Introduction to Media Studies

Introduction to Media Studies Online Version

Dr. Michele Leigh

You all have grown up in a rapidly changing multimedia environment, that is at once local and global. While many of you may already be prolific consumers, as well as producers and disseminators of media, this course is designed to expand your knowledge of media’s historical, industrial, and cultural functions to help you become more literate/critical consumers and producers of media and culture. “Media” in this course is broadly defined to include a variety of practices: oral, print, theatrical, recorded, photographic, broadcast, cinematic, and digital. The course looks at the nature of mediated communication, the functions of media, the history of transformations in media and the institutions that help define media’s place in society.

Throughout the course we will examine:

a) how media systems have and continue to develop

b) how we use and make meaning with media as part of our everyday lived experiences.

To consider media’s social, economic, political, and cultural impact, the course will investigate a number of ways of understanding its production, form, reception, and influence, being careful to recognize how these approaches relate to each other and to a wide array of diverse case studies in television, film, recorded music, print, video games, and online material.

Over the course of the semester we will explore different theoretical perspectives on the role and power of media in society in influencing our social values, political beliefs, identities and behaviors. Students will also have the opportunity to analyze specific media texts and explore to the meaning of the changes that occur when a particular narrative is adapted from print to visual forms in different time periods. We will also have the opportunity to explore the various media formats by making them. Don’t worry no prior experience is necessary.

Course Format: This class is asynchronous, meaning we do not all meet at the same time/place, and that you can work at your own leisure. This course fully embraces its online nature and utilizes a variety of social networking and web based apps. You will need to create accounts (if you do not already have them) for Twitter, Pearltrees, Zoom, and Perusall among others. A complete list of applications/links needed to complete the course can be found below.

Each class/module will consist of lecture, readings, media viewings/screening, discussion, assignments and/or quizzes. These various components all offer opportunity to earn credit towards your final grade. Do not be intimidated by the range of assignments for this course, they are designed to allow you to take on some of the responsibility for your own learning and to demonstrate your mastery of the subject. The grading system for this course is inspired by Dr. John Boyer’s (Virginia Tech) “create your fate” system. In this course you will be given a variety assignments possibilities in which you can earn credit towards your grade, permitting you to build your grade based on your strengths and interests.

Are you a wiz at taking tests or do you prefer writing assignments? This system allows you to build on your strengths. That said, I would suggest you do a little bit of everything to make sure you have enough points to get the grade you desire. No one type of assignment will earn you enough points to pass the course. Because there are so many opportunities to earn credit towards the course, there are no “make-ups” or “extra credit.” I suggest you make a plan of what assignments you will complete throughout the semester and when they will be completed. Much of the work is time based and cannot all be done during the last week of class, so PLEASE plan your time wisely!

Expectations: Students are expected to ‘attend’ class sessions, to participate in class discussions, and to complete assignments and projects on time. Active participation means prior reading of assigned materials and sharing of relevant thoughts and experiences. Logging on to the class site does not constitute participation. Students are encouraged to bring to class examples of media from a variety of sources to further class discussions.

Please note – the material viewed in this class may be controversial, graphic, violent, and/or sexual in nature. If you are not comfortable with this, you should speak with me immediately. We will also be discussing sensitive subjects like religion, politics, gender, and sexuality. I ask that you be respectful of each others opinions and life experiences. This classroom should be a safe place for discussion.

Course Assignments and Grading:

OFFICE HOURS: Each week I will hold office hours in person and on Zoom meeting – 514-570-531. You can earn points by stopping in, making comments, asking questions, and chatting about the course. You can earn 100 points throughout the semesters. Everyone MUST meet with me at least once.

READINGS: Each week there will be between 1-3 articles for your to read. You can earn points on Perusall (course code TBA) by offering comments on the reading. These comments should offer your own original analysis/criticism of the reading. Here, you must demonstrate that you have done the reading, thought about it, and related it to topics and themes discussed in class. You must complete 4 or more insightful comments per reading in order to receive full credit (i.e. “This reading is crap” or “I enjoyed reading this” would not be considered insightful.) A rubric for how the comments are graded can be found in the class folder, as well as sample comments. There are a total of 35 course readings throughout the semester = 350 points.

READING MEMES: You can earn points for posting memes that explain/encapsulate ideas and theories found in the readings. You can post up to 20 reading memes throughout the semester for 100 points. You can earn up to 25 points by commenting on your fellow classmates meme, respond with a relevantly themed meme and earn up to 20 points more.

READING PRESENTATIONS: On Perusall you will find a folder of Additional Readings. You can work singly or in groups of 2-3 students to prepare and present a 10-15 minute mini lecture on the reading you have chosen. These presentations should summarize and contextualize the reading that was chosen in relation to other readings and class screenings, bringing in additional material as needed. Prepare a visual aid to help students connect readings/concepts with visual examples. Each group should create 2-3 discussion questions that can be answered by fellow classmates. An individual may participate in up to 4 group reading presentations throughout the semester. Each member will evaluate the work of their fellows in the group. Students can earn points by participating in these group presentations and by commenting on the presentations submitted by other students. To earn points discussing/commenting on reading presentations, you must submit at least four comments per presentation. Group presentations are worth 25 points each, or 100 points total. Commenting on/discussing up to four group Reading Presentations can earn 40 points.

Pod casts/Vlogs/blogs: Each student can earn credit for creating media outside of class, the topics for these posts are up to you but must be somehow related to themes discussed in class. Posts are worth 30 points each, 180 points total. You can also earn credit my commenting on your fellow classmates posts, comments are 5 points each, 50 points total.

MEDIA ARCHIVE: Help to create a class media archive on (you will all receive an email invitation to collaborate on the class archive). Post articles, images, clips, films, etc… related to topics discussed in class. You should analyze media artifact(s) in relation to topics discussed in class. For instance, comment on the ways race is portrayed and constructed in/by the media you have chosen to archive. Comment on whatever you find interesting, engaging, hopeful, etc. about the media you have chosen. You can also earn credit by commenting of media artifacts that others have posted, 1 comment per artifact. Media archive entries are worth 10 points each and you can submit up to 10 entries for a total of 100 points. Media archive comments are worth 5 points each for up to 50 points.

ANNOTATING LECTURES: Each week I will post lectures for you to view. You can earn credit by watching and annotating the lectures (adding your thoughts, comments, questions, and media examples). Your comments must be thoughtful and connect the lectures to the class readings and screenings. Please note – this is the only mandatory assignment, you must complete this each week. You should make at least two comments per lecture for a total of 150 points.

QUIZZES: There will be weekly quizzes on the readings and lectures. Quizzes will be located on Canvas. Quizzes are 15 points each and you can earn up to 225 points for taking the quizzes.

FILM/TV TWEETS: You can earn points for thoughtful comments made via Twitter while you are watching the media required films for this course. Use the hastag #Mediamatters in your post. You should make at least 4 tweets per film/tv show, for a total of 120 points.

RESEARCH PAPER: You can write a critical term paper, 10-12 pages in length. This is a research/analysis paper on a particular media artifact. You should incorporate readings from class to illustrate and argue your thesis. Your work should incorporate readings from class as well as those you find outside of class. You should use at least two books and one article from outside the class to flesh out your argument. All resources should be proper cited using MLA or Chicago style footnotes.

Research papers must be turned in to Peergrade (course code – TBA) before turning in to Dr. Leigh. You can earn 150 points for writing a research paper. Students can also earn 30 points for offering feedback on Peergrade.

VIDEOGRAPHIC ESSAYS: Create a videographic essay. This digital project will incorporate oral analysis with visual evidence from the film/show you have chosen to discuss.Your work should incorporate readings from class as well as those you find outside of class, properly cited at the end of the essay. With your media project, you must turn in a 3 page written paper, outlining your theoretical approach to the subject you chose. Guidelines and resources will be posted. Videographic essays must be turned in to Peergrade (course code – TBA) before turning in to Dr. Leigh. You can earn 150 points for videographic essay. Students can also earn 30 points for offering feedback on Peergrade.

If you complete ALL assignments for the course and earn perfect scores you could earn a total of 1970 points. To receive an A for the course you need to earn a minimum of 1812 points.

1920 – 1812 A

1811 – 1655 A-

1654 – 1550 B+

1549 – 1445 B

1444 – 1340 B-

1339 – 1235 C+

1234 – 1130 C

1129 – 1025 C-

1024 – 920 D+

919 – 815 D

814 – 710 D-

709 – 0 F