to use film to engage Philadelphia and its future from personal, political, social, and historical perspectives. Over one semester, we will simultaneously think, learn, and imagine Philadelphia through music, dance, anthropology, art, theater, architecture, literature, history, night life, day life, school life, social life, and life after school. We will read, we will write, and we will learn how to make films with an anthropologist. We will also approach Philadelphia from the perspectives of race, gender, sexuality, wealth, democracy, urban life, suburban life, job prospects, creative projects, industrial boom, post-industrial decline, activism, police violence, and gentrification. In thinking about the future, we will think about the extent to which Philadelphia is representative of American futures more broadly, and to what extent it is an exceptional city. We will also examine Philadelphia's place in the world. This project will be a collaboration between activists and artists from Philadelphia, and students from Penn. It will end in public screenings on campus and in the city.
Black Geographies: Race and Visual Culture
What is the relationship between the Flint water crisis, the hyper-policing of racialized people, and the increased surveillance of neighborhoods deemed “poverty-stricken” or “at risk?” How do regimes of security, surveillance, policing, and forms of violence depend upon the concept of “risk” as central to their operation? How is risk informed by systemic racism and forms of anti-Blackness? How does visual culture (e.g., media coverage, documentary photographs, etc.) inform how we come to see and define certain people, communities, and ways of life as “risky?” How have those living in racialized geographies of “risk” found ways to live in, make do, and challenge the faulty narratives of risk? This interdisciplinary course will examine critical debates and key moments—historical (e.g., MOVE bombing in Philadelphia) and contemporary (e.g., Ferguson riots)—that have informed the concept of risk. Over the course of the semester, we will read scholarly texts and engage with objects such as archival documents, photographs, conceptual art, performance art and installations, journalistic texts, and films. This communications course will be approached from a cultural studies perspective, with particular attention to race, gender, and sexuality. Fulfills Cultural Diversity in the US requirement.
Philosophical Problems of Journalism
This course explores the relationship between journalism and philosophy by examining particular issues in epistemology, political philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics. Topics will include: the concept of a "fact"; the role of the press in the state; whether journalists (like doctors and lawyers) operate according to specialized "professional" ethics; and the limits of journalism as a literary or visual genre. Course readings will include philosophical texts, breaking print journalism, and blogs that specialize in media issues.
The Politics of Emotions: Love and Hate in Global Media
- Spring 2022
This course examines global communication practices and media cultures through the perspective of emotions across international borders. On the one hand, the global production, circulation, and consumption of media has facilitated global empathy, fascination, or passion through cross-border encounters, dialogues, connections, and cultural flows. On the other hand, globalization has produced and strengthened new forms of hatred and violence, including nationalism, racism, and misogyny, in nations and cultures around the world. Media and communication technologies have become central to these international movements and the articulation of emotions. In this context, the study of emotions in global media offers new ways of understanding popular culture, public communication, social inequalities, and changing social and political mobilization around the world. Connecting interdisciplinary scholarship on emotions and global media with specific case studies, this course covers topics including transnational communities, global resistance and activism, media audiences and fandom, digital labor, soft power and public diplomacy, and nationalism and xenophobia. Students will learn about key concepts and debates in global media studies and consider the emergence of global media as a key space both for generating, aggregating, and intensifying certain emotions. Relatedly, they will examine and interrogate different axes of power, difference, and identity, including nation, race/ethnicity, and gender and sexuality in global media cultures.
Is journalism the same all over the world? Do press systems and practices differ in fundamental ways that affect how we evaluate them politically, morally, aesthetically, epistemologically, and economically? Where does U.S. journalism fit among the models? This undergraduate seminar will introduce students to concrete differences in journalism around the world, but it won't only be an empirical look at how various press systems operate. We will also examine and argue about which journalistic practices and systems work best for which purposes, and explore the distinctive journalistic and philosophical assumptions and histories that undergird diverse practices and systems. Asian, European, African, and Mideast journalism will all be attended to.
- Fall 2022
- Fall 2021
This course explores the power of ritual in contemporary culture. We examine how rituals help forge and strengthen social groups, be they generational, ethnic, religious, familial, regional, professional and/or institutional. We also consider how rituals create and communicate boundaries between "us" and "them" and between "desirable" and "deviant" behaviors. Students will have the opportunity to examine a diverse range of case-studies, from quinceañeras to rodeos, from weddings to reunions. We will explore rituals that unfold at the local level (proms, Thanksgiving dinners), as well as those that most of us experience only in mediated form (Oscars, Super Bowls, Presidential Inaugurations). We will also consider the profoundly disruptive impact of Covid-19 on ritual and explore the creative ways in which people hastily improvised online versions of vital rites of passage. From Gathertown graduations to Zoom memorials, the rapid rise of virtual rituals during the pandemic confirms their fundamental importance to our everyday lives and identities. Students in this interactive course will get to select their own ritual foci, will gain hands-on experience conducting original fieldwork, and will learn how to develop and present compelling research proposals.
Black Visual Culture and Its Archives
- Spring 2021
This undergraduate seminar examines the intersections of visual culture and race in the United States. It aims to provide a historical, cultural, and visual foundation for understanding the representation of and by Black people from the 19th to the 21st centuries, including texts such as, but not limited to, photography, film, television, conceptual art, and performance. Students will be introduced to critical concepts in the field of visual studies, black studies, communication, cultural studies, and rhetorical studies. The course will pay special attention to concepts such as Blackness, visuality, visibility and invisibility, surveillance, photographic theory, the gaze, and spectatorship. We will consider questions such as: What is “black visual culture”? What are its archives? How is Blackness produced, represented, and negotiated through visual modes? In what ways does Blackness and Black people challenge, refract, and rewrite the various visual modes that have sought to represent it? The course will explore various theoretical and methodological approaches to answering the aforementioned questions and enable students develop their own questions for understanding the complex ways in which race and the visual have been, and continue to be, entangled.
Special Topics // Black: Joy, Aesthetics, and Critical Media Making
- Spring 2022
How can the camera and other media tools be used to resist and combat dominant narratives about groups of people whose identities are often misrepresented in mainstream media? What do intentional portrayals of self-defined black joy communicate about the role of power and resistance in media and communication? This course will allow students to study concepts from Black studies, film studies, communication, and performance to learn practical approaches to understanding joy as a form of resistance. Course materials will examine how Black aesthetics (home-making practices and other forms of every day cultural production) play a role in today’s antiracism movement. Using films, articles, tv series, and podcast style interviews for framing independent media pieces, this course pairs ethnographic methods with media making for students to develop skills to combat the overabundance of trauma narratives about Black life and more broadly the lack of nuanced representations of identity and culture in America. Course activities and assignments will help bring into focus creators and knowledge makers who are often overlooked and mis-represented in mainstream media and higher education. Students will be asked to build on new styles of knowledge making and storytelling to generate more visibility onto media-making practices that are imaginative and exist outside of traditional standards for producing knowledge. Students in this class will be encouraged to attend events and watch shows or performances as part of course participation.
Communication, Activism, and Social Change
This course examines the communication strategies of 20th and 21st-century social movements, both U.S. and global. We analyze the communication social movements create (including rhetorical persuasion, art activism, bodily argumentation, protest music, media campaigns, public protest, and grassroots organizing), and the role of communication in the identity formation, circulation, and efficacy of social movements. We also consider the communication created by forces seeking to undermine social change, define the study of social movements from a communication perspective, identify major historical and contemporary movements, and apply theories of communication and social change to “real world” activism. Students are required to research and design their own social movement campaign.
Media Industries and Nationalism
- Fall 2022
Media institutions have long played a central role in constructing national identity, particularly in the era of nation-states. As globalization increases, media industries have also helped countries project their national identities – and nationalism – for both domestic and international audiences. With contemporary nationalist movements in the spotlight, this course examines how media institutions and cultural industries help to shape nationalism while framing in-group/out-group dynamics for audiences. This course examines case studies in mediated nationalism, paying particularly close attention to – but not limited to - countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Hungary, Israel, India, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine. Using Benedict Anderson’s idea of imagined communities as a theoretical basis, this course seeks to investigate how media industries affirm – and occasionally challenge – nationalistic sentiment, and how much of a role state intervention has played in the production of media texts. This course provides students with an understanding of the deep connection between media institutions and state-sponsored/populist nationalist movements, as well as the dynamics that shape nationalism in both wartime and peacetime eras. This course will also help students engage in constructive dialogue on the impact of nationalism domestically and internationally, while interacting with scholarship and speakers representing a wide range of viewpoints. Students will have an opportunity to learn more nuanced understandings about the ways in which nationalism and media intersect, reflecting the ideological, social, geographic diversity of what it means to be a part of community and nation.
Annenberg Media Lab 2020: It’s Not Just TV — The HBO Project
It's not TV. It's HBO. This is one of the marketing slogans Home Box Office started using in the 1990s to articulate its difference from standard network television. Using videotaped interviews already conducted with many of the executives who helped launch HBO in the 1970s, this hands-on course will provide students with a unique opportunity to engage with the methodological and theoretical implications of crafting arguments/stories in images and sound. Students should be prepared to put theory into practice by working on smaller media products linked to these archival materials. Students will study these interviews with HBO execs, watch fictional and non-fictional films/videos of various genres, discuss relevant media/social theory, and acquire training in (and exposure to) the basics of digital media-making. At the end of the course, students should have acquired a more sophisticated aesthetic and analytical approach to media analysis, to media production, and to the inescapable interconnections between the two. Registration by permission only. Preference given to Comm Majors and CAMRA undergrad fellows.