tel 420 electronic media criticism
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TEL 420 Electronic media criticism. Spring 2011. Bulletin description.

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bulletin description
Bulletin description
  • Examination of each of several critical theories and approaches to the criticism of telecommunications program content. Practical experience in evaluating critical writing and in the writing of critical pieces. Prereq: Telecom major status or consent of instructor.
three main types of criticism
Three main types of criticism
  • Pleasure from the content
    • Did I enjoy it?
  • Aesthetic quality of the content
    • Is it art?
  • Social and ethical critique of media texts
    • Is it good or bad for society/people?
  • This course will help you as a producer and/or as a consumer of popular culture
    • Electronic texts are all around us
    • We tend to take them at face value
      • We have ‘overlearned’ the language of electronic representation
    • Even so, they affect us in important ways
      • I’m not an alarmist, but we should recognize that electronic narratives have effects we don’t recognize as well as those that we do
  • First we’ll look at the components that make up narratives and nonnarrative forms of audiovisual content and how we experience them in film, television and videogame texts
    • Plots
    • Storytelling
    • Characters
    • Settings
    • Action/events
Then we’ll take a quick look at how the texts are produced and what makes for good production values
    • Cinematography
    • Sound
    • Mise-en-scene
    • Editing
    • Shots/scenes/episodes
    • Lighting
Next, we’ll look at some of the sorts of aesthetic theory and criticism found in more scholarly humanities studies
    • Auteur theory
    • Genre theory
Finally, we’ll review some of the social implications of the narratives/texts commonly found in film, on television, and in video games
    • Class
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Morality
    • Sexuality
how will we tackle these tasks
How will we tackle these tasks?
  • Readings
    • The readings are moderate in amount and mostly quite readable
Assignments (30%)
    • Assignments are a mix of short quizzes on Blackboard and simple analyses of electronic texts to be discussed in class
      • For example, one week I may ask you to watch the presentation of Arabs in 24and apply the readings to what you see
A midterm examination (10%)
    • Based on your understanding of concepts, vocabulary, and basic theory about our topics we will have a conversation where you have the opportunity to demonstrate to me that you understand the content of the course up to that point
An in-class presentation (10%)
    • Each of you will present to the class your interpretation of how a course topic applies to some electronic text
      • I will distribute a list of potential topics and allow you to choose, but we will need to find ways to assure that not everyone picks the same topic
      • I will review your presentation prior to the period for which it is scheduled and will provide recommendations, see that we don’t cover the same material, etc.
A take-home essay question (10%)
    • The second third of our class will lead to an essay question meant to apply the concepts and theories from that section to one of a limited number of audiovisual texts. We will discuss your findings in class.
The semester examination (20%)
    • This will be a combination of demonstrating that you have picked up the content from the post-midterm readings and that you can apply the semester’s theoretical content to specific examples of electronic narrative
      • I’ll show examples at the time of the test and you will be expected to be able to identify how our semester content applies to the clips
Semester paper (20%)
    • Each of you will carry out a form of critical analysis of one or more audiovisual texts. You’ll get the okay to go forward with your topic and will keep me updated on how you are progressing, getting your basic outline okayed, etc. during the semester. You will complete a paper on your topic and will have the option to share the knowledge you have gained (in greatly abbreviated form) in a second in-class presentation at the end of the semester.
out of class assignments
Out-of-class assignments
  • In order to be on the same page, I’ll be requiring you to watch some films, television shows, documentaries and perhaps watch some folks playing video games. This will require some out of class time but is necessary to see that we can have intelligent discussions of various texts. Much of the content will be available online.
  • In general, if you do the work, you’ll do fine as far as grades are concerned. If you are doing the readings, coming to class, etc. and aren’t getting the ideas, please see me during office hours or set up a meeting.
so to get started
So, to get started:
  • Narratives are, generally speaking, stories.
    • There’s a whole area of study around narratives and some of the folks who specialize in that area would not want such a simplistic definition, but it will serve us okay in this class.
why focus on narrative
Why focus on narrative?
  • Narratives are extremely common
    • The majority of texts you are exposed to through electronic media present narrative content
    • People tend to construct their communications in narrative form
      • What did you do last night?
        • A list?
        • A story?
    • Narratives are more interesting and satisfying than other forms of presentation
narratives in electronic media
Narratives in electronic media
  • The great majority of fictional content is narrative in nature
    • Think about the structure of primetime fiction, film fiction, etc.
    • Videogames?
  • Much of, if not the majority of, non-fiction is narrative in nature, as well
    • ‘Reality TV’
    • News ‘stories’
    • Commercial ‘mini-narratives’