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"This is a Nation," an Innovative Activity by Prof Llamas-Rodriguez

"This is a Nation," an Innovative Activity by Prof Llamas-Rodriguez

Today on Progressive Pedagogy, we are featuring an activity designed by Assistant Professor Juan Llamas-Rodriguez at the University of Texas at Dallas, TX. The activity is called “This is a Nation,” and it draws from international adaptations of Childish Gambino's “This is America” to introduce students to critical practices in global media studies. 

Professor Juan Llamas-Rodriguez’s research and teaching mobilize media theories to critically analyze social phenomena on a global scale. His areas of specialization include transnational media, border studies, infrastructure studies, and Latin American film and television. 

Professor Llamas-Rodriguez writes: “The courses I teach fall within the area of Critical Media Studies: Media Histories, Reading Media Critically, Emerging Media and Identity, and Critical Media Theories. The course that this activity is a part of is Global Media Cultures, a course I designed for the new curriculum at the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication.

“This is a Nation” is a small group in-class activity where students analyze the international adaptations of “This is America.” Using a video annotating software (I use VideoAnt), students must first do a close textual analysis of the video. Then, they do research into the country represented in the video and provide interpretations to the imagery. The activity introduces students to two common practices in global media studies: contextualizing local knowledges and comparative thinking. Relying on a popular music video that they are familiar with (the format of which the adaptations follow consistently) reduces the barriers to entry for students who have never had to analyze media outside of their own implicit geographical and historical context.

The rest of my Global Media Cultures class is structured around similar creative and critical activities. Students often come into the class having never studied non-U.S. media, so I have to lecture more than usual for an upper-level seminar. These activities help balance out the lecture aspects by allowing students to immediately put the ideas we have covered into practical use which then leads to critical reflection.”

View all the activity steps and Prof Llamas-Rodriguez's handout on his website.  


Featured photo via UT Dallas.


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