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COURSE NAME: "Media, Culture and Society"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Silvia Giagnoni
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:30 PM 5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 111

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.
The course covers the history of mass communication models and theories as well as looks at the history of the emergence and evolution of different media. It also delves into the analysis of media technologies, industries, content, and users; it addresses questions of power, manipulation and commercialization in the construction of news (and media content in general), the role of public service broadcasting and censorship; and it finally introduces key concepts/issues of media and cultural studies—ethnicity, race, religion, gender, subcultures, and fandom.


1.     Learn to critically assess the relationship among media, culture, and society.

2.    Grasp the main theories of mass communications in their socio-historical contexts

3.    Understand the differences among media, and how each medium evolves

4.    Being able to analyze current trends in media, culture, and society and strive to connect them to other historical developments

5.    Develop an understanding on how race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion play in media, society, and culture

6.    Understand legal and ethical issues and concerns pertaining media users and practitioners.  

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Media, Culture and Society: An Introduction Paul Hodkinson SageISBN 473902363 2nd EditionHard Copy  
Revolutions in Communication: Media History from Gutenberg to the to the Digital Age Bill KovarikBloomsbury Publishing USAISBN 1628924780 2nd editionHard Copy  

Critical reflectionsStudents will be asked routinely to reflect upon the assigned material and/or do an exercise and email their critical reflections to the Instructor. These assignments (for a total of three) are worth 5 points each, for a subtotal of 15% of your final grade. 15%
Midterm examStudents will be tested both on the acquisition of content knowledge and the critical understanding of course material via multiple choice & true/false items as well as discussion questions.30%
Oral PresentationEach student will be required to present assigned reading material to the class. Presentation will consist of a critical summary of the reading and a question. Additional details will be provided on Moodle.10%
Final ExamStudents will be tested both on the acquisition of content knowledge and the critical understanding of course material via multiple choice & true/false items as well as discussion questions.30%
Attendance/ParticipationStudents are allowed 3 unexcused absences in this course. After that, students will automatically lose a letter grade for every three absences. Lateness: Students more than 10 minutes late are marked as absent. Late arrival (less than 10 minutes) is marked as such, and 3 late arrivals are counted as one absence. Leaving class early (read, more than 15 minutes before the end of class) will be counted as one absence. Leaving in the middle of class and coming back after more than 10 minutes will also be regarded as an absence. Students are expected to do the required readings for the day before coming to class and to be prepared to comment, discuss them, or ask questions..15%

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.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
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.



Please refer to Moodle for updates on the schedule


Week One

Introductions & Syllabus + Intro: Media, Culture and Society

L: The Communication Process

R: (H) Media Culture and Society: Read Ch. 1 (pp.1-12) & (K) pp.1-16

Week Two

L: Media Technologies

R (H): Media Culture and Society: Ch. 2 (pp.17-35) 

McLuhan (video) up to min 8:40

R (K): Revolutions in Communication, Part I, Ch.1 (pp.17-66 ) 

Week Three

Oral presentations begin

L:  The Birth of Media Industries

R (K): Revolutions in Communication, Part I, Ch.2  

R (K): Ch. 3 

Week Four

Oral presentations

L: Media Industries & Economic Determinism + Visual Revolution

R: (H) Chapter.3 (pp.37-54) + (K) Part II (Ch. 4) (+ Part II (Ch. 5) 

Week Five

Oral presentations

 W: Citizen Kane by Orson Wells (watch on your own)

Review + class discussion of Citizen Kane

L: Advertising, Public Relations, and the Crafted Image

R: (K) Part II, Chapter 6 (selected parts)

Week Six

Oral Presentation

L: Media Content: Basics of Linguistics & Semiotics + Audience Studies

R: (H) Chapter 4 Chapter 5 + Review 

S: Representation and the Media by Stuart Hall (excerpts)

 Week Seven

 Midterm Review & Midterm Exam

Week Eight

Oral Presentations

L: The Electronic Revolution: Telegraph/Telephone, Radio

R: (K) Part III, Ch.7 & 8 

L: Political Economy: Media Industries and Ideology

R: (H) Ch.6


Week Nine

Oral Presentations

S: Representations and the Media (up to 9:30)

L: The Construction of News & Television: a New Window on the World  

R: (H) Ch. 7 & (K) Ch. 9

Week Ten

Oral Presentations

L:  Public Service or Personal entertainment? Controlling Media Orientation + The Digital Revolution-Computers

R: (H) Ch. 8 & (K) Ch.10 (selected parts)

Week Eleven

Oral Presentations

L: Digital Networks & Media and the Public Sphere

R: (K) Ch.11 & (H) Ch.10


Week Twelve

Oral presentations

L: Media Community and Difference

R: (H) Ch. 11 


Week Thirteen

Oral presentations

L: Media, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, & Sexuality

R: (H) Ch.12 & (H) Ch. 13


Week Fourteen

Oral Presentations

L: Global Culture & The Age of Simulacra

R: (K) Ch. 12 (H) Ch. 14 

Final Examinations