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CMST 4D03 InternationalCommunication

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Dilyana Mincheva


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 308

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23536

Office Hours: Thursday, 3 pm – 5 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:

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 (10%)



Film Review (1000 words)


February 2, February 16, March 30 on A2L (drop box)

International News Review (1500 words)


March 2 on A2L (drop box)

Group Presentation (15 minutes)


March 30 & April 6

Research paper (2,500 words)


April 11 on A2L (drop-box)


Film review: this semester, in addition to screening numerous video clips and documentary selections, we are going to see together three movies (Fatih Akin’s Head On, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Babel, and Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown) that address the topics in our course. You should pick ONE of the movies and provide a short (1000 words) discussion of the film text. 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: February 2, February 16 and March 30.

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 2 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. Please, choose your case study carefully as it will become the foundation for your final research papers.  Your presentations will happen in the two final weeks of classes, as I would like YOU to have the final word in this course: March 30 and April 6.

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;

Research paper: you are expected to write a 2,500 – 3,000-word research paper based on the presentation topic that you have chosen for your previous assignment. Your final paper has to take into consideration the feedback that you have received from me on your presentation as well as the questions that have been raised by your peers during the class discussion. Your research may carry you beyond the course readings; however, the course concepts should play a prominent role in your writing. The formal requirement for the paper is that you use at least ONE course text and at least THREE other academic sources (that may or may not be included in the course readings) as your references. Your research paper is due on A2L on the last day classes.



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late submission 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. If you choose to use the five-day gratis period for submission of your assignments, you are not allowed to use MSAF in pursuit of further extensions.

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.

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:

Style Guides: In this class you can choose as your reference style APA, Chicago and MLA. However, remember to stay consistent with one citation style throughout your paper(s). Guidelines for how to use these three major citations styles in the humanities, can be found here:








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 5

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


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

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

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

Week 2. January 12

The figure of the other and imagination

Required Reading:

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

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 19

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-On Collision with German Cinema”,

Week 4. January 26

The figure of the migrant: political junctures

Required reading:

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

Jurgen Habermas, “For a Democratic Polarization: How to Pull the Ground From Under Right-Wing Populism”, in: Social Europe, November 2016,

Week 5. February 2

Migrants and bias: 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 8

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 7. February 16

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 8. February 23

Winter reading break, no class

Week 9. March 2

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 9

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

Required Reading:

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

Orhan Pamuk Excerpts from My Name is Red, available on Avenue.

Recommended reading:

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

Week 11. March 16

The figure of the fundamentalist: a peculiar cinematic perspective from Belgium

Film 3: Screening and discussion

Felix Van Groeningen, The Broken Circle’s Breakdown, 2013

Recommended reading:

Lawrence Davidson, “Fundamentalist Christians, Science and the Democracy”, in: Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture,

Week 12. March 23

The terrorist: is meaningful encounter with difference possible?

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

Screening (parts) and discussion:

Vice News, The Islamic State, 2014

Week 13. March 30

Group Presentations

Week 14. April 6

Group Presentations. Conclusions.