This upper-level undergraduate course will examine gender representations in media and digital culture. Throughout the semester, students will explore the way gender is constructed, represented, and expressed within the context of traditional media, online media, and especially within social media representation in the 21st century. Students will study gender ideologies, feminist theory, and communication theory and practices, in order to gain a thorough understanding of critical approaches to gender representation across various media. The goal for the course is to transform students from media readers (consumers) to writers (producers) with the ability to critically contribute to conversations by using various media producing platforms and technologies.
The final assignment will give the students the ability to demonstrate how the theories and readings from the course have been understood by them. They will show how they have transformed from consumers to producers by creating/curating a series of Instagram posts that share a common thread of gender representation. Each image will also have to be accompanied with a minimum 100 word annotation. Students will finally have to defend their decisions and annotations of the images by presenting to their classmates on the final meeting day (5-7 minute presentation).
In completing the assignment, students will engage with a variety of technologies. First, they will become proficient in creating and producing to Instagram accounts, which is a popular social media tool. Additionally, students will need to use image capturing devices and other applications to edit their photos such as smartphones or digital cameras (devices) and Flickr or Snapspeed (applications). Furthermore, since a main requirement for the final assignment is to include one external course reading, i.e. articles from a library database, students will need to become familiar with optimal searching strategies in the library’s databases. During the middle of the term (before the final assignment is given) students will be brought to the library to work with a librarian on search techniques and strategies. Lastly, students will need to present their work to their class, so presentation software such as Prezi, PowerPoint, or Slides will be used.
The following criteria will be used to evaluate the assignment:
- 10-20 posts on Instagram, containing at least 1,500 words of text (for 15 posts, that’s 100 words per post). Creativity will be highly valued, so use varying images and annotate them well!
- Project draws from at least two major sources from the course readings (and one beyond) in a significant way. Students visited the library to receive an overview of searching tips and techniques, as well as receiving guidance on the best databases/resources available for this project. Choosing an external reading that demonstrates mastery of library searching is ideal.
- Project takes up major subjects from at least three different fields (entertainment, pop culture, politics, sports, public intellectuals, etc).
- Project coheres into a larger understanding on the function of gender in the media. This will be clearly stated in the presentation as a thesis statement.
- Project presentation is engaging and informative.
Assignment Draft (addressed to students):
For the final project of this course, you will not be writing a traditional research paper, but will create a series of annotated Instagram posts that demonstrate your critical understanding of gender representations through a media platform. The images you use should be created by you (photos of yourself or things you see) AND should also include images pulled from other sources, i.e. an image of a Cyborg referring to the Donna Haraway reading (proper citation within the annotation is required). A mixture of self created and borrowed images is ideal. For each image, you will write an annotation that deconstructs its representation of gender and addresses the theories and critical discussions we’ve had throughout the semester.
To accomplish this, you will:
- Create a series of 15-20 posts on Instagram, containing at least 1,500 words of text (for 15 posts, that’s 100 words per post).
- The series will draw from at least two major sources from the course readings, and one beyond that was found during/after the library research session, in a significant way. For example, this could be accomplished by quoting from a reading in the post or by incorporating images that represent course readings. Please note, you can use more than three readings, but to receive full credit for this part of the assignment you need to refer to TWO course readings and ONE external reading.
- Series takes up major subjects from at least three different fields (entertainment, pop culture, politics, sports, public intellectuals, etc).
- Finally, you will prepare a 5-7 minute presentation that introduces your thesis, ties the chosen & taken images together into an argument justifying your choices and your annotations. Your presentation should be engaging and informative. Presentations will be on the last day of class.
- Your presentation must include a thesis statement that indicates your larger understanding on the function of gender in the media. What ties all the images together? What representations are being depicted? You should be able to clearly articulate this thesis statement in your presentation.