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Mass Media and Popular Culture

From childhood, we consume media.  From watching "Sesame Street" and "Barney the Dinosaur" as toddlers, to being obsessed as teens and young adults with "True Blood", we spend a huge amount of time learning and sharing the same affinities for popular culture as do millions of others.  Are we, as Neil Postman once pondered, "Amusing ourselves to death?"  How does all the media we absorb each day shape our lives?

This course introduces students to media and its influence on culture.  The course is designed to help students develop an ability to think critically about media messages.  The focus of the course is the examination of the roles media play in society.  Students will be introduced to media theories and media uses as they relate to pop culture.  The class will trace the evolution of traditional media - print, radio, TV, and film, as well as the developments of new media - internet and smart phone technology.  Through class projects, lectures, and examples, students will discover the complexities of communicating to large, unseen audiences through media.  A final research project will challenge students to explore the methods and processes of media's ability to captivate and inspire large groups simultaneously.