Updated for the Age of the Virus: This syllabus has been updated to reflect the switch to remote instruction. Please read this in full.

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 commercial industry, and a territory for cultural citizenship.

Remote Course

This course will be conducted remotely.

Most learning activities will be asynchronous, meaning that students will complete these on their own time during the assigned week.

In addition, there will be a certain number of synchronous activities, including a weekly discussion session on Google Meet. Office hours, including the required consultations about the essays, will also be synchronously held on Google Meet.

Goals

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.

Writing Intensive Course at Queens College

This course is a Writing Intensive (W) course and fulfills one Writing Intensive requirement. W classes include a significant portion of time devoted to writing instruction. This may include things such as revision workshops, discussions of rhetorical strategies, or reflective writing about writing assignments.

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

Instructor

Juan Monroy

Office Hours:

Office Hours will be held remotely on Google Meet.

Log into a Google account, preferably not your QC Google Account, and sign up for an appointment at https://juanmonroy.com/qcofficehours

Appointments are available at the following times:

  • Wednesday: 4:45 PM - 5:45 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Writing Center

Note: In the Age of the Virus, there might not be in-person hours. Check with the Writing Center for options.

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: 10:00 AM–6:30 PM

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

Assignments

Readings

Assigned readings are listed in the course schedule below and available from the following sources:

  1. Ouellette, Laurie, ed. The Media Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2013.
  2. Sasha Torres, “Television and Race,” in Janet Wasko, ed. A Companion to Television, Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2005.
    • Authenticate using your QC Google account to access
    • EPUB
    • PDF

Readings assigned in The Age of the Virus are also available from their original sources: - Linked below in the course schedule. Use your QC Library card barcode number to authenticate. - Available on Google Classroom on a rolling basis.

Live Discussion Section

All students must participate in the weekly discussion session. The session will be held each Tuesday, at 7:00 PM, beginning on April 14.

The session will be hosted on [Google Meet][classlymeet]. Sign in using your QC Google account.

I recommend running Google Meet on a computer through a web browser or through the mobile apps, available for Android and iOS. As a last resort, you can join the session using a telephone number and a PIN.

Student Presentations

These guidelines apply to all students:

  • All students must submit on Google Classroom a written report. * If you scheduled to present after March 24, you must also upload the video of the narrated slideshow to Google Classroom.
  • If you presented in a group, each student in the group must submit an “Student Presentation” assignment in Google Classroom.
  • We will randomly draw essays in class on Tuesday, February 4. Don’t miss this class
    • the first student(s) to present on February 11 will receive two extra-credit points to their final grade
  • Refer to this Schedule of Presentations
  • Weight: 10%

Presentations after March 24

These guidelines apply to students scheduled to present after March 24:

All presentations have been delayed. See the presentation schedule for your scheduled date to present.

Your presentation consists of two parts:

  1. A written report of the following
  2. A narrated slideshow that is uploaded to YouTube (unlisted but not private) and shared on Google Classroom

Both assignments are due by 6:00 PM on the day before your scheduled presentation.

Written Report

Do not summarize the entire essay. Instead, your report should follow these guidelines:

  • Identify the author and explain his/her biography.
  • 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.

Your presentation should include the following:

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

Submit your written report to the “Student Presentation” assignment in Google Classroom as a Google Doc. - Go to Google Classroom - Find the assignment called “Student Presentation” - Open the attached Google Doc called “MEDST201W Student Presentation, Written Report” - Enter your written report in that document.

Narrated Slideshow
  1. Prepare a slide deck in Powerpoint or Keynote that presents the main points of your written report.
  2. Powerpoint and Keynote allow you to record a narrated slideshow.
  3. Export your recorded slideshow as a MP4 video.
  4. Upload that video to YouTube.
    • Make it Unlisted, but don’t make it Private.
    • Wait for the video to finish processing
  5. Copy the YouTube link for your video.
  6. Add the link to your video to the “Student Presentation” assignment in Google Classroom.
    • In Google Classroom, go to the “Student Presentation” assignment.
    • Select “+ Add/Create” and select Link.
    • Paste the copied link to the YouTube video you uploaded.
    • Select “Turn In” to finish.

Essay 1: 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. Walter Benjamin, “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
  2. Tania Modleski, “Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women”
  3. Lev Manovich, “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production”
  4. John Berger, “Ways of Seeing”
  5. Lynn Spigel, “The Domestic Economy of Postwar Television”
  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
  • Yes, this is a comparative essay
  • Your draft and final essay must be in the Google Doc attached to the respective Google Classroom assignments
  • Draft due Friday, March 6:
    • 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.
    • a provisional outline—a list of topic sentences—of how you plan to support your thesis.
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Schedule an appointment between March 9–27 to get your final thesis statement approved.
  • Your final essay will not be accepted without an approved draft.
  • Final due April 3:
  • Weight: 20%

Essay 2: 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
  • Yes, this is a comparative essay
  • Your draft and final essay must be in the Google Doc attached to the respective Google Classroom assignments
  • Draft due April 24:
    • 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.
    • a provisional outline—a list of topic sentences—of how you plan to support your thesis.
    • submit on Google Classroom
  • Schedule an appointment between April 27–May 8 to get your final thesis statement approved.
  • Your final essay will not be accepted without an approved draft and thesis statement.
  • Final due May 15:
    • submit on Google Classroom
    • Due to the accelerated grading deadline, no late assignments will be accepted
  • Weight: 25%

Midterm Exam

The take-home midterm exam consists of questions related to the assigned readings and the attendant discussions from the first half of the course.

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, necessary or even very helpful.

Final Exam

The take-home final exam consists of questions related to the assigned readings and the attendant discussions from the second half of the course.

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, necessary or even very helpful..

  • Due May 22, 5:00 PM, on Google Classroom
  • Weight: 25%

Course Schedule, Pre-Virus

January 28 • Getting Started

Assignments
  1. Buy the textbook: The Media Studies Reader
  2. Activate your QC G Suite account.
    • Students New to Queens College, Recently Transferred to QC, or Enrolled in another CUNY Campus: You must activate your email and Active Directory accounts before you can activate your G Suite for Education account. The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.
  3. Join our course on Google Classroom
    1. Go to Google Classroom
    2. Click on the “+” to join the course
    3. Enter the code provided in class.
  4. Review Goals for Student Writing published by Writing at Queens College.
  5. Complete the Welcome Survey on Google Classroom.

February 4 • Mass Culture and the Culture Industry

Reading

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

February 11 • Popular Culture: Mechanical Reproduction

Reading

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

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

February 18 • 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.”

Feburary 25 • 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)

March 3 • Media Representation and Social Reality

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

March 10 • Media, Industry, and Political Economy

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

March 17 • Class Suspended

Classes are suspended to allow the transition to remote instruction, beginning March 19.

Course Schedule, Post-Virus

Please complete all of the assignments before the date noted on this schedule.

March 24 • Midterm Exam

The midterm exam, available on Google Classroom, is due today—or on Monday, March 30, if you want more time.

Course Schedule, Post-Virus

April 14 • Media and Niche Marketing

Links to these materials are available on Google Classroom.

  • Read Michael Curtin, “On Edge: Culture Industries in the Neo-Network Era.”
  • Read Hector Amaya, “Citizenship, Diversity, Law and Ugly Betty.” Use your QC Library barcode to access it.
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Tuesday, April 14, at 7:00 PM, on Google Meet. Use your QC Google account to join the meeting.
Presentations
  • Alex Arancibia on Curtin
  • Raphael Reyes on Curtin
  • Christopher Theodosopoulos on Amaya

April 21 • Media, Technology and Control over the Consumer

Presentation
  • Michael Fiore on McCourt and Burkart

April 28 • Media Audiences and Fan Culture

Assignments
  • Read Lawrence Grossberg, “The Affective Sensibility of Fandom,” 50–65.
  • Read Mizuko Ito, “Japanese Media Mixes and Amateur Cultural Exchange.”
  • Watch Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Fans of My Little Pony (Laurent Malaquais, 2013).
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Tuesday, April 28, at 7:00 PM, on Google Meet. Use your QC Google account to join the meeting.
Presentations
  • Bryan Armetta on Lawrence Grossberg
  • Carlos Guzman on Mizuko Ito

May 5 • Media, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere

Reading
  • Read Peter Dahlgren, “Mediating Democracy” 1–23.
  • Read Stuart Cunningham, “Popular Media as Public ‘Sphericules’ for Diasporic Communities.”
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Tuesday, May 5, at 7:00 PM, on Google Meet. Use your QC Google account to join the meeting.
Presentation
  • Michael John Faria on Cunningham

May 12 • Media and Cultural Citizenship

Assignments
  • Read Lauren Berlant, “The Theory of Infantile Citizenship.”
  • Watch The Simpsons, “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington,” September 26, 1991.
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Tuesday, May 12, at 7:00 PM, on Google Meet. Use your QC Google account to join the meeting.
Presentation
  • Eriano Cham on Lauren Berlant

May 19 • Governmentality and Citizenship

Assignments

May 22 • Final Exam

The final exam, available on Google Classroom, is due today, 11:59 PM.