2014 - Fall

Journalism & Society: Women and the Media

Course Number: JOUR-UA 503, section 001

Day & Time: Tuesday 12:45pm-3:15pm

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 657

Instructor: Carol Sternhell

Women & the Media is a collaborative seminar designed to examine the complex relationship
(or different, contradictory relationships) between those humans we call “women” and those
forms of discourse we call “media.” We will consider women both as subjects and objects, as
artists and models, as creators of “media” in its many forms and as media’s creations. What
does our culture’s “media” tell us about its ideas of gender? What, if anything, does our gender
tell us about our readings of “media”? Student participation in this seminar is key: students are
expected to attend all sessions, to complete all the reading (there’s lots of reading!), to
participate actively in discussion, and to lead one of the class sessions themselves. Leading a
class means opening the day’s conversation with a presentation, critiquing and elaborating on
the assigned reading, bringing in additional relevant material, and suggesting questions or
issues that seem particularly interesting or troublesome. The purpose of the course is to
develop our critical and self-critical faculties as journalists, media critics, consumers of media,
and women or men—to think clearly, challenge our pet assumptions, and have fun.
Along with attendance and informed class participation, students are required to conduct a miniresearch
project and present their findings to the class. I want you to pick a “women and media”
topic that really interests you and then report the hell out of it. If you’re interested in the effect of
music videos on teenage girls, for instance, you would first put together an extensive
bibliography of what has already been written on the subject. You would figure out what the key
questions in the field were: do media images affect teens’ behavior or not, and how can anyone
tell? You might interview some of the leading researchers in the area and tell us what they say.
You’ll certainly want to read the most important books/articles on your subject. A paper is not
required; instead, students will present their findings to the class during our last three sessions.