Course Description

This course will survey some and fundamental theories about mass media and culture. We will aggressively summarize, evaluate, and compare these writings and critical approaches for the purpose of questioning contemporary media as popular culture, a communications technology, a representational device, a commercial industry, a site for audience engagement, and a territory for cultural citizenship.

Time and Place

Thursday, 5:30 – 8:20 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Section: MEDST 201W–04 (34323)

Monday, 1:40 – 4:30 PM
King Hall, Room 105
Section: MEDST 201W–05 (53410)


Juan Monroy


Office Hours

G Building, Room 102-D
Mondays, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Schedule an Appointment

Also available remotely on Google Hangouts by advance appointment.

Course Materials


The following textbook is available through online retailers and on reserve at Rosenthal Library

You should also review Goals for Student Writing published by Writing at Queens College.

Reserve Readings

Required course readings not found in the textbook are available electronically from the course website under the particular class session. You will need to use your QC Google Apps account to access these materials.

Review Materials

After each class, I will post a review questions and relevant web links based on the material we covered in class. Use these materials to prepare for the midterm and final exams.


We will not be using Blackboard for this course. Instead, consult the Course Website for the syllabus and Google Classroom for submitting assignments.

New York Times

Use your Queens College email account ( to activate a free, fifty-two–week digital subscription to the New York Times.

Writing Center

Would you like free in-person assistance with writing your papers?

The Writing Center at Queens College offers in-person tutoring with your writing assignments. You can schedule recurring weekly sessions or a one-time “drop-in.” You can also stop-by the Writing Center to consult with a tutor. Students can also submit work online via the Writing Center’s e-tutoring service.

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 am–2 pm and 3–8 pm
  • Friday: 10 am–1 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am–2 pm

The Writing Center is located in Kiely Hall, Room 229 and can be reached at 718–997–5676.

G Suite for Education

This course will use G Suite for Education using your QC CAMS (often referred to as the QC Active Directory) account. Below are instructions for how to activate your QC G Suite for Education account (titled “Step 1” below) and how to join our course on Google Classroom (titled “Step 2” below). New QC students and students enrolled at another CUNY campus will have to take an additional, first step (titled “Step 0” below).

About Google accounts

You can have more than one Google account. If you use Gmail, you already have a Google Account: it is likely a personal Google account. Google offers organizations, businesses and educational institutions G Suite accounts for its users. Since you’re enrolled at Queens College, you have access to a QC G Suite for Education account.

You cannot access QC G Suite for Education using your personal Gmail or another G Suite account.

You can be logged into both accounts at the same time, but you will likely have to switch between accounts to access your QC G Suite for Education account versus your personal G Suite.

Step 0: Activate your QC Username

Students New to Queens College, Recently Transferred to QC, or Enrolled at another CUNY Campus.

You must first activate your Queens College username and email account at

The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.

Step 1: Activate Your QC G Suite for Education account

Information Technology at Queens College offers detailed instructions for activating (or claiming) your QC G Suite for Education account. The process comes down to four steps.

  1. Go to
  2. Log in with your complete Queens College username (e.g.,
  3. From the QC authentication page, sign in with your QC CAMS account. Use your QC CAMS username (e.g. jmonroy100) and your QC CAMS password. (If you’re having trouble contact the QC CAMS Help Desk at 718–997–4444.)
  4. Accept the terms of service.

You can access your QC G Suite for Education account at

Your Google G Suite for Education username is [Your QC AD username], for example,

About Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a barebones, learning management system that you will use to submit your assignments and I will use to grade your work. We will not be using Blackboard.

I will also post announcements to Google Classroom instead of emailing everyone in class. However, you should use email to contact me, instead of the private commenting system in Google Classroom because it doesn’t work properly.

Step 2: Join Google Classroom

Google has instructions for joining a course in Google Classroom. The process basically comes down to four steps:

  1. Go to Google Classroom.
  2. Sign in using your QC CAMS login.
  3. Click the “+” to “Join class.”
  4. Enter the code I provided at the first meeting (for face-to-face classes) or via email (for online classes).

I highly recommend downloading the Google Classroom mobile app for iOS or Android. If you allow push notifications, you will immediately receive important announcements from me and learn when assignments are posted.

Use the QC G Suite for Education Apps

We will be using some QC G Suite applications in this class.

  • Google Docs is a cloud-based, word-processing application. It is comparable to Microsoft Word on your personal computer except that all your documents are stored in your Google Drive. Be sure you’re using your QC G Suite account, not your personal Google account. Download the Google Docs mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Meet is a video-based, communication platform used for remote office hours. Download the Google Meet mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Forms is a survey and data collection platform that we will use for quizzes in some courses. There’s a bug in Forms that requires you to authenticate using your QC G Suite account on a web browser if you navigate to the quiz from the Google Classroom apps. To avoid this bug, I recommend taking the quizzes on a desktop computer.
  • Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage platform. Your QC Google Drive offers unlimited storage, compared to 15 GB with your personal Google Drive. Download the Google Drive mobile apps for iOS or Android.


A majority of access issues can be resolved switching to your Queens College Google account. This article describes how to switch between Google accounts.

Another resolution that always works is to log out of all your Google accounts in your web browser and then logging back into your QC G Suite account at


Attendance and Participation

Please be present in each class.

Each class session will form the basis of the material I expect you to know for the exams. We will cover the historical, technological, and economic context relevant to each electronic media technology. Although I will review questions each week, they serve as poor substitutes for attending and participating in each week’s class.


Please read the assigned course material prior to each week’s class. Consult the Course Schedule (below) for the required reading assignments.


All assignments must be completed on time in order to receive full credit. Late assignments will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After seven calendar days, the assignment will not be accepted and you will likely fail this class.


Exams comprise forty percent of your course grade and are designed to reward regular attendance and diligent studying. Exams will be administered in class and must be taken at the specified date and time.



For in-person classes, regular attendance is required. Attend twelve or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than four classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

For hybrid course, regular attendance is required. Attend seven or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than three classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

This policy does not apply to online courses.

Verification of Attendance

You must be present or participating in class during the verification of attendance period. Otherwise, I will report you as not attending and you will be dropped from the class.

The verification period is as follows:

  • fall and spring semesters: the first three weeks of classes
  • summer and winter semesters: the first four days of classes

Academically-related activities include, but are not limited to:

  • physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
  • submitting an academic assignment;
  • taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
  • attending a study group that is assigned by the school;
  • participating in an online discussion about academic matter;
  • engaging in an online academically-related activity, or initiating contact with the instructor to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course or ask a course-related question.

Note: Logging into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate participation in an academically-related activity by the student.


Digital devices are prohibited in class. Unfortunately, students in the past have failed to use computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. in a professional, responsible, or productive manner, and, as such, you are not allowed to use these devices in class after the first class session.

You’re welcome to print out the slides ahead of time—they are available on this website—and to take notes on paper. I recommend buying a spiral notebook, some nice pencils, and a portable pencil sharpener to do this.

Further, if I find you engaging in any other disruptive behavior, such as passing notes, instant messaging, chatting, photographing, or texting, I will remove you from the classroom and have you withdraw from the class.

Late Work

Please submit your work on time. Late quizzes and take-home final exams will not be accepted. In-class exams must be taken at the date and time listed below unless other we make other arrangements. All other work will be penalized as follows.

Fall and Spring Courses
After a 24-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After one calendar week, the assignment will not be accepted, and you will likely fail this class.
Summer and Winter Courses
After a one-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction up to 24 hours after the deadline. Late work will not be accepted after 24 hours.
All courses
No work will be accepted after 11:59 PM on the day of the final exam.

“Incomplete” Grades

There are no incomplete grades for this class except in the case of a documented emergency in the final weeks of the semester. If you experience such an emergency, please contact me immediately, and we will work out a schedule for you to complete the outstanding work before the beginning of the following semester.

But aside from these circumstances, no late work will be accepted and no “incomplete” grades will be granted. If you have difficulty keeping up with coursework, consider giving yourself extra time to complete assignments, reducing your overall course load, and/or taking this class at a later semester.

No Extra Credit Assignments

There are no opportunities for extra credit. As a matter of fairness, your grade will be based on the work assigned to all students.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion. Examples of Academic Dishonesty include cheating, plagiarism, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents.

Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. Obtaining Unfair Advantage is any action taken by a student that gives that student an unfair advantage in his/her academic work over another student, or an action taken by a student through which a student attempts to gain an unfair advantage in his or her academic work over another student.

For tips and information on how to maintain academic integrity, consult Writing at Queens document, “What is Plagiarism?”.

Computers, Tablets, and Mobile Phones

Please refrain from using your digital devices during class. Also remember to silence your mobile phone, or turn it off to save your battery.

It is particularly rude to use your devices in class because it distracts not only me but also the students around you. And others can see what you’re doing.

Students must surrender mobile phones, tablets, and computers on exam days.

QC Email

Do not use the commenting system in Google Classroom to communicate with me.

Always use your QC email account ( This is the only way I can communicate with you, other than face-to-face meetings or via video conferencing.

Students with Disabilities

Queens College has a history of commitment to the enhancement of education of students with disabilities. The Office of Special Services for Students with Disabilities was established in 1974 to provide equal opportunities for a college education to academically qualified students with physical disabilities. The office offers comprehensive support services to students with various disabilities. Queens College prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and it ensures full access and equal opportunity to qualified students with disabilities to all academic programs and social activities on campus.

To receive these services, a student must first register with the office in Kiely 171. To do so, you must bring proper documentation pertaining to the nature of your disability from a qualified professional. To learn more about CUNY Assistive Technology Services and the office located at Queens College, call (718) 997–3775 or visit Kiely Hall 173. For more information, visit The Office of Special Services.

Help with Writing

One of the most important skills you will learn throughout your education is writing. If you cannot write, you will not succeed at communicating your ideas and will endanger your professional development.

The Writing Center at Queens College offers free assistance to students with writing. Please visit the center at least once for each writing assignment you have for your classes this semester. You can schedule a one-hour session or drop in to consult an on-duty tutor.


What is Popular Culture?

In their influential essay, “The Culture Industry,” Adorno and Horkheimer criticize newly emergent mass culture of the late–nineteenth and early-twentieth century as an industrial product that deceives its audiences.

Discuss how the author of the one of the following essays may disagree with this argument by characterizing mass culture as popular culture.

  1. Walter Benjamin, “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
  2. Tania Modleski, “Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women”
  3. George Lipsitz, “Popular Culture: This Ain’t no Sideshow”
  4. Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production”
  5. Susan Douglas, “The Turn Within: The Irony of Technology in a Globalized World”

Assignment Guidelines

Media and Culture Industries

Writing in the 1980s, Herbert Schiller observes the increasing control of culture by a decreasing number of corporations that prioritize profit over the artistic or cultural value of a work. Does this argument update and reinforce the “mass culture” argument made by Adorno and Horkheimer nearly fifty years earlier?

Discuss how the author of the one of the following essays extends Schiller’s argument about media and culture industries at the turn of the twenty-first century?

  1. Michael Curtin, “On Edge: Culture Industries in the Neo-Network Era.”
  2. Tom McCourt and Patrick Burkart, “When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of Online Music Distribution.”
  3. Tizania Terranova, “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy.”
  4. Mark Andrejevic, “The Work of Being Watched: Interactive Media and the Exploitation of Self-Disclosure.”
  5. Lawrence Grossberg, “The Affective Sensibility of Fandom.”

Assignment Guidelines


Midterm Exam

The in-class midterm exam consists of questions related to the assigned readings and the attendant discussions from the first half of the course. Use the review questions posted on this course website to help you prepare for the exam.

  • Week 7, in class
    • Thursday section : October 13
    • Monday section : October 24
  • Weight: 20%

Final Exam

The take-home final exam, to be completed on Google Classroom, consists of questions related to the assigned readings and the attendant discussions from the second half of the course. Use the review questions posted on this course website to help you prepare for the exam.

  • Finals Week
  • No late exams will be accepted.
  • Weight: 30%

Course Schedule

Note on the readings: All of the following readings are in the textbook, but I'm providing links to these readings, as PDFs, for your convenience. However, the versions in the textbook are the canonical versions of our course readings.

Week 1 • Welcome

  • Thu — August 25
  • Mon — August 29
To-Do Today

Week 2 • Mass Culture, Popular Culture

  • Thu — September 1
  • Mon — September 12

Week 3 • Technology and Popular Culture

  • Thu — September 8. Class is cancelled tonight. Complete this assignment about the readings covered in the first weeks of class.
  • Mon — September 19

Watch Episode 1 on John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1972) for an illustration of the concepts discussed by Walter Benjamin.


Week 4 • Popular Culture and Political Power

  • Thu — September 15
  • Mon — September 26

Week 5 • Representation and Power

  • Thu — September 22
  • Mon — October 6


The draft version of the What is Popular Culture? is due today on Google Classroom.


Week 6 • Media Representation and Social Reality

  • Thu — September 29
  • Mon — October 17

Watch Episode 3 on John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1972) for an illustration of the concepts discussed by Berger in this chapter.


Week 7 • Midterm Exam

  • Thu — October 13
  • Mon — October 24

We will take the midterm exam in class today.

Week 8 • Media, Industry, and Economy

  • Thu — October 20
  • Mon — October 31

The final version of What is Popular Culture? is due today on Google Classroom.


Week 9 • Digital Media, Industry, and Economy

  • Thu — October 27
  • Mon — November 7
Recommended Screening
  • Watch Downloaded (Alex Winter, 2013) for a primer on Napster and how the music industry collided with emerging digital technologies.

Week 10 • Media Audiences

  • Thu — November 3
  • Mon — November 14

The draft version of Media and Culture Industries is due today on Google Classroom.


Week 11 • Consumers and Producers

  • Thu — November 10
  • Mon — November 21



Week 12 • Media and Citizenship

  • Thu — November 17
  • Mon — November 28

Week 13 • Cultural Citizenship

  • Thu — December 1
  • Mon — December 5

The final version of Media and Culture Industries is due today on Google Classroom.


Week 14 • Citizenship and the Politic

  • Thu — December 8
  • Mon — December 12

Finals Week • Final Exam

  • Thu — December 15, 11:59 PM
  • Mon — December 19, 11:59 PM

The final exam will be due today on Google Classroom. No late exams will be accepted.