Youth, Democracy & the Entertainment Industries Comm. 397SS UMass-Amherst, Fall 2020 download syllabus as PDF
Professor: Joel Saxe email@example.com Class meeting times: Tu/Thu. 2.30 – 3.45 pm
Fully Remote Class Office Hours: Th 11.30-1.30pm and by appt. Zoom link: https://umass-amherst.zoom.us/j/99802625853
For all classes, here’s the Zoom link: https://umass-amherst.zoom.us/j/91217106235.
To download and import this iCalendar (.ics) file to your calendar system: https://umass-amherst.zoom.us/meeting/tJUvdu6prj0oGdEwDtQtoTMVDGrhkPeyh2sQ/ics?icsToken=98tyKuCprDotG9STshqCRowcAIj4KOvziCFBjad4izvxMjRcVi7AEsVQOrlPFcHY
The entertainment industries (EI) target young people for their tremendous market force and cultural sway. How do the imperatives of market-driven media culture correspond with principles of democracy? This course will engage dialogue, reading, research, and writing interrogating the nexus, mapping the matrix between youth, the entertainment industries, and the play of democracy. How do we make sense of and become active agents in its politics, representations, contestations, political economy, and utopian possibilities?
Some goals and objectives:
- Reflect on one’s personal relationship to the EIs and a sense of democratic agency.
- Express one’s voice, point-of-view, and develop dialogue practices.
- Critically analyze media texts.
- Engage critical pedagogy to make the classroom a site of democracy and the common good.
- Work collaboratively, practice empathy, active listening, and build connections with learning cohorts.
- Connect critical thinking with visual expression.
- Develop our capacity to imagine a transformed future, to envision what another system might look like.
Our teaching and learning is guided by Paulo Freire’s notions of critical pedagogy (aka popular education) where learners draw from lived experiences to formulate questions and directions for study. The tentative curriculum is fluid and will likely change based on learner input and teacher-learner dialogue. The topic of youth and the entertainment industries puts learners on the cutting edge of everyday trends in popular culture. A challenge: how to channel youth (learner) knowledge to shape a horizontal rather than hierarchical learning process?
Course format includes lecture-presentations, discussion, peer collaboration (classroom/out-of-class dialogues, presentations, projects) and media screenings. Assignments include writing projects (reading response notes, in-class free writes, personal journal reflections, fieldnotes based on peer interviews, group presentations, simple illustration (drawing, cartoons, collage, signage) and a research project. While the teaching method includes some lecturing, it is fundamentally based on active participation by learners through thoughtful dialogue, presentations, writing, illustration, and group collaboration. Group projects may require meeting with cohorts and instructor outside class time.
The syllabus, assignments, and readings/media are all posted on Moodle which links to the course blog https://blogs.umass.edu/comm397ss-jsaxe/. Syllabus subject to modifications. Reading response notes are generally required for the assigned readings and serve as the basis for classroom discussion: 1-2 paragraphs, no longer than a page. Include name, date, and assignment title; single-spaced, proofread. Send as a Google doc to instructor: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep all your reading response notes on one rolling Google doc with lines separating each assignment. Instructor will post comments and points on the Google doc; points (grades) will also be posted on Moodle.
We start promptly at 2.30 pm; instructor will open Zoom room and be online 15 minutes early and stick around after class. Late attendance, unexcused absences, and tardy work will lower grade; 3 unexcused absences will lower grade a full point. This last rule is qualified by recognition of the diverse situations and extenuating circumstances people face; for adjustments, please inform instructor of any issues of attendance, access, and other challenges. Unless specifically for class work, no unrelated mobile device activity. Scale: 100-95 A; 94-90 A-; 89-85 B+; 84-80 B; 79-75 C+; 74-70 C; 69-65 D+; 64-60 D.
To check in, instructor will schedule individual meetings with all students.
- Reading response/journal notes 35 points
- Interview notes 10 points
- Illustrations 10 points
- What’s trending/play of democracy group presentation 10 points
- Topics project 15 points
- Class participation 20 points
Class participation: Attendance, active listening, participation in full class and group activities, willingness to take on group tasks, e.g. scribe, respect for other classmates including confidentiality, posting & discussion on course social media; class-curriculum stewardship means taking responsibility for class process and lessons; if they’re not working, talk with cohorts and instructor. NO SMARTPHONE USAGE during class.
Criteria for evaluating assignments
- obvious effort
- responsiveness to assignment questions & directions
- for written work: coherence, clarity, effective organization, correct grammar & spelling
- imagination, creativity, originality
- where appropriate, thoughtful integration of issues & concepts raised in class sessions & readings
If you believe you’ve been unfairly graded or have other concerns about the class, please talk to me. Open, direct, honest, and prompt communication on problematic issues is encouraged.
Week 1 8/25 1. Intro syllabus, breakout rooms
Week 1 8/27 2. Discuss what’s trending in the play of democracy, youth, and EIs
Week 2 9/1 3. Critical pedagogy aka popular education
Week 2 9/3 4. Schooling, testing regimes, systemic racism/classism; lived experiences
Week 3 9/8 5. Youth situation
Week 3 9/10 6. Form cohort interview groups, practice interviewing; brainstorm illustration
Week 4 9/15 7. Voice, pov, and youth expressive modalities: podcasts, vloggers
Week 4 9/17 8. Share illustrations; youth expressive modalities: zines, graffiti, culture jamming
Week 5 9/22 9. Share cohort interview experiences, meanings
Week 5 9/24 10. Map interviews for youth issues, concerns; create illustration #2
Week 6 9/29 11. Formulate research agenda: topics, what’s strategic? Form groups
Week 6 10/1 12. Entertainment industry: how to assess? Alternative paradigms
Week 7 10/6 13. Democracy: theory and practice; share illustration #2
Week 7 10/8 14. Share topic group research
Week 8 10/13 15. Popular movements
Week 8 10/15 16. Share topic group research
Week 9 10/20 17. Popular culture as contestation, appropriation
Week 9 10/22 18. Share topic group research
Week 10 10/27 19. Political economy
Week 10 10/29 20. Share topic group research
Week 11 11/3 21. Labor movement today: Amazon, tech workers, Red for Ed
Week 11 11/5 22. Share topic group research
Week 12 11/10 23. Share topic group research
Week 12 11/12 24. Share topic group research
Week 13 11/17 25. last class