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CMS 275 A: Perspectives On Visual Culture: Sex, Race And Power

Feminist Approaches to Media

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:30am - 12:20pm
THO 101
M Ahern
Mal Ahern

Syllabus Description:

CMS 275: Feminist Approaches to Media (Perspectives on Visual Culture: Race Sex and Power)

Excerpt from Alison Bechdel's comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For." Dialogue reads:

"Well, I dunno, I have this rule, see: I only go to a movie it if satisfies three basic requirements. ONE, it has to have at least two women in it, who, TWO, talk t each other about, THREE, something besides a MAN."

"Pretty strict, but a good idea."

"No Kidding. Last movie I was able to see was ALIEN."

PDF Syllabus

This course will introduce students to the critical analysis of film, television, and other media through the lens of feminist theory. The first part of the course will introduce some of the canonical texts of feminist film theory, covering three major areas: feminist psychoanalysis, queer reading practices, and black feminist theory. This section will culminate in students producing their own critical review of the depiction of gender in a contemporary film (due 2/7).

The second and third parts of the course will focus on a range of alternative and oppositional media practices that center artists and viewers who are female, queer, women of color, and trans. Content will focus primarily on feminism and media in the United States, with occasional excursions into international and transnational topics. Students will have the opportunity to produce their own alternative media in the form of a zine (due 2/21) and a media manifesto (due 3/13).

Class sessions will focus on the close analysis of images and other media objects. Lectures will also introduce key concepts not addressed by the readings. Five quizzes over the course of the semester (given on dates selected at random) will cover concepts drawn from both readings and lectures. Students will also complete weekly writing assignments that respond to readings and films.

A note on required readings and viewings

To prepare for class, please complete the reading and viewing listed immediately under “Complete Before Class: Readings and Viewings.” This, and completing your weekly writing response, will be your regular homework for the course.

The texts listed under “Supplemental materials” are not required readings, but they are texts that your instructor will reference, quote, and summarize in lecture. You may be quizzed on the basic concepts of these texts as described in lecture (e.g., Butler's theory of gender), but you will not be quizzed on specifics of the texts not mentioned in lecture. In case you find yourself interested or intrigued (before or after lecture) and want to explore these additional texts, they will be uploaded for your reference within 24 hours after the lecture. Lecture slides (Power Points) will be uploaded within 24 hours after lecture. 

Reading and viewing assignments are subject to change. Any changes to the reading and viewing assignments will be made at least one week in advance.

Course Assignments

Course Policies (Late Policy, Electronic Devices, etc)

Catalog Description: 
An introduction to the study of visual texts such as film, television, comics, or digital media. Focus on the representation of cultural differences including, but not limited to, sexuality, gender, ability, and race. Topics vary.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Cinema & Media Studies Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 31, 2020 - 10:47am