Lovin- Gender, Cultures, and Media Spring 2012

Instructor: C. Laura Lovin

Email: lovin@rci.rutgers.edu

Office Hours: TTh 4:00-5:00 pm

Office: Conklin Hall, Room 247 A



TTH 2:30-3:50



Course Description

Gender , Culture and Media is designed to introduce the students to the major topics of culture, media and representation in the fields of contemporary feminist, cultural studies and critical theory. Following Stuart Hall in his definition of “applied theory, students will be encouraged to develop their own critical projects of visual or textual representational material. The objectives of this course are: to develop nuanced understandings of how gender, sexuality, race, disability and class representations are intricately linked with power structures; to enable students to identify the meanings and the implications of specific representational practices that produce various social, political or economic types of agency; to enable students to understand how specific practices produce texts that serve the creation and maintenance of social inequalities, and finally to empower the students to find ways to expose and subvert these practices.


'How does the concept of representation connect to difference, meaning, language and culture?' is the central question that will organize our inquiries into texts by Stuart Hall, Uma Narayan, Coco Fusco, etc. The class is designed to offer a theoretical background to the concept of representation as well as offer an insight into how it can be applied to various media and practices such as: ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, popular culture, advertising, feminist writings and art. The exploration of such spaces of cultural production and cultural expression will foreground contemporary geopolitical issues and their global dimension in conjunction with the unending legacy of imperialism and racism.


The class aims at enabling a vibrant learning community through activities such as: critical thinking and class discussions, group presentations, museum trips, group learning through insight-oriented exercises and close reading. 




Class participation: 25 %

Unannounced quizzes: 25%

Group presentation: 15%

Media Critique paper: 15%

Final exam: 20 %


Grading Scale:

A: 92-100%, B+: 87-91%, B: 81-86%,  C+: 77-80%,  C: 70-76%, D:65-69% ; F: 65% and under.


Class Participation:

Since the format of the class is discussion based, regular class attendance and reading that is complete, careful and on schedule is essential! Readings must be completed before class because class discussion and class activities will be closely aligned with the content of the readings for each class. Students who are more than five minutes late will be marked absent. Bring the print-outs of the reading materials to class. Failing to do so will affect your participation grade (0.5 point will be deducted per class if you show up without hard copies of your reading material). If you are physically absent from class, it is your responsibility to get notes and information about assignments you missed from your classmates or myself.


If you joined late the class you are responsible to demonstrate that you have read the syllabus, signed up for class presentation and make up for the missed work.


You are allowed two absences with no penalty. Any absence above the two that are allowed will lower your final class participation grade with a letter grade. Four absences will result in an F for class participation. Five absences or more will result in a failing grade for the class.


I will determine your participation grade by how your contribution demonstrates that you have read the articles and carefully thought about the topics discussed that day. Each week, students will be assigned a participation grade in the range of 0 to 2 points based on their involvement in class discussion, small group activities and peer-review sessions. For a perfect participation grade students should accrue a total of 25 points.


F     -- absent;

D  -- present and attentive; not disruptive & not involved in side talking; tries to respond when called but does not offer informed answers; demonstrates very infrequent involvement in discussion;

C     -- present, does not offer to contribute to discussion, but contributes to a moderate degree when called on or in group work; demonstrates adequate preparation; knows basic facts and straightforward information from the reading, but does not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze the reading material; demonstrates sporadic involvement, perhaps once per class.

B    -- present, demonstrates ongoing involvement; demonstrates good preparation, knows the reading facts and the implications of the arguments well; contributes well to discussion: thinks through arguments, questions others in a constructive way; responds to other student's points; offers and supports ideas that might be counter to the common-sense or to the majority opinion; is focused and does not dominate class discussion or small group interactions.

A       -- present, demonstrates excellent preparation and ongoing involvement, is able to relate class materials to readings from previous weeks, course materials, current events and debates, experiences, etc. while keeping the analysis focused; offers analysis and evaluation of the reading materials; responds thoughtfully to other students' questions and develops new approaches to take the discussion further; contributes to cooperative argument-building.


The unannounced quizzes will consist of 3 to 6 multiple choice, true or false, match quotes with authors, and short answer questions. They will be marked with letter grades.


Group presentation:

This assignment is intended to help students take an active role in their education by leading one class discussion. Students are expected to summarize the reading materials for the day, identify common trends and/ or differences among them, draw on new examples and, very importantly, suggest several questions to be discussed in class. The presentation should be:

  • minimum 20 minutes- maximum 40 minutes in length and delivered in a power-point format;
  • the information presented should draw from two scholarly sources that are not listed on the syllabus;
  • the information presented should be synthesized and rendered in the students’ own words;

Discussion leaders will work in groups of max 5 students and each student will take up specific roles such as:

  • summarizing  the main points presented in the reading materials;
  • selecting 4-5 passages for class discussion;
  • connecting the current readings with previously studied materials;
  • presenting visual and/or performative materials that closely relate to and further inform the reading materials;
  • presenting a vision for social change in relation to the topic of the week and how it could be  achieved;
  • presenting the class with 3 questions in strict relation to the assigned readings and facilitating the class discussion;

A print-out of our powerpoint should be submitted at the beginning of the class.



Media/ Representation Critique Paper

For this assignment students should choose a visual or textual material which is thematically situated within the works of the Gender, Culture and Media class.

 Examples of representational/ media texts:

  1. ads (images or video)—they could be commercial, social or political
  2. literature piece or a song
  3. cinematic texts
  4. political manifestos, statements
  5. academic texts

Your analysis should rigorously address the following sentences:

  1. When it was made?
  2. Where it was made?
  3. Who made it?
  4. What is the audience it was made for?
  5. What are the relations between the author, the funder and the subject of the text?
  6. What is being shown/ constructed?
  7. The social, economic and political conditions, relations and institutions that surround this text and through which it is seen and used.
  8.  What are the technological conditions that participate in the production and consumption of this text?
  9. Visual and textual representations produce effects of inclusion and exclusion. What are effects of your text’s cultural meaning?
  10. To what extent does the text draw its powers from the characteristics of its genres (See Minh-ha)
  11. Consider your own way of looking/reading/ sensing or interpreting this text.
  12. Consider compositional elements: content, color and spatial organization/ narrative, character development, conflict.
  13. Does the text that you analyze present a coherent account of social difference?
  14.  Does the text make claims to truth? Through what technologies?
  15. Are there contradictions? How would you explain them?[1]





GROUND RULES—Code of conduct

In order to create a safe environment for sharing personal information, to ensure that discussions are passionate without descending into argumentations, that everyone is heard, and that participants work together toward greater understanding rather than contribute disjointed pieces, everyone should follow these ground rules:

Arrive on time, stay in class throughout the class period, do not leave earlier

Listen actively and attentively.

Turn off your cell phones. Engaging with your cell phone is strongly discouraged and it will lower your participation grade.

Do not use laptops unless you are presenting or specifically asked.

Ask for clarification if confused.

Do not interrupt one another.

Challenge one another, but do so respectfully.

Critique ideas, not people.

Do not offer opinions without supporting textual evidence.

Avoid put downs.

Take responsibility for the quality of the discussion.

Build on one another’s comments, work towards shared understanding.

Always have your book or reading in front of you.

Do not monopolize the discussion.

If you speak from your own experience, make sure you don’t generalize.

If you are offended by anything said during the discussion, acknowledge it immediately.

Grades, assignments, etc. are not to be discussed in class. Schedule an appointment or stop by my office during my office hours.




WEEK 1 Tuesday, 01/17

Introductions, Logistics, and Course Overview

Thursday, 01/19 Setting the Terms

Judith Lorber, "The Social Construction of Gender" 2007

Dictionary Entries from The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies 2004: Gender, Culture, Representation


WEEK 2 Tuesday 01/24  Representation

Stuart Hall, "Representation. The Construction of Meaning” 1997

Thursday, 01/26

FILM Stuart Hall. Representation and the Media 1997

Catherine King, “Making Things Mean: Cultural Representation in Objects”1992


WEEK 3 Tuesday, 01/31 Culture

Uma Narayan, “Undoing the “Package Picture” of Culture,” 2000

VIDEO Chimananda  Adichie: "The Danger of the Single Story" 2009




Thursday 01/02 (Group presentation)

Frank Dikotter, “Race Culture: Recent perspectives on the History of Eugenics”

Evelynn M. Hammonds, “New Technologies of Race”

Stuart Hall, “The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media” 1981

WEEK 4 Tuesday 02/07 Representations under old and new colonialisms

Stephen Spencer: “Colonialism. Invisible Histories,” 2006

VIDEO Binyavanga Wainaina: How Not to Write About Africa 2009



Thursday 02/09  (Group Presentation)

Jennifer Morgan: “ ‘Some Could Suckle over Their Shoulder’: Male Travelers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology, 1500-1700” 1997


WEEK 5 Tuesday 02/14

Trinh Minh-ha: “The Totalizing Quest of Meaning” 1993


Thursday 02/16

DOCUMENTARY FILM: Reassemblage, 1982

WEEK 6 Tuesday 02/21

Rachel Bailey Jones, “History of the Visual Regime” 2011

Thursday 02/23

Oyeronke Oyewumi, “Visualizing the Body. Western Theories and African Subjects” 2008


WEEK 7 Tuesday 02/28

Feminism and Difference

Coco Fusco: “The Other History of Intercultural Performance” 1988.

VIDEO Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pena: Couple in the Cage.


Thursday 03/1 (Group presentation)

Judith Williamson, “Woman is an Island” 1986

Catherine A. Luz and Jane L. Collins, “Excerpts from Teaching National Geographic’s” 1993

Sara Graham-Brown, “Excerpts from Images of Women: The Portrayal of Women in Photography of the Middle East” 1998

Marnia Lazreg, “Feminism and Difference” 1990

WEEK 8 Tuesday 03/06 Advertising and Consumer Cultures

Raymond Williams, “The Magic of Advertising” 1981

Thursday 03/08

Jackson Katz “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to the Clinque for Men” 2003


DOCUMENTARY FILM Tough Guise: The Crisis in Masculinity 1999




WEEK 10 Tuesday 03/20

Anthony J. Cortese, Provocateur. Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, 2008, Chapter 4.


Thursday 03/22 (Group presentation)

Robert Bocock, “Gender and Consumption” 1989

Elaine S. Abelson, “Urban Women and The Emergence of Shopping” 1989

Jennider Scanlon, “Excerpt from Inarticulate Longings” 1995

Jean Killbourne “ ‘ The More You Subtract, the More You Add”: Cutting girls Down to Size” 2003


WEEK 11 Tuesday 03/27

DOCUMENTARY FILM The Codes of Gender: Identity an Performance in Popular Cultures 2010

Thursday 03/29 Sexual and Representations

Diane Raymond "Popular Culture and Queer Representation: A Critical Perspective" 2003.

WEEK 12 Tuesday 04/03 (Group presentation)

Katherine Sender "Selling Sexual Subjectivities: Audiences Respond to Gay Window Advertising" 2003

Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed “The Gay Marketing Moment” 1993

Susan J. Hubert “What’s Wrong With This Picture? The Politics of Ellen’s Coming Out Party” (1999)

Thursday 04/05  

DOCUMENTARY FILM Further Off the Straight or Narrow: New Gays Visibility on Television 1998-2006

WEEK 13 Tuesday 04/10 Class

George Lipsitz, “The Meaning of Memory: family, Class and Ethnicity in Early Network Television” 1986

Robin R. Means Coleman, “Black Sitcom Portrayals” 2000

Thursday 04/12

DOCUMENTARY FILM Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class 2007

WEEK 14 Tuesday 04/17 Cybercultures

Mark Mclelland, “Japanese Queersscapes: Global/ Local Intersections on the Internet” 2008

Thursday 04/19 (Group Presentation)

Samini Sengupta, “When Do-Gooders Don’t Know What They’re Doing”

Juana Maria Rodriques, “ ‘Welcome to the Global Stage’: Confessions of a Latina Cyber-Slut”

Vernadette V. Gonzalez and Robyn Magalit Rodriques, “Filipina.com: Wives, Workers, and Whores on the Cyber Frontier”

WEEK 15 Tuesday 04/24 Concluding ideas: Media Literacy

William Wresch, “World Media” 1996

Thursday 04/26 (Group presentation)

Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen, “The Bribe of Frankenstein” (1992)

Rassundari Devi, “The Sixth Composition” (1991)

Par Dean, “Literacy: Liberation or Lip Service” (1986)

M.S. Mlahleki, “ Media Literacy: No Panacea for Women’s Problems” (1986)

Final submission of Media Critique Papers May 3 by 12 pm.