Media Critiques

You will write three Media Critiques in the form of extended blog posts (roughly 1,300 words each) throughout the semester. The purpose of these critiques is to make sure that you understand and can apply the media theory & criticism that we will be reading in class. If you don’t understand how and why audiences might object to content, you won’t be able to create content listeners, readers, and viewers will want to consume. You will need to identify the critical model you are going to employ and use this model to criticize a contemporary film, television show, podcast, song, etc.

The due dates for Media Critiques are: September 23, October 14, and November 18. All critiques must be posted by 6 pm on the date which they are due, with a link to the text tweeted to your professor (@punkademic).

Assignment Overview:

  • In a each of your Media Critiques I want you to analyze a contemporary media ‘text’ (a film, television show, advertisement, podcast, comic book, song, etc.) with the aim of focusing on how it shapes our understanding of a specific political issue, political event, or policy debate.
  • Your analysis needs to make explicit and repeated use of a relevant reading (or multiple readings). For example, if you are criticizing an ad campaign making its rounds on televisionthen you should make use of appropriate course content that gives you a model for doing your analysis (such as Naomi Klein’s chapter on branding). However, the most important thing here is for you to utilize course readings as a way to support your argument about the text. In other words, don’t just tell me what Naomi Klein says about branding and expect that to suffice. Rather, you need to use her specific ideas in support the argument that you’re making about, for example, the ideological function of advertising or the representation of specific groups of people in a ad campaign. Think of our course readings as tools that you can use for analysis and critique.
  • Try to write critiques that are interesting and lively – it will be more fun for you to write and more fun for me to read!
  • Your blog posts will be graded according to a standard grid, posted here, so you can better understand my expectations. Though I will not provide extensive written feedback on your critiques, I’m happy to meet with you during office hours to discuss the content and the grade you received, if you have specific questions.
  • If you aren’t used to reading or writing media critiques, then might find it helpful to look at some of the excellent criticism that appears on websites like SalonRacialiciousNative AppropriationsJezebel, or Sociological Images.
  • If you do not understand what the assignment is asking you to do, then you cannot write an excellent Media Critique. So…if you do not understand, or have questions, please see me or simply ask your question(s) in class.

Assignment Format:

  • The title of your post should simply read: Media Critique #1 (or Media Critique #2, etc).
  • Please tag your post with: Media Critique
  • Your post must be no longer than 1,500 words.
  • You must include a link to the actual media ‘text’ that you’re analyzing in your post.
    • If you are writing about a film that is not available on the Internet, then you need to provide a link to the film’s trailer.
    • If you are writing about a piece of print media that is not available online, then you need to scan it (there’s a scanner in the library), upload it to your blog, and create a link to the PDF in your blog post. If you are new to using WordPress or forget how to complete this task, click here for instructions. If for some reason the scanner in the library isn’t working, use your phone to take a clear/legible picture of the text, and then upload & link to it.
  • When quoting from a course reading, please cite the author’s last name and the page number in parenthesis, following the quotation. For example: (Bernays, 17).
    • If you quote or make reference to any supplementary resources published Internet, then you need to include direct link to their URLs in the text of your post. For example: While many critics praised 42 for documenting an important moment in U.S. sports history, Dave Zirin’s  piece in The Nation rightly questions the film’s simplistic treatment of complex cultural and political issues.
  • Include a list of Works Cited at the end of your post. Your Works Cited should really only consist of your media ‘text’ and the relevant readings I assigned for class. However, any supplementary resources you cite or quote also need to be included in the Works Cited.
    • If your supplementary resources are from articles published Internet, then you need to include direct link to their URLs in your Works Cited. For example: Baynard Woods, “More Mencken,” Baltimore City Paper, Sept 9, 2014.
  • Be sure to check your critique for spelling and grammatical errors. When you are composing a new post in WordPress, spell check should work automatically. You can also click on the ‘Proofread Writing’ icon to double-check everything (it’s the little icon that has an ABC with a checkmark underneath it).
    • If you typically have problems with your spelling and grammar, you might want to first compose your media critique in Word document – with spell check and grammar check turn on – and then paste the content directly into your blog post. When you take this last step, it’s easiest to use the ‘Paste as Text’ feature in WordPress…just click on the little icon in the menu that looks like a clipboard.
  • Your Media Critique should be single spaced and look like a regular blog post. If you are running into problems with the formatting, you can always highlight the entire text and click on the ‘Clear Formatting’ feature in WordPress (it’s the little icon that looks like an eraser…it’s between the ‘Paste as Text’ clipboard and the Ω symbol).

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