This is an archived course. A more recent version may be available at


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

This course examines representations of race, class, gender, and sexual identity in the media. We will be considering issues of authorship, spectatorship, (audience) and the ways in which various media content (film, television, print journalism, 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.

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

Required Texts

Buy at Amazon Falk, Erika. Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780252075117.

Buy at Amazon Dines, Gail, and Jean McMahon Humez. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002. ISBN: 9780761922612.

Other resources include YouTube, online news and video outlets, and livecasting/podcasting sites (such as

Course Requirements

Attendance and participation 10%
Blog with weekly posts on assigned readings and relevant current event topics 20%
Critical response papers 30%
Final paper/project 40%


Attendance and Participation

These 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 will cause you to fail the course. Active participation in discussion in class is necessary to receive full credit.


Each student will keep a blog in response to class topics and readings. You are encouraged to update it frequently, but at least a minimum of one post a week, including images and links when relevant. Your blog may be a place where you choose to explore and develop ideas for the final project. We will be reading and responding to each other's blogs, so please keep the content germane to the class.

Critical Response Papers

Two short critical response papers (2-4 pages each) will be due during the semester. These essays are opportunities for you to reflect on a key concept through a close critical reading of one text, or a comparison of two. You may wish to pursue a theoretical question raised in our Stellar discussions or in class in more detail in your critical response papers.

Final Paper/Project

The final research paper or project represents the cumulative effort of your work this semester. It should be 12-15 pages in length. The final will demonstrate your proficiency in applying concepts relevant to race, class, sexual identity and gender analysis of media studies to a specific cultural production of your choice. This assignment may also be created as a Web presentation for publication in conjunction with OpenCourseWare.

Additional Requirements

Please be sure that all assignments are word-processed, double-spaced documents in 12 point type of a conventional font. Make sure to include page numbers when quoting from source texts. SP.414 assumes abilities in spelling, sentence construction, punctuation and other basic writing mechanics. For additional practice with these writing skills please visit the Writing Center in the Stata Center Building. If English is your second (or third, fourth) language and you need or would like additional help with English composition, please speak to me right away.

Grading Policies

In order to receive a passing grade for this course, all assignments must be completed. Please talk to me in advance if you know you will have to miss class and/or need an extension on an assignment. It is preferable to negotiate an extension rather than be absent on a day a paper is due, as I will not accept late papers without prior notice.