Course Catalog


Media and Culture

In this course, culture is defined as the signs, symbols, values, beliefs, and behaviors that comprise a way of life for a given community. In all cultures there can be competing ways of interpreting cultural indicators and a diversity of meanings attached to them. Cultural hegemony is said to be established when a high degree of consensus is achieved; conflict arises when consensus breaks down. Accordingly, the meanings that are attached to various cultural indicators-the ways in which these signs and symbols are "represented"-whether developed from within a community or imposed from without, can have a powerful influence on the ways in which the community is perceived and on the quality of life within that community. In an age when the words, sounds, and images that are used to define communities come to us primarily via the media, representation becomes the connecting like between media and meaning and a central practice in the construction of culture. Understanding how community cultures are constructed and the role of media representations in that process is the central concern of this course. The course is divided into six two-week modules. The course is designed to teach students: *to analyze how the media are used to construct individual and group identity *To analyze the relationship between technology and cultural production *To analyze how the media shape our understanding of community *To investigate how the categories of race, class, gender, region and sexuality are represented in the mass media *To analyze bias, stereotypes, data, and information sources in the mass media *To analyze the difference between lived reality and media representation

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