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American Media and the Politics of Representation
AFAM 306
Fall 2009
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: FGSS 307

This course explores race, gender, and sexuality in terms of relations of power and representations of "blackness" in the media. We begin by developing a theoretical framework for understanding the evolution of race and gender by examining theories of late-19th-century scientists and the eugenics movement that conspired to legitimize a particular racialized worldview--reaching its height in 1923. English scientist Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, coined the word "eugenics" to advance the science of heredity and the notion of a "perfect" human race by filtering out "undesirables" while multiplying its "desirables" in what Darwin called, "survival of the fittest." This course also examines the politics of race, gender, and sexuality by taking a critical look at the social policies that came out of the Moynihan Report (1965) in the construction of the black family--particularly black women and the Kerner Commission, a 1968 report motivated by urban riots in the United States, that sought to analyze the specific triggers for the riots and pointed to the need for diversity in newsrooms across the country. We also use the critical tools of Stuart Hall, Herman Gray, Marlon Ross, Devon Carbado, Kara Keeling, Charles Nero, E. Patrick Johnson, bell hooks, Darnell Hunt, and Trinh Minh-ha to inform our understandings of media production and practice.

The last half of the semester will focus on media representations of women with an emphasis on the role of the news media in circulating these representations and shaping a worldview of the African diaspora. We interrogate current notions of "blackness" through transnational feminist and queer theories--looking into some of the signifying practices of race, gender, sexuality and the politics of difference in the media with particular attention to the notion of "desirables" and "undesirables." The sources for this course are wide-ranging: mainly academic texts, but also documentary films, news media reports, and personal accounts of corporate television news anchors/reporters.

Essential Capabilities: Speaking, Writing
Writing: Some of the class time is devoted to teaching writing concerns such as developing a thesis, structuring an argument, or using quotations effectively. I require drafts of papers which not only offers an opportunity to intervene in student writing, but also enables students to see critical thinking and writing as a process of engagement and re-engagement.
Speaking: Students have opportunities to sharpen their analytical and speaking skills everyday as they process the theories on offer in the course during weekly discussions of theory and practice. Their analytical, speaking, and presentation skills will be developed and exercised more intensely as they prepare presentations for the class based on the materials on offer in the course.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AFAM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (FGSS)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUN-18-2024
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