Communication and Media Studies 434

COMS 434: Media Literacy

Prerequisites: COMS 130 and COMS 230, or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Examination of various approaches to media criticism, including the development of critical and valuative thinking and writing related to all forms of mass media.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Students view and discuss a variety of media (particularly film and television) and it by means of various methodologies and strategies of criticism. Three levels of analysis are identified, 1) audiovisual codes (lighting, camera, sound, editing), 2) narrative (narrative structure), and 3) ideology (cultural codes). The course compares different genres within media illustrating them through commercials, news and dramatic film and video. The following topics are covered:

1. Types or modes of film and video production/distribution
2. Classification of film and video
3. Significance of form in film and video
4. Narrative and non narrative structural systems
5. Analysis of the shot
6. Mise-en-scene (staging an action)
7. Cinematography and Videography (the photographic image)
8. Editing (the relationship of shot to shot)
9. Functions and dimension of sound in film and video
10. The concept of style
11. Critical Analysis of film and video
12. History of film and video


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

Depending on the size, the class will consist of lecture, demonstration, discussion and group work.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

1) To understand differences in media mass produced by Hollywood and Television networks and independent producers.
2) To classify genres of film and television and the complex evolution of hybrid genres.
3) To analyze the audiovisual codes of the media, particularly lighting, sound, camera, and editing.
4) To analyze the narrative structures of several major motion picture and television forms: news, commercials, PSAs, music videos, documentaries and drama.
5) To explore, through readings from videos, films and texts, how academic critics have investigated film and television.
6) To examine ways that cultural ideas and ideals about men and women, race and ethnic group have been developed and abused in the mass media.
7) To explore the boundaries between self awareness and representations in media.
8) To explore perceptions of reality and portrayals of reality in film and video.


Assessment Measures

Assessment is based on a variety of measures, written examinations, submission of papers (film and video criticisms), presentation of group projects, and interviews with professionals. Students view many types of films and videos during this course and will be expected to discuss them intelligently in their exams, papers and class work.


Other Course Information

The course relies on audiovisual equipment, particular the VCR to facilitate critical evaluation of films and videos. The freeze frame feature of the VCR is an invaluable tool for detailed criticism.


Review and Approval

Joe Flickinger, Chair

May, 2011