Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Final Exam Study Sheet

These questions are meant to focus your preparation – they’re not a contract restricting the questions on the test. I do want this sheet to help you prepare, though, and so it is my goal that if you understand comprehensively answers to all of the below prompts, you should be able to perform well on the test.

***NEW ITEMS***  Be able to distinguish between and understand the basic principles of all of McLuhans Four Laws of Media.

Be sure that you understood and could identify (and distinguish between) the main ideas in the YOUTUBE "reading"  *****

Be able to describe "Faith Informed Criticism" as Romanowski explains it.

What are the different cultural purposes that Romanowski suggests popular art serves?

How does the Hollywood narrative differ from the map of the Christian Cultural Landscape that Romanowski proposes Christian artists use?

What criticisms does Romanowski make about "Christian" music and its relationship to mainstream music?

What achievements does Romanowski take pleasure in in his book? What virtues does he celebrate? What failed opportunities does he lament? What weakness does he lament? (be prepared to respond to some of the examples he offers)

How does a reformed perspective of theology provide a unique perspective from a traditionally evangelical perspective of mass media?

Explain the corrective to Faith Based Criticism proposed by Dr. Rudd (Martin Buber's idea).

What was the magic silver bullet theory of media effects?

Be able to explain the chronological development and structural differences between the magic silver bullet theory, limited effects theories, and uses and gratifications research and the cultivation approach

What is the two step flow?

How does fandom function to create identity and community?

Be able to apply principles from the fandom lecture to the film Trekkies.

What are the two archetypes used to pathologize fans does Joli Jensen describe?

How and why are fans depicted as pathological in our culture?

What is the third person effect and what's wrong with it?

Know the meaning of each of these terms: conglomerates, convergence, content aggregator, distributor.

Be able to identify the three various meanings of "convergence." How are each of these modes-of-convergence related to conglomerates?

Be able to understand key concepts related to transmedia flow:  integral elements, extensions, spreadability, drillability, entry points and continuity vs. multiplicity.

Be able to make connections between "Massification," the two-step flow, drawing boundaries and I-Thou.

Be able to articulate fair use principles regarding use of copyright.

Be able to articulate the main points from the critique of sameness reading that we did in class (Adorno & Horkheimer) and how their ideas connect to other ideas we've talked about in our class.

What is New Media?  Be able to articulate some of the opposing viewpoints about new media (does it offer subversive and liberatory tools?  does it reinforce the dominance of Big Media increasing the isolation of the "Mass Man"?  (And why do critics take these opposing points of view?)

Be able to identify key ideas from the documentary film we watched: GENERATION LIKE.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mid Term Study Sheet

These questions are meant to focus your preparation – they’re not a contract restricting the questions on the test. I do want this sheet to help you prepare, though, and so it is my goal that if you understand comprehensively answers to all of the below prompts, you should be able to perform well on the test.

Be able to identify and distinguish between the three levels of Media literacy.

Understand how the various topics we've covered in this class relate to the three levels of media literacy.

How do the two different meanings of "entertain" relate to media literacy.

What is a "myth"?

Be able to identify the major myths that we discussed in class.  Be able to identify how the myths differ & how they function within a text.

Understand how mass media myths work and are created and reinforced.

How has the American Myth of Success shifted over time? (reading on the myth of success)

What are the sources of "luck" versus "pluck" in this myth?

Be able to explain what "situated cognition" and "connectionism" are -- how have they re-oriented the ways that people think about literacy. (from Gee's article)

What does it mean that we always read things in a particular way for particular reasons?

Be able to understand and explain the differences between a semiotic domain, design grammar and an affinity group.

Be able to explain the overall point of semiotics.  Be sure to understand: signs and codes, first and second level signification; denotative & connotative meaning; signifiers and signifieds; and slippage.

How do codes constrain signs?

Be able to determine the difference between paradigmatic and syntagmatic meaning. Understand how both operate to create meaning and how the process of studying them may improve our visual literacy.

Understand the ways that content-level signs and formal signs differ and overlap in particular texts.

Be able to define and understand the meaning of the terms "Diegesis" and "Montage" and be able to explain how each of them work within visual codes of meaning.

Be able to differentiate between and identify the major categories of camera angles, movements and editing described in class.

Understand what the practice of "coolhunting" is and how it relates to media conglomerates.

What is the "feedback loop" described in Merchants of Cool?

Understand how "mooks" and "midriffs" function in the mythology of "cool." What are some of the key elements of the myth of "cool" that we articulated in class.

How does genre function for society?

Understand how hybridity functions in shaping genre now.

Be able to explain the different ways that producers, audiences and critics constitute genre.

How do the narrative formulas of genre give way to ideology and mythology?

Be able to connect the preferred subject position from AMW and COPS to the two ideologies they represent.

What narrative conventions from each of these shows illustrate the ideologies of progressivism and populism respectively?

Explain Neil Postman's idea about why reading the Newspaper creates better citizens.

Be able to identify the elements of good multi-modal storytelling from our class session.

Be able to identify the problem that "diegesis" creates for news communicated through visual media.

Know the five steps of the media production and distribution process.

Understand the ways that the two funding models differ; be able to identify the shape of the emerging third model that we talked about in class.

Be able to understand how Scott McCloud suggests that massification threatens the integrity of the artistic process, and the outcome for media consumers (particularly comics consumers).

Be able to identify the arguments from class regarding Conglomerates and Society.


reading television
semiotic domains
understanding comics
american myth of success
reinventing comics
introduction to the 6th edition

Monday, August 19, 2013

What is this course -- Mass Media & Society -- about?

This course examines the relationship between mass media and society. According to most sources, its been a pretty rocky relationship. Society has blamed mass media for ruining politics, dumbing down several generations, massive social upheaval, and even the Columbine shootings. Probably some parts of these accusations are fair. On the other hand, mass media has been critiquing, engaging, unifying, shocking and condemning society – for the general welfare -- for quite a while, too.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad survey of the relationship between the mass media industries and society. We will explore the general trends in the history of media industry development, analyze several media texts, and the chart the politics of production and distribution of media. Hopefully our study will lay a groundwork for a more complicated and specific understanding of the ways mass media and society relate to one another. I want every student to come out of this course with a clearer sense of how you can engage mass media and society (and their relationship to each other) as thoughtful, ethical consumers and producers of media.

The course here at Malone College is similiar to many Mass Media & Society courses taught in other colleges and universities around the nation. There are differences, too, though. Like many media courses, a concept we stress in this course is "media literacy." Like some colleges, Malone's version of this course pays special attention to the ways that the Christian tradition influences our thoughts and practices related to Mass Media & Society. Like some courses around the nation, my particular interests, predispose me to teach this class from a cultural - studies perspective, though I'll try to let you know how some other thinkers (particularly those in the social sciences) might diverge from my approach.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Community Involvement Advocacy Midterm

As you know, much of your grade for "Community Involvement" comes from the advocacy and support of your peers. Now is the time for you to spend a few moments advocating on their behalf.

I am sending you a Community Involvement Advocacy Form a week before your community involvement advocacy is due.  This form will be arrive in your email in the form of a link.  Once you click on the link you will arrive at the form which will look like an online survey.  This form includes the names of all the students in the class and a box below where you can advocate for them.

There is a roster in your google folder that includes the names of all the members of the class along with their pictures.  If you need help remembering a name, you should check that roster.

As you advocate for your peers, you may type in anything that you would want to about the members in the class. You do NOT have to write about everyone (please don't), but you MUST write about yourself.

Here's an example:

Sheila Peterman

Sheila always seems to have done the reading before class, because the questions she asks seem to be informed. I have also appreciated the examples she gave on the day we talked about informative speaking. I worked in two small groups with her, and she subtly kept the group "on task" the whole time.

Andrew Rudd (me)

I have been going over my notes with my roomate Sean and I listened to Tammie's speech the night before she gave it. Even though I don't say very much in front of the whole class, when we work in groups, I try to be a leader by making suggestions and connecting people's ideas to the ideas from the book.
Don't forget to think about in-class conversation groups.  (Maybe you've even jotted down reminders in your class notes?  Like I asked you to do? Please consult those reminders if so.)

See the course calendar to recall the due date for your community involvement.  If you do not complete a community involvement advocacy sheet, your own community involvement grade (assigned by me) will automatically be reduced by 20%.

Media Text Analysis Proposal

Your proposal is a way for you and I to communicate about what will be a good manageable topic for this assignment.  Please do read (and re-read) the post about the Media Text Analysis Essay *and* review the rubric in the shared google docs folder.  Both of these will help you think about some of the constraints that you should consider as you choose your media text.

I suggest that you choose a media text that you find provocative, difficult to understand or really excellent in construction.  I discourage you from choosing a text that has strong personal emotion attached (we'll talk about *why* that is in class).

Since your interpretation of this text has to make connections between the textual meaning and the culture that we live in -- it's important that this text has made some kind of "blip" on the popular culture screen.  I don't care if it has wide mainstream appeal, or has created a sensation amongst a very small segment of the population -- I just think it's important that the text has resonated with a wide diverse audience and has been popular enough to have been passed around, talked about and widely known.

Generally smaller texts are ideal:  a music video, a song, a commercial, an episode of a television show, the cover of a magazine, a feature news story or maybe one level of a video game or one character in a video game.  It is possible to analyze larger texts (like books or movies or whole albums or whole video games), however you'll have to work harder to understand them wholistically and boil your analysis down to a coherent and concise essay.

I strongly urge you to submit a proposal, but there are no points for this assignment, so it's optional for you.

Please tell me exactly what text you will analyze and why you have chosen to analyze it.

Your proposal should be no longer than one paragraph.

Please submit your proposal as a google document that you share with the class email (look at the syllabus for the address) not with the teacher's email address.   Since our entire class will include sharing google docs, this is a great practice run.

Media Text Analysis Essay

You will select a mass media text and write an analysis in 800 – 1000 words. You may analyze any kind of mass media text that you would like, but I suggest that you select a text small enough for thorough understanding, but substantial enough to generate insight.  You must select a media text that is EITHER new (within the last calendar year) OR old (at least 40 years old).

Your paper should include a description of the text, an interpretation of its meaning and an evaluation of the significance and meaning of this text & interpretation in our culture. You must use semiotic analysis to analyze your text, but you should not feel obliged to talk about the terms of semiosis. I will be able to tell if you have used the process because of the insights that your essay will demonstrate.

The process of writing an interpretive analytical essay like this one usually starts with description (what are the key signs?), moves to analysis (what are the patterns?  the codes?  how do they fit together?), expresses an interpretation (what does it *mean*?) and finishes with an evaluation (is it good?  bad?  for who?  why?  how?).

Your paper structure should NOT follow that order -- that's the order of investigation.  Your paper's arrangement will be unique to your topic, your voice and your insights.  (Though I generally recommend that a strong paper LEADS with its strongest ideas and biggest insights.)  There are a few sample papers available for you to read in the folder I shared with you in google docs.  These papers are not perfect but the provide a helpful example of various approaches to this assignment that have worked in the past.

You may find the grading rubric I will use to assess your paper in the google docs folder that I have shared with you.

Please click on this paragraph to read more about your proposal.

The draft is not graded, but I will read it, give you some narrative feedback and fill out a rubric to help you think about my expectations.  Draft-writing GREATLY enhances your ability to engage in good learning practice.  Hopefully that's what you're here for, so if I were you, I would prioritize this learning opportunity.  Please submit your proposal as a google document that you share with the class email (look at the syllabus for the address) not with the teacher's email address.

You will submit your FINAL draft as a NEW google doc and share it with the class email address.  I will not re-grade your original google doc.  I really want to have two separate documents that I can look at.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

How much does reading matter in this course?

Course Readings Packet. Available only in google docs.  If you have not successfully accessed the readings yet, please email the teacher and let him know.

Romanowski, W. (2007). Eyes wide open: Looking for God in popular culture. Brazos Press; Grand Rapids, MI.

Several times throughout the semester, I will assign reading in class, and you will be responsible to find that reading on the internet. I will give you the URL and post the link here, on my blog. These readings re just as important and valuable as the ones that have been committed to paper.

Being prepared for class by reading will profoundly affect your ability to understand the concepts we’re examining in class. Your reading won’t be assessed separately, but if you don’t use the concepts from the reading in your papers and to prepare for class lecture / discussion, you’ll find your test and paper grades suffering.

One big pitfall that students often fall into when studying popular culture industries, is solely depending on the personal knowledge that you bring to the class from your lives. This is important, valuable knowledge, and it’s one of the reasons why studying popular culture is so enjoyable, but this class affords you an opportunity to think in new ways about topics you’re familiar with.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Media Story Proposal

For your media story proposal, I would like you to turn in a two paragraph description of what you envision for your media story. Please "tell the story" that you imagine in the first paragraph. Tell the story artfully in a way that is compelling and engaging. Try to evoke the same sensations and emotions in the reader that you desire to evoke in the viewer once the story is complete. When I read this paragraph, I should know clearly WHO your main character is, WHAT MEDIA TEXT you're describing, the WORLD in which your story takes place, what kind of CRISIS drives your story forward, and what kind of INSIGHT (or commentary) you're offering about FORMATION through this kind of MEDIA TEXT.

 In the second paragraph, I'd like you to discuss the formal qualities of your story. What you'd like it to look and feel like visually, audibly, emotionally and aesthetically. In this paragraph, I expect you to reference other influences (media stories, television shows, films, commercials, videogames and/or art pieces). In this paragraph you should also describe in detail the process that you will use to complete this media story. Finally in your proposal, I would like you to list TWO media stories (from previous semesters) or digital-media stories (located online), including their URLs that you watched in preparation for this assignment.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

An Excellent Post.

You can find this excellent post on Media & Football (and tribes and commercialism and the profit motive) here.