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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kari A Lerum
B CUSP 107
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core I: Individuals and Society

Through collaborative and interdisciplinary learning, students develop a knowledge base, skills, habits of inquiry, and imaginative vision. Focuses on individuals, society. Offered: A.

Class description

"American Idol(s): How Stories shape Culture and Identity" With Professors Amoshaun Toft and Kari Lerum

This course is linked with B CUSP 104, and thus 10 credits total

We understand ourselves and others through the stories we hear and tell. Such stories are found everywhere — including CNN, religious sermons, Facebook status updates, and “American Idol”: all tell stories about our imagined place in the world. But not all stories are created equal: Why do some stories gain more social power than others? How does the social status of the messenger and the cultural, economic, and political context impact the influence of any given story? Furthermore, how can we thoughtfully and competently construct and tell our own stories using digital tools?

We will explore these questions by drawing on academic work in sociology, communication, and cultural studies, by comparing and contrasting examples of popular cultural stories, and by producing our own stories using digital and social medias. We will critically reflect upon the relationship between self-identity and the stories told in a variety of institutions and cultural sites, including mainstream media (CNN, Oprah, MTV, Hollywood), religion, politics, academic disciplines (sociology, anthropology, communications, global health, geography), live art (theater, performance art) and alternative medias (pirate radio, graphic novels) We will engage in a series of production assignments, learning how to tell compelling stories through photography, film, and other forms of creative production and scholarly writing.

Student learning goals

Students should leave this course with the ability to:

-Understand what constitutes a “scholarly” source of knowledge -Identify major US institutions and explain their roles in shaping American and Global cultures -Employ principles of Media Literacy (including both analysis of media as well as media production) -Move from opinion to thoughtful critique and analysis -Understand and appreciate the ethics of research and documentation, and how this varies by occupational sector (e.g. journalism vs. academia)

General method of instruction

This course will be very "hands-on", with a mixture of lectures, interactive class exercises, and preliminary training in media production.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites necessary, just a willingness to learn new concepts and practice new skills.

Class assignments and grading

Class assignments will be a mixture of reflective writing, quizzes, short essays, and creative collaborative and individual assignments. Each student will create their own personal "digital story" (3-5 minute autobiographical film).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Kari A Lerum
Date: 04/10/2012