Mass Communication Theory and Research Fall 2006 Dr. Deepa Kumar 16: 194: 631 Office

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Mass Communication Theory and Research

Fall 2006

Dr. Deepa Kumar

16:194: 631
Office: 112 SCILS Building

Office Phone: 732-932-7500 (8174)


Office Hours: Monday 2-3pm and by appointment.

The study of the media as a scholarly endeavor begins in the 20th century with the rise of several new forms of mass communication. Since then scholars have tried to grasp and theorize the nature of the mass media and their role in society. They have taken various approaches, based on different starting points, and developed several theoretical paradigms. Often the differences between theoretical models have led to debate and discussion within the field. This course introduces you to some of the most influential approaches to the study of the media and the key debates.
The course takes an historical approach beginning with the first dominant school of thought—Social Scientific Research. We will then move on to the next theory (the Frankfurt School) paying specific attention to the ways in which this theory poses challenges—theoretical, practical, philosophical, political and epistemological—to the previous theory. We then take up the next theory and so on.
We will focus on six theories—Social Scientific Research, the Frankfurt School, Cultural Studies, Political Economy, Postmodernism, and Feminism—locating them within an historical context so as to understand the social, political and economic conditions from which they emerge. We will also look at the three key areas of research in media studies—production (specifically media and globalization), texts, and reception.
Course Goals and Outcome

By the end of this course you should have a broad overview of the field of media studies with a grasp not only of the key media theories but also various research methods that will enable you to begin the process of conducting independent research on the media.

Required Texts
Paul Marris and Sue Thornham (eds) (2000). Media Studies: A Reader, 2nd Edition, Washington Square, NY: New York University Press.
Armand Mattelart and Michele Mattelart (1998). Theories of Communication: A Short Introduction, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications
There are also readings (and videos) on e-reserve at the Alexander Library.
Recommended Text
Christopher Simpson (1994). Science of Coercion, New York: Oxford University Press.
The following are the assignments upon which your grade will be determined.
1. Class participation and attendance—20%
This class is a seminar and therefore your participation in class discussion is vital. My role will be to explain complex theories and concepts, bring in extra materials to help you contextualize the readings, and raise discussion questions. I will lecture for only a part of the class period and the rest will be open for discussion. I will make every effort to enable you to participate in class discussion but you should come prepared by bringing comments or questions about the days readings to class.
2. Class Presentation and debate—20%
You will be responsible for one debate, and for leading the discussion for one or two essays in the latter part of the semester. Details will be provided in class.
3. Short papers—20%

You will be required to hand in two typed, double spaced 2-3 paged response papers. The first response paper needs be on an article from one of the six major theoretical approaches, the second on production, texts or audiences. Papers are due no later than one week after a particular article was discussed in class. Details will be provided in class.

5. Term Paper (due 12/11)--40%
A 20-25 page typed, double spaced paper on any topic of your choosing. You will need to discuss the topic with me and hand in a proposal.

MS=Media Studies

R=On Reserve at the Alexander Library


September 11: Introduction

September 18: Social Scientific Research (The Dominant Paradigm)
Harold Lasswell. “The Structure and Function of Communication in Society,” in L. Bryson (ed), The Communication of Ideas, pp. 32-51, New York: Harper, 1948. (R)

Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton, “Mass Communication, Popular Taste and Organized Social Action” (MS)

Charles Wright. “The nature and functions of mass communication,” Mass Communication: A Sociological Perspective, Random House, 1975. (R)
Mattelart and Mattelart, Theories of Communication, Chapts. 1-3
Denis McQuail, “The rise of the dominant paradigm,” in Mass Communication Theory, 3rd edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994.
September 25: The Frankfurt School
Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” in Dialectic of Enlightenment, New York: Heider and Heider, 1972. (R)
Theodor Adorno. “The Culture Industry reconsidered” (MS)

Mattelart and Mattelart, Theories of Communication, Chapt. 4, pp. 58-68

Christopher Simpson. “World War and Early Modern Communication Research,” and “The legacy of Psychological Warfare,” in Science of Coercion, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Recommended Reading
Arthur Asa Berger, “Marxism and Cultural Criticism,” Cultural Criticism: A Primer of Key Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1995. (R)
Douglas Kellner, “Cultural Marxism and Cultural Studies,” (R)
Martin Jay, Chapters 1 and 2, The Dialectical Imagination: A history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950, Boston: Brown, 1973. (R)
Christopher Simpson (1994). Science of Coercion, New York: Oxford University Press.
October 2: Debate: Social Science vs. The Frankfurt School
Paul Lazarsfeld. “Remarks on Administrative and Critical Communications Research,” Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences, Vol. 9, no. 1, 1941. (R)
Theodor Adorno. “Scientific Experiences of a European Scholar in America,” in D. Fleming and B. Baylin (eds), The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America 1930-1960. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press/Belknap, 1969. (R)
Todd Gitlin “Media Sociology: The Dominant Paradigm,” Theory and Society, 6, 2, 1978, pp. 205-53. (R)
Recommended Reading

Deepa Kumar (2006), “Media, Culture and Society,” in Lee Artz, Steve Macek and Dana Cloud (eds.) Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change it, New York: Peter Lang. (R)

October 9: Cultural Studies
Raymond Williams, “Mass Communication and “Minority Culture”(MS)
Stuart Hall, “Encoding/Decoding” (MS)
Stuart Hall, “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms,” in Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, and Sherry B. Ortner (eds), Culture/Power/History : A reader in contemporary social theory Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1994. (R)
Mattelart and Mattelart, Theories of Communication, Chapt. 4, pp. 68-90
Recommended Reading
James Carey, “Reflections on the Project of (American) Cultural Studies,” in Marjorie Ferguson and Peter Golding (eds) Cultural Studies in Question, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1997. (R)

Video: Stuart Hall on Representation

October16: Political Economy

Vincent Mosco (1996). “The Political Economy of Communication,” in The Political Economy of Communication, Thousand Oaks: Sage. (R)

Vincent Mosco (2006). “Revisiting the Political Economy of Communication,” Lee Artz, Steve Macek and Dana Cloud (eds.) Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change it, New York: Peter Lang. (R)
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky (1988), “A Propaganda Model,” in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, New York: Pantheon Books. (R)
Eileen Meehan, “Conceptualizing Culture as Commodity,” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 3, 1986, pp. 448-57. (R)

Eileen Meehan (2005), Why TV is Not our Fault: Television Programming, Viewers, and Who’s Really in Control, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, chapters 1 and 2 (R)

Mattelart and Mattelart, Theories of Communication, Chapt. 5

Video: The Myth of the Liberal Media

Oct 23: Postmodernism
Jean Baudrillard, “The Masses: The Implosion of the Social in the Media” (MS)
Angela McRobbie, “Postmodernism and Popular Culture” (MS)
Recommended Reading
Jim Collins, “Television and Postmodernism” (MS)
Arthur Berger, “Semiotics and Cultural Criticism” (R)
Oct 30: Debate: Political Economy vs. Cultural Studies (and postmodernism)
Nicholas Garnham, “ Political Economy and Cultural Studies: Reconciliation or Divorce?” Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Vol 12, No. 1, March 1995. (R)
Lawrence Grossberg, “Cultural Studies vs. Political Economy: Is Anybody Else Bored with this Debate?” Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Vol 12, No. 1, March 1995. (R)
James Carey, “Abolishing the Old Spirit World” Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Vol 12, No. 1, March 1995. (R)
Graham Murdock, “Across the Great Divide: Cultural Analysis and the Condition of Democracy” Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Vol 12, No. 1, March 1995. (R)
Recommended Reading
Doug Kellner “Overcoming the Divide: Cultural Studies and Political Economy” in Marjorie Ferguson and Peter Golding (eds) Cultural Studies in Question, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1997. (R)
Nov 6: Feminism
Annette Kuhn, “The power of the image” (MS)

Angela McRobbie, “Settling accounts with subcultures: A feminist critique,” in Tony Bennett, Graham Martin, Colin Mercer, and Janet Wollacott (eds) Culture, Ideology and Social Process, London: Open University Press, 1981. (R)

Carolyn Byerly and Karen Ross (2006). “Research on Women and Media: A short history,” in Women and Media: A Critical Introduction, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Recommended Reading
Lisbet van Zoonen, “New Themes” and “A New Paradigm?” Feminist Media Studies, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1994. (R)
Cathy Schwichtenberg, “Feminist Cultural Studies,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication, June, 1989. (R).
Nancy Hartsock, “The Feminist Standpoint,” in Sandra Harding (ed) Feminism and methodology : Social Science Issues, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. (R)
Videos: Killing Us Softly 3, and Dreamworlds 2


Nov 13: Media, Globalization and the Implications for Democracy

Edward Herman and Robert McChesney (1997), “The Rise of the Global Media” and the “Global Media in the late 1990s,” The Global Media, London: Cassell. (R)
Robert McChesney, “US Media at the Dawn of the 21st Century,” in Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. (R)

David Croteau and William Hoynes (2001), “Media, Markets and the Public Sphere” and “How Business Strategy Shapes Media Content,” The Business of Media, Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press. (R)

Jurgen Habermas, “The Public Sphere” (MS)
Recommended Reading

Vincent Mosco (2004). The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Dan Schiller (1999), “The Neoliberal Networking Drive Originates in the United States” and “Going Global,” Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (R)
James Curran, “Rethinking the Media as a Public Sphere,” in Peter Dahlgren and Colin Sparks (eds.), Communication and Citizenship: Journalism and the Public Sphere, New York: Routledge. (R)
Nov 20: Term Paper discussion

Nov 27: Textual Structures

John Fiske, “The Codes of Television” (MS)

Richard Dyer, “The Role of Stereotypes,” The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation 2nd ed, London : Routledge, 2002. (R)
Lisbet van Zoonen, “Media Texts and Gender” (R)

Dec 4: Ideology and Discourse

Stuart Hall, “Racist Ideologies in the Media” (MS)

Edward Said (1981), “Islam and the West” and “Communities of Interpretation” Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine How we see the rest of the world, New York: Pantheon. (R)
Deepa Kumar, “War Propaganda and the (Ab)uses of Women: Media Constructions of the Jessica Lynch Story,” Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3, November, 2004.
Videos: Sections from “Orientalism” and “Myth of the Clash of Civlizations”
Dec 11: Audience Analysis

Ien Ang (1995), “The Nature of the Audience,” in John Downing, Ali Mohammadi, Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi (eds), Questioning the Media, 2nd Edition, Thousand Oaks: Sage. (R)

David Morley, “Cultural Transformations: The Politics of Resistance” (MS)
Janice Radway, “Reading the Romance” (MS)

Mattelart and Mattelart, Theories of Communication, Chapt. 6

Recommended Reading

Denis McQuail, Jay G. Blumer and J. R. Brown, “The Television Audience: A revised perspective” (MS)
Philip Elliot, “Uses and Gratifications Research: A Critique” (MS)

 The schedule is subject to change and students are required to keep up with these changes.

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