Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Meredith A. Li-Vollmer
AES 489
Seattle Campus

Black Cultural Studies

Examines how images of blackness have been (re)constructed. Topics include black women's bodies, black men's bodies, blackface minstrelsy, black queer studies, black power, and black hybridities. Offered: jointly with COM 489/GWSS 489.

Class description

Overview of class: This course will examine the representation of race, gender, and sexual identity in the media, investigate what influences these representations, and consider their repercussions. Using a combination of lectures, class exercises, assignments, discussion, and student projects, we will explore such questions as:

∑ How are race, gender, and sexual identity socially constructed by the media? ∑ How are power and privilege related to media representation and stereotyping? ∑ How do the economics and working practices of media industries play a role in portrayals and coverage of groups, particularly racial minorities, women, gays and lesbians? - What are the differences between how the commercial media and independent media depict racial minorities, women, gays and lesbians? - What effects might these images have, and what sense do audiences make of them? - What are the needs and interests of minority communities, and are they being met by the mainstream media? - Is change in the diversity of media images likely, and what can be done to promote change?

The first two-thirds of the course will focus on entertainment media and the final third will address news media.

Course Objectives: By the end of this course, you should be able to: - Identify both current and historical patterns of representation and stereotyping in mainstream entertainment and news media, and discuss their connections to issues of power and privilege. - Explain the influence of media industries’ economic imperatives and working norms on representations of race, gender, and sexual orientation. - Discuss the effects of media representation on audiences, and how audience members may interpret the meanings of media representations. - Analyze depictions and coverage of people of color, gays and lesbians, women, and the dominant culture in entertainment and news media. - Explain the goals and functions of the ethnic and community media. - Develop ideas about how to improve entertainment and news media to better reflect the nation’s true diversity.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

In class, we will engage with the ideas and issues of race and gender in the media through discussions, group exercises, research projects, and lectures.

Recommended preparation

Introductory courses in Communication, Women's Studies, and American Ethnic Studies are recommended but not required.

Class assignments and grading

You will meet the course objectives by fulfilling the following requirements: - Writing a 5-page analysis of minority representation in film and presenting your findings with a group of colleagues. - Demonstrating your understanding of the material through a midterm exam and final exam. They will both be short answer/essay exams. At least a week prior to the exam dates, I will distribute a list of potential exam questions. The questions that appear on the exams will come from those lists. - Completing “mini-assignments” throughout the term. These short assignments are designed to get you thinking about issues we will address in class and provide us with material to discuss. They usually will be announced 1-2 class sessions before they are due. - Gathering information about diverse neighborhoods in Seattle on a “community field trip.” The information you gather will be compared to the coverage of these neighborhoods in the Seattle news. You may participate in a group field trip on Monday, December 6 or you can conduct a field trip to a Seattle neighborhood on your own at a time convenient to you. More details about this assignment will be given in class.


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 Meredith A. Li-Vollmer
Date: 09/24/2004