Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome and syllabus

This is the class blog for JMC 661, Topic: Media Audiences, summer 2009 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Journalism and Media Communication 661
Seminar in Mass Communication and Society
Topic: Media Audiences
Summer 2009
Monday – Thursday, 9:30 AM – 12:10 PM
MER 347

Professor: Elana Levine
Office: 131 Johnston, 229-4718
Office hours: Mondays, 12:15 – 1:30 and by appointment

Course Description:
All of us are media audience members. Whether we listen to the radio in the car or in a store, watch television in the living room or in a bar, read the newspaper at the kitchen table or on the internet, we encounter media in all aspects of our everyday lives. This course is an examination of media audiencehood, of the experience of reading, viewing, using, listening to, and consuming media. We will explore the ways that media scholars in the cultural studies tradition have researched media audiences, and we will read and discuss many studies about a diverse range of media audiences. We will consider audience engagement with “old” media, such as newspapers, magazines, and broadcast television, as well as “new” media such as the internet, mobile technologies, and video games. In addition, you will conduct your own media audience studies.

Course Objectives:
By the end of this course, you will:
1) Understand the theories and methods of media audience studies in the cultural studies tradition
2) Gain insight into the experiences of different media audiences, particularly in terms of aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, and age
3) Improve upon your reading, writing, and analysis skills
4) Develop a more sophisticated, critical perspective on your own relationship to media, as well as other people’s relationships to the media in their lives

Available at the UWM Bookstore
David Machin, Ethnographic Research for Media Studies (London: Arnold, 2002)
ISBN: 0-340-80688-5
Ellen Seiter, Television and New Media Audiences (Oxford & New York, Oxford
University Press, 1999) ISBN: 0-19-871141-7
Books are also on reserve at the Golda Meir Library

Available on e-reserve through the UWM Library Homepage
S. Elizabeth Bird, “Gendered Readings,” in For Enquiring Minds: A Cultural Study of
Supermarket Tabloids (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1992)
Denise Sevick Bortree, “Presentation of Self on the Web: An Ethnographic Study of
Teenage Girls’ Weblogs,” Education, Communication & Information 5:1 (March 2005):
Lynn Schofield Clark, “Dating on the Net: Teens and the Rise of ‘Pure’
Relationships,” in Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated Communication
and Community, ed. Steven G. Jones (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998), 159-183.
Henry Jenkins, “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten,” in Television: The Critical
View, Sixth Edition, ed. Horace Newcomb (New York and Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2000), 470-494.
Melanie E.S. Kohnen, “The Adventures of a Repressed Farm Boy and the Billionaire Who
Loves Him: Queer Spectatorship in Smallville Fandom,” In Teen TV, ed. Sharon
Marie Ross and Louisa Ellen Stein (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2008),
Marjo Laukkanen, “Young Queers Online: The Limits and Possibilities of
Non-Heterosexual Self-Representation in Online Conversations,” in Queer Online:
Media Technology & Sexuality, ed. Kate O’Riordan & David J. Phillips (New York:
Peter Lang, 2007), 81-100.
Andrea Press and Camille Johnson-Yale, “Political Talk and the Flow of Ambient
Television: Women Watching Oprah in an African-American Hair Salon,” in New
Directions in American Reception Study, ed. Philip Goldstein and James L. Machor
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 307-323.
Ellen Seiter, “Making Distinctions in TV Audience Research: Case Study of a Troubling
Interview,” in Television: The Critical View, Sixth Edition, ed. Horace Newcomb
(New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 387-398.
Ellen Seiter, “Wrestling with the Web: Latino Fans and Symbolic Violence,” in The
Internet Playground: Children’s Access, Entertainment, and Mis-Education (New
York: Peter Lang, 2005), 63-82.
Katherine Sender, “Selling Sexual Subjectivities: Audiences Respond to Gay Window
Advertising,” in Gender, Race and Class in Media, ed. Gail Dines & Jean Humez
(New York: Sage, 2003), 302-313. ISBN: 0-7619-2261-X
Michael Serazio, “Virtual Sports Consumption, Authentic Brotherhood: The Reality of
Fantasy Football,” in Sports Mania: Essays on Fandom and the Media in the 21st
Century, ed. Lawrence W. Hugenberg, Paul M. Haridakis, and Adman C. Earnheardt
(Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2008), 229-242.
Tracy, Pamela J. “‘Why don’t you act your color?’: Preteen Girls, Identity, and
Popular Music?” in Race/Gender/Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences,
Content, and Producers, ed. Rebecca Ann Lind (Boston: Pearson, 2004), 45-51.

Class participation – 15%
Since this course is a seminar, it is designed to maximize your participation. This means that all students are expected to contribute to class discussion, to listen attentively to fellow students, and to put thought into their comments and questions. Students will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their contributions to class discussion.

Attendance policy: Attendance is expected at each class session. Students are responsible for all materials covered in those sessions. Students are granted one absence without penalty. This is not a “freebie,” but is designed to allow for illness or unforeseen circumstances. For every absence in excess of one, the class participation grade will be lowered by 1/3 grade (e.g., A to A-, B- to C+); any student with more than three absences will be given an automatic failing grade for the course. Every three days that a student is late will count as one absence. Students are required to make up any missed work for all absences.

Reading questions– 10%
Each student will be responsible for posting discussion questions based on the assigned readings to the class blog. These should be posted by 10PM the night before class. Students should submit 2-3 questions for each article or book chapter. (I will announce any exceptions in class.) These questions may be points of clarification, questions about the application of the article’s ideas or argument to a different instance, or speculation about the implications of the article’s argument. The course contains 24 different reading assignments. Each student must submit questions for 18 of those assignments to get full credit.

Leading discussion – 10%
Each student will be responsible for leading class discussion for 45 minutes-1 hour of the class period one time during the semester, together with another student. Your job is to conduct a discussion of the day’s assigned readings in whatever manner you choose. You may bring in examples for analysis, you may engage the class in an exercise, or you may pose open-ended questions to be discussed as a group. The two discussion leaders should share equally in leading and should coordinate their plans for the class in advance.

Research project - 65% Total
In this group project, you will design and execute your own media audience study. Working in groups of 3 or 4, you will choose a specific audience group and specific medium, media text, or media genre to study. You will research previous literature on your topic and design an audience study that draws upon various ethnographic methodologies. You will conduct some research independently and some as a group. Your group members will pool your research and each person will write a 10-15 page paper based on that research. In addition, the entire group will offer a 40 minute presentation to the rest of the class, summarizing your findings. This project will be broken down into a series of shorter assignments:

1) Topic/research meeting with Elana (Required but not graded) – 5/28/09
2) Literature Review (Graded individually, 10%) – Each group member will research and review three sources that relate in some way to the research project, including previous research on the specific topic and contextual research into the text or audience under study. At least two of these sources must be scholarly; one can come from a popular source. Three to five pages. – Due 6/2/09
3) Research Plan (Individual grade, 5%; Group grade 5%) – This assignment has two parts. The first part should be written by the group as a whole (and will be graded as such). In this part you will set out your topic, your research questions, and the specifics of your project, including what combination of sources/methods the group as a whole will use (2 pages). Each student should also submit an individual research plan, with specifics of interviews, other research methods, and any potential problems you anticipate. Also include talking points for interviews (2 pages). Individuals will submit details of research plans, including talking points for interviews (2-3 pages). – Due 6/2/09
4) Transcripts/field notes (Individual grade, 10%) – Each group member will submit transcripts from individual and any group interviews, as well as field notes from participant observations and/or on-line chat and message board research. – Due 6/15/09
5) Group presentation (Group grade, 5%) – In this 40 minute presentation, your group will present your research and conclusions to the rest of the class, as well as lead a discussion/question and answer session about your project. All group members are expected to participate equally. – 6/18/09
6) Final paper (Individual grade, 30%) -- In this 10-15 page paper, you will analyze all of the research gathered by your group, setting out an argument about the relationship between your audience group and the media product they consume. – Due 6/22/09

In order to pass the course, all work must be completed. All assignments are due at the beginning of class on their due date. Late assignments (including those handed in later in the class period) will be penalized 1/3 grade per day (i.e., A to A-, B- to C+, etc.)

Academic misconduct/Plagiarism
Students are responsible for the honest completion and representation of their work, for the appropriate citation of sources, and for respect of others’ academic endeavors. Any instances of academic misconduct, including plagiarism, will receive the full penalties, per the policies and practices of the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, the College of Letters & Science, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Special accommodations
If you need special accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course, please contact me as soon as possible.

Students will be allowed to complete examinations or other requirements that are missed because of a religious observance.

For university policies on these and other matters, please see

Weekly Schedule

Week One
5/26/09 – Introduction

5/27/09 – Theories and methods of media audience studies
Seiter, Television and New Media Audiences, pp. 11-16; 21-24
Machin, Ethnographic Research for Media Studies, Chapter 4

5/28/09 – Project Work Day – Library/Groups meet with Elana

Week Two
6/1/09 – Ethnographic method and media audience studies
Machin, Ethnographic Research for Media Studies, Introduction, Chapters 2,
6-11 (selected), 15

6/2/09 – Problems in media audience research
Machin, Ethnographic Research for Media Studies, Chapter 5
e-reserve: Seiter, “Making Distinctions in TV Audience Research: Case Study of a
Troubling Interview”
Literature Review and Research Plan Due

6/3/09 – Race and media audiences
e-reserve: Press and Johnson-Yale, “Political talk and the flow of ambient
television:Women watching Oprah in an African-American hair salon”
Tracy, “‘Why don’t you act your color?’ Preteen girls, identity, and
popular music”

6/4/09 – Race and media audiences
e-reserve: Seiter, “Wrestling with the Web: Latino Fans and Symbolic Violence”
Means Coleman, “The Menace II Society copycat murder case and thug life:
A reception study with a convicted criminal”

Week Three
6/8/09 -- Age and media audiences: Adult/child relationships
Seiter, Television and New Media Audiences, Chapters 3, 4, and 5

6/9/096 – Project Work Day

6/10/09 – Age and media audiences: Teens
e-reserve: Bortree, “Presentation of Self on the Web: An Ethnographic Study of
Teenage Girls’ Weblogs”
Clark, “Dating on the Net: Teens and the Rise of ‘Pure’ Relationships”

6/11/09 -- Gender and media audiences
e-reserve: Thornham, “‘It’s a boy thing’: Gaming, gender, and geeks”
Bird, “Gendered Readings”

Week Four
6/15/09 – Sexuality and media audiences
e-reserve: Sender, “Selling Sexual Subjectivities”
Laukkanen, “Young Queers Online”
Transcripts/field notes due

6/16/09 – Fandom
e-reserve: Jenkins, “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten”

6/17/09 – Fandom
e-reserve: Serazio, “Virtual Sports Consumption: Authentic Brotherhood: The
Reality of Fantasy Football”
Kohnen, “The Adventures of a Repressed Farm Boy and the Billionaire Who
Loves Him: Queer Spectatorship in Smallville Fandom”

6/18/09 – Presentations/Discussion of findings

Final Paper Due – Monday, June 22, 4 PM

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