Media, Culture, and Identity

Monday and Wednesday 12:00 – 1:15pm | Weinstein 306

Dr. Lauren Tilton | Weinstein Hall 408 |

Course Schedule and Readings: Visit here.


Course Description

This course introduces students to the basic theoretical frameworks and concepts in media studies. Through close analysis of a variety of texts including, but not limited to, films, music, television programs, and magazines, students will explore the ways in which culture is produced and consumed. Case studies and other examples will provide entry points into thinking about how culture shapes and also is informed by individual and collective identities.

Course Objectives

Throughout this course, students will learn to:

  • Interpret evidence.
  • Evaluate the arguments of experts.
  • View the world through multiple interpretive lenses.
  • Different conceptual themes and theoretical approaches to the study of media.
  • Examine the means by which various media are produced and consumed by audiences.
  • Evaluate a variety of mass media texts using critical approaches.

Required Texts

This course requires purchasing one text: Gray, Jonathan and Laurie Ouellette, eds. Keywords for Media Studies (New York: NYU Press, 2017). It is available through the UR bookstore or online. There is also a digital component with additional keywords. All other materials will be available on our website, as an electronic resource through the library, or on reserve in Boatwright Library. Keywords in parentheses (keyword) are not in this book. The assigned readings address the keyword instead.

Reading and Class Schedule

The schedule is available here.

Access code to readings is mci2018.



  1. Class Participation & Attendance:
    • Participation. We begin promptly at the time we have been scheduled. Assessment is based on the “quality” of participation, which entails active engagement in class and undivided attention. Each class, we will walk through the questions Weekly Discussion Questions section at the end of this syllabus.Class Participation Rubric
      Grade Participation
      A Student demonstrates superior preparation for class; draws connections between readings and other course materials; shows excellent critical thinking skills; contributes significantly to discussion, elevates the level of discussion; comments in a thoughtful manner
      B Student demonstrates solid preparation for class; offers analyses of texts; contributes to the advancement of discussion; student is consistently involved; shows a willingness to challenge ideas and concepts
      C Student shows basic preparation but is sporadically involved in class discussion; shows some critical engagement with course concepts; participates infrequently
      D Student is present but is not involved in class discussion; shows little engagement with course materials
      F Student has missed more than three classes; attendance is a consistent problem; makes no effort to communicate with professor

      To facilitate an undistracted environment, no laptops, tablets or phones will be permitted in class unless otherwise told. Using one of these devices during class time will adversely affect your class participation grade. If you feel strongly about using a laptop in class, please see me to discuss.

    • Attendance. Students are permitted three absences over the course of the semester. Additional absences will result in a class participation grade penalty of .3 points/day. More than three absences will constitute grounds for failing this course.If you are absent on a given day, it is your responsibility to catch up on any work you miss. To support this process, the class will be divided into groups of 3. Whenever you miss class, you should get notes from another student. Note sharing is encouraged. Write down the contact information for three other students who you can email/text/call to get a copy of their notes should you miss a class:
      • Name & Email:
      • Name & Email:
      • Name & Email:
  2. Recap: Each class, two students will provide a recap of the last class covering key concepts and keywords. The recap should discuss the keyword(s) (definition, history) and how that classes readings engaged with the keyword(s). Then, close read a piece of media (broadly defined) using the keywords. The presentation should be  5 minutes. Please upload the presentation to our WordPress site.
  3. Field Investigation: There will be one required field investigations as part of the coursework for this class over the course of the semester. These assignments entail your attendance at one activity on campus (or off, your choice). You will write a short “field analyses” (2 pages) about the investigation. Details about the assignment are available on our WordPress site, where the assignment should be submitted.
  4. Mid-Term: There will be an in-class midterm exam. Additional details regarding the midterm will be provided in class.
  5. Videographic Assignment:
    • Blog Post: Final Project Description (3/27). Details available here.
    • Blog Post: For the Final Cut blog post, include the link to the Final Cut as well as a 500-word reflection on the differences between Rough Cut and Final Cut.  (4/3)
    • Final Videographic Project: Final Cut  + Reflection paper. Details available here.
    • Presentation: More details in class.

Course Evaluation

Grade Assignment
20% Class Participation & Attendance
5% Class Recap
5% Field Investigation
25% Midterm
10% Final Description / Updated Final Description Blog Posts
35% Videographic Piece

Grades will be given on a 4.0 scale.

  • Grade Updates: I am happy to speak with you at any point in the se mester to discuss your progress in the course. I am available during office hours as well as by appointment.
  • Grade Complaints: Should you wish to challenge a grade, I require that you email me within one week of receiving your grade to set up a meeting to discuss. I will not entertain grade complaints via email.
  • Late Work: Late work receives a 1/3 of a grade deduction [ex. 3.7 (A-) to a 3.3 (B+)] for each day it is late. You’ve almost make is through this syllabus. If you’ve read this by January 31, email me your favorite meme and you will receive an extra day to turn in an assignment if you need it.
  • Student Accommodations: I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability or a special challenge that requires some modification of seating or other class requirements so that we can make appropriate arrangements. Please see me after class or during office hours.
  • Academic Integrity: This course adheres to the University’s policy regarding academic integrity. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Students are required to pledge the following statement on all assignments, quizzes, exams, and projects submitted for this course, acknowledging their commitment to the University’s Honor Code.

Academic Support

The Writing Center ( or 804-289-8263) assists writers at all levels of experience, across all majors. Students can schedule appointments with trained writing consultants who offer friendly critiques of written work. The Writing Center is located in Boatwright Library on the first floor in the Research Commons area and we have a Writing Consultant assigned to our course.

If you experience difficulties in this course, do not hesitate to consult with me. There are also other resources that can support you in your efforts to meet course requirements.

  • Academic Skills Center (, 804-289-8626 or 289-8956): Assists students in assessing their academic strengths and weaknesses; honing their academic skills through teaching effective test preparation, critical reading and thinking, information conceptualization, concentration, and related techniques; working on specific subject areas (e.g., calculus, chemistry, accounting, etc.); and encouraging campus and community involvement.
  • Boatwright Library Research Librarians ( or 804-289-8876): Research librarians assist students with identifying and locating resources for class assignments, research papers and other course projects. Librarians also provide research support for students and can respond to questions about evaluating and citing sources. Students can email, text or IM or schedule a personal research appointment to meet with a librarian in his/her office on the first floor Research and Collaborative Study area.
  • Career Services ( or 804-289-8547): Can assist you in exploring your interests and abilities, choosing a major or course of study, connecting with internships and jobs, and investigating graduate and professional school options. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a career advisor early in your time at UR.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services ( or 804-289-8119): Assists currently enrolled, full-time, degree-seeking students in improving their mental health and well-being, and in handling challenges that may impede their growth and development. Services include short-term counseling and psychotherapy, crisis intervention, psychiatric consultation, and related services.
  • Disability Services ( or 289-8032): The Office of Disability Services works to ensure that qualified students with a disability (whether incoming or current) are provided with reasonable accomodations that enable that student to participate fully in activities, programs, services and benefits provided to all students. Please let your professors know as soon as possible if you have an accommodation that requires academic coordination and planning.
  • Speech Center ( or 804-289-6409): Assists with preparation and practice in the pursuit of excellence in public expression. Recording, playback, coaching and critique sessions offered by teams of student consultants trained to assist in developing ideas, arranging key points for more effective organization, improving style and delivery, and handling multimedia aids for individual and group presentations.
  • Writing Center ( or 804-289-8263): Assists writers at all levels of experience, across all majors. Students can schedule appointments with trained writing consultants who offer friendly critiques of written work.

Support Outside of the Course

Although your time at UR should be a positive experience of learning and personal growth, we care about your wellness.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): (Phone # 804) 289-8119): Assists currently enrolled, full-time, degree-seeking students in improving their mental health and well-being, and in handling challenges that may impede their growth and development. Services include short-term counseling and psychotherapy, crisis intervention, psychiatric consultation, and related services.

Violence and harassment do exist on college campuses, including here. If you experience violence of any nature or are suffering in any other way, you are encouraged to turn to the offices below to get the support and protection you need. Please also remember that Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are civil rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc.

The University of Richmond is committed to providing maximum support for all students who have experienced sexual or other violence and strongly encourages students to report any incident. All college services are available to those who have experienced violence, regardless of whether or not a student intends to file a formal complaint. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted – sexually or otherwise – the campus community has structures in place to support its students.

Resources for students include:

  • Student Health Center: (804) 289-8064
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): (804) 289-8119 (
  • Chaplaincy: (804) 289-8500 (if you desire confidentiality, speak only to ordained personnel)
  • Academic Advising Resource Center: (804) 287-6574
  • Coordinator for Sexual Misconduct Education and Advocacy: (804) 289-8654
  • Student Development Office:
  • Westhampton College Dean’s Office: (804) 289-8468
  • Richmond College Dean’s Office: (804) 289-8061
  • URPD: (804) 289-8911 (or 911 if dialing from campus phone); non-emergency: (804) 289-8715

Weekly Discussion

Questions for each keyword(s):

  • Who is the author(s)?
  • How would you define the keyword(s) for this week?
  • What is the history of the keyword(s)? How has the meaning of the keyword changed over time?
  • How does the keyword help us understand “Media, Culture and Identity”?
  • Questions?

Questions for each reading/piece of media:

  • Who is the author(s)/ creator(s)?
  • What is the object of study? In other words, what is the piece interested in interrogating?
  • What is the argument(s)?
  • How do they make their argument?
  • Why does this object of study matter?
  • Questions?

Keywords + Readings:

  • How does the keyword(s) apply to the assignment?
  • How does the assignment reveal the role of this keyword(s) in media, culture and identity?
  • Are there other keywords we have discussed that this reading/piece of media is addressing?
  • Are there other keywords we have discussed that could be used to analyze this reading/ piece of media?

Your Questions/ Comments: Come to class prepared with 1-2 questions/ issues you want to discuss.

Final Question: What do we learn about media, culture and/or identity?