Blog Post

Mediating Race: Evolving Syllabus

Mediating Race:  Evolving Syllabus

Mediating Race:

Technology, Performance, Politics, and Aesthetics in Popular Culture

IDS 81630

ENG 87400 Studies in Visual Media

Cathy N. Davidson (The Graduate Center, English and the Futures Initiative)

Racquel Gates (College of Staten Island, Media Culture)

Wednesdays, 2-4pm   Graduate Center 365 Fifth Avenue  Room TBD

(PLS NOTE: Although this course is not listed on the English Dept website, you can sign up with an IDS 81630 or Eng 87400 number on CUNYFirst: If you need assistance, please contact the instructors directly).

 

This course is cross listed in and in several cases counts towards certificates and majors in: American Studies, Africana Studies, Film and Media Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, Urban Education, Social Welfare, and Psychology.

Course description:

What does it mean to be “cool,” to be “fierce,” or to “slay”? How do film, television, and new media make these concepts legible to audiences? This course focuses on technologies, techniques, performance, and style as components contributing to our ideas, representations, conventions, and stereotypes of race. Rather than treat film, television, and new media as straightforward reflections of social realities, this course will analyze how the media establishes, and continues to shape, our understandings of what blackness (and gender) “look” like.

This course is designed for anyone in the humanities and social sciences who is looking for critical approaches to issues of race, racism, and representation in American popular culture and popular media. The course will be using active learning techniques, and will also be addressing pedagogical issues and methods, both those we use in this course and those that graduate students should find useful in their own teaching.  We will be looking at various ways to address the teaching and discussing of controversial, difficult, and complicated subject matter.

Evolving Syllabus

This course is designed using active learning methods that will engage students in projects meaningful to them, that they can help shape, and that include students in the development of the course itself. Much research on active learning shows these methods to be invaluable to empowering graduate students (even in the context of graduate studies which is often remarkably infantalizing and hierarchical). For those who are teaching, it offers pedagogical methods to be incorporated into your own classrooms.

The syllabus evolves until the course opens--and continues once the class begins as students are key in shaping the form, methods, content, and projects the class pursues and are co-designers of a unique learning experience that best serves their own careers, as researchers, thinkers, scholars, teachers, institution builders and beyond.

One portion of the course will be public and we will be using the HASTAC.org site for public writing. The tool is designed to create an automatic "portfolio" for anyone who registers and blogs on the site. Blogs can be pseudonymous. Or can use your own name. Choose which best serves your career.

 

TEXTS

Our core critical, theoretical text for the class is Professor Gates’s Double Negative:  The Black Image and Popular Culture, Duke University Press, 2018. (Note: Please do not buy this book! Students enrolled in the course will receive a gift copy of this book in class.). 

We will also read a number of other crucial works of media studies; students will also be proposing other articles and books for us to read

 

Part One:  Introduction and Methods: Media Studies, Race Studies, Critical Pedagogy

 

Jan 30  Introductory Lecture:  Course overview, media theory overview, pedagogy overview.   

Think/Pair/Share: Three works of Black media that interest you most  (good bad or ugly)

Think/Pair/Share: Three issues that bother/interest/intrigue you on the topic of “mediating race”

Feb 6  Double Negative ,  Introduction, “Negativity and the Black Popular Image” Double Negative

Kristen Warner, “In the Time of Plastic Representation” 

Suzanna Walters, “Visual Pressures: On Gender and Looking” from Material Girls

Marlon Riggs’ Ethnic Notions

(OPTIONAL: *NB: There will be a discussion of Ethnic Notions followed by a panel discussion with Steven Thrasher, Patricia Turner, and Professor Gates at The Brooklyn Academy of Music on February 7. )

Feb 13  Double Negative  Chapter One, “Eddie Murphy, Coming to America, and Formal Negativity”

Film:  Eddie Murphy, “Coming to America”   

Feb 20  Pedagogy and Research Theory

    Cathy N. Davidson, “Active Learning Tool Kit: Rationale, Methods, Models, Research, Bibliography(https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2017/11/15/active-learning-kit-rationale-methods-models-research-bibliography“Why Start With Pedagogy?”)

    Jesse Stommel, “Dear Student”

(https://www.jessestommel.com/dear-student/)

 

Part Two:  Key Texts [Subject To Change]

  • Students will work in groups to select additional, supplementary critical material, additional texts for discussion

 

[Academy Awards:  Feb 24, 2019; nominations Jan 22]

Feb 27  Beyonce “Lemonade”

March 6  JayZ “444”

“Footnotes for 444”  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ0wqHBX2KI )

The Carters

March 13 “Love and Hip Hop”   Guest Speaker  TBA

Racquel Gates, “Why I Love Reality TV,” New York Times, September 28, 2018.

Chapter 4, “Embracing the Ratchet: Reality Television and Strategic Negativity”

March 20 [Prof Gates away]  FI Symposium Planning (April 9)

March 27  “If Beale Street Could Talk”

April 3 “Get Out” or “Sorry To Bother You”

Part Three: Students Choose Texts (How To Build a Syllabus)

  • Students work in groups to choose texts, analysis, pedagogical exercises

April 10  __________________

Background pedagogy text:  “Why Have Students Design the Syllabus”

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2016/03/02/why-my-students-design-syllabus-fight4edu

Thursday April 11 Spring Symposium  330-700

April 17 ________________

SPRING RECESS APRIL 19-28

May 1  __________________

May 8   Last class

READING DAY May 15--

FINAL GRADES DUE May 28

 

Part One:  Introduction and Methods: Media Studies, Race Studies, Critical Pedagogy

    Marlon Riggs’ Ethnic Notions or Color Adjustment

Feb 6   Media Theory  

Double Negative:  The Black Image and Popular Culture (Introduction)

Feb 13  Double Negative

Eddie Murphy, “Coming to America”

Feb 20  Pedagogy and Research Theory

    Cathy N. Davidson, “Active Learning Tool Kit: Rationale, Methods, Models, Research, Bibliography” (https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2017/11/15/active-learning-k...“Why Start With Pedagogy?”)

    Jesse Stommel, “Dear Student”

(https://www.jessestommel.com/dear-student/)

 

Part Two:  Key Texts [Subject To Change]

  • Students will work in groups to select additional, supplementary critical material, additional texts for discussion

[Academy Awards:  Feb 24, 2019; nominations Jan 22]

Feb 27  Beyonce “Lemonade”

March 6  JayZ “444”

“Footnotes for 444”  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ0wqHBX2KI )

The Carters

March 13 “Love and Hip Hop”   Guest Speaker

“Why I Love Reality TV,” New York Times, September 28, 2018.

Chapter Four, "Embracing the Ratchet: Reality Television and Strategic Negativity"

March 20 [Prof Gates away]  Symposium Planning (April 9 FI Symposium, "Race Across the Curriculum")

March 27  “If Beale Street Could Talk”

April 3 “Get Out” or “Sorry To Bother You”

 

Part Three: How To Build a Syllabus.  Students will chose the texts for our analysis in the last third of the course.

  • Students work in groups to choose texts, analysis, pedagogical exercises  

April 10  TEXT:_______________Student-Designed Topic

Background pedagogy text:  “Why Have Students Design the Syllabus”

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2016/03/02/why-my-students-design-syllabus-fight4edu

Thursday April 11 Spring Symposium , "Race Across the Curriculum":  330-700 pm  Each of the four Futures Initiative courses collaborates on a Spring symposium. Graduate students will be encouraged to use innovative pedagogical methods in their undergraduate classes and to invite their CUNY undergraduates to participate in and attend the Spring Symposium.  The event will be live-streamed and archived.  

April 17 TEXT:_______________Student-Designed Topic

SPRING RECESS APRIL 19-28

May 1  TEXT:_______________Student-Designed Topic

May 8   Last class

READING DAY May 15--

FINAL GRADES DUE May 28

READING DAY May 15

FINAL PROJECTS DUE   May 22

FINAL GRADES DUE May 28

****

Skills/competencies/outcomes/accomplishments:

(NB: We will revise these in an interactive, collaborative pedagogy exercise on Feb 20)

This class is intended to offer students the following:

–in-depth knowledge of the course topic

–in-depth knowledge and practice of active or engaged learning (radical pedagogy) models applicable to teaching, management, community organizing, and any collective experience

–critical reading and thinking about the relationship between race and media

–original research and writing, including possible archival research

–collaborative planning and presentation

–dialogical communication with one’s peers (in writing before class as well as in class)

–extensive practice in giving and responding to serious, informed, critical feedback and in thinking through alternatives to "grading" as an evaluation mechanism

–writing and publishing for a wider audience

 

Course Requirements:

Successful completion of this course means fulfilling the five basic course components at a fully professional (graduate student) level, with original work, respect for one another, attention to the seriousness of the topic, and innovation in pedagogical approach.

 

(1) Class participation:

Full participation in each class: Even if you cannot attend in person, please do the reading and write a comment on the blog post by that week’s presenter. If you cannot physically attend a class, please indicate that you won’t be there on the Google doc agenda for that class period. If you need to miss a class where your Group is presenting, please make arrangements with your Group for how you will still contribute and then let the Instructors know.

 

(2) Website and Digital Components:

  1. Students should write a blog of 250-500 words on the topic of their presentation 48 hours before class time.

 

    (b) Before every student-led class, all students should read the blog of the presenter and write a “Comment” (50-100 words) in the hastac.org “Comment” section on their blog, prior to that week’s class (so it can form part of our class discussion).

 

For blogging and public presentations of final work, we will be using a “Group” on Mediating Race on hastac.org.  Students should sign up to hastac.org, either under their own names (if you wish a public “portfolio” of your work) or there is also an option to choose a pseudonym for your blogs. If you do the latter, make sure we know your pseudonym.  NB: HASTAC.org is known as the “ethical Facebook” and never mis-uses or sells your data.

 

(3) Class Presentation:  

Each student will be responsible for one class presentation, either individually or in a group, as determined by the number of students in the class. Detailed description TBD.

 

(4) Spring Symposium: April 9, 4-6 pm:

As a Futures Initiative course, our class will be included in a Spring Symposium with the other three Futures Initiative courses. Our class will work together towards some representative presentation at the Symposium.

 

(5) Final Project: research/pedagogy/creative project:  Due May 22

with a public component, posted by the due date to the hastac.org Group.

There are several options.

 

A.   OPTION 1:  12-15 pp RESEARCH PAPER

A research paper that grows out of the topic of this course, 12-15 pp with full bibliography.  If you are a doctoral student, this might be a part of a dissertation chapter, a prospectus, or other work re-shaped as a stand-alone paper for this course. For those pursuing a doctorate, we strongly urge that your final project be all or part of a piece you will or will plan to submit for publication.

i.To fulfill the online publication requirement, you can post an abstract of your paper rather than the full paper in our public Group on hastac.org.

 

B.  OPTION 2: SYLLABUS AND REFLECTION ESSAY:

For those interested in pedagogy, an alternative assignment would be to write a syllabus for your own course on “Race and Media” and then a reflection (approx 1500 words) on why you made the choices you made. Feel free to propose a different course on a relevant topic (make sure to ask us and discuss your proposed idea).

To fulfill the online publication requirement, you can post your syllabus and an abstract of your paper rather than the full paper in our public Group on hastac.org.

 

C. OPTION 3: CREATIVE PROJECT

You may also create an artistic project (video essay, media “remix,” multi-media presentation, etc.) on a topic of your choice that engages with the themes of the course. For the creative project, you must also submit a 1000 word essay and a bibliography that explains how the form and content of your project address your topic and course themes.

 

D. OPTION 4  

What else? Make us a proposal! If you have an alternate idea for a significant final project, please make a proposal. It should be a project that has the same scope as these, and that includes a public blogging component on hastac.org. For example, a Wikipedia entry would be an excellent alternative project. This can be a substantive, original multimedia project, preferably public-facing. If it is collaborative, please define the roles of each participant.

 

In addition to making your project public-facing, in fulfillment of the online publication requirement, write a meta-reflection about the steps you took when creating and developing the project (e.g., what media tools you used, what challenges you faced, why you made the choices you did). You can share your reflection as a blog post in our Group on hastac.org.

 

D.  OPTIONS FOR ENGLISH PHDs (plus hastac.org public component)

Check with the English Program and your adviser about what you need for your English Program Portfolio. We have agreed to make final projects compatible with the portfolio requirements for English Program (and other) students but have very little information.  It’s your responsibility to check and confirm that this "counts" for the English Program: This is the information we have (quoted directly):

i.     12-15 page review essay--an annotated bibliography of 15 primary or secondary sources

ii.     a syllabus with a 1500 word account of a pedagogical approach to a text

iii.    a 10-page conference paper.   

 

Assessment

We will be discussing various assessment methods throughout the course and careful feedback will be part of each Group presentation.  

 

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1 comment

:
Golden Globe Best Picture Nominees inc Black Panther, Black Klansman,
and If Beale Street Could Talk. Yes, our syllabus just EXPLODED! Can't
wait
Mediating Race: Evolving Syllabus

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