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Fall 2008

Dr. Gerald Lucas

HUMN 3460.01
Tues 5:30-7:50p

HUMN 3460
Media Criticism
Dr. Gerald Lucas
the forms media texts take, and
Introduction Materials
the way these structures in turn
This course is designed as the first The following books are required
influence viewers/listeners. The
part of a sequence with HUMN for the class; be sure to bring them
course will also explore what me-
4460 Senior Seminar in New to class everyday reading is as-
dia is and why various media
Media and will provide a founda- signed from them (no excuses):
forms have developed in certain
tion for further study by equip- ways through history and across ‣ Gill Branston and Roy Stafford
ping students with the skills re- nations. (eds.). The Media Student’s Book,
quired to interpret and analyze By the end of the term stu- Fourth Edition. 2006.
various media forms, especially dents should be able to demon- ‣ Paul Marris and Sue Thorn-
photographic, cinematic, and ham (eds). Media Studies: A
strate a working knowledge of the
televisual texts. Reader, Second Edition. 1999.
terms and concepts underlying
Students will examine film And I recommend the following
contemporary media studies, the
and television as visual media, to compliment your study of me-
economic, social, and political
cultural forces, and economic dia:
impact of the media industries,
institutions. Primary attention will ‣ Raymond Williams. Keywords,
and the implications of the ongo-
be paid to how the fundamental ing advances of computers and Revised Edition. 1983.
elements of media combine to information technologies.
create meaning and tell stories, Continued on page 3


There are three major requirements for Media chance to respond to others’ ideas. Your writing in
Criticism, each of which must be successfully com- the forum should total at least 350 words per week
pleted to pass the course. Assignments are weighed and directly address the weeks’ subject matter.
on a point system, depending on their importance. WEB SITE
For example, a reading quiz might have 10 points
Three times (see Schedule) during the semester, you
while the final exam might have 200.
will have to contribute the class web site. For this,
Final Exam you will pick your best forum and/or daily work,
A final cumulative exam will be given that will test revise it, and submit it in a more formal way (includ-
your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture ing citations) to a class web site.
material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize
this material, and your creativity in going beyond the “The media's the most powerful entity
discussion and lecture materials. The final exam will
on earth. They have the power to make
include vocabulary, identification, and interpreta-
tion. All exam grades will be based upon objective the innocent guilty and to make the
knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of guilty innocent, and that's power. Be-
insight, precision, and originality. cause they control the minds of the
Malcolm X
To get you thinking more critically about the major
issues covered, you are required to respond to class
readings in writing both formally and informally. All Daily Work
writing should be thoughtful, refer to specific por- Regular class attendance, question posing, and active
tions of the text, use the critical vocabulary, and cite participation in classroom discussions are required.
correctly using MLA citation method. Participation, effort, and attitude will count signifi-
FORUM cantly in this course. Quizzes, other class activities,
Informal forum responses will be written online on and homework assignments and ad hoc projects not
LitMUSE, so the entire class can benefit from read- explicitly outlined above will be considered daily
ing your thoughts. The forum will also give you a work.

“All media exist to

invest our lives with
artificial perceptions
and arbitrary values”

Marshall McLuhan

“Cinema, radio, television,
You will be accountable for knowing and
practicing each of these policies. Consider magazines are a school of
them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t inattention: people look
know” will carry no weight. without seeing, listen in
Assignments without hearing.”
Your work represents you. Therefore, I Robert Bresson
expect everything you turn into me to
exemplify the very best of your profes-
sional self. Please proofread all writing
before submission.
Attendance will be taken at every class
meeting. If you come in late, it is your
responsibility to inform me of your pres-
ence that day. If you fail to do so, you
are absent. Two tardies count as one
absence. There are no “excused ab-
sences” in my class, but you are allowed
to miss one class before your grade suf-
fers. Each additional class missed beyond
the allotted one will result in your final
semester’s grade being dropped one let- Letter grades are based upon a tradi- more information on avoiding plagia-
ter. tional ten-point scale. If you would like to rism.
Deadlines know your official grade, you should see Special Needs
me during my office hours or make an
Late work is not acceptable and will re- Any student who has special needs the
ceive a zero. Technical, computer mal- Counseling and Career Center and fill
functions are not acceptable excuses for Plagiarism out the appropriate paperwork.
late work. Quizzes and in-class activities Any time you use ideas that are not your Technology
cannot be made up for any reason. own — be they paraphrased or copied
Computer competency is an integral
Email verbatim — in anything that you write,
skill in any discipline. Students should be
you must supply a citation in MLA for-
The best and quickest way of contacting familiar with the general uses of a com-
mat. Willful plagiarism will result in
me is via email. Only use the email ad-
automatic failure of this class and will be puter and should be willing to put forth
dress that I provided on this document
submitted to the Dean for further poten- the effort to learn what they need to in
for class business: <>. order to succeed in the course.
tial consequences. See
Grades <> for

Materials Electronics
(cont. from page 1) Materials, like cell phones, food, maga-
zines, iPods, etc., should be left in your
LitMUSE car. If you answer a cell phone in my
You are required to have an account on class, I will expect you to leave. In addi-
LitMUSE, the server that will support all tion, I do not allow class discussions to be
of your work in this class. As a part of taped, so do not bring any voice record-
this requirement, you should have access ing devices to class. You may use laptops
to a computer with Internet capability unless I ask you not to bring them.
and a current web browser, like Firefox.
Rated PG-13
Pen and Paper Finally, since class lecture and discussion
“The problem with communication ... is the You should also bring an ink interface of will often touch on the controversial, this
illusion that it has been accomplished.” some sort, as well as dead trees on which college classroom is not an appropriate
George Bernard Shaw to take notes. You should not sit in class place for children.
like you’re watching TV: take notes.

“In describing today's accelerating changes,
the media fire blips of unrelated information
at us. Experts bury us under mountains of
narrowly specialized monographs. Popular
forecasters present lists of unrelated trends,
without any model to show us their inter-
connections or the forces likely to reverse
them. As a result, change itself comes to be
seen as anarchic, even lunatic.”
Alvin Toffler

This schedule reflects only an overview of readings and assignments, but does not always indicate other specific class session assign-
ments or activities. See LitMUSE. Last revised: August 14, 2008 6:15 AM.

Week 1 (8/19): Intro & Overview Week 9 (10/14): Music Industry Exam
Chpt. 7 Industries (MSB 257-267); Chpt. 13 Tuesday, 12/9, 6-8:50pm
Week 2 (8/26): Key Concepts Distribution (MSB 416-436); “Courtney Love
Chpt. 1 Interpreting Media (MSB 9-40); Fiske Does the Math”; Film: Money for Nothing Notes
“The Codes of Television” (MS 220-230)
Week 10 (10/21): Advertising
Week 3 (9/2): Narrative as Structure Advertising (MSB 296-328 & MS 699-
Chpt. 2 Narratives (MSB 41-73); Ellis “Broad-
703); Nava and Nava “Discrimination or
cast TV Narration” (MS 238-244); Williams
Duped?” (MS 766-774); Malcolm Glad-
“Programming as Sequence or Flow” (MS
231-237) well, “The Coolhunt”: Film: Merchants of
Week 4 (9/9): Genres & Other Conventions
Chpt. 3 Genres and Other Classifications Week 11 (10/28): TV News
(MSB 74-102); Richard Dyer “The Roles of Section 6 “News” (MS 627-696) Intro and all
Stereotypes” (MS 245-251) essays in section; Chpt. 6 Ideologies and
Power: Case Study: News (MSB 194-206);
Week 5 (9/16): Representation & Race WEB SITE SUBMISSION 2 DUE
Chpt. 5 Questions of Representation (MSB
141-173); Hall “Race Ideologies and the Me- Week 12 (11/4): TV “Reality”
dia” (MS 271-282); Color Adjustment [dir. Mar- Chpt. 14 Documentary and ‘reality TV’
lon Riggs, 1991] (MSB 455-478)

Week 6 (9/23): Representation Cont. Week 13 (11/11): Audience & Reception

Squire “Empowering Women? The Oprah “Section 4:2 The Politics of Reading” (MS
Winfrey Show” (MS 354-367); WEB SITE SUB- 467-515) Intro and all essays in section; Chpt.
MISSION 1 DUE 8 Audiences (MSB 268-296)

Week 7 (9/30): Culture & Ideology Week 14 (11/18): Fan Culture & Recoding
Chpt. 6 Ideologies and Power (MSB 174-206); Jenkins “’Strangers no More, We Sing,’ . . . ”
“The Media and Social Power Introduction” (MS 547-556); Hermes “Media, Meaning and
(MS 5-17) everyday Life” (MS 557-564) Dr. Gerald R. Lucas
Week 8 (10/7): The Culture Industries Week 15 (11/25): Birth of New Media
Chpt. 7 Industries (MSB 207-257); Office: H/SS-117
Adorno “Culture Industry Reconsidered” (MS Office Hours: MW 11-12; T 4-5
Week 16 (12/2): Review

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