Walter Lance Bennett
POL S 306
Explores how society and culture are both represented in and shaped by communication technologies and media content. Media include film, advertising, news, entertainment television, talk shows, and the Internet. Explores how media represent and affect individual identity, values, and political engagement. Offered: jointly with COM 306.
Description: This course explores the broad outlines of society, politics, and individual identity with a focus on the media as agencies for representing our desires and ourselves. In particular, we will consider the qualities of public and private life in a society of increasingly personalized realities in which traditional ideas of citizenship are less central than our lives as consumers, and communities are being transformed into demographic lifestyle networks, all linked through media use. Branding and image making become the methods for delivering both politics and products tailored to the emotional tastes of individuals. The last half of the class explores What Happened to the American Dream? Students examine the future of the consumer society amidst the economic, energy and environment crises, and the paralysis in Washington. Students are encouraged to explore new ideas about how to organize a sustainable economy that works better for people.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Texts: Joseph Turow, Breaking Up America (Chicago); Stuart Ewen, PR! A Social History of Spin (Basic Books); Chris Martenson, The Crash Course (Wiley); Lawrence Lessig, Republic, Lost (Hachette); deGraaf and Batker, What's the Economy For, Anyway? (Bloomsbury). Additional short readings will also be assigned.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments & Grading: There will be 3 tests, each counting 25 % of the grade. 2 will be in class, one may be take-home, Discussion section participation 15%; Discussion questions 10% of grades.