CMST 4P03 Social Activism And The Media (C01)
Academic Year: Fall 2019
Instructor: Prof. Selina Mudavanhu
Office: Togo Salmon Hall 307
Phone: 905-525-9140 x 25220
Office Hours: Tuesday, 12p.m. – 1p.m. or by appointment
- Course Objectives
- Textbooks, Materials & Fees
- Method of Assessment
- Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties
- Additional Policies and Statements
- Topics and Readings
- Other Course Information
Course description: This course examines the role of print, electronic and digital media in the relationship between social movements, the state and corporate interests. The course will explore social activism in philosophical and practical terms, and investigate the changing uses of media by social activists.
Learning Goals: Students will acquire a sound understanding of theories and history of the media’s relationship to forms of citizenship and social activism and will be able to apply these in an analysis of recent movements of resistance such as Idle No More, RhodesMustFall, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, among others. Students will refine their ability to research and communicate on these topics through formal presentations, classroom discussion and written assignments. Emphasis will be placed on enhancing students’ critical thinking as well as writing and presentation skills. Students who have taken this course should be able to:
- Describe, discuss and evaluate activist media strategies
- Debate the benefits and drawbacks of specific activist media strategies
- Describe, discuss and evaluate the potentials of new media for activist groups
- Synthesize and evaluate a range of arguments and theories about social activists’ media use and portrayal; analyze and explain the portrayal of social activism in traditional media
- Discuss the social activists’ use of media to challenge symbolic/cultural forms
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. 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. This means you are required to watch actively, take notes and be prepared to provide a comment in discussions that follow.
Method of Assessment:
Your grade will be based on the following:
20% Class attendance and participation (Due: Weekly/Ongoing)
5% Assignment 1: Project proposal, PowerPoint slides (Due: Noon, September 23). Presentations: September 24
5% Assignment 2: Project proposal write-up (Due: Noon, September 27)
20% Assignment 3: Response paper (Due: Noon, October 23)
20% Assignment 4: Critical reflection (Due: Noon, November 13)
10% Assignment 5: Final project, PowerPoint slides (Due: Noon, November 22). Presentations: November 26 & December 3
20% Assignment 6: Final project write-up (Due: Noon, December 4)
See https://registrar.mcmaster.ca/exams/grades/#values for the grading scale.
ATTENDANCE & PARTICIPATION (20% of final grade) DUE: Weekly
Discussion and group work is central to this course. Students are expected to attend class regularly. Attendance and participation means coming to class having read the assigned readings, contributing to class discussions, and participating in class exercises and group work. Absenteeism, chronic lateness and non-participation will affect the final grade.
Each class will consist of a discussion component in which you will be required to deliberate on specific questions in groups of 3-4. In the group conversations, you are required to: 1) make notes of your main points 2) list everyone in the group as well as 3) concisely state the roles played by each member of the group in the discussion. It is the responsibility of each group to ensure that they submit to me these records of participation at the end of each class. Each group has up to the next class to make their submissions to the instructor.
PROJECT PROPOSAL (10% of final grade) DUE: Noon, September 23 (Project proposal, PowerPoint slides)/ September 24 (Class presentations)/ Noon, September 27 (Project proposal write-up)
In the project proposals, students are required to discuss one social challenge that residents of the City of Hamilton face as well as describe an activist intervention they could implement to respond to the identified challenge. The intervention should make use of any media. Proposals can focus on a challenge faced by particular groups, for example, refugees, women, senior citizens, racialized minorities etc. This assignment has two deliverables: 1) a PowerPoint presentation (20 slides) and 2) a proposal write-up (1000 words). Please see Avenue to Learn for detailed guidelines for the assignment at the start of the semester.
RESPONSE PAPER (20% of final grade) DUE: Noon, October 23
In this paper, students are asked to imagine being hired at the Adbusters Media Foundation as culture jammers. As new employees, their first assignment entails presenting an idea for the foundation’s next culture jam. Drawing on one social issue individual students are most passionate about, students are required to present and motivate for their idea of a culture jam. Students are encouraged to demonstrate both creativity and critical thinking (1500 – 2000 words). Guidelines will be posted to Avenue to Learn at the start of the semester.
CRITICAL REFLECTION (20% of final grade) DUE: Noon, November 13
In preparation for the guest lecturer on November 19, students are required to critically discuss the relevance of a #MeToo movement in contemporary Canada (1500 – 2000 words). Guidelines will be posted to Avenue to Learn at the start of the semester.
FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATION (10% of final grade) DUE: Noon, November 22 (Final project PowerPoint slides)/ November 26 & December 3 (Class presentations)
Students will present in class their final research projects. Similar to the project proposal, students will receive feedback to assist them in the finalization of their projects (PowerPoint presentations: 20 slides). Guidelines will be posted to Avenue to Learn at the start of the semester.
FINAL PROJECT WRITE-UP (20% of final grade) DUE: Noon, December 4
Students will have an opportunity to submit written final versions of their research projects (3000 words). Guidelines will be posted to Avenue to Learn at the start of the semester.
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 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, no late assignments will be accepted.
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 3: Introduction
*No assigned readings for this week
In-class viewing: Canguçu, T. (2014, May 5). How Facebook changed the world. The story of the Arab Spring. Episode 1 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y4gmyoqs
In-class reflection and discussion: Prior to watching the video, it is important to acknowledge the existence of robust debates regarding the role and influence of social media in the Arab Spring. There is no consensus on the topic. The video that will be screened represents one of many views in this debate. Looking through the lens of activists interviewed in the video, what were some of the triggers/drivers of the Arab Spring? How did individual activists partner with one another? What processes needed to be in place? What role did traditional and social media play? What were some of the successes and impediments? What issues are outstanding? What elements of doing activism can be tailored for the Canadian context?
September 10: Social Activism & Social Movements
Martin, B. (2007). Activism, social and political. In G.L. Anderson & K.G. Herr (Eds.), Encyclopedia of activism and social justice (pp. 19-27). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Christiansen, J. (2009). Four stages of social movements. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y4ew33yw
In-class reflection and discussion: Under what conditions – media, political, social – can we dream and fight for a better world? What are the limits of this fight/dream? How is solidarity to be achieved in a world divided by race, gender, class, religion, and geography? What is (or ought to be) the role of media and technology in this ‘fight’?
September 17: Social Activism & Traditional Media
Adhikari, D. (2017, April 10). The case against: Can journalists be activists? Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y6jthnl6
Jha, S. (2008). Why they wouldn’t cite from sites: A study of journalists’ perceptions of social movement web sites and the impact on their coverage of social protest. Journalism, 9(6), 711–73
In-class reflection and discussion: Are journalists ever objective? To what extent are the ideals of journalism incompatible with activism? This exercise takes the form of a debate.
- Project Proposal (PowerPoint slides) Due: Noon, September 23
September 24: Presentations of Project Proposals
Cipolla, R. (n.d.). How to prepare and deliver a presentation. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y9ooe6dd
- Please come prepared to present your project proposals in class
- Project Proposal Write-up Due: Noon, September 27
October 1: Digital Activism
Joyce, M. (2010). Introduction: How to think about digital activism. In M. Joyce (Ed.), Digital activism decoded: The new mechanics of change (pp. 1-14). International Debate Education Association: New York.
Ghobadi, S. (2018). Going viral: What social media activists need to know. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/yar33evr
Muslic, H. (2017). What is slacktivism and is it even helping? Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y62eg4gv
In-class reflection and discussion: Considering the videos screened in class, ‘KONY 2012’ and its critique, ‘What “KONY 2012” didn’t tell you,’ critically discuss the roles and limitations of social media in activisms. What can we learn from this case study?
October 8: Culture Jamming
Harold, C. (2004). Pranking rhetoric: “Culture jamming” as media activism. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21(3), 189-21
Adbusters Media Foundation. (2019). Manifesto. Retrieved from https://www.adbusters.org/
In-class reflection and discussion: In groups, select one example of culture jamming that interests you the most. Screen it/describe it and discuss why you find it fascinating. In what ways is the culture jam a form of activism? Do you think that kind of jamming would be successful in the Canadian context or other contexts outside North America? What are some of the factors that might contribute to its success or lack thereof?
October 15: No Class - Reading Week
October 22: Hacktivism: Cyber-Terrorism?
Mikhaylova, G. (2014). The “Anonymous” movement: Hacktivism as an emerging form of political participation. Texas State University, United States (pp. 3-28).
Anonymous International. (2019). About Anonymous. Retrieved from https://www.anonymoushackers.net/
In-class reflection and discussion: According to Wong and Brown (2013: 1022), hacktivism or e-bandrity inspires “new ways of thinking about democracy and citizen activism.” Considering the different kinds of campaigns by Anonymous discussed in class and in the video that was screened, critically reflect on hacktivism as a way to promote democracy and citizen activism in our culture today.
- Response Paper Due: Noon, October 23
October 29: #IdleNoMore: Indigeneity, Decolonization & Social Activism
Idle No More. (2019). The Movement. Retrieved from http://www.idlenomore.ca/
Wood, L.J. (2015). Idle No More, Facebook and Diffusion. Social Movement Studies, 14(5), 615-621.
In-class reflection and discussion: “As the movement mobilized increasingly diverse participants, conversations unfolded on social media over the identity of and participation in the movement. If the movement was one of cultural resurgence of indigenous people, what was the role of non-natives? Who could speak for Idle No More? […]” (Wood, 2015: 619). The questions raised by Wood (2015) are not peculiar to the Idle No More movement. Similar questions were asked by activists in the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Critically reflect on these questions.
November 5: #RhodesMustFall: Contesting Institutionalized Racism at the University of Cape Town, South Africa
Mudavanhu, S.L. (2017). Comrades, students, baboons and criminals: An analysis of “Othering” on Facebook in relation to the #Rhodesmustfall/#Feesmustfall movement at the University of Cape Town. African Journalism Studies, 38(2), 21-48.
Bosch, T. (2017). Twitter activism and youth in South Africa: The case of #RhodesMustFall. Information, Communication & Society, 20(2), 221-23
UCT: Rhodes Must Fall. (2015). UCT: Rhodes Must Fall Facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/RhodesMustFall/
In-class reflection and discussion: This case study highlighted the activism of some students at the University of Cape Town at a particular moment in time. What are some of the issues students or groups of students at McMaster University face today? How have students organized themselves? What role did social media play in the organizing? What has been the backlash, if any?
November 12: #BlackLivesMatter: Protesting Systemic Racism and Violence towards Black People
Clark, A.D., Dantzler, P.A. & Nickels, A.E. (2018). Black Lives Matter: (Re)framing the next wave of Black liberation. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, 42, 145-17
Teel, A. (2017). The application of Stuart Hall’s audience reception theory to help us understand #WhichLivesMatter? Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y2k4qv24
TedTalks. (2017, June 1). Public Safety is Anti-Black (Desmond Cole) [Video File]. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/yywzc4k2 (In-Class Viewing)
In-class reflection and discussion: How can we respond to and engage with struggles that are not part of our experiences?
- Critical Reflection Assignment Due: Noon, November 13
November 19: The #MeToo Movement: Contesting Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
Tambe, A. (2018). Reckoning with the silences of #MeToo. Feminist Studies, 44(1), 197-203.
Zilles, C. (2018, May 3). The #MeToo movement shows the power of social media. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/yxr262aa
The MeToo movement. (2018). About. Retrieved from https://metoomvmt.org/
In-class reflection and discussion: Please see the discussion topic for the Critical Reflection assignment due on November 12.
- Final Project (PowerPoint slides) Due: Noon, November 22
November 26: Student Presentations
December 3: Student Presentations
- Final Project Write-up Due: Noon, December 4
Other Course Information:
Avenue to Learn: This course has an Avenue to Learn site, where you will be required to post a blog entry as well as 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: Please use laptops, tablets and other electronic devices to take notes and for other class-related activities. Off-task technology-use negatively affects the learning environment; it distracts other students and the instructor.
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