This is a draft version of the syllabus and is subject to change.

Course Description

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 communications technology, a representational device, a commercial industry, a site for audience engagement, and a territory for cultural citizenship.

Time and Place

Monday, 1:40 – 4:30 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Section: MEDST 201W–03 (8608)

Monday, 6:30 – 9:20 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Section: MEDST 201W–04 (8638)

Instructor

Juan Monroy

Connect

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

Textbooks

The following textbook is available through Amazon, Textbookx, 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 G Suite account to access these materials.

Review 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.

Blackboard

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

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 AD (Active Directory) account. Below are instructions for how to activate your QC G Suite for Education account and how to join Google Classroom.

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, such as businesses and educational institutions, to establish 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.

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 https://accounts.google.com..
  2. Enter your complete Queens College username (e.g., jmonroy100@qc.cuny.edu). Leave the password field blank.
  3. From the QC authentication page, sign in with your QC AD account. Use your QC AD username (e.g. jmonroy100) and your QC AD password. (If you’re having trouble contact the QC AD Help Desk at 718–997–4444.)
  4. Accept the terms of service.

Access your QC G Suite for Education account at https://google.com/a/qc.cuny.edu.

Note: Your Google G Suite for Education username is [Your QC AD username]@qc.cuny.edu, for example, jmonroy100@qc.cuny.edu.

Join 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.

To add the class:

  1. Go to Google Classroom.
  2. Sign in using your QC AD login.
  3. Near the top-left of the browser, 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).

Download the Google Classroom mobile app for iOS or Android.

Use the QC G Suite Apps

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

  • 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.
  • 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 Hangouts is a video-based, communication platform used for remote office hours. Download the Google Hangouts mobile apps for iOS or Android.

Requirements

Attendance and Participation

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.

Readings

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

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

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.

Policies

Attendance

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

Professionalism

Please respect the classroom environment. You should pay attention to the lecture, take notes, and avoid digital distractions. Studies have consistently shown that students using laptops and mobile phones perform about 11% worse than students who are not distracted by these devices.

On a personal note, it’s very difficult to stay motivated as a teacher if I see students seemingly disinterested in their own education. Seriously, I’m this close to banning all digital devices in class.

If I find you engaging in disruptive behavior, such as watching online videos, passing notes, instant messaging, chatting, photographing, or texting, I will remove you from the classroom and have you withdraw from the class.

Late Work and “Incomplete” Grades

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.

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 Dishonesty

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 (student@qmail.cuny.edu). 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.

Assignments

In-Class Presentations

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:

  • Briefly summarize the central argument of the essay.
  • Identify and recount an example or case study that the author uses to illustrate his/her argument.
  • Explain how the example or case study illustrates that central argument.
  • Introduce your own example to illustrate the central argument of the essay.
  • Compare the essay to one essay we’ve already covered in this class.

Bring a written copy of your presentation:

  • a paragraph for each of the list items outlined above
  • a paragraph-by-paragraph outline of the essay you were assigned

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.

  • Sign up by Friday, February 9 on Google Forms
    • the first students to present on February 20 will receive three extra-credit points to their final grade
  • Schedule of Presentations available February 13
  • Weight: 15%

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 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.

  1. Tania Modleski, “Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women”
  2. Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production”
  3. Walter Benjamin, “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
  4. Lynn Spigel, “The Domestic Economy of Postwar Television”
  5. John Berger, “Ways of Seeing”
  6. Susan Douglas, “The Turn Within: The Irony of Technology in a Globalized World”
Assignment Guidelines
  • Consult my Guidelines on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Citing Sources
  • Draft due March 16
    • a one-paragraph summary Adorno and Horkheimer’s central argument about the culture industry and mass culture, including a relevant quote or two.
    • a one-paragraph summary of the argument made in the essay you selected, including determining whether the essay characterizes media as mass culture or as popular culture.
    • a provisional thesis statement that connects the essay you selected with Adorno and Horkheimer’s central argument.
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Schedule an appointment between March 19–30 to get your final thesis statement approved.
  • Your final essay will not be accepted without an approved draft.
  • Final due April 13:
    • about 1,000 words in length
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Weight: 20%

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. Hector Amaya, “Citizenship, Diversity, Law and Ugly Betty.”
  3. Tom McCourt and Patrick Burkart, “When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of Online Music Distribution.”
  4. Mark Andrejevic, “The Work of Being Watched: Interactive Media and the Exploitation of Self-Disclosure.”
  5. Lawrence Grossberg, “The Affective Sensibility of Fandom.”
  6. Mizuko Ito, “Japanese Media Mixes and Amateur Cultural Exchange.”
Assignment Guidelines
  • Guidelines on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Citing Sources
  • Draft due April 27:
    • a one-paragraph summary of how Herbert Schiller updates and/or reinforces the argument made by Adorno and Horkheimer nearly four decades earlier, including a relevant quote or two.
    • a one-paragraph summary of how the essay you selected agrees or disagrees with Schiller’s argument about media and culture industries, including a relevant quote or two.
    • a provisional thesis statement that connects the essay you selected with Schiller’s central argument.
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Schedule an appointment between April 30–May 4 to get your final thesis statement approved.
  • Your final essay will not be accepted without an approved draft and thesis statement.
  • Final due May 18:
    • about 1250 words in length
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Weight: 20%

Exams

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.

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.

  • March 26, in class
  • Weight: 20%

Final Exam

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.

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.

  • Date TBD
  • Weight: 25%

Course Schedule

January 29 • Welcome

Assignments
  1. Buy the textbooks:
  2. Activate your QC G Suite account.
  3. Join our course on Google Classroom
    1. Go to Google Classroom
    2. Click on the “+” to join the course
    3. Enter the code: ‘avrf2l’
  4. Download the Google Classroom app for your mobile device and sign in using your QC G Suite account.
  5. Review Goals for Student Writing published by Writing at Queens College.
  6. Complete the Welcome Survey

February 5 • Mass Culture and the Culture Industry

Reading

As you await the arrival of your textbooks, I am providing the reading as an EPUB file. Use your QC G Suite login for access.

  • Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, in Dialectic of Enlightenment.”
Review

February 20 • Popular Culture: Mechanical Reproduction

Reading

As you await the arrival of your textbooks, I am providing the readings as an EPUB file. Use your QC G Suite login for access.

In-Class Screening
  • John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Episode 1 (1972)
Review

February 26 • Popular Culture: Consumers and Producers

Readings
  • Tania Modleski, “Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women.”
  • Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production.”
Review

March 5 • Media, Gender, Power

Readings
  • John Berger, “Ways of Seeing.”
  • Lynn Spigel, “The Domestic Economy of Television Viewing in Postwar America.”
In-Class Screening
  • John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Episode 3 (1972)
Review

March 12 • Media Representation and Social Reality

Reading
  • Susan Douglas, “The Turn Within: The Irony of Technology in a Globalized World”
Review

March 19 • Media, Industry, and Political Economy

Reading
  • Herbert Schiller, “The Corporation and the Production of Culture.”
Review

March 26 • Midterm Exam

We will take the midterm exam in class today.

April 9 • Media and Niche Marketing

Readings
  • Michael Curtin, “On Edge: Culture Industries in the Neo-Network Era.”
  • Hector Amaya, “Citizenship, Diversity, Law and Ugly Betty.”
Review

April 16 • Media, Technology and Control over the Consumer

Readings
  • Mark Andrejevic, “The Work of Being Watched: Interactive Media and the Exploitation of Self-Disclosure.”
  • Tom McCourt and Patrick Burkart, "When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of Online Music Distribution.”
In-Class Screening
  • Downloaded (Alex Winter, 2013)
Review

April 23 • Media Audiences and Fan Culture

Readings
  • Lawrence Grossberg, “The Affective Sensibility of Fandom.”
  • Mizuko Ito, “Japanese Media Mixes and Amateur Cultural Exchange.”
In-Class Screening
  • Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Fans of My Little Pony (Laurent Malaquais, 2013)
Review

April 30 • Media, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere

Reading
  • Stuart Cunningham, “Popular Media as Public ‘Sphericules’ for Diasporic Communities.”
Review

May 7 • Media and Cultural Citizenship

Reading
  • Lauren Berlant, “The Theory of Infantile Citizenship.”
In-Class Screening
  • The Simpsons, “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington,” September 26, 1991.
Review

May 14 • Media and the Ideal Citizen

Readings
  • Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, “Makeover Television, Governmentality and the Good Citizen.”
  • Sasha Torres, “Television and Race,” in Janet Wasko, ed. A Companion to Television, Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005.
In-Class Screening
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, “The Harris Family,” April 11, 2004.
Review

Date TBD • Final Exam

We will take the final exam in class today.