JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Media, Culture and Society "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 101
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

This course examines the mass media as complex social institutions that exercise multiple roles in society—none more crucial than the circulation and validation of social discourses. Introducing students to a variety of theoretical approaches, the course focuses on media operations and textual analysis.
This course introduces students to the themes, issues and theoretical debates central to the study of mediated forms of communication. It examines the factors that influence the media and considers in turn the influence of media on attitudes, values and behaviors, both individual and social.A set of compelling questions will drive our inquiry. For example, to what extent media influence political opinion and consumer behaviors? And to what extent do class, racial, and gender differences affect the production and consumption of media messages? Does the predominantly visual character of an information technology change the way we experience the world? Does culture play a major role in the development and use of information technologies? And what is the relationship between “old” and “new” media within the current information environment?  By the end of the semester, students will be expected to develop an analytical appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of each theoretical approach and to arrive at some thoughtful conclusions regarding their own preferences. This is a lecture and discussion course. We will shift back and forth between discussing theoretical and practical issues in relation to the media and their relation to society. Lectures and discussions will be supported with screenings and presentation of films, televisions programs and other media content. Students are encouraged to propose their own choice of media material for the class.

The goal of the course is to provide a critical background for understanding the relationship between media, culture and society from different perspectives. Ideally, by the end of the semester each student will be able to: 

1) Develop a firm understanding of key issues in the fields of Media Studies and Cultural Studies.

2) Demonstrate familiarity with key terms and concepts such as ideology, vertical integration, technological determinism, networked publics, the Web 2.0, and so forth.

3) Demonstrate skill in analyzing, presenting and discussing assigned readings in class.

4) Demonstrate skill in writing clear, well-organized and properly referenced papers that show a critical understanding of the relationship between media, culture and society.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences David Croteau and William HoynesSage 978-1452268378 Fifth Edition

Group WorkStudents will work in groups to map the cross-ownership of a specific media object20% of final grade
In-class test Multiple choice questions and open-ended questions. 20% of final grade
Analysis of a media textIndividual take-home assignment20% of final grade
Final PaperTBA20 % of final grade
Class Attendance and ParticipationIt consists of your contributions to class discussions and other activities. For Attendance see below.20% of final grade

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You are expected to be in attendance and actively engage with the course material in a regular and meaningful way during class time. One motivated absence will be allowed provided that you have communicated in advance any extenuating circumstance. More than 5 classes missed will result in a failing grade for the course, as you will have missed too much material to be considered part of the learning experience. This segment of your grade is also evaluated on the basis of your ability to make informed comments that stay on topic and answer direct questions from the instructor. Simply coming to class is not participation or engagement.

Late work will not be accepted except under extreme circumstances. If you are unable to turn in the assignment, please be certain to either contact me at least 24 hours in advance to explain any extenuating circumstances. If you fail to do so, you will be marked down 1 point for each day of delay. If you feel that you have a personal problem regarding an absence, grade or late assignment, make sure to make an appointment to discuss this with me in person.

Please note that you are required to bring a hard copy of all readings--including textbook and PDFs--to class. Failure to do so will negatively affect your participation grade.

Before entering the classroom, please turn off all cell phones and any other bits of technology that could disrupt the class. Use of laptops and tablets is NOT allowed in the classroom except for in-class online activities. 

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


NB: the schedule complete with reading and screening list will be provided the first week of class and will be available in the class shared folder.

WEEK 1. The Line and the Circle: Two Models of Communication

WEEK 2. Applying and Contrasting the Models

WEEK 3. Narratives of Media History

WEEK 4. Media and Money

WEEK 5. The Regulation of the Media Industry

WEEK 6. The Organization of Media Work

WEEK 7. News Making in a Changing Media Landscape

WEEK 8. Meaning Making and Representation

WEEK 9. The Spectacle of the Other

WEEK 10. Ideology and Ideological Critique

WEEK 11. The Debate on Media Effects

WEEK 12. From the Active Audience to the Former Audience

WEEK 13. The Rise of Networked Publics

WEEK 14. Review and Reading Week