The course is an advanced introduction to continuing theoretical discussions The course will probably be initially easier for students with a strong college background in the humanities, the social sciences or psychology. Others may experience a steeper learning curve. Students are expected to meet two goals:

  1. to demonstrate an understanding of the classical issues as presented in the required readings and expanded in the lectures and class notes.
  2. to demonstrate an understanding of the current controversies in culture or communication theory through a longer paper investigating a current issue (for example, but not limited to, gender, disability, multiculturalism in school, the new technologies, etc.). This paper can be a continuation of earlier writing for the course

These demonstrations will be done in three ways:

  1. Through the questions and comments prepared for each class
  2. Through a short paper answering questions posed on a mid-term exam.
  3. Through a longer final paper either
    1. expanding on the questions already answered or
    2. exploring an issue of interest to the student.

Specifically, students are required to do the following:

•    Every week starting on the second week, all students are expected to bring to class two questions or comments, one about the preceding class and one about the required reading.

I will ask two or more students to ask their question or comment. This is intended to spark conversation.

•    Mid-term exam (due March 24)

On March 10, a series of questions will be distributed. They will focus attention on several of the issues discussed in the first two parts of the course will be distributed (and posted on this site). You will be asked to answer/discuss one of the questions in a paper of about 1500 words.

•    Longer Paper (due May 12)

This is to be research paper (15-20 pages). At least two models are possible:

1) Take minimally two sets of readings from the course, and discuss the issues raised in a broader context. This implies that you will read further in the conversations in which the authors participated, including intellectual roots, recent critiques and development. In what ways do these conversations help you understand your own theoretical or practical concerns?

 [The first model for the paper is most closely tied to the readings, and may thus require less "outside" reading than the second model. If you have already done some of the readings for the contemporary issues, or must do the readings anyway for other reasons, then the second model is for you.]

2) Take a contemporary issue (multiculturalism, gender identity, violence on television, medical examinations, etc.) and discuss it in terms of (1) the most sophisticated versions of the argument; (2) their intellectual roots; (3a) what any of the traditions discussed in class may contribute; and/or (3b) how the arguments demonstrate the limitations of any of these traditions.

Students are encouraged to make a short class presentation of their longer paper (to be scheduled after March 24th).