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CMS 240 A: Writing in Cinema and Media Studies

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:10am - 11:20am
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Student photo
Amalie Goul Dueholm

Syllabus Description:

CMS 240: Writings in Cinema and Media Studies

Eurovision: Glitter, Cringe & Politics

Amalie Goul Dueholm –

Class Meeting Time: Synchronous sessions MW 9.10-11.20, NB! Week 3: No live session Monday 5th of July but Tuesday 6th of July

Link for meetings:

Student Hours: By appointment

Picture of the 2021 winners of the Eurovision Song Contest, Italian glam rockband Måneskin, as they are being showered in gold confetti Figure 1 Måneskin, Italian rock band that won Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam.


Course Description:

Love it? Hate it? Don’t know about it? Eurovision is the long-running European song contest which inspired the 2020 Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Originally conceived as a vehicle for promoting cultural cooperation within Europe after the WWII the contest began with seven members from Western Europe in 1956, today, however, it is a global media event with more than forty contestants, an annual viewership of more than 100 million and a vast amount of media coverage. With its long history and its avowed mission as a cultural event only, Eurovision makes an interesting case study of changing perceptions and representations of Europe and Europeanness, the relationship between media and technology, as well as the political and social functions and meanings of a media event such as Eurovision at different points in time. Specifically, as Eurovision has grown the question of what the song contest is and who it is for has been under contention and has highlighted the different stakes at play for its many participants and audiences, and also how these attitudes are linked to local issues and concerns. While we will think through the changes to Eurovision over time, this class will focus on the last 20-30 years of the contest to consider how Eurovision functions as a site of geopolitics and cultural politics for hosts, participants, and audiences. Some of the topics we will cover is the role and representation of nation and region, how culture and belonging is highlighted, blurred, and articulated at Eurovision, the politics of the contest and its members, spectatorship and fan participation, commodification, and media technology.


Course Objectives:

The goal of the course is to develop and strengthen critical reading and writing skills by thinking critically about the kinds of meanings and functions a media event like Eurovision might have. As part of the course, you will among other things be watching and listening to a lot of Eurovision entries and read a variety of academic and non-academic texts about Eurovision and you will be required to produce persuasive work that discusses Eurovision from a critical perspective or that demonstrates awareness of possible genres or audiences of Eurovision. You will learn to pay attention to rhetorical context and think about good communicative strategies to accommodate that context, and you will be required to articulate a point of view that relies on textual support. Your ‘writing’ should evince quality thinking and improvement in your ability to express critical insight. You will be asked to meet the following outcomes:

  • Explain what Eurovision is and summarise key related concepts and debates around the contest.
  • Ask critical questions of how media events like Eurovision works locally and globally and of how it can help us map the relationship between culture and politics and changing attitudes to social issues.
  • Evaluate Eurovision as a site for branding Eurovision, Europe and nations and assess individual countries’ attitudes.
  • Break apart and analyse components of a media text and explain their significance in relation to shifting media technologies, politics, and cultural representation.
  • Produce complex, analytical, and persuasive arguments in different genres that lead to an understanding of the text and its socio-historical context.
  • Engage carefully and analytically with a variety of texts, including performances, primary, and secondary sources, using a range of methods from humanities disciplines.
  • Develop strategies for revision.


Required Materials:

Unless otherwise specified, all required materials will be available either on Canvas or elsewhere on the internet such as through the library and YouTube. Links and files will be provided via canvas. If you experience problems accessing the material, please let me know as soon as possible.


Structure of the Class:

Learning is a collective process, and we benefit from being able to share ideas and questions with one another, at the same time, meeting for two hours four days in a row is hard work when everything is happening virtually. To accommodate both concerns, this class is intended as a hybrid with half of the class time designed for asynchronous learning and the other half as synchronous.

Synchronous classes will be twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.10-11-20, except in week 3 (July 5th-11th) when we will meet on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th. The class time will consist of a mixture of lectures, discussion, and group activities – to get the most out of the class time, please come prepared and ready to engage with the materials.

Asynchronous work will consist of some smaller writing activities (homework), the bigger assignments and reading and watching material for the class.


Attendance Policy:

Your regular attendance in the live Zoom sessions will support your learning and will help your participation grade, however, since not all students are in the same time zone with equal internet access, there are other ways to participate that can also work. Please communicate with me about your ability to attend the live Zoom sessions so that we can work out how you can proceed with as much support as possible.


Zoom Etiquette & Tips:

  • Wear whatever you want! Just make sure you are wearing clothes.
  • In larger meetings, mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
  • If you are concerned for your privacy, consider using a virtual background.
  • In CMS 240, it is considered perfectly polite for your pets to join you during any and all Zoom meetings. Also, please keep yourself hydrated and fed during the meetings – though consider muting your microphone while you are eating unless you are called on to speak.
  • Use the chat function to share your ideas if you do not feel comfortable speaking.



Since this is a writing course the bulk of your grade will be calculated based on a number of different writing activities to help you engage with the texts, reflect on the concepts, practice your skills, and generate ideas for your final project.

The grading will be calculated the following way:

  • Participation: 20%
  • Homework: 10%
  • CMS 240 Eurovision Charts: 10%
  • Eurovision Primer: 15%
  • Performing Belonging: 15%
  • Final Project: Eurovision Song Contest and Postcard
    • Concept Proposal: 5%
    • Presentation: 5%
    • Final submission: 20%



Your participation grade is based on your active participation in the synchronous classes and on the asynchronous discussion board. Synchronous and asynchronous participation is valued equally, so if you feel more comfortable writing than speaking, you are welcome to participate more on the discussion board. When writing on the discussion board, aim for minimum 100 words and remember, your post should demonstrate reflective engagement with the text, the question posted or previous responses (that is, a short line of ‘I completely agree’, ‘I disagree’ or similar responses will not qualify).



Since we are only meeting synchronously twice a week, there will be one or two smaller activities each week which you will be required to do asynchronously. These activities are designed to make you reflect more on the material or to help you practice a specific skill in a low stakes environment and might take the form of a peer review, an annotation, targeted research, a free write etc.


CMS 240 Eurovision Charts:

In Eurovision’s 65-year long history more than 1500 songs have been performed on stage. In class we will look and discuss some of these songs, but to familiarise you with the sounds and the visuals of Eurovision and the changes over time, you are asked to listen to one song each day. By Sunday you should write a short informal response (100-250 words) where you list your top five songs for that week and make an argument for why others should give one of your songs a try. In your argument you can refer to anything about the song, performance, or exhibition circumstances that you think are interesting -or perhaps not interesting.

For this exercise, try to listen to at least one song that is not in English and at least one song that is not from this millennium every week. If you are struggling to find songs, many websites, including Wikipedia, has useful lists of all the songs entered by specific countries or annual overviews of entrants, a master list going by the year is Wikipedia’s YouTube and Spotify also have various kinds of lists and YouTube has the official Eurovision Song Contest user, which has coverage of songs from 2007 onwards).


Eurovision Primer (due Sunday 4th of July)

In this assignment you will demonstrate your knowledge about Eurovision and your skills in finding persuasive evidence by creating a primer (500-750 words or equivalent labour) introducing Eurovision to an audience who is unlikely to know about the contest or who has preconceptions about it that you wish to overcome. As you have seen from the discussions we have had in class and some of the material we have looked at, you can focus on a lot of different aspects of the contest to entice an audience (its history, its politics, its weirdness, its spectacle etc), and how you frame that will depend on who your audience is.

Based on who your audience will be you can choose to work in a long form written format for New York Times or The New Yorker, a Twitter thread, a reddit post, a set of Tik Tok or YouTube videos etc.

In addition to your primer, please include a 100–250-word Maker’s Statement where you reflect on how you crafted your entry and the concerns you had about it.


Performing Belonging (due Sunday 11th of July)

One of the things we are discussing in this class, is how Eurovision functions as a site of brand-making and performing belonging or identity on a regional, national, local, communal, or individual scale. For this assignment you will draw on your critical analysis skills to build an evidence-based, persuasive argument based on close analysis of a text or incident that you think demonstrates this in a particular way.


Eurovision Song and Pre-Song Postcard (proposal due Friday 16th and final version due Sunday 25th of July)

By now you are knowledgeable about all things Eurovision Song Contest, and it is time to draw on your various skillsets to create the winning entry for the 2022 edition (or your own, alternate version, such as American Song Contest, Seattlevision, UWVision). In this assignment you will build on your knowledge about genre conventions and demonstrate your rhetorical awareness by crafting a winning song entry (including ideas for the performance) and an entry postcard for your contestant.  In addition to your artefacts, you will include a 500-750 Maker’s Statement. You will also need to give a short presentation on your entry in the last week of class.


Tips for Working with Eurovision Songs:

When we hear the word ’song’ we think about it as something that we listen to – and that is certainly a good idea. However, remember, Eurovision is nearly as much about visuals and spectacle as it is about the sound and the lyrics, and in recent years many of the songs are released months before the competition meaning there might be both a ’live version’ and a ’music video’ version. Each of these elements contribute to the overall effect of the song, so when you prepare for class (or in your own research) make sure you take the time to both listen and watch the entries.


Submitting Written Assignments:

Unless otherwise specified, all written assignments in scholarly should be submitted electronically on Canvas as word documents and should follow the following formatting guidelines.

  • 12pt Times or Times New Roman or Calibri font
  • one (1) inch margins all around
  • double spacing
  • page numbers
  • standard MLA header (see Purdue OWL MLA guide)
  • standard MLA citations (see Purdue OWL MLA guide)


Late Policy:

Please make sure to submit work in a timely fashion and make sure to discuss extensions with me minimum 24 hours before the deadline.

Asynchronous Discussions:

Please make sure you have submitted all your responses by June 21st at 11.59pm. Within that period you can reply any discussion post and prompt for any of the weeks at any time.


Late submissions will not receive credit unless the student in question has discussed an extension previously with me. Please discuss extensions at least 24 hours before the deadline.  Discussion Posts can receive partial credit for components submitted within the deadline.


All Other Assignments:

You will be deducted one point for each day your submission is late, however you will be given a one-day (24 hours) grace period. If an assignment is more than 5 days late it will not receive credit or feedback. If you believe you have legitimate reasons for an extension, please discuss this with me at least 24 hours before the deadline.



Student Hours & Communication:

I am available for student hours by appointment, please make use of these if you have questions about the material, would like to brainstorm some ideas or just want to check in about anything. If you need to talk with me, please send me an email to schedule a Zoom meeting. I will generally be available for meetings between 9.00 am and 10am on, though please try to schedule a meeting well in advance. If you are in time zones outside of the US or if you are working during regular office hours, I can also make myself available in the evening up to 11pm Seattle time.

If you have quick questions or concerns that do not require an in-person conversation, you can email me any time at I usually reply pretty quickly, but I might have limited availability on weekends, evenings, or certain busy periods. Please wait at least 24 hours before sending a follow up email on weekdays and at least 48 hours during the weekend.


Land Acknowledgement:

We in CMS 240 thank and honour the original caretakers of this land and acknowledge that the University of Washington is on the stolen ancestral land of the Coast Salish, Duwamish, and Suquamish peoples. We would also like to express our deepest respect and gratitude to our indigenous neighbours, the Tulalip Tribes, the Snohomish Tribe, the Stillaguamish Tribe, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, the Spokane Tribe, the Palouse Tribe, the Wenatchi Tribe, the Yakima Tribe, and the Okanagan Tribe for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.


University Policies

Code of Conduct

This class has a zero-tolerance rule for hate speech. According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is “any speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” While this could and does apply to many groups, one of the tenets of this course is that hate speech is a violence, and that these violences do not impact everyone equally. Rather, the force of their impacts is dependent on systems of power. Marginalised communities and people are vulnerable to and impacted by such speech in ways that groups or individuals in power are not. With this in mind, I will specify that I interpret “hate speech” to be any forms of speech that targets already vulnerable people/communities. Racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated in this course, nor will transphobia, homophobia, ableism, classism, or other statements or practices that uphold white supremacy.


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing—as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


Disability Accommodations:

Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at


Religious Accommodations:

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Guidance to Students Taking Courses Outside the US

Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.

If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.

If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.

Catalog Description: 
A critical approach to film and/or media texts and a workshop on writing papers in English. Topics vary. Offered: AWSpS.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Last updated: 
May 20, 2021 - 10:54pm