Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


There is no prerequisite for this course.

Course Overview

This course examines representations of race, class, gender, and sexual identity in the media, with a particular focus on new media and how digital technologies are transforming popular culture. We will be considering issues of authorship, spectatorship, (audience) and the ways in which various media content (film, television, print journalism, blogs, video, advertising) enables, facilitates, and challenges these social constructions in society.

In addition, we will examine how gender and race affects the production of media, and discuss the impact of new media and digital media and how it has transformed access and participation, moving contemporary media users from a traditional position of "readers" to "writers" and / or commentators. Students will analyze gendered and racialized language and embodiment as it is produced online in blogs and vlogs, avatars, and in the construction of cyberidentities. The course provides an introduction to feminist approaches to media studies by drawing from work in feminist film theory, journalism, cultural studies, gender and politics, and cyberfeminism.

Distributed Open Collaborative Course

This course was designed as a a DOCC, a Distributed Open Collaborative Course, in conjunction with others running simultaneously at other colleges and universities by members of FemTechNet, an international consortium of feminist scholars, cultural producers, and educators. Students engaged in "conversations" in dialogue with each other and also with participants in other courses, using digital technology to supplement real-time class interactions. Read FemTechNet Documents.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to do the following:

  • Recognize diversity across audiences, content and producers of media
  • Identify stereotypes of gender, race, class, and sexual identity in media portrayals
  • Locate examples of framing, intersectionality, and symbolic annihilation in media
  • Analyze texts in context of cultural and social identities, considering how reality is socially and discursively constructed by media
  • Discuss media literacy in contemporary terms, in light of 21st century developments in online cultural production and new media
  • To engage in collaborative learning with an aim to embody and enact a different way of being scholars, through flattened hierarchies and collaboration within and outside of established institutions.

Course Texts

boyd, danah. It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780300199000.

Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. NYU Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780814743508. [Preview with Google Books]

Course Requirements

Attendance and participation are critical to your success in this course. Each class session will focus on one or more topics and be accompanied by appropriate readings. Please be sure to read all assignments in advance, come to class on time and be prepared to discuss your reactions and ideas. Failure to attend will adversely affect your grade. Missing more than two weeks of class is grounds for failure in this course. Active participation in discussion in class and responding to classmate's blog posts is necessary to receive full credit.

Attendance and participation 10
Blog commentary / collaborations with weekly posts 20
Critical response paper 20
Video keyword dialogue 20
Final project 30