Plan for Class
As I mentioned in the email I sent you, we’re going to have discussion the way a graduate seminar is supposed to have discussions–ALL of you will contribute to the class discussion in two ways:
- Referencing and commenting on the reading
- Discussing the topic you’ll cover for the final project
I’ll risk privileging a type of project by showing a past multimodal project (or two), but only if the class fulfills the graduate seminar goal of full participation. At a minimum, you’ll need to mention your topic, so I can direct you to one of the groups of readings listed for next week. If your topic is better served by a reading outside those groups, I’m more than happy to point you to alternative readings.
Your final project is to present an argument about media in 8 minutes. You must speak for at least 2 of those minutes, but the final project “artifact” is up to you. Before we get there, though, you need to consider your interests and theoretical penchant(s) for this final project. With what/which lens/es do you wish to analyze a media topic? We’ve discussed gender, economics, language, polysemy (Derrida), technology, and, of course, rhetoric. You have plenty of approaches possible with which to analyze and present your arguments.
Special Note on Participation
Many of you have participated very well this semester. Some of you have barely said anything during our class meetings. Please review the syllabus and updated Participation grade on the Assignments Page. The grade is 25% of your entire grade. If you’ve never participated, skipped classes, or spoken very little, you’re at risk of having a maximum final grade of 75%, a ‘C,’ which is practically a failing grade in Graduate School.
While I’m being more lenient this semester (pandemic), that doesn’t mean you’re not expected to contribute to class discussions, and you can’t expect a good grade if you’ve participated very little. Also, as stated on the Assignments Page, “If you’re not in class, you can’t receive credit for [participation].” Missing a class or two won’t affect you unless you don’t participate when you’re attending.
You may use the chat for yourselves, but I will not even look at it. Therefore, if your discussion happens in the chat and isn’t spoken in class, it DOESN’T count as participation.
Ch. 13 “Youth Culture and Resistance”
I think Barker & Jane should have gone with the title “Resistance is Youthful,” but I guess they cover more than that. There’s long been the image of the angsty teen, and some of you might have been an angsty teen. The chapter focuses (not surprisingly) on the economics of youth, and I hope we think about the technologies of youth fi such things even exist. It might be difficult to argue that “youth” is a technology, but there is definitely a science of childhood, adolescence, old age, and emerging adulthood.
Because some of you might be in the “emerging adulthood” category, let’s focus on that at some point tonight. What are the cultural assumptions we can make about Americans between the ages 18-29 (Yes, this question needs to be critiqued, but that’s a given)? Talk of average life spans during this pandemic got me thinking about the need for scientific classifications of age and aging. After all, if the average lifespan were less than 40, would the field of gerontology ever be pursued?
You’ll notice there aren’t any quotes below. You’re going to reference parts of the chapter to engage in a discussion. If you haven’t read, it’ll be obvious. One thing that’s on your side is that all of you have been youths (some more recently than others), so you’ve experienced “youth culture,” which isn’t monolithic or universal. I expect lots of discussion on this.
A Note on Gender Analysis
Based on some of your interests related to gender and sexuality studies, I’d like to direct us to a discussion on children’s media as a site of gendered reproduction.
What are some “prevailing” characteristics of Americans in the following age groups?
- Ages 10-20 (Consider whether or not this is a problematic age range in terms of marking)
- Ages 21-30
- Ages 31-40
- Ages 41-50
- Ages 51-60
What can age suggest? Even if there are no immutable truths associated with age, we have general assumptions about people based on age. Of course, age is relative and is one factor concerning identity.
Consider the way youth culture is framed in these different representations. Sometimes empirical evidence is useful* to cultural studies. While no number can represent the totality of anything to do with the social, statistics can help identify a disconnect (or compatibility) with media representations of reality. Consider the following (not very clear) graph on violent crime:
*That’s just to see if the social scientists are awake.
- Here’s a graph from “Recent Violent Crime Trends in the United States” by the Congressional Research Service (2018)–you want page 2 (6th of the PDF).
Now, let’s watch two media representations of youths. Notice when they were released and the corresponding crime statistics above.
- Trailer for Over the Edge (1979)
- Dazed & Confused (1993), which is set in May 1976
Consider the tone of these two portrayals of youth (male youths mainly) culture. Also, what might these video game statistics complicate about Barker & Jane’s discussion of youth culture?
Italian American Identity
Ch. 13 discusses the issue that subcultures aren’t authentic because there’s no authentic capital-C Culture from which to respond. Let’s consider representations of Italian or, more “accurately,” Italian-American identity.
Ch. 14 “Cultural Politics and Cultural Policy”
The last chapter! You’d think it would be more of a review, but it’s pretty densely packed with information and ends on hope…this edition was published in 2016, so it probably went to press in late 2015 and had no clue what the world would look like today. But I digress. This chapter discusses policing, gamergate, and technologies among many other topics. While there’s lots you can say about those topics, let’s remember to reference the reading. Some of you have lots to say about tangential topics to the reading and then little or nothing directly about the reading. That is a clear signal that you aren’t reading.
Those of you from Spring 2020’s Rhetorical Theory class might remember Cy Knoblauch’s use of Richard Rorty in his discussion of “Expressivist Rhetoric.” Interestingly, we were having fun with Derrida a year ago–April 27th.
We need to figure out what are the machinery of government and cultural technologies. What do bureaucracies do?
What do medicine, education, and the media have in common?
Again, as with Ch. 13, you’ll notice there aren’t any quotations. Let’s discuss this chapter.
Depending on the level of participation, I’ll show you examples of past multimodal projects that might inspire your final project. Remember, your technical abilities aren’t important to your grade. How well you make and defend your argument is vital. If you haven’t mentioned your topic (in class or via email), now is the time, so I can point you towards sources that may be helpful for your final project and presentation.
Finishing a book is always a cathartic experience, and finishing a huge book is much more so. The readings for next week depend on your interests. Because not all of you will have read every one of the readings, we’ll have to be good about moving the discussion from topic to topic. I expect you’ll be talking about the readings in relation to your final project. If we were face to face, this class would be more of a workshop, so I expect lots of “crosstalk” in the class. Test your arguments and perspectives on your fellow classmates.