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CMST 4E03 Media & Promotionalism

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Philip Rose


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 333

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:15-2:15

Course Objectives:

Students will acquire a sound understanding of theories and historical contexts of promotional culture, and how it has informed various aspects of contemporary social life. Students will be able adeptly to critique the promotional texts of different forms of media, campaigns, and phenomena using relevant concepts. They will refine their ability to research and communicate such ideas through formal presentations, classroom discussions, and written assignments. Emphasis will be placed on enhancing students' critical thinking as well as writing and presentation skills.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All required materials will be available through the library database and on Avenue to Learn.

Method of Assessment:


professionalism/participation: 20%
literature search (due in class Jan. 31): 5%
proposal/annotated bibliography (due in class Feb. 14): 10%
presentation (beginning Feb. 14): 5%
term test (in class Mar. 28): 35%
final project - term paper (due in class Apr. 4): 25%


Professionalism and participation (20%) --

Each student will be responsible for providing a very brief synopsis of a weekly reading/recording (2-3 mins) prior to our discussions. The following rubric should guide the observations of the class in our ongoing discussions of weekly materials:

a) most interesting aspects? Why? b) problematic aspects?
c) author’s oversights?
d) confusing aspects?

e) general thoughts/commentary/conclusions? f) at least 1 good discussion question
g) key terms and concepts?

Students are required to come to each class prepared to discuss the readings allocated for that week. While they can also make contributions to the learning environment of the course through Avenue to Learn, doing so will only make up in part for physical absence from classes. In preparation, students should keep notes regarding the main points and strengths or weaknesses of each course item for tutorial discussions and other term work.

Proposal/Literature Search 5% (due in class Feb. 7) -- Literature searches form part of the wider process of literature review when conducting research projects. This is how we determine what work has already been done on our chosen topics, and, thus, they shape our research accordingly. Literature search bibliographies must use APA style and include a minimum of 12 academic books or journal articles, in addition to any popular sources like news media, blogs etc. (max. two credible web resources), and selections from course readings. Students should describe their proposed topic/project in a short paragraph above their bibliographic listing. Assignments are required to be submitted in hard copy.

Introduction and thesis/annotated bibliography 10% (due Feb. 14) -- Proposals should include a working title for your paper, and will consist of your essay's introductory paragraph, describing your paper’s topic, and the argument or thesis you will be presenting (max 500 words). Students will also hand in a bibliography of at least 12 relevant academic sources that provide a launch pad for their research (in addition to sources from the course curriculum and credible web resources). Students must use APA style, and annotate their bibliographies, explaining in two to five sentences how the resource will contribute to their research. Assignments are required to be submitted in hard copy.

Presentation 5% (beginning Feb 14) -- Taking between 8-10 minutes to do so, you will briefly present (not read) your topic and argument to the class starting in week 8. Presenters


should be sure to outline any difficulties they may be having, report on the most important thing(s) they have learned thus far, and solicit from their colleagues any suggestions for the research project that they might offer. The following should provide a guide:

Class participation can be built in to the time, or you can speak for that length should you need to. Presentations should be structured much like your essay will be:

1) thesis statement/main arguments
2) the way you've organized your thoughts and research on the topic thus far
3) the way the body of your essay will accordingly be organized and roughly the content that corresponds to that organization
4) issues you may be having with your essay/research or general thoughts on how it's going 5) suggestions students may have for you

term test 35% (in class Mar. 28) -- The term test will be cumulative (January 10 to March 28) and consist of long answer questions that test knowledge of key concepts, questions, and issues dealt with in our readings and in-class discussions throughout the course.

final project - term paper 25% (due in class Apr. 4) -- You will use course concepts, theories, and methodologies in the final paper, which is due by the beginning of class on Apr. 4. Detailed information on expectations will be available on Avenue to Learn (and discussed in class). Assignments are required to be submitted in hard copy.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties: McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

There is a self-reporting tool available for McMaster Students, in order to report absences due to minor medical situations that last up to 3 days. This form provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work, but cannot be used during any final examination period. For further information, see

Since the university uses software that can check for plagiarism, you must submit papers directly in hard copy and electronically through the link to 'Turn it in' on Avenue to Learn. Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day due. Papers are late if they are submitted the same day after class. Late assignments must be submitted to me by email, in order to document completion date, but submit hard copies of late papers directly to me as soon as possible. Hard copies must be identical to electronic copies or risk a mark of 0%. Retain a copy of your paper for your own files. Extensions may be granted to individuals with special circumstances, but students must speak with me about this well in advance.

All late assignments incur a penalty of 10% per day late (starting immediately upon collection of papers in class); weekend days are treated separately, due to the fact that you can submit on Avenue. Assignments more than ten days late will not be accepted. If you know you will not be in class on an assignment due date, it is your responsibility to submit work early.


1. McMaster University approves the use of for the following reasons:
a) prevention – if students know their academic work is being checked for plagiarism, they

will hopefully use proper citation methods
b) protection of honest students and their work

c) detection – with the type of technology in common use today, it is necessary to use a detection tool which checks academic work against the Internet

2. Guidelines for the use of
a) papers should be submitted to only with the student’s knowledge;

b) the instructor should indicate that will be used in the course outline and/or on the assignment details;

c) the use of cannot be mandatory*. If a student refuses to submit his or her work to, he or she cannot be compelled to do so and should not be penalized. Instructors are advised to accept a hard copy of the assignment and grade it as per normal methods. The assignment can be subjected to a Google search or some other kind of search engine if the instructor wishes.

* Some students object to the use of because of ownership issues. All work submitted to becomes part of their database and is used to check authenticity of other student’s assignments. Some students object to their work being put in the database and others object to their work being used by

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:


no readings - what do we mean by "promotionalism" and "media"?


Postman, Neil. 1985. "Chapter 4 - The Typographic Mind". Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Penguin, 44-63.

O'Barr, William. 2005. "A Brief History of Advertising in America", Advertising and Society Review, Vol. 6, No. 3,


Postman, Neil. 1982. "Chapter 7 - The Adult-Child". The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Vintage Books, 98-119. (21) 

Strasser, Susan. 2003. "The Alien Past: Consumer Culture in Historical Perspective", Journal of Consumer Policy, Vol. 26, 373-393. (17)

Week 4: PROPAGANDA (Jan. 31) - Literature Search Due

Moore, Simon. 2012. "Ideals and Realities: Renaissance State Communication in Machiavelli’s The Prince and More’s Utopia", Public Relations Review, Vol. 38, 383-389. (14)

Bernays, Edward. 2005. Chapters 1-4. Propaganda. New York: Ig Publishing, 2005. 9-61. Week 5: PUBLIC DIPLOMACY (Feb. 7)

Ellul, Jacques. 1965. “Categories of Propaganda.” Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. New York: Vintage Books, 61-87. (26)

** LISTEN: O’ Connell. M. (2003) “Spin ‘til you win: American propaganda in the Middle East (Part 1)”. Ideas. Toronto: CBC Radio [AVENUE].

LISTEN: Dodd, P. (2010). “Soft Power, the Art of Persuasion: China” (Part 1)” AND "Soft Power, the Art of Persuasion: India" (Part 2). BBC World Service. London: BBC Radio [ONLINE].

Week 6: PROMOTING TERROR (Feb. 14)

Juergensmeyer, M. (2013) “Religious Terrorism as Performance Violence”, in M. Juergensmeyer, M. Kitts, and M. Jerryson (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 280-292.

Koerner, Brendan. 2016. "Why ISIS is Winning the Social Media War", Wired, April,

Hanlon, Patrick. 2015. "Isis as Brand Movement", Medium, February,

Feb. 21 -- Midterm Recess: No classes

Week 7: PUBLIC RELATIONS (Feb. 28) - Thesis Proposal/bibliography due.

Yaxley, Heather. 2012. "Exploring the Origins of Careers in Public Relations," Public Relations Review, Vol. 38, 399-407. (14)

Brown, Robert. 2006. "Myth of Symmetry: Public Relations as Cultural Styles," Public Relations Review, Vol. 32, 206-212. (12)

Xifra, Jordi. 2012."Sex, Lies, and Post-Trial Publicity: The Reputation Repair Strategies of Dominique Strauss-Kahn," Public Relations Review, Vol. 38, 477-483. (14)

Coombs, Timothy and Sherry J. Holladay, "Privileging an Activist vs. a Corporate View of Public Relations History in the U.S.," Public Relations Review, Vol. 38, 347-353. (14)

Week 8: ACTIVISM (Mar. 7)

Shepard, B. L. M. Bogad, & S. Duncombe. 2008. “Performing vs. the Insurmountable: Theatrics, Activism, and Social Movements”, Liminalities: A Journal ofPerformance Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 1-26.

John Lennon/Yoko Ono video Bed Peace


Dale, Stephen. 1996. "The Quest for Coverage: In Technology We Trust", McLuhan's Children: The Greenpeace Message and the Media. Toronto: Between the Lines, 106-130. (24)

Dale, Stephen. 1996. "Manufacturing Events", McLuhan's Children: The Greenpeace Message and the Media. Toronto: Between the Lines, 148-177. (29)



Nash, Kate. 2008. “Global Citizenship as Show Business: the Cultural Politics of Make Poverty History”, Media, Culture, and Society, Vol. 30, No. 2, 167-181. (14)

Moody, Paul. 2017. "U.S. Embassy Support for Hollywood’s Global Dominance: Cultural Imperialism Redux", International Journal of Communication, Vol. 11, 2912-2925, (13)

Week 11: PROMOTING MUSIC (Mar. 28) - term test

Marshall, Lee. 2013. “The Structural Functions of Stardom in the Recording Industry”, Popular Music and Society, Vol. 36, No. 5, 578-596.

Morrow, Guy. 2009. "Radiohead's Managerial Creativity", The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 15, No. 2, 161-176.

Week 12: PROMOTING DEMOCRACY? (Apr. 4) - final project due

Gorton, William, 2016. "Manipulating Citizens: How Political Campaigns’ Use of Behavioral Social Science Harms Democracy", New Political Science, Vol. 38, No. 1, 61-80.