Friday, August 15, 2014

intro to media studies, fall 2014

MS 100: Intro to Media Studies
Section 1: MWF 10:30-11:35 am, Cowell 417
Section 2: MWF 11:45 am-12:50 pm, Harney 143

Professor David Silver
Office/Hours: Kalmanovitz 141, MW 9-10 am & by appointment
Contact: dmsilver [ at ] usfca [ dot ] edu / @davidmsilver

This course
introduces students to the field of media studies with a focus on media history and cultural studies. Beginning with the printing press and ending with social media, students will examine various media eras and developments and begin to appreciate the complex interactions between media and larger cultural, artistic, economic, political, and social conditions. Along the way, students will be introduce to USF media studies professors and various media-making opportunities on campus.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

Be able to explain the key developments and social actors of media history;

Be able to explain how these key developments were and continue to be embedded within larger cultural, artistic, economic, political, and social conditions; and

Become familiar with USF media studies professors and various media-making opportunities on campus and in the city.

Wed, 8/20: Introduction, distribute syllabi.

Fri, 8/22: Read Ken Auletta, “Outside the Box: Netflix and the Future of Television,” The New Yorker, February 3, 2014,

Unit One: Words

Mon, 8/25: Read Richard Campbell, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos, "Newspapers: The Rise and Decline of Modern Journalism," Media & Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (2010): pp. 278-291.

Wed, 8/27: Read Jim Forest, "Servant of God Dorothy Day," The Catholic Worker Movement, 2013,

Fri, 8/29: Read Eric Alterman, "Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper," The New Yorker, March 31, 2008,

Mon, 9/1: Labor Day: No class

Wed, 9/3: Read, front to back, a 9/1 or 9/2 print issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. Observe everything. Bring entire paper to class and be prepared to discuss.

Fri, 9/5: Guest lecture: Teresa Moore, associate professor of media studies and faculty advisor to the Foghorn. Readings to be determined.

Mon, 9/8: Read Campbell et al, “Magazines in the age of specialization,” Media & Culture (2010): pp. 312-336.

Wed, 9/10: Read Jean Kilbourne, “‘The more you subtract, the more you add’: Cutting girls down to size,” Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel (1999): pp. 128-154

Fri, 9/12: Midterm 1

Unit Two: Images

Mon, 9/15: Read Steven Lubar, “Pictures,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions (1993), pp. 51-64.

Wed, 9/17: Read Kate Bevan, “Instagram is debasing real photography,” The Guardian, July 19, 2012,; Clive Thompson, “The Instagram Effect,” Wired, December 27, 2011,; and Olivier Laurent, “The New Economics of Photojournalism: The rise of Instagram,” British Journal of Photography, September 3, 2012,

Fri, 9/19: Read Scott McCloud, “Setting the record straight,” from Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993), pp. 2-23.

Mon, 9/22: Read Steven Lubar, “Movies,” in InfoCulture (1993), pp. 199-211.

Wed, 9/24: Guest lecture: Danny Plotnick, adjunct professor in media studies and director of film studies minor. Read Mark Taylor, "It Lives: Artists’ Television Access Turns Thirty," KQED Arts, September 4, 2014

Fri, 9/26: Visit from Career Services Center.

Mon, 9/29: No class. In place of class, students will work on their comic/graphic novel reflections and begin reading Wednesday's Campbell et al chapter.

Wed, 10/1: Read Richard Campbell et al, “Television and cable: The Power of Visual Culture,” Media & Culture (2010): pp. 193-218.

Fri, 10/3: Read course-sourced readings on cable/long-form series like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and The Wire.

Mon, 10/6: Read Emily Nussbaum, "The Host in the Machine: Late-night blahs," The New Yorker, May 19, 2014,; Terry Gross, "Late Night 'Thank You Notes' From Jimmy Fallon" (39 minutes), Fresh Air, NPR, May 23, 2011,; Jacob Bernstein, "The Morning Muse of Television," New York Times, May 9, 2014,

Wed, 10/8: Guest lecture: Dorothy Kidd, professor and chair of media studies and faculty advisor to KUSF. Read Dorothy Kidd's "'We Can Live without Gold, but We Can't Live without Water': Contesting Big Mining in the Americas," forthcoming in Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff, editors, Project Censored 2015 (2015), pp. 223-243.

Fri, 10/10: Midterm 2

Unit Three: Sounds

Mon, 10/13 Fall Break: No class.

Wed, 10/15: Read Steven Lubar, “Radio,” in InfoCulture (1993), pp. 213-241.

Fri, 10/17: Read: Lubar, “Radio” (continued).

Mon, 10/20: In-class group exhibits about the history of radio.

Wed, 10/22: Guest lecture: Miranda Morris, Coordinator of KUSF. In preparation for Miranda’s visit, take some time to list to Also, watch Kim Kinkaid’s “How to become a KUSF DJ” (2:06 minutes), USFtv, May 6, 2014,; and Cristina Pachano-Lauderdale’s “KUSF Rock-n-Swap” (3:59 minutes), USFtv, September 30, 2013,

Fri, 10/24: Guest lecture: Shawn Calhoun, Associate Dean, Gleeson Library.
Mon, 10/27: Guest lecture: Marjorie Schwarzer, administrative director of University of San Francisco's graduate museum studies program. Watch “Riches Rivals & Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America” (57 minutes),

Wed, 10/29: Read course-sourced readings on popular music and culture.

Fri, 10/31: Individual popular music exhibit due in class.

Unit Four: Putting it all together

Mon, 11/3: Guest lecture: Brent Malin, associate professor of communication and affiliate faculty of cultural studies, University of Pittsburgh. Readings to be determined.

Wed, 11/5: Read Dr. Suess, "The Lorax" (1971); and Jennifer Lance, "Selling Out the Lorax: 70 Different Product Tie Ins," Eco Child's Play, March 1, 2012,

Fri, 11/7: Readings on Disney and convergence from Richard Campbell et al, Media & Culture (2010): pp. 11-14, 58-62, and 462-466.

Mon, 11/10: Class prep for group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit.

Wed, 11/12: Group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit.

Fri, 11/14: Read Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?” New York Review of Books, November 25, 2010,

Mon, 11/17: Read Dave Eggers, “We like you so much and want to know you better,” excerpt from the novel The Circle (2013),

Wed, 11/19: Student-sourced "terrifyingly interesting" reading about favorite/most interesting/go-to app, platform, or web site.

Fri, 11/21: Read: Joseph Bathanti's The Mythic School of the Mountain: Black Mountain College, Our State, Spring 2014.

Mon, 11/24: Media Fast homework assignment due in class.

Wed, 11/26: To be determined.

Fri, 11/28: Thanksgiving break: No class

Mon, 12/1: Final review and class party

Wed, 12/3: Final exam

20% -- Quizzes, homework, and in-class assignments
15% -- Midterm 1
15% -- Midterm 2
15% -- Individual popular music exhibit
15% -- Group Thacher Gallery pop-up exhibit
20% -- Final exam

Course Costs
All readings will be provided to students as PDFs or are available for free online. I may require students to print out some of the readings. Finally, students are required to purchase one print version of the San Francisco Chronicle for a whopping one doallar.

Attendance Policy
Missing class, or attending class unprepared, will significantly affect your final grade. If you do miss class, contact a classmate to find out what we discussed in class and ask to borrow her or his notes. Then, do the same with a second classmate. After doing this, if you still have questions about missed material, visit me during office hours or email me.

Course Rules
1. No late work accepted.
2. No drinking out of non-reusable containers during class.

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