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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Teaching Maymester- Gender & Pop Culture Blogs 4 credits in under 3 weeks @ TCNJ


This course looks at popular culture through the lens of gender, meaning that we will critically examine the messages that popular culture disseminates about men and women, and about masculinity and femininity. We will examine a range of forms of popular culture such as advertisements, magazines, television, film, cyberspace, hip hop, and sports. Some of the questions we will ask are: How is gender difference constructed and represented in popular culture?; What are the gender images and narratives that we see in popular culture and how do we interpret them?; Who creates and disseminates these images and narratives, and who is the intended audience?; Who benefits from certain patterns of representation that rehearse gender stereotypes and the objectification of women’s bodies?; How can popular culture be used both as a form of social control and social change?

Gender & Popular Culture

WGS 220 Section 03

Summer 2008 – Maymester

The College of New Jersey



May 12th-29th

Office Hours

Tuesday & Thursday 11:30am-12:30pm

(call or email to confirm I’m available )

Jessie Gamble

(has left her contact info off of the blog-version of the syllabus intentionally!)

Required Texts
Dines, Gail & Jean M. (McMahon) Humez. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications: 2003. (Marked on calendar with G)

Ouellette, Laurie & James Hay. Better Living Through Reality TV: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship. Blackwell: 2008.

Readings with an asterisk (*) on the Course Calendar are available on SOCS under “Resources.”

Course Description & Goals

We begin the course with three debatable assumptions. These are:

1. Knowledge and representations are political. Thus our ideas about men and women and sexualities are formed by cultural texts in the service of human interests;

2. Gender is not dichotomous with sex and is both socially constructed, rooted in human understandings of “biology,” and also has material ramifications.

Specifically, we approach popular culture as a significant place where our notions and experience of masculinity and femininity are created, recreated, and challenged;

3. Patriarchy – the ideology that men are superior – profoundly influences popular culture. These assumptions will give us a conscious approach to the material we seek to understand, and it will give us a foundation for discussion and debate in our class discussions.

The specific learning goals of the course are as follows:

· To examine the ways in which gender and sexual identities are constructed and circulated in popular culture.

· To read primary texts of popular culture, and to interpret those texts through a gender lens. We will focus on diverse realms of popular culture with a particular focus on advertising, popular magazines, hip-hop and rock music, television, film, cyberspace and sports.

· Study, debate and utilize critical and theoretical texts on popular culture. We will look at interpretive and historical approaches to the “texts” of culture, as well as political economic approaches to the production of culture.

· Examine how the many forms of popular culture socialize and discipline us even as they entertain us. In this sense, the purpose is to engage in a critical dialogue about how forms of popular culture work and how we can become critical consumers and producers of culture.

· Examine the ways in popular culture serves as an important site where gender intersects with other systems of privilege and oppression such as sexuality, race, class, and ethnicity.

· To develop analytical writing and critical thinking skills in an interdisciplinary context; modes utilized include critical review, and text analyses, the application of theoretical, historical, and analytical readings to elements of everyday “pop culture.

Course Policies

Attendance & Assignment Submission Expectations

Attendance and punctuality is expected at ALL course meetings. Be in class and ready to begin at the time specified on page1.

Repeated lateness and/or absences will result in lower grade for Attendance/Participation/Preparation (detailed under “Course Requirements” below—it’s worth 30% of your grade for a reason!)

Attendance is crucial and absences will only be excused for:

1. Extenuating circumstances

2. Upon your return to class, the reason for the absence must have the support of the appropriate official (your parents aren’t officials!), and

3. You must notify me via phone or email before the scheduled meeting time.

All readings and assignments must be completed for class on date specified by the course calendar.

Late assignments will not be accepted and neither will make-up work for “in-class” assignments (during course meetings).

Academic Integrity

· All areas of TCNJ’s academic integrity policy (see for the policy) apply to students in this course!

Students with Disabilities/Requests for Alternative Accommodations

· Please contact me in person after class, via email, or by phone at the beginning of the term (whatever is the most comfortable for you).

Course Requirements

30% Attendance, Participation, & Preparation (Including assignments completed during course meetings not listed on the syllabus)

· Class time is frequently used for workshop-oriented activities and discussions of readings, we, and in class assignments occur frequently

· You absolutely must read and come prepared to discuss the readings for each class

· Peer editing and group work is not only graded distinctly as its own set of assignments under this category; it’s also imperative that you understand that your group/partner will be counting on you for assistance during these in-class activities

· Participation/Attendance/Class-work—overall rubric/grading guidelines are available on SOCS under “Resources” (as a general class participation grading scale)

· See Course Policies (above) for detailed information about class meeting absence and lateness as they factor into your overall grade and this percentage of the grade

30% Class Facilitation/Presentation (Group/Date Sign-Up on May 13th)

· Groups of up to 5 students will present on the dates marked “Student Presentation” on the calendar (dates include specific topics and readings for the class)

· Your job will be to Initiate the discussion of course readings by providing a brief overview of assigned readings (we’ll discuss how to do so on the 13th) by

· Identifying main issues from readings and outlining them for the class

· Relating them to prior readings/discussions/outside material (video clips, images, etc) to contextualize the readings or offer more depth than the readings alone provided

· Developing/Posing 2-3 questions for class discussion (analytically geared questions intended to stimulate large group discussion). However, these questions can also be used to address specific points of confusion, questions about the theoretical, empirical, concepts, etc (critiques are completely valid topics to discuss--was the author consistent with her/his theory/methodology/etc?) If you are having trouble with assessing the reading's logical congruency, or if the author seems to be conflating concepts (but you're not sure) these are great questions for discussion and for the class to flesh-out collaboratively.

· Feel free to approach the topic and group division of labor in any manner that your group feels suits your project and its members in the most productive way possible (PowerPoint, handouts, etc).

· Each group will be graded on criteria, for which a rubric will be copied and posted to SOCS under “Resources” for your reference early in the semester.

40% Blogging: Written and Visual Assignments:

Blog Posts:

Post # 1: May 20th Toy Shopping Field Work: Gendered Consumers/Engendering Consumerism

Post # 2: May 23rd Collage of Media/Marketing with a brief written component

Post # 3: May 29th Rereading Reality TV

All posts are due to your blogs on the dates specified by 9pm

Detailed assignment instructions/expectations will be distributed during the first week of class and will also be posted to SOCS Resources

Course Calendar with Reading & Assignment Due Dates

*Indicates reading is posted on SOCS Resources (G) indicates reading in Dines, GRCM Reader Chapters from Ouellette & Hay have no special mark

Class 1

May 12

Introduction to concepts, theories, and key terms/approaches to studying popular culture through the lens of gender

Introduction to the course

Discussion of goals, concepts, and assignments for the semester

Mission to find a computer lab!

Blog Creation / Topic Brainstorming/Link Hunt

Class 2

May 13

Approaches to studying gender & popular culture

2. Kellner, "Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, & Media Culture," 9-20 (G)

3. Croteau & Hoynes, “The New Media Giants: Change Industry Structure,” 21-39 (G)

4. Lipsitz, “The Meaning of Memory: Family, Class, and Ethnicity in Early Network Television,” 40-47 (G)

Sign Up for Presentations today & Discussion about presentations

Class 3

May 14

“Hegemony, patriarchy, & ideologies, oh my!”

5. Newman, Chapter 2, “Manufacturing Difference: The Social Construction of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality”*

6. Lull, "Hegemony," 61-66 (G)

7. Johnson, “Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them or an Us,” 91-98 *

8. Hall, “By the Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media,” 89-93 (G)

Watch episode "Don't Make Me Over" from Family Guy & Daily Show clips on racism and immigration

Class 4

May 15

Interpreting the media’s constructs of the ‘ideal’ & ‘pathological’ subjects

9. Newman, Chapter 3, “Portraying Difference: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Language and the Media” *

10. Pozner, “The Unreal World” *

11. Rogers, “Hetero Barbie?” 94-97 (G)

12. Raymond, “Popular Culture & Queer Representation: A Critical Perspective,” 98-110 (G)

Watch Further Off The Straight & Narrow

Class 5

May 19


(Gendered) Consumers R Us

Student Presentation #1: Edutainment

13. Newman, Chapter 4 “Learning difference: Families, schools, and socialization”

14. Giroux, “Kids for Sale: Corporate Culture & the Challenge of Public Schooling,” 171-175 (G)

15. Messner, “Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the construction of Masculinities” *

16. Ijeoma A. “Because You’re a Girl” *

17. “girls, sexulity, & popular culture” *

Class 6

May 20

The evolving discursive/material constructs of women and beauty in the media industry

18. Ouelette, “Reinventing the Cosmo Girl: Class Identity and Girl-Style American Dreams,” 116-128 (G)

19. Steinem, “Sex, Lies, & Advertising,” (223-229)

20. Breazeale, “In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer,” (230-243)

21. Wolf, Excerpt From The Beauty Myth *

Watch Killing Us Softly 3 in Class

Blog Post #1 Due (by 9pm): Engendering Consumers/Gendered Consumption

Class 7

May 21

Marketing Sexual Subjectivities: Masculinity & Femininity Commodified

Student Presentation #2: Advertising Masculinity and Femininity

22. Jhally, “Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture,” 249-257 (G)

23. Higginbotham, “Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and Lose Your Self-Esteem” *

24. Kilbourne, “The More You Subtract, the More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size,” 258-267 (G)

25. Kirkham & Weller, “Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study,” 268-273 (G)

26. Katz, “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men,” 349-358 (G)

Class 8

May 22

Body=Big $$$

The embodiment of ideals

Student Presentation #3: Body Businesses

27. Hesse-Biber, Chapter 1, “A Cult Grows In America” *

28. Hesse-Biber, Chapter 2, “Men and Women: Mind & Body” *

29. Hesse-Biber, Chapter 3, “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, & Recovery” *

30. Hesse-Biber, Chapter 4, “There’s No Business Like the Body Business: Fitness & Cosmetic Surgery” *

May 23

No Class—Memorial Day

No Class Friday

Blog Post #2 Due (by 9pm): Collage Assignment

May 26

No Class—Memorial Day

No Class Monday

Class 9

May 27

Defining Identities & Audience Identity using the Music Industry

Student Presentation #4: Identity-Production in Rock, Rap, & Hip Hop

31. Coates, “Moms Don’t Rock: The Popular Demonization of Courtney Love”*

32. Perry, “Who(se) am I? The Identity and Image of Women in Hip Hop,” 136-148 (G)

33. Cole & Guy-Sheftall, “No Respect: Gender Politics and Hip Hop” *

34. Rose, “Hidden Politics: Discursive and Institutional Policing of Rap Music,” 396-405 (G)

Class 10

May 28

It’s everywhere…

There may be a few reasons: Rereading “Reality TV”

Student Presentation #5: Reality TV’s Multidimensional Power

35. Ouellette & Hay “Introduction,” 1-31

36. Ouellette & Hay “TV Interventions: Personal Responsibility and Techniques of the Self,” 63-98

37. Ouellette & Hay “Makeover TV: Labors of Reinvention,” 99-133

Class 11

May 29

Defining the boundaries of inclusion and otherness

38. Ouellette & Hay “TV & the Self-Defensive Citizen,” 134-169(?)

39. Ouellette & Hay “TV’s Constitutions of Citizenship,” 170-202(?)

Final Class Wrap-Up

Blog Post #3 Due (by 9pm): Rereading Reality TV


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