Soc. 243, (CRN 13436), Spring 2017, Wednesday, 4:05 - 7:05 pm, Room 100 Sociology, 31 So. Prospect St.

This course is about the mass media’s role in society. It is scholarly; we will mostly read original scholarly research. As a senior seminar, this course is intended to teach students something about serious scholarship, and about how to think intelligently about the media: what media scholarship is, what questions it asks, how it tries to answer them, how to make sense of it in general.The mass media is controversial and complex; there are no certain or easy answers about it. So this course does more to teach you how to think intelligently about the media than it provides you with one or another viewpoint on it.

Four books have been ordered for the course through UVM’s bookstore:
  • Required: Tim Jordan, Internet, Society and Culture: Communicative Practices Before and After the Internet, Bloomsbury Academic; Reprint edition (July 17, 2014) ISBN-13: 978-1628923483 Paperback
  • Required: Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, Better Living Through Reality TV: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship, Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 29, 2008) ISBN-13: 978-1405134415 Paperback
  • Required: Nikki Usher, Making News at the New York Times, University of Michigan Press (April 24, 2014) ISBN-13: 978-0472035960 Paperback
  • Recommended: Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 7, 2012) ISBN-13: 978-0393342468 Paperback

Ebook (e.g., Kindle) versions of these books, if available, are acceptable, as long as you bring a device for reading the book to class when the book is under discussion. Additional required readings can be accessed via the schedule of assignments.

Assignments: class participation is required and counts for 10% of your grade. You will also turn in reading journals (10%) weekly, present an author overview to the class (10%), write a semiotic analysis (10%), and write a research paper with multiple components (60%). There are likely to be other short assignments during the semester as well. I am usually happy to be flexible with deadlines if you notify me one week in advance; if you notify me later than that, I won't be. All assignments must be completed to pass the course.