Friday, August 29, 2008

introduction to media studies, fall 2008

school started yesterday and this semester i'm teaching two sections of intro to media studies.

i worked hard and creatively on the syllabus. the class is organized around five topics: words, images, sound, consumption, and digital. i got rid of the textbook and went with more online readings than before. with advice from andrew goodwin, i'm assigning my first novel in years: orwell's 1984. i'm also assigning two short papers, two group show-and-tells, and one final paper. and i banned drinking from non-reusable containers in the classroom.

Introduction to Media Studies
Section One: Tues & Thurs 10:30-12:15, Lone Mountain 244A
Section Two: Tues & Thurs 1:30-3:15, Education 201

Professor: David Silver
Office: Kalmanavitz 141
Office hours: Tues & Thurs, 9-10 am and 4-5 pm
Email: dmsilver [ at ] usfca [ dot ] edu

This course introduces students to the field of media studies and Media Studies at USF. Throughout the semester, we will read, research, discuss, and write about oral cultures, illuminated manuscripts, the printing press, books, newspapers, magazines, comics, the telegraph, recorded music, radio, telephones, film, television, cable television, computers, computer games, the Web, and Web 2.0. Along the way, we’ll learn and share our knowledge about America’s Next Top Model, Amos ‘n’ Andy, the Black Panthers, blogs, CNN, Creative Commons, the Diggers, Facebook, fanfic, feevy, Flickr, Kevin Garnett, Donna Haraway, William Randolph Hearst, hypertext, levitating the Pentagon, Guglielmo Marconi, M.I.A., MTV, Myst, Net Neutrality, nickelodeons, podcasts, RSS, The Daily Show, “Three Feet High and Rising,” Total Recall, twitter, virtual communities, Ida B. Wells, Wikipedia, yelp, and YouTube.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the semester, I expect you:
a) to appreciate the spectrum of media – from the printing press to WordPress, from corporate to alternative media, from broadcast to participatory;
b) to have a basic understanding of media’s many relationships with capitalism and militarism, as well as with race, gender, sexuality, and class;
c) to understand that media studies - the discipline and our Department - combines media analysis and media production; and
d) to begin thinking about what kinds of media you want to make while at USF.

Required Readings
o George Orwell, 1984
o You are required to purchase, make, or barter for a bound journal.
o All other readings are available either online or through Gleeson Library’s web site. Please note that although all online readings are free, some of them may require registration.

Course Schedule
Thursday, August 28
o Syllabi distributed. Course introduced.

Tuesday, September 2
o Zachary McCune, “noe web day - 24 hours w/o the internet.”
o Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?The Atlantic, July/August 2008.

Thursday, September 4
o Brian Stelter, “In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time?New York Times, May 12, 2008.
o Bill Carter, “Fallon Will Start ‘Late Night’ on the Web,” New York Times, July 21, 2008.
o Jose Antonio Vargas, “Obama's Wide Web: From YouTube to Text Messaging, Candidate's Team Connects to Voters,” Washington Post, August 20, 2008.
o Lori Aratani, “When Mom or Dad Asks To Be a Facebook ‘Friend,’” Washington Post, March 9, 2008.

Tuesday, September 9
o Steven Lubar, “Words,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions, Houghton Mifflin, 1993, pp. 19-37.

Thursday, September 11
o Joseph Turow, “The Print Media,” in Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication, 3rd ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2003, pp. 252-263.

Tuesday, September 16
o National Endowment of the Arts, “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequences” (Executive Summary), pp. 1-20.
o Motoko Rich, “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?New York Times, July 27, 2008.
o Henry Jenkins, “Why Heather Can Write,” Technology Review, February 6, 2004.

Thursday, September 18
o Stacy Schiff, “Know it All: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?The New Yorker, July 31, 2006.
o Katherine Nguyen, “Eating for joy: Foodies scour online for the next great restaurant, take photos of their meals and obsessively debate what’s good and what’s not,” Orange County Register, July 2, 2007.

Tuesday, September 23
o Paper 1 Due in Class

Thursday, September 25 (Guest Lecture: Professor Michael Robertson)
o Howard Finberg, “A Look Back from 2018,” Poynter Online, November 14, 2007.
o Mindy McAdams, “The survival of journalism: 10 simple facts,” Teaching Online Journalism Blog, July 8, 2008.
o George B. Sánchez, "One man's cancer journey: A survivor is silent no more," Arizona Daily Star, July 6, 2008.
o Read two or three of the most recent blog posts on Newspaper Association of America's Digital Edge Blog.

Tuesday, September 30
o Lynn Hirschberg, “Banksable: How Tyra Banks turned herself fiercely into a brand,” The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 2008.
o Candice Haddad, “Keeping up with the Rump Rage: E!’s Commodification of Kim Kardashian’s Assets,” FLOWTV 8:06.

Thursday, October 2 (Guest Lecture: Professor Susana Kaiser)
o Clint C. Wilson, Félix Gutiérrez, and Lena M. Chao, “Diversity in the Land of Majority Rule,” in Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America, 3rd edition, Sage Publications, 2003, pp. 3-34.

Tuesday, October 7
o T. V. Reed, "Scenarios for Revolution: The Drama of the Black Panthers," in The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle, University of Minnesota Press, 2005, pp. 40-74.

Thursday, October 9
o Group Show-and-Tell 1 due in class.

Tuesday, October 14: (Guest Lecture: Career Counselors Alex Hochman & Renee Emory)

Thursday, October 16: (Guest Lecture: Professor Melinda Stone)
o Readings to be determined.

Tuesday, October 21
o George Orwell, 1984.

Thursday, October 23
o George Orwell, 1984.

Tuesday, October 28:
o Steven Lubar, “Radio,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions, Houghton Mifflin, 1993, pp. 213-241.

Thursday, October 30: (Guest Lecture: Professor Andrew Goodwin)
o Andrew Goodwin, “A Televisual Context: MTV,” from Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1992, pp. 131-155.

Tuesday, November 4
o David Byrne, "David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars," Wired, January 2008.
o Erik Davis, “Archive Fever,” Arthur, July 2008.
o Jeff Leeds, “In Rapper’s Deal, a New Model for Music Business,” New York Times, April 3, 2008.

Thursday, November 6
o Paper 2 due in class

Tuesday, November 11
o Jean Kilbourne, “’What You’re Looking For’: Rage and Rebellion in Cigarette Advertising,” in Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Simon & Schuster, 1999, pp. 180-216.
o Keely Savoie, “F*cking Progressives: American Apparel wants you to bend over for its anti-sweatshop schtick,” Clamor Magazine, Fall 2006.

Thursday, November 13
o Austin Gelder, “(Product) Red: The Power of the Consumer,” World Ark, November/December 2007.
o Louise Story, “Product Packages Now Shout to Get Your Attention,” New York Times, August 10, 2007.
o Naomi Klein, “Reclaim the Streets,” in No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, Picador, 2002, pp. 311-324

Tuesday, November 18
o Group Show-and-Tell 2 due in class.

Thursday, November 20
o David E. Brown, “Douglas Engelbart: Computer Mouse,” in Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse, MIT Press 2002, pp. 162-167.
o Alice E. Marwick, “To catch a predator? The MySpace moral panic,” First Monday, June 2008.

Tuesday, November 25
o Emily Gould, “Exposed: What I gained – and lost – by writing about my intimate life online,” The New York Times Magazine, May 25, 2008.
o Sherry Turkle, “Can You Hear Me Now?Forbes (May 5, 2007).
o Douglas Rushkoff, "Net Loss" (intended for publication in the canceled Arthur Vol. 1, No. 26 [March 2007]).

Thursday, November 27: No class, Thanksgiving

Tuesday, December 2
o danah boyd, “Why Youth ♥ Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life,” in David Buckingham, editor, Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, MIT Press, 2007.
o Amanda Lenhart, Mary Madden, Alexandra Rankin Macgill, Aaron Smith, “Teens and Social Media: The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 19, 2007.

Thursday, December 4
o Final paper workshop

Tuesday, December 9: Last day of class
o Final paper due in class

Please note: This class has no final exam.

20% - Papers (2)
20% - Group Show-and-Tell (2)
20% - Your Journal
20% - Class Participation
20% - Final Paper

Please note: If you are concerned about your grade, you can request a meeting with me anytime during the semester.

o Be mindful of your behaviors and actions in class.
o Do what you need to do to get to class on time. Don’t be late. No late work accepted.
o Bring your journal to class everyday.
o When class is session, turn off your cell phones. Do not text.
o If you miss class, contact a classmate to find out what you missed. Ask to borrow their notes, too. After this, if you still have specific questions, visit me during office hours.
o Presenting other people’s ideas as your own is plagiarizing. Don’t do it.
o Starting Tuesday (September 2), no drinking out of non-reusable containers. Be creative with your thirst-quenching solutions.


Lanny Arvan said...

David - do you talk at all about intellectual property in this course? I have a non-scholarly interest in knowing why the TV show LA Law never was syndicated for rerun nor can it be purchased as DVD for home viewing, as far as I know.


Anonymous said...

Textbooks are dumb and they rarely brighten our students' minds. Good decision!

Anonymous said...

hey lanny! i don't know the answer to your question but between my 70-80 students and i, we can promise an answer by the end of the semester, cool?

prof of pop: indeed. what took me so long?

Amber said...

I'm jealous of your current students.

Major major props on the no non-reusable drinking containers rule.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I am going to try to read along. Really does sound like a voyage of discovery.

Lanny Arvan said...

David - an answer would be good. A DVD would be wunderbar.


TSeeley said...

David--This has (almost) nothing to do with Media Studies, but just in case you don't know about it already, you might alert your readers and fans and students to the October Eat Local Challenge. Everyone can sign up at


Anonymous said...

Tracy - awesome.

i'll include the October Eat Local Challenge in tomorrow's class announcements. said...

No textbooks? Will the Gleeson librarians ever speak to you again, David? LOL. One remedy is to promise the librarians that you'll give your students plenty of referrals to use the library's online databases. :)

Anonymous said...

hey ivan!

no textbooks does not mean no library. =)

in the US, textbooks, like this one i have used for the last few years, are quite different than books and often cost over $100. further, because the publisher releases new versions each year, students have difficulty selling the textbook back. but more importantly, with a fluid, always changing field like media studies, textbooks simply can't keep up. they are good to teach, say, the history of radio, but not, say, web 2.0. you know?

BUT: through physical tours and through various library assignments and through gleeson gleanings, my students will hopefully be interacting with the library a lot. stay tuned. =)

Anonymous said...

Definitely confirms my suspicion that I'd really enjoy taking your class :-)

I don't know that I have my life arranged such that I could follow along and do all the readings, but I'm definitely cuing them up.

Relative to the library comment: do you think libraries are a form of media? Or, should they be / could they be?

I think it's maybe interesting to explore the idea of (personal and collective) libraries in terms of, say: user generated content, mashups, aggregation (RSS) and social networking.

Related, possibly of interest, my post on Aggregation piracy and playlist artistry (2005) touches on the idea of "collecting" (aggregating) becoming the basis of new mediums.

Anonymous said...

hey, i am taking a class in phenomenology, media and film. covering quite different stuff since there's a lot of reference to technology in my course. And a whole lot of philosophy too. Anyway, I guess I can use the materials you have posted here for my 'fun' reading bit, if I can access them :D

We don't have textbooks per se (compared to many in the social sciences) but we are required to acquire certain books to inform our learning...

John Bowman said...

Hey David,

Re: 1984. A good book is YA novel "Feed," by M.T. Anderson. About a world where everybody is hooked up to an all pervasive "internet" at birth. And then this teenager, he meets this girl who didn't get the feed until later in life. Plenty of great media themes and teenager lingo: School TM.

Anonymous said...

jay - libraries as media, what a great concept. throughout the years, i've integrated libraries and library research into my intro courses but i've never integrated libraries as an example of media. hmm. i need some time to think about it but i think it's a tremendous idea. also, aggregation is something that didn't make the final cut for my syllabus but has already come up in class discussions, explicitly and implicitly, twice and we've only met three times this semester! i'll definately take a look at your post on the subject.

clarissa - the course on phenomenology, media and film sounds fascinating. is the syllabus online?

john - i've never heard of the book Feed so thanks for posting about it. i'll request it from my library.

Bryan Alexander said...

Fascinating syllabus, David. I join the envious throng wanting to participate.

Can you say more about using the Orwell?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ivan and all,

We don't actually collect the textbooks used in classes in our library, too expensive, outdated almost immediately, etc. etc.

And we would never not talk to David, one of our major campus champions!!

David, love the no textbook, and adore the ban on non-reusable beverage containers!!! :)

Penny, at librarian at Gleeson

Exclusive Movies said...

very nice read, this should be a topic in everyones classroom