Syllabus

COM 4640 MEDIA CRITICISM

FALL 2016

Dr. Elliot Gaines, Office: 411 Millett

email: elliot.gaines@wright.edu

 

Meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays -12: 30-1:50p.m.

Room 125 Oleman

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course emphasizes critical thinking about media content, effects, and processes.  Various theories and methods of media criticism will be applied to critical analysis of contemporary and historical media.  The class will focus on television, advertising, Internet, film, and other media of mass communication, culture, entertainment, and information.

COURSE GOALS include learning 1) to think critically about communication and strategies of representations in the media, 2) to understand why and how media are created, 3) how the medium affects reception and interpretation, 4) why certain topics are selected for the media, and 5) how media affect social discourse, values, and beliefs.  Thus the purposes of developing media literacy and applied semiotic methods of analysis include:

 

Š           Empowering media users to make informed decisions

Š           Educating media producers so they can make ethical decisions about creating media

Š           Understanding the role of media in people’s everyday lives and its effects on politics, lifestyles, and economics

Š           Identifying how knowledge is claimed, and the limits of what can be verified (5-6).

 

Required Readings:

Media Literacy and Semiotics (2010), by Elliot Gaines.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-0-230-10827

 

Additional readings and materials may be assigned.

 

DURING CLASS MEETINGS, TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES UNLESS APPROVED FOR USE IN CLASS BY THE INSTRUCTOR

CELL PHONE, COMPUTERS, AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES CANNOT BE USED DURING CLASS UNLESS DR. GAINES HAS GIVEN PERMISSION.

 

Cell phone use, disturbances, or other unprofessional acts will not be tolerated.

Unprofessional behaviors or disturbances may result in points deducted or a student being dismissed from the class.

 

STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO ACCESS THEIR WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY EMAIL ACCOUNT AND PILOT TO RECEIVE UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE INSTRUCTOR.

 

THIS SYLLABUS MAY BE MODIFIED AS THE TERM PROGRESSES.

 

 

* Students in this course are subject to attendance requirements and restrictions.  Attendance is required and accounts for points applied to the final grade. A roll call will be conducted early during each class period and will not be updated for late arrivals.  Late arrivals will not be counted.

During the first week of classes, the course syllabus, policies, procedures, grade and performance criteria will be covered in-depth.  These introductory sessions are essential, and will not be repeated.  Students not attending the first week of the course will be dropped.

 

ASSIGNMENTS AND EXAMS CANNOT BE MADE UP.  If you miss the due date of an assignment, or you miss a quiz or exam, they cannot be made up.  If you miss a class, call a friend to ask what you missed, but do not expect to be excused.

 

Grades will only be discussed individually during office hours.  It is the student’s responsibility to initiate questions about grades.

 

All students should be familiar with Wright State University’s policy on academic dishonesty. Cheating and plagiarism—submitting someone else’s work or ideas as your own—will not be tolerated.  Plagiarism will result in failure for an assignment and possibly a failure for the course.

 

Grading: Assessment Dimensions

The course is intended to provide an opportunity to learn by participating in activities such as readings, class meetings, and assignments.  Students should understand their own responsibilities. In order to accomplish the goals and objectives of the course, each student must follow the steps provided in the syllabus and by the instructor during class. The best results come from getting things done on time, reading and preparing before class meetings, and generally approaching the subject with curiosity and motivation to get what you can out of the experience.

 

It is important to recognize each assignment as a small step toward accomplishing a goal. If you don’t understand the significance of the assignment and its relationship to the goals of the class, PLEASE ASK WITH ENOUGH TIME BEFORE THE ASSIGNMENT IS DUE!  The real measure of success in the course is determined by the quality of students’ personal experiences. There is enormous value in questioning yourself about your level of commitment and motivation, and understanding your responsibility for the extent of your accomplishments in the course.

 

GRADING and The Essential Breakdown of the POTENTIAL*** POINTS

Exam                                                                                      = 10 points   

Quizzes                                                                                 = 30 points

Knowledge Forms                                                              = 10 points

Chapter Presentation                                                         = 10 points

Final Exam                                                                            = 20 points

Attendance and Participation                                            = 20 points

 

 

Disturbances or unacceptable behaviors will not be tolerated and may result in a student losing points, being asked to leave the class, or other disciplinary actions.

 

THE FOLLOWING SCHEDUAL MAY BE CHANGED, and the SYLLABUS MAY BE MODIFIED AS THE TERM PROGRESSES.  STUDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO CHECK FOR NOTIFICATIONS, AND BE AWARE OF ANY CHANGES.

 

Week #                                  Activity   

 

Wk #1  Aug. 30-Sept. 1

                       

Aug. 30, Tuesday; Introduction to the Course: syllabus, assignments, basic theory of expression and perception of meanings.  Knowledge Forms introduced as a standard set of questions that serve as notes in response to readings done before class meetings.

                       

Sept. 1, Thursday; READING DUE: “Introduction” Media Literacy and Semiotics. Topics: What is Media Literacy?  Why is Media Literacy necessary in contemporary society?  

 

Wk #2  Sept. 6-8

 

Sept. 6, Tuesday;  Quiz on Introduction: Media Literacy and Semiotics.

 

Sept. 8, Thursday;  Topics: The Types of Criticism.  The various ways scholars approach media literacy and media criticism. READING DUE: Chapter 1: “Media Literacy and Semiotics.”

 

 

Wk #3 Sept. 13-15  

                       

Sept. 13, Tuesday; Topics: Theoretical Frameworks and Assumptions.   Chapter 1 continued.  HOW TO ANALYZE MEDIA

 

Sept. 15, Thursday: Quiz on Chapter 1 Media Literacy and Semiotics

 

 

Wk #4 Sept. 20-22

                         

Sept. 20,  Tuesday: viewing: Charles Sanders Peirce: Semiotics and the Logic of Pragmatism    http://www.wright.edu/~elliot.gaines/peirce_stream.html

 

Sept. 22, Thursday: READING DUE; Chapter 2The Necessary Ambiguity of Communication”

 

 

Wk #5  Sept. 27- 29

                       

Sept. 27, Tuesday:  Chapter 2 continued

                       

Sept. 29, Thursday:  Quiz, Chapter 2   *** (SSA-Delray 9/28-10/2).  

 

Wk #6  Oct. 4-6

 

                        Oct. 4, Tuesday: prepare questions for Review: Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

 

Oct. 6, Thursday:   Review: Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

 

 

Wk #7 Oct. 11-13    

 

Oct. 11,Tuesday;  EXAM #1 : Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

 

Oct. 13, Thursday; READING DUE, Chapter 3: “Power and Proxy in Media Semiotics”.  Topics:      Paradigms, Theories and Models.

 

 

Wk #8  Oct. 18-20

 

Oct. 18, Tuesday; Chapter 3 continued

 

Oct. 20  Thursday; Quiz, Chapter 3.

 

Wk #9  Oct. 25-27

 

Oct. 25: Tuesday:  READING DUE: Chapter 4 “Audiences, Identity, and the Semiotics of Space”

 

Oct. 27: Thursday;  Chapter 4 continued

                       

Wk #10  Nov 1-3

 

Nov 1: Tuesday:. Discussion: MEDIA ANALYSIS EXERCISE

 

Nov 3: Thursday: Quiz Chapter 4.

 

Wk #11  Nov. 8-10 

Nov. 8: Tuesday: Topics: READING DUE: Chapter 5, “Entertainment, Culture, Ideology, and Myth” MEDIA ANALYSIS EXERCISE DUE

Nov. 10  : Thursday: Chapter 5 continued. Discussion: SHORT ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT.

Wk #12   Nov. 15-17

Nov. 15: Tuesday: Quiz  Chapter 5.  Discussion: SHORT ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT.

Nov. 17: Thursday: READING DUE: Chapter 6, “The Narrative Semiotics of the Daily Show.   Review SHORT ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT

 

Wk #13  Nov. 22-24

Nov. 22:  Tuesday: Chapter 6 continued.  

Nov. 24.  :  Thursday:   *Thanksgiving*

 

Wk #14  Nov. 29-Dec. 1

 

Nov. 29:  Tuesday: READING DUE: Chapter 7, “News, Culture, Information, and Entertainment.”  

 

Dec. 1:  Thursday  Chapter 7, continued.

 

Wk#15  Dec. 6-8

 

Dec. 6:  Tuesday: Review Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 and FINAL.

 

 

Dec. 8:  Thursday: Review

 

 

WK #16       FINAL EXAM   Tuesday: Dec. 13 from 12:30-2:30 P.M.