Media and Publicity
What is a public; and how is it produced, mediated and circulated in modern society? This course examines historical and contemporary understandings of publicity in its various mediated forms. We will consider evolving concepts of publics and public opinion; tensions between ideals of public and private and the social conditions in which they are realized; and the formation of mass public subjects in politics, consumer culture, and civic life. A major focus of the course will be on the public culture around climate change, one of the greatest social, political and economic problems of our time. We will consider the ambiguities and contradictions shaping the idea of the public in the context of existential threats.
Writing as Craft and as Profession
This workshop-style course is designed for doctoral students to develop essential skills of academic writing and academic socialization. It addresses a wide range of writing-related issues, including style and voice, writing discipline, drafting, preparing for deadlines, writing literature reviews, narrative development and organization, models of accountability, taming the “internal editor,” writing up empirical research, profile- and network-building, and peer review. We will encounter and assess different genres – dissertation proposal, dissertation chapters, book reviews, grant proposals, journal articles, book chapters, CFP proposals, conference abstracts – and engage with different kinds of challenges in academic writing, including collaborative writing, disciplinary and interdisciplinary writing, and writing for public audiences.
Critical Research Methods
This course introduces doctoral students in the School of Communication & Information’s PhD program to a variety of critical research methods employed to study media and communication. Looking at the ontological and epistemological foundations of such methods, we will discuss what constitutes critical methodologies and how they differ from other methods within qualitative research. We will explore a range of commonly employed methods and their assumptions, including ethnography, interviews, historical methods, visualization, ideological criticism, and digital methods. We will pay particular attention to ethical issues and pragmatic techniques as we read texts by leading scholars who employ critical methods in their research. Students will become familiar with critical research traditions, see how they are applied to real life media phenomena, and develop their own research project using critical methodologies.
Critiquing Marketing Communications
Part of the Master of Communication and Media (MCM) degree program, this course offers a backstage look at how and why corporations, governments and nonprofit organizations develop a voice and communicate with different publics. We will “reverse engineer” prominent organizations’ profiling, positioning, strategy and campaigns in order to analyze the logics behind marketing practices and tactics. The roles of PR, advertising and audience metrics in marketing communication will also be examined. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own strategic communications plans for organizations in challenging social, economic and political contexts.
Media and Politics
This undergraduate course in the Journalism & Media Studies major is designed for students to examine how media, publics and politics intersect in contemporary Western democracies. We start by asking how the political process has been affected by developments in media over the last several decades. How have print media, television, and the Internet changed how we think about politics and political figures? We use Andrew Chadwick’s book, The Hybrid Media System, to understand how older (pre-Internet) and newer media logics (“technologies, genres, norms, behaviors, and organizational forms” [p. 4]) work together in political life. We draw on ideas from Evgeny Morozov, Eli Pariser, and Matthew Hindman to think about what it means for citizens to be politically engaged in the Internet age. Do our media platforms and protocols help or hinder democratic communication? We also inquire into the relationship between politics and journalism. Students spend the semester tracking a political issue through different media outlets and thinking critically about how journalists cover and frame issues, tell stories and interact with political agendas. We read texts by Noam Chomsky, Sarah Sobieraj, and Brooke Gladstone (among others) to consider how journalists “make” politics. We end the course with a careful look at how media leaks, hacks, and surveillance color political life, considering ideas from Biella Coleman, Luke Harding, and others.
What is a promotional culture? This undergraduate course in the Journalism & Media Studies major invites students to take a critical look at how our media and communications have become “promotionalized.” We get inside the structure and strategies of ad agencies, branding gurus, PR people, market researchers and strategic communications consultancies to understand how they do their work and with what purpose. We delve into both historical and contemporary texts that have claimed to offer an art and science of persuasion, from Machiavelli to Dale Carnegie to 21st century political advertising campaigns. We look at how and why media platforms and screens have driven us to adopt promotional behaviors in our everyday lives, and how media industries themselves have become obsessed with promotion. The aim of this course is for students to learn to be critical interpreters of promotional texts and devices, and reflexive participants in our contemporary promotional culture.