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CJT 645: Proseminar in Mass Communication Theory
Spring 2011
Wednesday 1:00- 3:30 p.m.
223 Grehan Building

Instructor
Dr. Phil Hutchison
phillip.hutchison@uky.edu or uofuhutch@hotmail.com
112 Grehan Building
323-3663 (no answering machine)
TH 7:30-10:30; W 12-1 or by appointment
Course Description
This course offers a critical overview of evolving theories and research into “media effects,” which we will loosely define as the social impact of media exposure. In this context, we will examine an array of media forms ranging from traditional media (e.g., print, radio, television) to internetworked media platforms. Thus, this course will address only what are commonly termed “mass media” but also specialized/fragmented/niche media forms as they impact diverse social settings. To gain these insights, we will explore the intellectual origins, theoretical threads, and methodological traditions that shape various traditions of media-effects inquiry.

The course will familiarize you with both the well-established classics and the “frontier” literature relating to media effects research, and it will challenge you to identify and question important issues related to the social impact of media technology. The overarching goal will be to provide a foundation of knowledge that will help you develop your own research programs. Ideally this course will help you formulate state-of-the-field research questions and develop original, innovative research designs. As part of this process, you will refine your ability to critically evaluate the theoretical and methodological value of particular research orientations, and translate this knowledge to your personal media-effects scholarship.

Don’t pretend for a moment that you will find all (or even most) media effects theories and research equally appealing. However, by better understanding the scope of mediaeffects research, you will be able create a personalized roadmap to success as a communication researcher. Therefore, as we examine these diverse approaches to media research, you should prepare yourself to achieve a key professional objective: the ability to design and conduct groundbreaking research that will expand the scholarly community’s understanding of media effects.

Required Text
Jennings, B., & Oliver, M. B. (2009). Media effects: Advances in theory and research (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Supplementary readings will be distributed electronically throughout the semester.

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Class Format & Participation
This class is a graduate seminar, consequently, your participation ultimately will define the success of the course. The seminar sessions will be structured around an extensive, but manageable, series of readings. Given that these readings form the foundation of class discussions, you are expected to come to class having completed the readings assigned for that week. This means you should come to class prepared with questions, comments, and criticisms.

Being a valued member of the community of scholars entails values and practices best summarized in these two words: collegiality and communality. We will build this seminar into a community, one in which everyone feels comfortable to contribute and engage in all activities. Diverse, and even unorthodox opinions, are encouraged. You should fee free to offer criticism and constructive comments on the work/words of others (to include members of this class—and your professor). Yet all critiques should be offered in a respectful manner.

As a courtesy to all members of this class, you should avoid any type of disruptive behaviors, such as cell phone rings or private conversations. Class Attendance
Attendance is mandatory, and I expect you to be punctual. Participation in class discussions and activities will be counted toward your grade. Excused absences are reserved only for personal emergencies, as defined by the University Senate, at the discretion of the professor. Excessive (i.e., three or more) absences,...
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