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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "CMS 310"
COURSE NAME: "Media and Cultural Analysis: Close Readings/Interpretations of Cultural Artifacts"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Donatella Della Ratta
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:40-6:00 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110; COM 220 recommended
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
From Andre Bazin’s analysis of de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves to Roland Barthes’ interpretation of a photo of a black soldier on the cover of Paris Match magazine, close readings of media texts have long been a valued aspect of the field of communications. This course offers students the unique opportunity to critically analyze a single, notable media text—be it an album, a TV series, a graphic novel, etc.—and explore in detail the expressive significance, the artistic merit, the social impact and influence, the cultural embeddedness, and associated historical, technological and aesthetic considerations. The course will focus on some of the dominant critical perspectives that have contributed to our understanding of these media texts and their role in society, and investigate this media through a variety of theories and methods.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:
The course is designed to provide an understanding of, and an ability to analyze and evaluate chosen media texts, where each iteration of the course will focus on a different singular media text. Students will deconstruct the text using a variety of critical strategies (e.g., from Marxism, feminism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, etc.) and situate the text in its social and historical contexts. Each student will work on a midterm and final project that expresses their individual voice and perspective, that involves careful research and a critical understanding of the course material. Students are required to read/listen/watch critically and class sessions will be structured as seminars where student engagement is essential. 
LEARNING OUTCOMES:
LEARNING OUTCOMES: 

At the end of this course you will be able to:

•                Be a more critical consumer of media with requisite knowledge and skills                  

•                Have acquired advanced competence in contextualizing media objects in relationship to broader socio-cultural and historical processes

•                Be competent in advanced critical analysis of a media text

•                Be able to conduct your own research and critical interrogations of media texts.

•                Write a work of media criticism 

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Testo Junkie Paul B PreciadoThe Feminist PressISBN-13: 978-1558618374  
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Participation Participation means showing up, doing the reading, being willing to discuss, ask questions and be fully engaged on a daily level. Each student is required to lead at least one class discussion during the semester.15%
Final research paper and presentationPaper & Library assignment (25%) + Visual Presentation/Video Essay (10%). Students are required to write a research paper related to the course material. Each student will make a visual presentation /video essay based on the paper at the end of the semester. Detailed guidelines will be provided.35%
Midterm Doing a close reading – detailed guidelines will be provided25%
Auto-fictionDetailed guidelines will be provided 25%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
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 course.
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.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
Class procedure:  Use of cell phones and laptops affects your participation grade and is strictly forbidden during class. Please make sure that your cell phone is turned off (and not just muted) when class starts. Kindly note that any infringement of such policy shall automatically result in a F grade in participation.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
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.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
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.

SCHEDULE

A close reading of Paul B Preciado's 'Testo Junkie' (2013)

CLASS SCHEDULE 

Week 1: Introduction to class topic & overview of the syllabus

Introduction to class topic and overview of the syllabus 21 Sept

Who is Paul B Preciado? 23 Sept

Reading:

 “How to do a close reading” (Patricia Kain, 1998)


WEEK 2
: ‘Testo Junkie’ as an autofiction?
Autofiction, autobiography, auto-ethnography 28 Sept

Is ‘Testo Junkie’ an autofiction? 30 Sept

Paul B Preciado's lecture at JCU /Digital Delights & Disturbances 2 Oct

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘Introduction’, ‘Testo Junkie’

 

Dix, H. (2017) ‘Autofiction: the Forgotten Face of French Theory’, World and Text: A Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics vol VII

Excerpts from: Dix, H. ed (2018) ‘Autofiction in English’


WEEK 3
: Queer autofictions
Class discussion on Autofiction 5 Oct

Queer autofictions 7 Oct

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘1. Your Death’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from: Maggie Nelson ‘The Argonauts’

Excerpts from: Mckenzie Wark ‘Reverse Cowgirl’

 


WEEK 4
: Queer bodies and the construction of gender
Class discussion on queer autofictions 12 Oct

Gender as a ‘medical fiction’ 14 Oct

 

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘3. Testogel’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Andrea Long Chu ‘My New Vagina Won’t Make me Happy’ The New York Times, 24 Nov 2018

Excerpts from: Judith Halberstam (1998) ‘Female Masculinity’

 

Watching:

Contrapoints ‘What is gender?’; ‘High Heels’; FHAR Front homosexual d’action revolutionnaire; Motus ‘Middlesex’.


WEEK 5: Body, molecules, floating identities

Class discussion on the construction of gender 19 Oct

Body, molecules, floating identities 21 Oct

 

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘5. In Which the Body of VD Becomes the Element in an Experimental Context’ & ‘7. Becoming T’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Valerie Solanas ‘SCUM Manifesto’ (1967)

Watching:

‘Baise-moi’



WEEK 6
: ‘Gender Identity Disorder’


Class discussion on floating identities 26 Oct

Gender Identity Disorder 28 Oct

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘9. Testo-Mania’ & ‘11. Jimi and me’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from: Virginie Despentes ‘King Kong Theory’

Excerpts from: Mckenzie Wark ‘Reverse Cowgirl’



WEEK 7
: From biopolitics to the pharmacopornographic regime
Midterm wrap up discussion 2 Nov

The new pharmacopornographic era 4 Nov

‘The ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye’ 6 Nov

 

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘2. The Pharmacopornographic Era’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from Michel Foucault 'History of Sexuality' - Achille Mbembe 'Necropolitics'


WEEK 8
: Technosexuality

Class discussion on the pharmacopornographic era 9 Nov

Technosexuality? 11 Nov


Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘4. Technosexuality’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from Michel Foucault 'History of Sexuality'- Jacques Derrida 'The work of mourning'


WEEK 9:
Technogender

Class discussion on technosexuality 16 Nov

Technogender 18 Nov

 

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘6. Technogender’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from Michel Foucault 'History of Sexuality'- Jacques Derrida 'The work of mourning'


WEEK 10
: Capitalism and postcolonial violence in the pharmacopornographic era
class discussion on technogender 23 Nov

Violence in the pharmacopornographic regime 25 Nov

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘8. Pharmacopower’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

Excerpts from Michel Foucault 'History of Sexuality' - Achille Mbembe 'Necropolitics'



WEEK 11
: Pornography and labor
class discussion on violence in the pharmacopornographic regime 30 Nov

Pornography and labor 2 Dec

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘10. Pornpower’, in ‘Testo Junkie’

 


WEEK 12
Hacking the binary: on liberation, gender and sexuality 

Class discussion on pornography and labor 7 Dec

Wrap up: Hacking the binary 9 Dec

Reading:

Paul B Preciado ‘12. The Micropolitics of Gender in the Pharmacopornographic era: Experimentation, Voluntary Intoxication, Mutation’ & ’13. Eternal Life’,  in ‘Testo Junkie’