This course will survey some fundamental theories about mass media and culture. We will methodically summarize, evaluate, and compare these writings and critical approaches. The writings we will cover criticize media as popular culture, a commercial industry, and a territory for cultural citizenship.
This Media Criticism course is best regarded as a criticism of media criticism, or media criticism criticism, if you will. This in-person course will require you to read one or two essays per week before class that criticizes some aspect of mass media and culture. At each class session, we will cover the historical and scholarly context in which the essays were written and extract some key terms and concepts. In subsequent classes, we will revisit some of the essays compare them the other essays we have already read. By the end of the course, you will be familiar with the literature of media studies and will be able to understand any other essays you encounter in media studies and several other fields. Your success in this course depends less on memorizing class material and more on developing the ability to be a critical media scholar through intensive reading and argumentative writing.
Mondays, 1:40 – 4:30 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Section: MEDST 201W–03 (8608)
Mondays, 6:30 – 9:20 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Section: MEDST 201W–04 (8638)
G Building, Room 102-D
Mondays, 5:00 – 6:00 PM
Also available remotely on Google Hangouts by advance appointment.
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 G Suite account to access these materials.
For 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.
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.
The Writing Center is located in Kiely Hall, Room 229 and can be reached at 718–997–5676.
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).
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.
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 https://cams.qc.cuny.edu.
The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.
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.
You can access your QC G Suite for Education account at https://google.com/a/qc.cuny.edu.
Your Google G Suite for Education username is [Your QC AD username]@qc.cuny.edu, for example, email@example.com.
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.
Google has instructions for joining a course in Google Classroom. The process basically comes down to four steps:
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.
We will be using some QC G Suite applications in this class.
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 https://google.com/a/qc.cuny.edu.
Please be present in each class.
In each class, we will be reviewing the readings, which can be challenging to understand without some collective guidance, and we will be working on drafting your writing assignments. Additionally, we will critiquing and commenting on each other’s works in class, requiring attendance at each 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.
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:
Academically-related activities include, but are not limited to:
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 in-person classes. 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.
Please submit your work on time. Late quizzes and take-home final exams will not be accepted. In some cases, assignments due at the end of the term 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:
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.
There are no opportunities for extra credit. As a matter of fairness, your grade will be based on the work assigned to all students.
Do not use the commenting system in Google Classroom to communicate with me.
Always use your QC email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) to email me, and also direct all emails to my email@example.com account. This is the only way I can communicate with you, other than face-to-face meetings or via video conferencing.
The CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, as adopted by the Board, is available to all students. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.
All programs in New York State undergo periodic reviews by accreditation agencies. For these purposes, samples of student work are occasionally made available to those professionals conducting the review. Anonymity is assured under these circumstances. If you do not wish to have your work made available for these purposes, please let the professor know before the start of the second class. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
During the final four weeks of the semester, you will be asked to complete an evaluation for this course by filling out an online questionnaire. Please remember to participate in these course evaluations. Your comments are highly valued, and these evaluations are an important service to fellow students and to the institution, since your responses will be pooled with those of other students and made available online, in the Queens College Course Information System. Please also note that all responses are completely anonymous; no identifying information is retained once the evaluation has been submitted.
Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should register with and provide documentation to the Office of Special Services, Frese Hall, room 111. The Office of Special Services will provide a letter for you to bring to your instructor indicating the need for accommodation and the nature of it. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens College students, contact the Office of Special Services (718–997–5870) or visit their website http://sl.qc.cuny.edu/oss/.
The Queens College Helpdesk, (718) 997–4444, firstname.lastname@example.org) is located in the I-Building, Room 151 and provides technical support for students who need help with Queens College email, CUNY portal, Blackboard, and CUNYfirst.
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.
Starting week three, all students are to present one of the readings assigned this semester.
Do not summarize the entire essay. Instead, your presentation should follow these guidelines:
Bring a written copy of your presentation:
You may use a presentation slideshow as long as it contains no text and you supply your own device that connects to a VGA projector. Your presentation should last about twenty minutes. Be prepared to answer questions from students.
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 agree or disagree with this argument by characterizing mass culture as popular culture, that is culture that is meaningful for the people that use it and engage with it.
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?
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, including surveying the format of the exam.
This is an open-book exam: you may use your copy of The Media Studies Reader for the exam, but no other material is permitted.
The in-class final exam 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, including surveying the format of the exam.
This is an open-book exam: you may use your copy of The Media Studies Reader for the exam and a printout of the Sasha Torres essay, but no other material is permitted.
We will take the midterm exam in class today.
We will take the final exam in class today.