Monday, September 2, 2013

Syllabus Fall 2013

Convergence Culture Fall 2013
Tuesdays + Thursdays 2:30 – 3:50pm Bradley Hall 312
Department of Arts, Culture and Media – Rutgers University
Professor Doris Caçoilo
Office hours by appointment in Bradley Hall 316
In this course students will be introduced to key issues and theoretical approaches in the study of media. The course begins with an examination of the socio-cultural conditions in which media technologies have evolved as means of cultural production and moves to explore the contemporary development of “digital convergence.” Students will read across various fields to interpret and critique media examples and theories of mass media.

Students will be able to critically examine the impact of media on past and contemporary societies. Students will develop the ability to create thoughtful and engaging projects and writing assignments. In addition to a rigorous reading schedule, students are required to write various projects for the class blog and sustain continued research and writing throughout the course.

Students are expected to use theory, criticism and philosophy to understand contemporary media. Feedback from classmates is a valuable resource for the improvement of student writing and work. Critiques and discussions allow us to share our projects and analysis of the readings with others and express our intentions and interpretations. Class participation is essential and mandatory.

Class sessions will be divided into presentations and class discussion of the readings. Presentations will address both theoretical and analytical issues related media literacy, history of mass communication and digital convergence. Students are responsible to be prepared for class, read all assignments on time and post all writing and projects to the blog, paying attention to technical and aesthetic presentation as well as thoughtful and well-developed content.

Converging Media (third ed.) by John V. Pavlik and Shawn McIntosh, Oxford University Press, New York: 2013. 

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, by Henry Jenkins, NYU Press, New York: 2008.

READINGS Various weekly reading assignments will be assigned from the required texts, linked on the blog and posted on Blackboard. The reading schedule will be distributed on the blog. Readings are due each week. All readings are REQUIRED unless otherwise stated.

CLASS PARTICIPATION For each reading you must prepare two questions and two quotes or passages from the readings for class discussion. Several students will be called on in each discussion and you must have these prepared for each reading.

BLOG You must consult the class blog daily to check for announcements, readings and to post your assignments. The blog is crucial to the course and completion of the requirements. You MUST have access to the blog to complete assignments, readings, post work and comment on students’ posts.

TWITTER You must create a twitter account (if you do not have one already) we will share links and comments with each other using the class hashtag #convergcult
Four writing assignments published to the blog as well as a two-part semester project will be developed during the semester. Students must also complete all readings and participate in class discussions. Students must complete all assignments thoroughly and on time.

Attendance is required. Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class, and will be considered when determining the final course grade. Absences affect your participation grade. More than four (4) absences will result in an 'F' (failure) for the class. No exceptions. Class begins on time, so you must be punctual. Lateness, leaving early or leaving class unexcused for an extended period of time will also be recorded. Two of these instances will count as one absence. You must bring documentation to class and hand in to me for any absences to be excused.

You are required to make up any and all work that is missed if you are absent. Notify the professor if you will be absent. As work will not be accepted late, please contact the professor to hand in work on time!

All assignments must be finished and handed in on time to receive a passing grade for this course.

30% 4 blog posts + intro post
40% semester project
10% group presentation
20% attendance/participation (Contributions to class discussion, on the class blog + attendance)

NOTE: BACK-UP your work frequently, even as you are working on the projects. Write and edit your posts locally before uploading them to the web. No excuses!

The Rutgers Writing Center, located on the first floor of Bradley Hall, can provide very useful guidance, including writing tutors. It is highly recommended that every one visit the center as they are developing their essay. To encourage this visit, extra points will be given to those who provide documentation of their work with the center. The Center's online address

Plagiarism Plagiarism is a very serious academic offense which will result in penalties ranging from reduction of class grade to failure in the course. Plagiarism occurs when the ideas, images, and words, published or unpublished, of others are presented as one's own without citing the original source. Plagiarism also occurs when the papers, research, or creative works of another person are presented as one's own work. “The sources from which one derives one’s ideas, statements, terms, and data must be fully and specifically acknowledged in the appropriate form; failure to do so, intentionally or unintentionally, constitutes plagiarism. Violations of academic integrity may result in failure in the course and in disciplinary actions with penalties such as suspension or dismissal from the College” (1999-2000 Undergraduate Catalog, p. 43). For the University's policy on plagiarism please read the Rutgers-Newark Student Handbook, PAGE 189, available on-line at:

 ALL READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE SPECIFIED IN CLASS AND ON THE CLASS BLOG EACH WEEK. If you ever have questions or concerns about the schedule, due dates, changes or anything else please e-mail me.

Readings from required texts are found below. Additional readings for each class will be found on the blog. It is the student’s responsibility to check the blog for additional readings.

Week 1:            9/3 T - Introduction and discussion. Set up students on the class blog.
                        9/5 Th – What is Convergence? – The Big Picture Readings Due: Jenkins, Introduction to Convergence Culture pgs.1-24 and check the blog for Blackboard readings.

Week 2:      9/10 T – The Big Picture – Game Changer Understanding Mass Media in a Changing World. Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 1+2, Debord, The Commodity as Spectacle on Blackboard and check the blog for additional readings.
                        Intro Mini Post due
                        9/12 Th – NO CLASS

Week 3:     9/17 T – Publishing and Mass Amateurization Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 3 and Clay Shirky, Everyone is a Media Outlet on Blackboard

                        9/19 Th – Publishing - User Generated Content Discussion session. Readings Due: Jenkins, Why Heather Can Write pg.175-216 and check the blog for additional readings. POST 1 Due

Week 4:     9/24 T–The Internet – Here Comes Everybody Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 6 +7 and check the blog for additional readings.
                        9/26 Th– The Crowd – Collective Intelligence Discussion session. Readings Due: Jenkins, Spoiling Survivor pg. 25-58 and check the blog for additional readings.
                        Group 1 presents

Week 5:     10/1 T – Journalism – New News is Old News Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 9 and check the blog for additional readings.
                        Post 2 Due   
                        Draft Proposal Due for Semester Project

10/3 Th – Journalism – Publish, then Filter Discussion session. Readings Due: Clay Shirky, Publish, Then Filter on Blackboard and check the blog for additional readings.
Group 2 presents 

Week 6:     10/8 T – Media Support Industry– Advertising Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 11 and check the blog for additional readings.
Group 3 presents

                        10/10 Th – Media Support Industry– Ethics Discussion session. Readings Due: review Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 12 pgs. 384-397 and check the blog for additional readings.
                  Group 4 presents 

Week 7:            10/15 T – MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS
            –Proposal, Draft Bibliography and Resource List due for Semester Project on the blog and print copy handed in + (2 minute) presentation to the class
                        10/17 Th – MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS

Week 8:     10/22 T – Social Media and Identity Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 8 and check the blog for readings due.         
                        Group 5 presents

10/24 Th – Social Media and Identity Discussion session. Readings Due: Sherry Turkle, Alone Together on Blackboard and check the blog for readings due.

Week 9:     10/29 T – Movies/Transmedia Storytelling Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 5 and Jenkins, Searching for the Origami Unicorn pg.95-134 and check the blog for additional readings.
                        Group 6 presents

10/31 Th – Movies/Transmedia Storytelling (con’t) Discussion session. Readings Due: check the blog for additional readings.
Draft Bibliography/Resource List due for Semester Project

Week 10:     11/5 T – Radio/Music Discussion session. Readings Due. Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 4 and check the blog for additional readings.
                       Group 7 presents

                    11/7 Th – TV – The Politics of Participation. Discussion session. Readings Due: Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 10 and Jenkins, Conclusion pg. 251- 270
                      Post 3 Due

Week 11:     11/12 T – Games Discussion session. Readings Due. Case Study - The Sleeper Curve on Blackboard and check the blog for additional readings.
11/14 Th – TV – Politics in the Age of You Tube.  Discussion session. Readings Due: Afterword pg. 271-294 and check blog for readings on Blackboard.

Week 11:     11/19 T – Politics and Popular Culture Discussion session. Readings Due: Jenkins, Photoshop for Democracy pg.217-250 Pavlik/McIntosh, Chapter 15 and check blog for readings on Blackboard.

11/21 Th – Future of Convergence Discussion session. Readings Due: check blog for readings on Blackboard.

Week 12:     11/26 T –  Future of Convergence (con’t) Discussion session. No readings due – work on your semester projects.
                        Post 4 Due   
                        11/28 Th –            NO CLASS  Thanksgiving break

Week 13:            12/3 – SEMESTER PROJECT PRESENTATIONS – all projects posted to the blog
                        12/5 – SEMESTER PROJECT PRESENTATIONS

Week 14:            12/10 T – SEMESTER PROJECT PRESENTATIONS
                        12/12 Th – Reading Day No Classes

FINAL:            12/19 Th – SEMESTER PROJECT PRESENTATIONS LAST DAY **11:45am – 2:45pm**

*Posts 1-5
Students must develop researched responses to readings and discussions in class. Each post will be specific to the topics covered in class at that time and will be explained during class. Students are responsible to write and edit these posts as well as illustrate them and successfully post them to the blog.

*Group presentation
Create a presentation that illustrates the readings for that day. You can choose to focus on one particular theme, reading or theory or give a general overview of themes covered. Presentations should be organized, clear and engaging and should include a visual component in addition to an exciting interactive presentation. All students in the group must participate. These should be 7-10 minutes. The presentations should spur discussion within the classroom. Presentations should end with a question or questions posed to the class. MAKE IT AWESOME! Presentation summaries must be posted to the blog. Every student will present once throughout the semester.

*Semester Project – Creating Your Own Media: A Cultural Intervention
 2-parts: Midterm and Final
Based on the discussions and projects presented in class and on the blog, please create a short piece of media which focuses on a social (or political) issue to specifically address the role of media, technology, audience, owners and media makers. Ultimately your project should 1) Be publically visible. Provide clear criticism of a specific narrative or aspect of popular culture 3) encourage its audience to shift their perspective and take social action. These will be published to the class blog and presented in class.

The assignment can take many forms: Essay with embedded images. Video- music, documentary, performance, Researched article or extensive slideshow with captions or narration (think NYTimes), Magazine/Zine, Interactive Web Project/Site

*You must create a post on the blog for your final project. This will include a link to your project, a summary and explanation, images and or videos. You will present using/from your post - this will be much easier. ALL projects must be posted to the class blog and resource lists and summaries printed and handed in to me. Projects in print such as: papers, zines etc must be physically handed in to me. I have invited guests to attend our final presentations.

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