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CMST 3RR3 Race, Religion and Media

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Faiza Hirji


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 305

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21480

Office Hours: Thursday, 12:30-1:20 PM or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Students will acquire/enhance an understanding of theories related to race, religion and media, as well as relevant methodologies, and will be able to apply these in an analysis of different media forms. They will refine their ability to research and communicate such ideas through informal presentations and written assignments.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Text: All readings for this course can be found online or on reserve.

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements:

Participation 10% ongoing

Journal Entry #1 5% due in class January 11, 2018

Journal Entry #2 5% due in class January 18, 2018

Journal Entry #3 10% due in class January 25, 2018

Journal Entry #4 10% due in class February 8, 2018

Journal Entry #5 5% due in class April 3, 2018

Quiz 10% in class on March 6, 2018

Essay 25% due in class on March 22, 2018

Final Exam 20% during the scheduled exam period

Note: Omitting to submit any of the above assignments may result in automatic failure.


Students are expected to attend class regularly and on time, and to participate in a manner that reflects knowledge of the assigned readings. This may include contribution to discussion, answering questions and completing in-class exercises, such as written responses to questions and film clips, group work or mock debates. Disruptive behaviour (which includes texting in class and using your laptop for non-course-related purposes) and tardiness will negatively affect the participation mark. Attendance in itself is not enough to secure full participation marks.


Please note: in this course, we discuss subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial. Students may hold strong opinions on some of the topics that will be discussed. Our classroom should be an inclusive and welcoming place. Please be thoughtful and respectful of others in your comments.


Journal Entries:

Students will submit short journal entries on the dates noted above. Each journal entry will respond to that week’s course content in some way: the instructor will outline a specific question or issue to be addressed in each journal entry. In some weeks, the journal entry is worth more because students will be asked to engage in a more complex exercise.


Journal entries will generally be a maximum of 2 pages double-spaced unless the instructor notes otherwise. Journal entries should be submitted both in hard copy and on Avenue to Learn. Each journal entry will be marked for degree of engagement with the subject matter, understanding of the complexities of issues raised, and relevance of examples cited. The writing style can be informal.



There will be a short quiz in class on March 10. This quiz will test students on examples and concepts learned to date. The quiz will include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions.


Research Essay:

Potential topics will be provided for the final essay, but students may also choose their own after consulting with the instructor. In each case, the essay will engage with subject matter discussed throughout the course, including appropriate theoretical concepts. The essay should include appropriate background on the topic, relevant theoretical perspectives and evidence supported by academic sources. The essay should be a maximum of 10-12 pages, including bibliography, and formatted using APA or MLA. The essay is due in class on March 22, 2018, and should also be submitted through Avenue to Learn.

NOTE: You must submit your own original work, completed independently. Work that has been submitted elsewhere, uses unattributed passages from the work of others, or that has been borrowed from another source, is considered plagiarism and the consequences may be severe. Please see below for further information regarding McMaster’s policy on academic integrity.

Final Exam:

There is a final examination for this course during the scheduled examination period. The exam will cover all content from the semester. The format will be explained in greater detail in class but it will include different types of questions.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each weekday after the deadline (e.g. an A grade becomes an A-, a B- becomes a C+, and so on). For your own protection, always keep a copy of any assignment you hand in.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

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. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

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. 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:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

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.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
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".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:


(Schedule of Readings will be provided at the first class)


January 4: Introduction and overview


January 9 & 11: Race Matters: The Difference that Race and Religion Still Make

**Journal Entry #1 due January 11**


January 16 & 18: Birth of a Nation: Media Myths We Still Believe

**Journal Entry #2 due January 18**


January 23 & 25: “All Lives Matter…”: News Coverage of Minorities

**Journal Entry #3 due January 25**


January 30, February 1: Been Around the World: Diasporic Media


February 6 & 8: Blurred Lines: When TV & Film Make the News, Part I

**Journal Entry #4 due February 8**


February 13 & 15: #OscarsStillSoWhite? TV & Film Part II


February 20 & 22: Winter Break!


February 27, March 1: Missing Voices: Indigeneity in Mainstream Media

Guest lecture on March 1 by Dr. Amber Dean


March 6 & 8: Diff’rent Strokes: Race and Religion in Children’s Media



March 13 & 15: Fight the Power: Race and Religion in the Music Industry

Guest lecture on March 13 by Dr. Christina Baade


March 20 & 22: Laughing Through the Pain: Comedy Tackles Race and Religion

**Essay due on March 22**


March 27 & 29: When the Personal is Always Political: Debates on Social Media


April 3 & 5: Light…at the Beginning and End of the Tunnel

**Final Journal Entry Due**


**Final exam will take place during the scheduled examination period**