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CMST 4P03 SocialActivismAndTheMedia

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andrew Bieler

Email: bielera@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 333

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: TBA



Course Objectives:

This course examines the role of print, electronic and digital media in the relationship between social movements, the state and corporate interests. The portrayal of social movements within traditional and new media is explored, as well as the use of media by social activists. Social movement media cultures, practices and strategies are analyzed. Alternative, citizen, critical and radical media are introduced, as well as the potential and constraints of social media platforms for social movements. Creative activism is studied with attention the nuances of culture jamming, digital civil disobedience, and socially engaged art. The course aims to introduce social activism and the media in both philosophical and practical terms.  

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Debate the benefits and drawbacks of a range of activist media strategies
  • Synthesize and evaluate a range of arguments about the role of social media in protest events and activist strategies; interrogate a range of claims about the framing of social movements within print and electronic media
  • Develop an understanding of the role of alternative and autonomous media in activism; appreciate the role of socially engaged art in activism
  • Deepen understanding of activists’ use of art and media to challenge symbolic and cultural forms
  • Develop competency in collaborative writing; co-author a wiki page on activist media
  • Further public speaking and scholarly presentation skills

Course Structure

The course is structured by the following four units: 1) social movements, traditional and alternative media, which is covered in weeks one to four; 2) new media and contemporary movements, which is the focus of weeks five to eight; 3) creative activism, which is the focus of weeks nine to eleven; 4) presentations, which is the focus of weeks twelve and thirteen. The first unit introduces the field of social movement studies and then digs into the ways in which research has interrogated the portrayal of social movements in print and electronic media. The use of alternative media by social movements is introduced, including in relation to autonomous, citizen, community, do-it-yourself, and radical media. The second unit digs into current debates about the role of social media in protest events and activist media strategies, as well as the use of social media by corporate and state actors. We reflect on these themes by examining recent social movements. In the third unit, we explore the area of creative activism with special attention to culture jamming, digital civil disobedience and socially engaged art practices. The final unit is devoted to project presentations.  


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Materials are available via Avenue to Learn. Some of the readings can be downloaded directly through Avenue to Learn, whereas others will require you to log on through the library system. Additional, optional readings will be recommended during the course.

 


Method of Assessment:

Assignments, weight and due dates:

Assignments

Assignment components

Due date

Percentage: components

Percentage: assignments

Participation

 

Attendance & seminar participation

Weekly

10%

20%

Overview presentation

Sign up

10%

Case Study

Wiki page

03/16/2017

10%

25%

Case study presentation

Sign up

10%

Individual reflection

03/16/2017

5%

Final Project

Proposal

02/02/2017

5%

35%

Presentation

Sign up

10%

Final paper or project

04/13/2017

20%

Critical Responses

8 Critical response papers

Weekly

2.5%

20%

 

Participation

Contributions to seminar conversation (10%). This includes regular attendance and active participation in the weekly seminar.

Overview presentation (10%). For one week of the course, you will prepare a short (i.e., 5-7 minute) overview presentation that includes the following elements: a) summary of key themes in the assigned readings; b) three questions for class discussion; c) one-page handout that includes additional resources relating to the weekly theme and the discussion questions. There will be an opportunity to sign up for an overview presentation on the 5th of January.

Critical Responses

Students will write short (i.e., 500 words) critical response papers on a weekly basis. These papers will be in response to a question posed by the instructor about the week’s learning materials. The questions will be given at the end of each class for papers due the following week. Response papers should be submitted in-class or via Avenue to Learn for each week between second week of January and the third week of March. Students may choose to skip the response paper assignment on the week they are presenting their case study. The final mark will be based on the best eight response papers submitted over the course of the term.

Case Study

Co-author a case study on activist media. The case study may look at any object of study that is pertinent to this course. For example, it might focus on a specific social movement organization, media strategy, campaign, alternative media text, art collective, intervention, or exhibition. Please consult with the instructor about possible topics. Working in a small team (i.e., 2-3 people), you will co-author a case study that includes both a wiki page and an oral presentation. The presentation component of the assignment is an opportunity to share your work and get constructive feedback on the development of the wiki page. The wiki page should offer an accessible and engaging introduction to your chosen object of study. Working in a project team on the class wiki, you will create a wiki page that summarizes key themes, links to appropriate articles, websites, and videos, and includes appropriate visualizations (e.g., photographs, tables). Further information on the wiki page will be given in the first week of the course. This part of the assignment is worth 10% It is due on the 16th of March.

The second component of the case study assignment is a twenty-minute oral presentation that will be delivered in-class. The case study presentation should include the following components: a) 15-minute presentation of the case study; b) 5-minute facilitated discussion of the case study; c) solicitation of feedback on the in-progress wiki page. This component of the assignment is worth 10% There will be an opportunity to sign up for a presentation on the 5th of January.

The final component of the assignment is a one-page (i.e., 500 words) individual reflection. This reflection should address your individual contributions to the case study, areas for improvement, and learning experience. This component of the assignment is worth 5% It is due on the 16th of March.

Final Project

Create a final project that interrogates social activism and the media. The final project may be either of the following options: a) research paper; b) research creation project. The two options are outlined in further detail below. We will review the two options and further assignment details in the first and third weeks of the course.

Option A. The research paper option is a three—part assignment beginning with the composition of a proposal and ending with the composition of a paper. In the first stage of this assignment, you are required to compose a 500—word proposal for a research paper. The proposal should include an appropriate title at the top of the page, followed by the proposal itself, and then a list of five keywords that identify areas of interest (e.g., twitter, social media, student movements, protest events, higher education). The keywords should be general areas of interest that relate to the content of the proposal. The word limit for the proposal is strict but does not include the abovementioned information on title and keywords. The proposal should clearly identify the object of study in the proposed research paper (e.g., a particular social movement organization), as well as, the questions that will be asked about this object of study. In addition, it is expected that the proposal will engage with theory and literature that is pertinent to the proposed study. The proposal should be submitted via email to the course director and three hard copies should be submitted in class on the 26th of January. The hard copies should include two copies without your name or any other identifying information and one copy with your name clearly written at the top. Your proposal will be reviewed by two peers and by the instructor. The first part of the assignment is worth 5%

Paper Presentation. In the second stage of this assignment, you will give a paper presentation. In a short presentation, you will give an overview of your research paper. The final presentation should give an overview of the key insights and scholarly significance of the paper. Paper presentations will be scheduled for the 30th of March and the 6th of April. This part of the assignment is worth 10%

Final research paper. In the final stage of this assignment, you are required to write a research paper. The paper should be based on the proposal and should build upon feedback received during peer review. The final paper should be 12 pages (12 pt font, double spaced) and will engage in a meaningful discussion with literature pertaining to your object of study. It is expected that you will reference scholarly literature beyond what has been assigned for this course. In your final submission, please include your original abstract, any peer review feedback you received, and the final paper with all references (APA or MLA format). This part of the assignment is worth 20% and is due on the 13th of April.

Option B. The research creation option is a three—part assignment beginning with the composition of a proposal and ending with a research creation project. In the first part of this assignment, you are required to compose a 500—word proposal for a creative research project such as, but not limited to, a visual artwork, short video, photographic essay, or podcast. The proposed project should be feasible within the time and resource constraints of the course. The proposal should include a title, short description, and five keywords. The keywords should be general areas of interest that relate to the content of the project. The word limit for the proposal is strict but does not include the abovementioned information on title and keywords. The content of the proposal should address the key themes, media, materials, equipment, and scope of the proposed project. The proposal should be submitted via email to the course director and three hard copies should be submitted in class on the 26th of January. The hard copies should include two copies without your name or any other identifying information and one copy with your name clearly written at the top. Your proposal will be reviewed by two peers and by the instructor. The first part of the assignment is worth 5%

Presentation. In the second stage of the assignment, you will give a presentation of your project. In a short presentation, you will give an overview of your creative project, including in relation to its’ scholarly significance and any key insights. Presentations will be scheduled for the 30th of March and the 6th of April. This part of the assignment is worth 10%

Research creation project. In the final stage of the assignment, you will submit your project. Alongside the creative project, you will submit a five-page reflection paper that describes the key themes of your creative project in relation to course themes and literature (APA or MLA format). In your final submission, please include your original proposal, any peer review feedback you received, your final project and reflection paper. This part of the assignment is worth 20% and is due on the 13th of April. Further information on the final project will be given during the first few weeks of the course.  

Referencing

You can use either APA or MLA styles. However, you must stick to one style throughout the term. Please let me know which style you plan to use when you submit your first assignment. See library guides at:

http://library.mcmaster.ca/guides/apa-style-guide

http://library.mcmaster.ca/guides/mla-style-guide


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Submission process

Please submit all work in hard copy in class by the day it is due or, alternately, via Avenue to Learn (http://avenue.mcmaster.ca) drop box by the stated due date. Final assignments must be submitted via Avenue to Learn, including the final project or paper. The wiki page should be published on the class wiki by the due date. Please do not drop off assignments in the CMST office. Please maintain back-up copies of all your assignments. All assignments should be submitted with the following document name format: Surname, Date, Assignment Title.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties

All late assignments will be penalized 5% per day, including weekends and holidays. Critical responses will not be accepted late. Technical difficulties do not warrant extension. Remember to back up your work. 


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 www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

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 mcmaster.ca/msaf/. 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 sas@mcmaster.ca. 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:

The bibliography includes the complete reference information for texts that will be drawn upon in this course. Assigned readings and specific page numbers for book length works are listed in the course schedule. 

Bibliography

  1. Barker, A. J. (2015). ‘A direct act of resurgence, a direct act of sovereignty’: reflections on Idle No More, Indigenous Activism, and Canadian Settler Colonialism. Globalizations, 12(1), 43-65. doi: 10.1080/14747731.2014.971531
  2. Boler, M. (2008). Introduction. In M. Boler (Eds.) Digital media and democracy: tactics in hard times (pp. 1-36). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  3. Carroll, W. M., & Ratner, R. S. (2010). Social movements and counter-hegemony: lessons from the field. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry, 4(1), 7-22.
  4. Critical Arts Ensemble. (2001). Digital Resistance: Explorations in Tactical Media. New York: Autonomedia.
  5. Della Porta, D., & Diani, M. (2006). Social movements: an introduction. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
  6. DeLuca, K. M. (1999). Image politics: the new rhetoric of environmental activism. New York: The Guildford Press.
  7. Finkerpearl, T. (2013). What we made: conversations on art and social cooperation. Durham: Duke University Press.
  8. Gitlin, T. (1980). The whole world is watching: mass media in the making & unmaking of the new left. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  9. Haunss, S. (2015). Promise and practice in studies of social media and movements. In L. Dencik and O. Leistert (Eds.), Critical perspectives on social media and protest: between control and emancipation (pp. 13-29). London: Rowman & Littlefield.
  10. Hensby, A. (2016). Open networks and secret facebook groups: exploring cycle effects on activists’ social media use in the 2010/11 UK student protests. Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, 1-13. doi: 10.1080/14742837.2016.1201421.
  11. Jeppesen, S. (2016). Understanding alternative media power: mapping content & practice to theory, ideology, and political action. Democratic Communiqué, 27, 54-77.
  12. Kester, G. (2004). Conversation pieces: community and communication in modern art. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  13. LaDuke, W. (August 25, 2016). What would Sitting Bull do? LA Progressive. Retrieved from: https://www.laprogressive.com/protesting-dakota-access-pipeline/
  14. Lievrouw, L. A. (2011). Alternative and activist new media. Malden: Polity Press.
  15. Lowe, R. (2012). Rick Lowe: Project Row Houses. In N. Thompson (Eds.), Living as form: socially engaged art from 1991-2011 (pp. 256-257). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  16. Martineau, J. (2015). Rhythms of change: mobilizing decolonial consciousness, Indigenous resurgence and the Idle No More movement. In E. Coburn (Eds.) More will sing their way to freedom: Indigenous resistance and resurgence (pp. 229-253). Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
  17. Snelgrove, C., Dhamoon, R., Corntassel, J. (2014). Unsettling settler colonialism: the discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(2), 1-32.
  18. Spiegel, J. B. (2016). Performing “in the red”: transformations and tensions in repertoires of contention during the 2012 Quebec student strike. Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, 15(5), 531-538.
  19. Uzelman, S. (2005). Hard at work in the bamboo garden: media activists and social movements. In A. Langlois, & F. Dubois (Eds.), Autonomous media: activating resistance & dissent (pp. 17-29). Montreal, QC: Cumulus Press.
  20. Youmans, W. F., & York, J. C. (2012). Social media and the activist toolkit: user agreements, corporate interests, and the information infrastructure of modern social movements. Journal of Communication 62(2), 315-329.
  21. Züger, Theresa., & Milan, Stefania. (2015). Sand in the information society machine: How digital technologies change and challenge the paradigms of civil disobedience. The Fibreculture Journal, 26. 

Course Schedule:

Week

Topic

Readings

Assignments

1

(01/05/2017)

 

 

Introducing the course

Boler, M. (2008).

 

 

 

Sign up for a case study presentation date and overview presentation

 

2

(01/12/2017)

 

 

Social Movements

Carroll, W. M., & Ratner, R. S. (2010); Della Porta, D., & Diani, M. (2006): pp. 1-29

 

Critical response #1 due

3

(01/19/2017)

 

 

Social movements and traditional media

Gitlin, T. (1980): pp. 1-7, 32-45; Deluca, K. M. (1999): pp. 1-22.

Critical response #2 due

 

4

(01/26/2017)

 

 

Manifestations of alternative media: DIY, citizen, critical, and radical media

 

Jeppesen, S. (2016); Uzelman, S. (2005).

Critical response #3 due

Proposal due

Case study presentations

5

(02/02/2017)

 

 

Social movements and new media: cyber-optimists, pessimists, and beyond

Haunss, S. (2015); Youmans, W. F., & York, J. C. (2012). 

 

 

Critical response #4 due

Case study presentations

 

6

(02/09/2017)

 

 

Student movements

Hensby, A. (2016); Spiegel, J. B. (2016).

 

 

Critical response #5 due

Case study presentations

7

(02/16/2017)

 

 

Indigenous movements: Idle No More

 

Barker, A. J. (2015); Martineau, J. (2015).

Critical response #6 due

Case study presentations

8

(03/02/2017)

 

 

Reflections on Standing Rock & Solidarity

LaDuke, W. (2016); Snelgrove, C., Dhamoon, R., Corntassel, J. (2014).

Critical response #7 due

Case study presentations

9

(03/09/2017)

 

 

Culture jamming: making a point with timely interventions

Lievrouw, L. A. (2011): pp. 28-41, 72-97.

Critical response #8 due

Case study presentations

10

(03/16/2017)

 

 

Digital civil disobedience

Critical Arts Ensemble. (2001): pp. 13-27; Züger, Theresa., & Milan, Stefania. (2015).

Critical response #9 due

Wiki page and personal reflection due

11

(03/23/2017)

 

 

Socially engaged art: Reflecting on Project Row Houses  

G, Kester. (2004): pp. 1-12; Finkerpearl, T. (2013): pp. 132-151; Lowe, R. (2012).

Critical response #10 due

 

12

(03/30/2017)

 

 

Final project presentations

 

Final project presentation due

13

(04/06/2017)

 

 

Final project presentations

 

Final project presentation due

 

(Final papers due April 13th).