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CMST 4D03 International Communication (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Dilyana Mincheva


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 305

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21480

Office Hours: Tuesday, 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:


This seminar course aims to introduce senior students to a range of interdisciplinary and critical approaches to the study of global media and communications. Through a critical focus on three major figures-tropes in global media –the migrant, the refugee and the fundamentalist/terrorist– we will try to understand the broad dimensions of the ‘crisis of representation’ of others, as well as the mediated anxieties and imaginations, linked to the large-scale displacements of people and their insurrectionary reactions, that constitute ‘the civilizational battlefield’ of the last decade. Following the trajectories and transformations of the migrant, the refugee and the terrorist/fundamentalist in world news, cinema and social media, we are going to ask a series of ethical questions about identity and our relationships and emotional obligations to people whose lives, sufferings and struggles we see primarily on screens. Since the course also tries to understand how others see ‘us’, along with how ‘we’ see others, at the end of the course we interrogate the possibilities of mediated (and non-mediated) meaningful encounters with difference.

Learning objectives:

• Define key concepts and theories in global media studies/international communication;

• Understand social, cultural, economic, and political implications of global media;

• Understand complex relationships between international producers and audiences;

• Analyze the relationship between globalization, media, society, and culture;

• Engage in debates regarding media and globalization;

• Think critically about theoretical and empirical claims about global media;

• Tie together and/or (re)think through theories, research approaches/methods, and concepts from previous years;

• Engage and appreciate the work of those involved in global media/communication practices;

• Consider how we engage with international media in our communities, and how we contribute in our

communities to global communication issues;


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:

Ivan Krastev, After Europe, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.

The rest of the required readings for this course are either designated with hyperlinks or will be made available on Avenue to Learn prior to lecture/seminar. Please, note that this is a reading and writing intensive senior seminar. You are expected to come to class prepared for discussion with all the readings done for the week. You are also supposed to treat all screenings and viewings in the course as course texts, which means that I expect you to watch actively, take notes and be prepared to provide a comment in the discussion that follows.

Method of Assessment:




Attendance (5%)

Class discussion, group activities (15%)



Two Film Reviews (1250 words)

20% (10 % each)


January 29, March 5 and March 19 on A2L (drop box)

International News Review (1500 words)


March 26 on A2L (drop box)

Group Presentation (20 minutes)


April 2 and April 9 in class

Discussion Post (1,500 words)


Submit on a rolling basis between weeks 2 and 14 of the semester on A2L (drop-box)


Film review: this semester, in addition to screening numerous video clips and documentary selections, we are going to see together two movies (Fatih Akin’s Head On, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Babel), and Zach Ingrasci’s and Chris Temple’s documentary Salam Neighbour that address the topics in our course. You should pick TWOof the three cinematic texts and provide a short (1250 words) discussion of it. What is the director’s main goal by telling the film story? How are the story and the characters reflecting broader political, social and cultural issues and/or trends? Who is the other in the film and how is the other portrayed? Is it true that “cinema, as the art of appearances, tells us something about reality itself? It tells us something about how reality constitutes itself” (Zizek). What are the strengths and the weakness of the movie? Please, treat each viewing as if it were a reading assignment for the class. Take notes during the film, for instance, ad chart your reactions to your viewing experience. And if you chose to re-watch the film, take note of the time stamps of the scenes, and what is happening in the scenes. Just like reading a scholarly essay, novel, or short story, one viewing isn’t often enough to fully understand the film. Multiple viewings generate novel and contradictory insights, and part of your task is to come to terms with those insights and contradictions. The due dates for this assignment are: January 29, March 5 and March 19 on A2L.

International news review: you will choose a topic of international interest (not restricted to refugees, migrants and terrorists) and compare how three different news outlets, in three different countries, cover the story. Ideally, you will be able to follow the coverage of the story in three different languages but if this is not possible, you can compare Anglophone coverage from Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, etc. I would like to see the original stories if they are written in English, French, Arabic, German, and Russian. Your comparison/discussion should not be longer than 1500 words. Further instructions will be provided in class. This assignment is due on March 26 on A2L.

Group presentation: for this assignment students are asked to form groups (of three or four), select a specific case-study (event, TV program, news story, film, documentary, etc.) of media coverage that relates to issues of globalization and international communication and produce an oral report of their findings. In addition to the topics of war, migration, terrorism and the refugee crisis, you can look at topics related to social media activism, entertainment, human trafficking and human rights debates, climate change, world music, world sports, international advertising, global techno-cultures and industries, etc. Your presentations will happen in the two final weeks of classes, as I would like YOU to have the final word in this course: April 2 and April 9.

Guidelines to consider as you plan your presentation:

1) Please prepare something to show in class and let me know at least one week in advance what audio/visual services you will require;

2) Prepare to discuss with the class how the example of international/global communications you selected is related to a particular theory, issue or topic from the course;

3) Plan to speak for at least 15 minutes and not longer than 25 minutes;

4) Prepare discussion questions or activities for the class to encourage involvement in the analysis of your case study;

5) Come prepared to present on the day you signed up for;

6) Feel free to come see me if you need help with refining an idea;

Discussion post: Throughout the semester we will discuss the figures of the refugee, the immigrant and the terrorist as they appear in a range of contemporary and historical communication environments (politics, cinema, documentaries, fiction, etc.). Based on the case studies that we discuss in class (films, documentaries, works of art, political case studies, fiction, etc.) you are expected to stage a hypothetical ‘meeting’ between three representative figures of these categories. What, for example, does Sibel in Fatih Akin’s movie Head-Onhas in common with Riley from Sense8and the child in Salam Neighbourwho lives in a refugee camp and does not want to go to school? How are they different? Can you imagine a world in which these three characters live together and fight for a common cause? Can you think about what may put them in different and even fighting camps? Why is it important to think about people, as different as these three figures are, as part of a shared world? You can connect and differentiate in multiple creative ways all the ‘protagonists’ (both fictional and real) that we will encounter this semester. What makes these people immigrants, refugees and terrorists? Is it important to you that you learn about these character’s journeys and destinies through a screen? Please, note that this assignment will be submitted on a rolling basis throughout the semester and will be made visible to your peers so that we can discuss your insights further in the classroom whenever the occasion arises. Although generally shorter and narrower in focus than a traditional essay, discussion posts should be as coherent and scholarly in tone. Think of these posts as a mini-essay, in which you want to have a single central argument and clear evidence to support that argument. You are expected to incorporate references to the course readings when you write your discussion post. There is no particular due date for this assignment. Your posts have to be submitted on A2L between week 2 and week 13 of the semester.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments policy: Late assignments for this class will be accepted without penalty within 5 days from the official deadline. After the passing of the five-day gratis period, I am not going to accept late assignments. Please note that MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the five day grace period.

Announcements: The instructor reserves the right to make adjustments in the schedule. Regardless of attendance, students are responsible for all announcements made in class, including adjustments to readings and assignments. Students are responsible for regularly checking A2L for any information that may be distributed online.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1. January 8

Introduction to the course: globalization, global media, and the other


Martha Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitism”, in: Boston Review, October 1994,

Henry Porter, “Terrorism, Migrants and Crippling Debt: Is This the End of Europe?” in:Vanity Fair, January 2016,

Week 2. January 15

The figure of the other and imagination

Required Reading:

Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”, available on Avenue to Learn.

Robert McChesney, “Global Media, Neoliberalism and Imperialism”, in: Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine, March 2001,

Screening and discussion:

Jehane Noujaim, Control Room: Al-Jazeera Versus Fox, 2004

Recommended reading:

Benjamin Lee and Edward Lipuma, “Cultures of Circulation: the Imaginations of Modernity”, in: Public Culture, vol. 14(1), 2002, pp. 191-213.

Week 3. January 22

The figure of the migrant: cinematic representations

Film 1: Screening and Discussion:

Fatih Akin, Head On, 2004 (movie)

Required readings:

Daniela Berghagn, “No Place Like Home? Or Impossible Homecomings In the Films of Fatih Akin”, in:New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, vol. 4, number 3, 2006, available here:

Recommended reading:

Arne Koch, “Fatih Akin’s Head-OnCollision with German Cinema”,

Week 4. January 29

The figure of the migrant: political junctures

Required reading:

Ivan Krastev, After Europe, Chapter 1: We, the Europeans, pp. 17-61.

Eugene Wolters, “The Figure of the Migrant: An Interview with Thomas Nail”, in: Critical Theory, December 2015,

Week 5. February 12

The figure of the refugee: clash of civilizations, clash of ignorance or clash of emotions?

Required readings:

Edward Said, “The Clash of Ignorance”, in: The Nation, October 2001,

Karim H. Karim and Mahmoud Eid, “Clash of Ignorance”, in: Global Media Journal, vol. 5, issue 1, pp. 7-27,

Week 6. February 19

No class. Reading break.

Week 7. February 26

Connected world/divided world: cinematic representations

Film 2: Screening and discussion:

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel, 2006

Recommended reading:

A.O. Scott, “Emotion Needs No Translation”, in: NY Times, October 2006,

Natalie Stendall, “The Anatomy of Babel: Innaritu, Arriaga & The Art of Thematic Storytelling”, in: Writers Love Movies, October 2014,

Week 8. March 5

The political economy of refugees

Required readings:

Slavoj Zizek, “Breaking the Taboos of the Left”, “The Political Economy of Refugees”, “Hateful Thousands in Cologne” in: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours, Melville House, 2016, available on Avenue.

Micro-case study: The Cologne incident from New Year’s Eve 2016: news analysis across print, Internet, TV and social media.

Week 9. March 12

Refugees, social media, social campaigns

Screening and discussion:

Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple, Salam Neighbour, documentary on Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp, 2016

Required reading:

Slavoj Zizek, “The Limits of Neighbourhood”, in: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours, Melville House, 2016, available on Avenue.

Week 10. March 19

The compassion deficit: Eastern Europe’s fear of the refugees

Required Reading:

Ivan Krastev, After Europe, Chapter 2: They the people, pp. 61-107.

Alexander Kiossev: “The Self-Colonizing Metaphor”, in:Atlas of Transformation,

Recommended reading:

Andras Sweitzer, “Eastern Europe’s Hard Attitude to Refugees Is Born Out of Trauma”, in: Guardian, October 2015,

Week 11. March 26

The terrorist: is meaningful encounter with difference possible?

Screening and discussion:

Jamie Roberts, The Jihadi Next Door

Required reading:

Fethi Benslama, “Dying for Justice”, in: UMBR(a): A Journal of the Unconscious, 2009, pp. 13-25, available on Avenue

Recommended Reading:

Alberto Toscano, “Fanaticism as Fantasy: Notes on Islam, Psychoanalysis and Political Philosophy”, in: UMBR(a): A Journal of the Unconscious, 2009, pp. 106-125, available on Avenue

Week 12. April 2

Group Presentations.

Week 13. April 9

Group Presentations.

Other Course Information:

Classroom Etiquette: During class you are required to switch off and put away all cell phones, electronic organizers, and all other communication devices in order to minimize distractions and foster an environment of mutual respect. Laptops may be used to take notes; however, if it becomes apparent to the instructor that your laptop is distracting other students you will be asked to leave the seminar. No form of discrimination or harassment will be tolerated in the classroom. Every member of the McMaster University Community has a right to equal treatment with respect to the receipt of education services and related services and facilities without discrimination or harassment on the basis of the following grounds: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability, gender and identity. For more information visit the Office of Human Rights & Equity Services Website: