Ah another semester teaching is in the books, well almost. Final grading hell is just commencing but I am super proud of the many things my students have accomplished this semester. My graduate seminar COMM 5710 Intro to Media Studies dug deep into various debates, critical frameworks, concepts, methods, and theories surrounding critical media studies (CMS). Given that this was an intro course, we mapped the contours of the field using rather broad strokes. Our interdisciplinary inquiry included media and cultural studies, feminist, critical race, and queer theory, as well as popular music and surveillance studies. For 15 weeks we considered the critiques and possibilities this work generates concerning various aspects of media production, reception, and the text themselves. Our readings and objects of study encompassed a wide variety of media, including radio, film, TV, social media, and music among others. After developing a toolbox consisting of key theories informing CMS, we started applying our knowledge to examine various domains of contemporary media culture, including, for example, popular feminism and the #MeToo movement, racialized algorithms, and digital surveillance. Our overall aim has been to develop critical approaches for examining media as both a key part of our everyday lives and as an object of scholarly inquiry. I can’t wait to read/watch all their fascinating final projects!
My undergrads in COMM 4000/5000 Communication & Sport really blew me away this semester, it was such an engaged, motivated, and smart bunch! We spent a lot of time assessing how the business of sports is fundamentally changing through new technology developments, especially in regard to streaming platforms and social media. We also reflected on how our own social identities shape our participation with sports. While the readings were at times long and theoretically dense, the exposure to differing approaches to the study of sports media allowed us to recognize how power, privilege, and difference (including race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and nationality) intersect with sports and how sports reinforce, and sometimes challenge, socio-cultural norms.
Nothing better probably exemplifies these paradoxes than our final unit on sports activism, in which we examined the impact of Muhammad Ali and his legacy on contemporary forms of sports activism, whether it is Colin Kaepernick protesting police brutality, LeBron James starting the I Promise School, or Kyle Korver calling on fellow white athletes to recognize and use their privilege for those who remain marginalized and oppressed. Students really let their knowledge, critical thinking and media production skills shine with their final video projects. They tackled anything from pay inequalities between the women’s and men’s US Soccer team, paid patriotism, exorbitant MLB contracts, the sexual harassment many female gamers encounter in esports, the challenges of trans and intersex athletes, to heroic willpower of adaptive athletes. Below are links to some of my favorite clips from this semester – enjoy!
In the meantime, happy grading to all my fellow educators and summer break is near!