Friday, January 8, 2010

Syllabus: Media Industries (graduate)

Following in the footsteps of many of my colleagues including Ben Aslinger and Annie Petersen, I am posting my syllabi for the spring.

First up is the syllabus for my grad course on Media Industries. This is my second time teaching the course, but the first time I have tried out my edited collection. Putting this class together was especially exciting since there is so much new scholarship available on the media industries. The biggest challenge involved narrowing down my choices (while still keeping some older, canonical works).

Feedback and suggestions are of course welcome!

Course Description and Objectives:

How do the contemporary media industries work? How did they develop in this fashion? How can an analysis of the “business of entertainment” enable a greater understanding of contemporary media aesthetics and culture? In other words, why does it matter that News. Corp. owns Harper Collins publishing, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox News, the FOX network,, the New York Post and many, many other entities around the world?

Three main objectives will guide us throughout the semester:

  • First, we will trace the development – and increasing interrelatedness – of the media industries from the early twentieth century to the present. We will consider the ways in which regulatory and technological shifts, as well as growing impulses toward globalization, have intersected with industrial changes.

  • Second, we will look at the range of theoretical and critical approaches which have been taken toward the media industries. In the process, we will read several “case studies” that provide examples of each of these theoretical approaches.

  • Third, we will explore the emerging field of “media industry studies.” This field, which incorporates work in film, media, communications and cultural studies, argues for the importance of integrating analysis of media structures with consideration of cultural and textual matters.

This course will prove useful not only to media studies students but also to filmmakers and screenwriters interested in understanding how and why certain media products do (and do not) get produced and distributed. Although our readings will focus most heavily on the film and television industries, students are encouraged to explore such areas as video games, music, comic books, publishing, and radio in their final projects.


Part I: Foundational Issues & Debates

Week 1
January 13 Introduction to the course, syllabus, schedule

Week 2
January 20 Traditional Approaches to the Media Industries

  • Adorno & Horkheimer, “Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (packet);
  • Croteau & Hoynes, The Business of the Media (Chapters 1-5);
  • McChesney, “The Market Uber Alles” (packet)

Week 3
January 27 A Cultural Industries Approach

  • Hesmondhalgh, selections from The Cultural Industries (packet)

*Sign up for reading presentations*

Part II: Surveying an Emerging Field: Media Industry Studies

Week 4
February 3 Media Industry Studies: Overview and Histories

  • Holt & Perren, “Introduction: Does the World Really Need One More Field of Study?”;
  • Hilmes, “Nailing Mercury: The Problem of Media Industry Historiography”;
  • Frick, “Manufacturing Heritage: The Moving Image Archive and Media Industry Studies”;
  • Schatz, “Film Industry Studies and Hollywood History”;
  • Johnson, “Historicizing TV Networking: Broadcasting, Cable and the Case of ESPN”;
  • Meyers, “From Sponsorship to Spots: Advertising and the Development of Electronic Media”;
  • Marshall, “New Media as Transformed Media Industry” (all readings are in Holt & Perren)

Week 5
February 10 Convergence throughout the 20th Century

  • Hilmes, Hollywood and Broadcasting

Week 6
February 17 Media Industry Studies: Theoretical Frameworks

  • Kellner, “Media Industries, Political Economy and Cultural Studies: An Articulation”;
  • Curtin, “Thinking Globally: From Media Imperialism to Media Capital”;
  • Venegas, “Thinking Regionally: Singular in Diversity and Diverse in Unity”;
  • Govil, “Thinking Nationally: Domicile, Distinction and Dysfunction in Global Media Exchange”;
  • Deuze, “Convergence Culture and Media Work” (all readings are in Holt & Perren)

Week 7
February 24 Media Industry Studies: Methodologies and Models

*Discuss book review assignment*

*Schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss final papers*

  • Napoli, “Media Economics and the Study of the Media Industries";
  • McMurria, “Regulation and the Law: A Critical Cultural Citizenship Approach”;
  • Miller, “Can Natural Luddites Make Things Explode or Travel Faster? The New Humanities, Cultural Policy Studies, and Creative Industries”;
  • Caldwell, “Cultures of Production: Studying Industry’s Deep Texts, Reflexive Rituals, and Managed Self-Disclosures”;
  • Green and Jenkins, “The Moral Economy of Web 2.0: Audience Research and Convergence Culture”(all readings are in Holt & Perren)

Mar. 1 *Full semester mid-point: Last day to withdraw and receive a “W”*

Part III: New Visions: Case Studies in Recent Media Industries Scholarship

Week 8
March 3 Agents and Agency

  • Kemper, Hidden Talent: The Emergence of Hollywood Agents

*Select book for book review assignment*

March 5 *Paper proposals due by 5 p.m.*

Week 9
March 10 ***Spring Break***

Week 10
March 17 No class – work on book review assignment

Week 11
March 24 Production Studies

  • Selections from Mayer, Banks and Caldwell, Production Studies

March 26 *Book reviews due by 5 p.m.*

Week 12
March 31 Branding and Marketing

  • Grainge, Brand Hollywood: Selling Entertainment in a Global Media Age

Week 13
April 7 Exhibiting Global Film (Culture)

  • Acland, Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes and Global Culture

Week 14
April 14 Battling Over Intellectual Property

  • Lessig, Free Culture

Week 15
April 21 A Different Model? The Gaming Industry

  • Kline, Dyer-Witheford and De Peuter, Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture and Marketing

Part IV: Visions of the Future

Week 16
April 28 What’s Next?
Begin final paper presentations

  • D’Acci, “Cultural Studies, Television Studies and the Crisis in the Humanities” (packet); Hartley, “From the Consciousness Industry to the Creative Industries”(H&P);
  • Hesmondhalgh, “Politics, Theory and Method in Media Industries Research” (H&P);
  • Levin, “An Industry Perspective: Calibrating the Velocity of Change” (H&P);
  • Newcomb, “Toward Synthetic Media Industry Research” (H&P)
Final Exam Week
May 5 Final paper presentations
May 10 *Final papers due by 5 p.m.*

1 comment:

  1. Alisa,

    thank you so much for posting this. No one teaches a course like this at my institution and "media industries" are one of my comprehensive exam areas. This is a very useful as I try to finalize my own reading lists!