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Quarterly Descriptions for Seminars and Topics Courses

Summer Session 2020

JUNIOR SEMINARS

PREREQUISITES: Junior Standing and MUST HAVE COMPLETED COMM 10 and AT LEAST 1 of the COMM 100 courses

COMM 190

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 1

Junior Seminar: Branding Nature

Instructor: Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

This course explores the processes of producing, branding and consuming nature as resource and landscape characteristic of economic and cultural globalization. It uses a sociocultural approach that looks into the labor and power relations involved in the transformation of nature into an object of scientific inquiry, an object of consumption, a landscape to protect and/or enjoy in our leisure time. We will specifically engage with marketing practices, urban planning and development, conservation zoning, healing and food trends, climate change science and non-capitalist alternative conceptualizations of nature as Mother Earth.

COMM 190

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 1

Junior Seminar in Oral History

Instructor: Patrick Anderson

This seminar will focus on the practices of Oral History and Personal Narrative. Students will read about methods of preparing for, recording, transcribing, and interpreting oral histories, and will sample histories drawn from a variety of communities. For their final written projects, students will then plan and record an oral history with a person/community of their choosing (in consultation with the professor); this final project will include personal narrative (of the interlocutors and the author).

COMM 113T

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 1

Social Change through Hollywood Films

Instructor: Allan Havis

A survey of key Hollywood political films on American culture at the intersection of entertainment, debate and editorial over a fifty year evolution of social change.

COMM 113T

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 2

Music as Social Action

Instructor: Thomas Conner

The course provides an overview of American popular music as a medium for ideological and political communication. Students will learn to recognize “socially conscious” music across genres and evaluate its effects as both transmission of information and meaning-making ritual. We will listen to and examine a variety of protest musics — folk, rock and roll, blues, soul, hip-hop, glam, disco, punk, and more — in order to explore the contested relationships with changing social and political contexts during the post-WWII era of recorded popular music, namely political identity, race relations, gender and sexuality, and neoliberal commoditization. Understanding these developments will fortify students’ abilities to comprehend cultural-political messaging and hone their own musically mediated communications. 

COMM 132

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 1

Southern California in Cinema

Instructor: Denise McKenna

Los Angeles has served as the setting and the subject for some of the most intriguing films ever produced – Sunset BoulevardBlade Runner and Chinatown, to name a few.  In this class we will examine the history and representation of Southern California in film. We will consider the emergence of Hollywood as a defining moment in the history of Los Angeles and how movies have been central to the popular imagination of life in Southern California. In class we will look at how different communities and aspects of life and culture in the Southland have been represented. The course is organized historically and thematically around such topics as Hollywood, the Car, the Beach, the Hood, the Left Coast, and Noir. 

COMM 132

Session/Quarter: Summer Session 2

The Politics of Comedy

Instructor: Erin Hill

This course will examine the many ways in which humor and politics intersect across the media landscape, from satire used to parody politicians and mock authority figures, to the sitcom, a genre in which U.S. preoccupations with class, race, gender, and other forms of difference are negotiated, to newer, short-form comedic works that remix and reframe cultural conversations around politics and issues. Through screenings, readings, writing assignments, exams, and lecture-discussions, students will sharpen their critical skills and broaden their understanding of how comedic media have influenced perceptions of history, democracy, and the individual’s relationship to both, as well as what role the circulation of these media play in political life, broadly defined.

 

Spring 2020

JUNIOR SEMINARS

PREREQUISITES: Junior Standing and MUST HAVE COMPLETED COMM 10 and AT LEAST 1 of the COMM 100 courses

COMM 190: A00

Instructor: Caroline Collins

Day & Time: Wednesday 11:00am -1:50pm

Title: Making 'Americanness' in Popular Culture

Description: This junior seminar examines how popular cultural products and narratives (re)construct and define ‘Americanness.’ Examining diverse sources such as films, music, sports, books, social media, comics, artwork, monuments, museums, holidays, commemorations, and tourist attractions, this course challenges students to explore the complex and often taken-for-granted relationship between notions of ‘Americanness’ and popular culture and the political stakes of this construction.

COMM 190: B00

Instructor: Angela Booker

Day & Time: Tuesday 9:30am -12:20pm

Title: Public Libraries, Power, & Collective Design Work

Description: This course explores the public library as a mediator of public need and access to public presence. During turbulent, traumatic, or uncertain times, public libraries have quietly served an institutional function grounding local, public access to basic needs. The institution sits at the heart of flows (and restrictions) of knowledge. In this course, we will explore ways in which public libraries serve multigenerational and varied socio-economically needs. We will consider specific cases in which public libraries have responded to change and grappled with circumstances that extend beyond their popularly understood purview

COMM 190: C00

Instructor: Fernando Dominguez Rubio

Day & Time: Monday 1:00pm - 3:50pm

Title: Urban Infrastructures & Citizenship

Description: In this course, we will explore how urban infrastructures define different understandings and models of citizenship. We will do so by focusing on different aspects of the built environment, from sidewalks and buildings, to roads and other infrastructures to show how these physical elements do not simply play a functional or decorative role, but they also play a key role in defining the quality of public and political life as well as in creating different modes of inclusion and exclusion

COMM 190: D00

Instructor: Alexander Fattal

Day & Time: Wednesday 2:00pm - 4:50pm

Title: Photography: Between Social Change and Social Media

Description: Photography has long been considered a powerful vehicle for political mobilization. Since the rise of social networking, however, photography as a medium of activism has been transformed. While photographs continue to bear witness, their testimony often drowns in a sea of other images. This course contemplates documentary photography as a tool for affecting social change in the social media era.

COMM 190: E00

Instructor: Daniel Hallin

Day & Time: Thursday 9:30am - 12:20pm

Title: The Mediatization of Health and Medicine

Description: In this seminar we will explore media representations of health and medicine and the role of media and communication in shaping the health knowledge and the health care system. Traditionally, the role of the media has been seen narrowly, in terms of transmitting scientific knowledge to lay audiences. In fact, however, media play much wider and more active roles in the complex process by which knowledge a health and medicine is constituted and the cultural meanings of health and medicine formed. Journalists mediate between various actors and perspectives that contend to shape health policy and behaviors; the internet transforms patients' relations to physicians and to each other; public relations professionals become part of the medical research process and physicians play a central role in television news. We will look at this process of mediatization of health and medicine--and medicalization of media--from many different angles.

INTERMEDIATE ELECTIVES

COMM 113T A00: Intermediate Topics in Communication

Instructor: Alex Fattal

Title: Media Arts/Activism

Description: This course considers the works of artists whose activist-oriented practice moves outside of gallery spaces to tackle pressing global problems. We will study contemporary artists, such as Banksy, Doris Salcedo, JR, and Ai Weiwei, as well as lesser known and local artists working in the San Diego/Tijuana borderland.  In final projects, students will conceptualize their own “artivist” intervention.

COMM 113T C00: Intermediate Topics in Communication

Instructor: Amanda Peacher

Title: Audio/Nonfiction Storytelling

Description: This course focuses on audio as a medium for nonfiction storytelling. We’ll listen to and critically analyze journalistic podcasts, features and news to evaluate what makes for compelling and effective audio as narrative form today. We’ll survey the landscape of the rapidly-evolving and innovative audio and podcasting market. Students will also develop basic interviewing, recording and production skills to be able to create and produce in this space. Students will record and produce a character profile as a final project.

COMM 113T D00: Intermediate Topics in Communication

Instructor: Andrew deWaard

Title: Film Authorship: Spike Lee & Kathryn Bigelow

Description: This course examines film authorship with a focus on Hollywood filmmaking in the last thirty years, as seen through two case studies: Spike Lee and Kathryn Bigelow. We begin with the tradition of “auteur theory” -- the idea that the director, not the screenwriter, is the true “artist” and “author” in filmmaking -- and will arrive at the broader contemporary conception of the filmmaker as a site of encounter for many elements: collaboration, identity, industry, intertext, reception, and historical context. Spike Lee is our first case study, and through the films Do the Right Thing, 4 Girls, Malcolm X, Inside Man, Chi-Raq, and BlacKkKlansmen, we will analyze traditional authorial elements, such as a formal “signature,” as well as recurring themes and motifs. We will also consider how authorship intersects with issues of race, class, violence, and representation. Kathryn Bigelow will be our second case study, and Near Dark, Blue Steel, Point Break, Strange Days, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty, will allow us to consider issues of gender, genre, technology, war, and authorial responsibility.   

 

ADVANCED ELECTIVES

COMM 132: Advanced Topics in Communication

Instructor: Brie Iatarola

Title: Journalism Ethics

Description: This course explores the “code of ethics” in the field of print/digital Journalism. Students will analyze and critique cultural, economic, and political impacts that ethical frameworks have on content production and industry expectations. Students will explore various genres of journalistic storytelling and put ethics-based theories into action by producing and workshopping their creative content. Students will utilize the Associated Press Stylebook and develop critically conscious content that draws from various methodological approaches to journalistic writing including the inverted pyramid structure.

COMM 146: Advanced Topics in Cultural Production

Instructor: Zeinabu Davis

Title: Black Panther

Description: This course will look at the politics of the cinema industry and the development and reception of Marvel’s blockbuster film, Black Panther.  We will read articles, books & graphic novels connected to the character and the film, examine its reception, impact and worldwide response. We will dive deeper into the issues around cinematic representations of Black people with a focus on depictions of African cultures in cinema.  Special focus will be placed around the women and the role of gender in the film & its production. We will also consider the history and contributions of the original Black Panthers of the 1960s to American and world wide cultures. The course will require you to read, write and contribute to conversations in class and to complete a project and/or paper related to Black Panther. 

COMM 146: Advanced Topics in Cultural Production

Instructor: Andrew deWaard

Title: The Television Industry

This course examines American television with a focus on formal analysis, issues of representation, and political economy. In our first unit, we will learn how to analyze television programs from a formal perspective, considering visual, aural, and narrative properties, as well as notions of realism, liveness, and reflexivity. We’ll screen episodes of The Philco Television Playhouse, I Love Lucy, Miami Vice, Pee Wee Herman, Homicide, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Atlanta. In our second unit, we will learn how to analyze television programs with a focus on issues of representation and identity, considering race, gender, sexuality, class, and whiteness. We’ll screen episodes of The Honeymooners, Sanford and Son, All in the Family, Ellen, Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Sex and the City, Ugly Betty, Blackish, and Los Espookys. In our third unit, we will learn how to analyze television programs within their industrial context, considering issues of political economy, advertising, neoliberalism, and politics. We’ll screen episodes of Texaco Star Theater, Disneyland, The Apprentice, America’s Next Top Model, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Fox & Friends, and Succession. Ultimately, we aim to improve our understanding of how the television industry operates, how television programs generate meaning, and how we can interpret television from various analytical frameworks.  

 

Fall 2020

JUNIOR SEMINARS

PREREQUISITES: Junior Standing and MUST HAVE COMPLETED COMM 10 and AT LEAST 1 of the COMM 100 courses

COMM 190: A00

Instructor: Alex Fattal

Day & Time: Wednesdays @ 3:00pm - 5:50pm.

Title: COVID - 19 Photo - Diaries

Description: In this class you will document and reflect on your personal experience through the Covid-19 pandemic through photography and first-person storytelling. As you chronicle your lives and weave a narrative, you will watch a wide array of first-person films from which to draw inspiration. Throughout, we will analyze photography, and specifically photo and video diaries, as a medium of communication.

COMM 190: B00

Instructor: Soraya Abuelhiga

Day & Time: Mondays @ 8:00am -10:50am

Title: The Last Laugh: Arab American Comedy in Times of American Crises

Description: In this course, we will examine comedic works and representations by and about Arab Americans—and, conversely, American “comedic” representations of Arabs—to examine the roles of media and humor in Arab American identity formations. We will disentangle racial, political, historical, and sociocultural structures informing such mis/representations of Arab Americans. We will concentrate primarily on film and visual media, supplemented by related readings as well as news media coverage of the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and post-9/11 America, to understand how these crises have affected contemporary Arab American experiences as conveyed through humor.

COMM 190: C00

Instructor: Angela Booker

Day & Time: Thursdays @ 12:30pm - 3:20pm.

Title: Mediating Learning & Participation in Society

Description: In this course, we will ask questions about how learning is conceived, experienced, and organized toward particular goals, intentions, and frameworks that may or may not be explicitly stated. We will study learning opportunities, challenges, and contexts for trajectories of participation in civic and political activity. We will specifically consider youth-focused cases and examples, but the course opens more broadly to community-oriented perspectives.

Students in the course will examine where change is occurring and when access to new forms of participation is either growing or becoming restricted, and for whom. Across these areas of focus, we will look to the evolving nature of tools and technologies for participation in schools, communities, and society. The course should be of interest to students with a particular interest in youth or adolescence, community practice, and bridging contexts of learning and authentic participation.

 

COMM 190: D00

Instructor: Ivana Guassi

Day & Time: Tuesdays @ 11:00am - 1:50pm.

Title: Language & Human Development

Description: This course explores how language, communicative practices, and culture mediate human development—how they reflect social structures and cultural values while contributing to their reproduction and change. We will survey theories of language and human development, examining topics such as language acquisition, multilingualism, language socialization, cognition, literacy, and cultural diversity in learning. The course will end by exploring communication in a digitally mediated world, questioning what contemporary digital technologies can reveal about human language, learning, and development.

 

COMM 113T A00: Intermediate Topics in Communication

Instructor: Brie Iatorola

Title: Reporting the Anthropocene, Space and Scale in Environmental Writing, Film Representations of Climate Change

Description: Environmental writing as an evolving form of communication aims to inform people about the impacts of human activity on the environment’s health, vice versa. This course explores a range of environmental writing that grapples with the challenges of reporting the Anthropocene, focusing on human action as the primary force of environmental devastation and climate change. Students will analyze media representations of the Anthropocene and climate-change fiction (aka “cli-fi”), both of which spectacularize natural disasters. Throughout the course, students will practice and employ multi-modal methods of communicating climate-change literacy for a diverse audience.

COMM 146 A00  Advanced Topics in Cultural Production

Topic: K Pop

Instructor: Patty Ahn

Description: This course is an upper-level seminar on the global cultures of K-Pop. During the ten-week quarter, we look at the different social, technological, and creative structures that make South Korea’s multi-billion dollar music industry such a complex phenomenon. As we situate K-Pop within a broader state campaign to remake South Korea’s image in the global economy, we consider what implications this might have for a country that has suffered decades of economic instability and political suppression. The class will be held entirely online for the Fall 2020 quarter and will combine recorded lectures, live discussion sessions held over Zoom, and web-based media exercises designed to immerse students in a fan culture that largely lived online well before the pandemic hit. Assignments will ask students to synthesize course materials in the form of critical web-based blog posts and multimodal essays written to address a general audience. Our overall aim for the quarter is to understand and accessibly communicate the broad spectrum of pleasures and problems that make K-Pop such a fascinating object of study.

 

COMM 146 B00  Advanced Topics in Cultural Production

Topic: The Art of the Podcast

Instructor: Amanda Peacher

Description: In this course we’ll focus on longform narrative audio podcasts as a storytelling form. We’ll listen to and critically analyze a variety of contemporary podcasts with an emphasis on nonfiction, journalistic productions. We’ll examine how podcasts use longform journalism as means to explore race, gender, income inequality and other social issues. We’ll explore the ethics of reporting these narratives and discuss unique challenges of the journalist/source relationship in longform journalism. Students should be prepared for a listening and writing intensive course that emphasizes discussion.