Survey of Mass Media

Sociology 43, UVM, Spring 2015

Sociology 43, University of Vermont, CRN 12715 1:00-2:15pm, T-Th, 427 Waterman

What's this course about?

This course looks at the social role and importance of modern media of communication and culture, from the book to the internet. It’s a sociology course, not a “how-to” media course (though it teaches things that should be useful to people who want to work in or with the media). It takes a serious look at the sociological literature and theoretical issues involved in understanding how the media functions in society. It explores questions like the following: What role have media like newspapers, television, and the internet played in making the modern world the way it is? What happens when so much of our communication happens on a "mass" basis, between people who don't see or even know each other? How can we study the signs, symbols, and cultural meanings that make up media messages? How are the media organized, and how does organizational form shape content? What difference does it make, for example, if media are funded with, say, advertising or tax money?

The schedule/study guide pages, accessible by clicking on the menus, tell you what the assignments are and when they are due, and also serve as the course’s study guide. Each page contains instructions, overviews of concepts, and questions to guide you as you work through the course material. Details may change during the semester; it is your responsibility to check the online syllabus regularly to make sure you are keeping up with changes. (If you are looking for an easy or entertaining course, please
read this.)

There is one required textbook for the course,
Mediamaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture, (2nd Edition) by Grossberg, Wartella, Whitney, and Macgregor-Wise, available at the UVM store or from online sources. Many other readings are available through online electronic reserve, accessible from the schedule/study guide pages. Click on one of the headings to select the scheduled readings and assignments for the course. (When asked for a name and password, use your UVM netid.)