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CMST 3K03 Media Audiences&Effects (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2019

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Selina Mudavanhu

Email: mudavans@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 307

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 25220

Office Hours: Wednesday, 12p.m. – 1p.m. or by appointment



Course Objectives:

Course Description: This course examines the media/audience relationship in light of different theories of media effects including the magic bullet, agenda-setting, uses and gratifications, active audiences and cultivation analysis.

Learning Goals: Audiences loom large in both popular and scholarly accounts of media and culture – as consumers of television programs, films, newspapers and magazines, video games, novels, music; as the commodities sold by broadcasters and publishers to advertisers; as fans and enthusiasts of movie franchises, sports teams, and the like. Yet for all their significance to both industry and academia, audiences have remained elusive figures to those who pursue them – inscrutable in their desires and interests, fickle in their tastes and passions, incomprehensible in their anathemas and animosities.

Surveying different classical and contemporary approaches, theories, and methodologies for understanding and studying audiences, the course will aim to consider all of these facets of audiences’ engagement with commercial media, with a special emphasis on the recent construction of audiences, within cultural studies (and fan and reception studies in particular), as active, resistant, and creative subjects. The course concludes with a consideration of the shifting relationship between authors, audiences, and texts that has developed with the rise of the Internet and digital media which, according to Henry Jenkins, has delivered a kind of “convergence culture”: a culture in which audiences are at once producers and consumers, authors and readers. Above all, we will be concerned with how audiences are persuaded, enlightened, manipulated and influenced by the texts they consume – but also how they challenge, appropriate, reinterpret, or refuse the meanings and discourses embedded in those texts. Upon completion of the course, students will:

  • Possess an understanding of the significance of studying audiences to communication, media, and cultural studies;  
  • Be able to distinguish between various theories of audiences and media reception and consumption, as well as identify their respective strengths and weaknesses and apply them to different contemporary examples of media;
  • Have critically reflected upon the relationship – and contradictions – between scholarly discourse on audiences, on the one hand, and the lived and felt experience of being a member of an audience, on the other.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All readings will be available on Avenue to Learn or via the McMaster library catalogue. There are no texts that need to be purchased for this course. Various videos will be screened in class. In that regard, you are required to treat all screenings and viewings in the course as course texts. Please watch actively, taking notes in preparation for discussions that follow. If you miss the class screening of the superhero movie, Black Panther, you might need to rent the movie or purchase it online in order to do the assignment linked to it.


Method of Assessment:

EVALUATION (GRADING)

Your grade will be based on the following:

10% Class attendance and participation (Due: Weekly/Ongoing)

15% In-class quiz (October 2)

10% Reflection paper (October 30)

15% In-class quiz (November 13)

20% Response paper (Due: December 4, 11:59pm)

30% Final Exam (To be scheduled by Registrar)

100%

ATTENDANCE & PARTICIPATION (10% of final grade)           DUE: Weekly

Students are expected to attend class regularly and on time. Attendance will be taken at every class. Absences due to illness, bereavement, etc., supported by documentation, will not count against the student. In addition to attendance, students are expected 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 laptops for non-course-related purposes) and tardiness will negatively affect the participation mark. Attendance in itself is not enough to secure full participation marks.

QUIZZES (15% + 15% of final grade)          DUE: In-class, October 2 & November 13

Students will write two in-class (closed-book) quizzes during the term. The quizzes will consist of a combination of multiple-choice and short answer questions. Each quiz will be based on material (both readings and lecture slides) covered up to the date of the quiz in question.

REFLECTION PAPER (10% of final grade)         DUE: October 30

Considering the audience theories discussed in the course, what theory or theories best describe your personal engagement with media content as an audience member? For the assignment, you are expected to provide examples and to reference your work properly (800 – 1200 words).

RESPONSE PAPER (20% of final grade)          DUE: December 4, 11:59pm

In the Encoding and Decoding model of communication (1973), Stuart Hall, a Cultural Studies scholar, provides a theoretical framework to help us understand how messages are produced by the media and interpreted by audiences. Using Hall’s theory as a scaffold, how did the producers of Black Panther, a superhero film produced by Marvel Studios (screened and discussed in class), encode/represent race and gender? Considering the three decoding positions postulated by Hall, discuss how you decoded/read the ideas on race and gender you identified. How did your own race, class, gender, nationality etc (pick any two) influence (or not) your readings? (1500 – 2000 words). Guidelines will be posted to Avenue to Learn at the start of the semester.

EXAM (30% of final grade)          DUE: To be scheduled by Registrar

Students will write an exam during the exam period, consisting of a combination of multiple-choice, short answer, and long answer questions. The exam will be based on material (both readings and lecture slides) covered up to the final week of classes.

ASSIGNMENT SUBMISSION/TURN IT IN: All assignments must be typed, titled, dated, include student’s name and submitted via Avenue to Learn. They must include proper in-text citations and a list of references. Please use APA citation style for in-text citation and the list of references. If you are unfamiliar with APA style, please consult a stylebook, or visit the OWL citation tutorial: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/

Please do not submit hard copies of your assignments to the CSMM Office or to the instructor. In this course we will be using a web-based service (Turnitin.com) to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to Turnitin.com or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by Turnitin.com) so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or Turnitin.com must still submit an electronic copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to Turnitin.com 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 Turnitin.com Policy, please go to www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity.

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.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments must be submitted via Avenue to Learn, by the exact date and time specified. Late submissions will be penalized 3% for each day – including Saturdays and Sundays – that they are overdue. Students are responsible for retaining a back-up copy of their work; computer hardware or software malfunctions, network outages, data loss or failure, and other common problems of a technical nature are not in and of themselves sufficient grounds for having the penalties for late submissions waived. Requests for extensions will be considered by the instructor on a case-by-case basis. Extensions will only be offered in exceptional cases and students should not assume their provision.

MSAF Statement: Students are reminded that the MSAF form is designed for minor medical situations (e.g., the flu) lasting up to 3 days. The form does not substitute for communication with the instructor—in fact, students are required contact the instructor within 2 days of submitting the form. Further, the MSAF leaves consideration for missed work at the discretion of the instructor.


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 https://secretariat.mcmaster.ca/university-policies-procedures-guidelines/

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 (Turnitin.com) 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 Turnitin.com or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by Turnitin.com) so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or Turnitin.com 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 Turnitin.com 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 Turnitin.com Policy, please go to www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity.

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 sas@mcmaster.ca 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:

September 4: Introduction

*No assigned readings for this week

In-class viewing: CBS News. (2019, January 21). Families in crisis: Illegal immigration [Video File]. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/yxm93enz

In-class reflection and discussion: In the video screened in class, how is the US depicted? How are immigrants represented? As an audience member with different intersecting identities and located in Canada, what are your thoughts on the US and on immigrants and immigration?

September 9 & 11: Overview of Media Audiences

Gorton, K. (2009). ‘Desperately seeking the audience’: Models of audience reception. In Media audiences: Television, meaning and emotion. Edinburgh University Press Ltd: Edinburgh (pp. 1-16).

Hermes, J. (2010). The ‘Ethnographic Turn’: The histories and politics of the new audience research. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2ahbvd5

In-class reflection and discussion: “The triumph of advertising in the culture industry is that consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even though they see through them” (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1979: 167). Given your own experiences with advertising, to what extent do you agree/disagree with Adorno and Horkheimer’s assertions? This exercise takes the form of a debate.

September 16 & 18: Early Theories of Audiences

Winter, S. & Neubaum, G. (2016). Examining characteristics of opinion leaders in social media: A motivational approach. Social Media + Society, 1–12.

Esser, F. (2008). Stimulus–Response Model. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication (pp. 4836-4840). Blackwell Publishing Ltd: USA.

In-class reflection and discussion: The central argument in the Two-step flow model of communication (Lazarsfeld et al., 1948) is that the media does not have direct effects on audiences. Rather, opinion leaders receive media messages which they share with individuals in their social circles. In the context of your social media interactions, are there ‘influencers’ that you follow? If you are not on social media, are there people who impact you? To what extent have they influenced your views, values and/or purchasing decisions? What other sources of information do you rely on?

September 23 & 25: Early Theories of Audiences – Continued

Kim, Y., Kim, Y. & Zhou, S. (2017). Theoretical and methodological trends of agenda-setting theory. A thematic analysis of the last four decades of research. Agenda Setting Journal, 1(1), 5–8.

Shrum, L.J. (2017). Cultivation theory: Effects and underlying processes. In P. Rössler (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects (pp. 1-12). John Wiley & Sons, Inc: USA.

In-class reflection and discussion: Some photographs will be shown to you in class. Please reflect on the following questions: At what age did you first encounter media constructions of the places and people in the photographs? Based only on what you hear and see in the mainstream media, what is the first word that comes to mind when you see each photo? Do you have personal connections and relationships (outside of the media) with people belonging to groups shown? To what extent are your experiences with the places and people similar to and/or different from the media constructions?

September 30 & October 2: Active Audiences

Rubin, A.M. (2002). Uses-and-gratifications perspective on media effects. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 165-178). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc: New Jersey.

Teel, A. (2017). The application of Stuart Hall’s audience reception theory to help us understand #WhichLivesMatter? Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2k4qv24

In-class reflection and discussion: What television series are you currently watching/ do you watch regularly/did you watch in the recent past? If you do not watch series, consider movies you watched or books you read recently. Provide a broad overview of the storyline. Informed by ideas in the Uses and Gratifications theory, what were/are some needs you were/are satisfying through watching the series/reading the book? The list developed by McQuail, Blumler & Brown (1972) can be a starting point, however, you are welcome to come up with your own list.

  • In-class quiz (October 2)

October 7 & 9: Reading the Superhero Film, Black Panther

Teel, A. (2017). The application of Stuart Hall’s audience reception theory to help us understand #WhichLivesMatter? Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2k4qv24

In-class viewing: Feige, K. (Producer) & Coogler, R. (Director). (2018). Black Panther [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

In-class reflection and discussion: Please see guidelines for the paper due on December 4.

Please note: the paper you are required to submit on December 4 is based on the above film. If you miss the class screening, please make your own arrangements to watch the movie. While you watch, it is useful to make notes that will assist you in responding to questions posed in the assignment.

October 14 & 16 – No Class – Reading Week

October 21 & 23: The Ethnographic Turn

Hermes, J. (2010). The ‘Ethnographic Turn’: The histories and politics of the new audience research. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2ahbvd5

In-class viewing: Wang, T. (2017, July 19). The human insights missing from big data. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2b6e9js

In-class reflection and discussion: What difference does focusing on audience engagement with media texts in their daily contexts make to our conceptualizations of the power of the media? What value is added (if any)? Give concrete examples to illustrate your points.

October 28 & 30: Fandoms and Fan Activism

Nożewski, J. & Trzcińska, J. (2017). Social media at the service of fandoms - The process of users involvement in the prosumption culture. In A. Węglińska & B. Weglinski (Eds.), New media in popuworld tools threats and social phenomena (pp. 15-33). ATUT: Wrocław, Poland.

Lopez, L.K. (2012). Fan activists and the politics of race in the last Airbender. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(5), 431-455.

Lamerichs, N. (2011). Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplaying. Transformative Works and Cultures, 7, doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0246.

In-class viewing: Fandom Entertainment. (2019, June 18). We made a Twilight documentary?! Fandom uncovered. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y5emugnb

In-class reflection and discussion: From the documentary screened in class, critically reflect on how the idea of fandoms disrupts early audience theories that constituted audiences as passive and vulnerable to dominant media messages. Please refer to specific examples from the documentary.

  • Reflection Paper Due (October 30)

November 4 & 6: Anti-Fans and Non-Fans

McRae, S. (2017). Get off my internets: How anti-fans deconstruct lifestyle bloggers’ authenticity work. Persona Studies, 3(1), 13-27.

Gray, J. (2003). New audiences, new textualities: Anti-fans and non-fans. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 6(1), 64-81.

In-class reflection and discussion: Role playing: students will be divided into three groups, ‘fans,’ ‘anti-fans’ and ‘non-fans.’ A few comedy clips by Trevor Noah, a South African-born comedian and host of The Daily Show (an American television programme) will be shown to the class. While watching the clips, students are required to make notes of possible responses to the texts depending on the roles they are embodying.

November 11 & 13: Audiences in the Digital Age

Livingstone, S. (2018). Audiences in an age of datafication: Critical questions for media research. Television and New Media, 20(2), 170-183.

Bird, S.E. (2011). Are we all ‘produsers’ now? Cultural Studies, 25(4-5), 502-516.

In-class reflection and discussion: Considering your interactions with digital media, discuss the idea of ‘produsage.’ What do you think are the implications of many digital media users creating large volumes of content?

  • In-class quiz (November 13)

November 18 & 20: Media Imperialism Thesis & Audiences

Houpt, S. & Robertson, S.K. (2019, February 1). CBC head under fire after comparing Netflix to the British Raj, warns of ‘cultural imperialism.’ Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/yy7zb8cw

Buchanan, C. (2015). Revisiting the UNESCO debate on a new world information and communication order: Has the NWICO been achieved by other means? Telematics and Informatics, 32(2), 391-399.

Strelitz, L. (2001). Global media/local meanings. Communicatio, 27(2), 49-56.

In-class reflection and discussion: Drawing on your own experiences with watching American shows on Netflix as an audience member, critically discuss the idea of cultural imperialism.

November 25 & 27: Researching Media Audiences

Kitzinger, J. (2004). Audience and readership research. In J.D.H. Downing, D. McQuail, P. Schlesinger & E. Wartella (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Media Studies (pp. 167-182). SAGE Publications, Inc.: Thousand Oaks.

Lotz, A.D. & Ross, S.M. (2004). Toward ethical cyberspace audience research: Strategies for using the internet for television audience studies. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48(3), 501-51

In-class reflection and discussion: Based on what was discussed throughout this course, students are required to sketch out an idea of a research project on media audiences that they would hypothetically be interested in conducting. Students should focus on the topic and the justification of topic, theoretical approach, research methods as well as questions of ethics.

December 2 & 4: Summary

  • Response Paper Due: December 4, 11:59pm


Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn: This course has an Avenue to Learn site, where you will be required to learn about class updates and resources. You can log in at http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/.

McMaster Policy for Courses with an On-line Element:
“In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, 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 this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.”

Classroom Etiquette: 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, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability, gender and identity. For more information visit the Equity and Inclusion Office website: https://equity.mcmaster.ca.

Professionalism: You are expected to engage with the teaching team in a professional manner. Some important values that constitute professional behaviour include (but are not limited to) respect and integrity. Please remember that TAs are part of the teaching team. The TA for this course is Gil Niessen (niessenj@mcmaster.ca).