Understanding the Conversations on Our Screens: A Media Discourse Journal

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ENGL 1130
R. Imbur

Understanding the Conversations on our Screens: A Media Discourse Journal

For this assignment, we will be examining the conversations and arguments contained in those "texts" that exist in the realm of visual popular culture; namely, the genres of film, television, visual advertising, graphic novels, video games, or any other genres that use mass media to visually convey specific ideas and arguments to a broad audience.

In assembling your Media Discourse Journal, you will organize your viewings, analysis, and discussion around some sort of unifying theme. For example, you might choose to connect your viewings of multiple science-fiction films focusing on the theme of artificial intelligence, or perhaps you want to survey the theme of female identity as expressed in the characters of various television soap operas. You might choose to delve into a close thematic reading of multiple episodes of a single television series (such as the theme of the intersection of religion and science in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series), or a recurrent theme in a long-running television advertising campaign, such as the theme of American identity as expressed in the last twenty years of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler commercials.

No matter what theme and genre you choose for this project, your 6 to 8 page, typed double-spaced journal should include the following elements:

--A half-page to one page introduction that introduces your thematic context, describes the genre and media sources that you will be discussing, and presents the rationale for your analysis, including, perhaps, some questions that you wish to explore/have answered as a result of participating in this project.

--At least four topically focused main entries, each of which must be at least one full page in length. These entries should consider the discourse that occurs between a specific work of media (film, television, and so forth) and its audience. Focus, in particular, on the argument that the film is making, how this argument targets the audience, and your specific reaction/reflection to these arguments as an engaged, active viewer. Please note that these entries are NOT to be mere plot summaries, or simple, "liked it/didn't like it" reviews. Focus on the arguments/ideas that the media source presents to us as viewers.

--Within some or all of the main entries mentioned above, references to an overall total of at least three print sources. These sources should be scholarly in focus (books, academic journal articles, essays/reviews from major newspapers/magazines), and should either directly refer to the work of media in question, OR relate to the work of media on some thematic level without specifically mentioning it (such as an article that discusses male identity and sports, but does not necessarily refer directly to the episode of Friday Night Lights that you are analyzing). Note: I am assuming that your previous courses (including Composition I) have taught you how to find, evaluate, and incorporate research sources. If this is NOT the case, then please contact me during my Office Hours or e-mail me for assistance.

--A conclusion entry, at least half-a-page to one page in length, which synthesizes the thematic connections observed in your various media viewings, draws some conclusions, and reflects on the overall discourse between media and viewer that exists in what you have viewed. In other words, what is the ultimate nature of the "conversations" that you have observed during this project, and what have you learned/gained as a result?

--A Works Cited page, written in MLA format, not to be counted towards the overall page/entry total for this assignment.

Due dates for this assignment are listed on the semester assignment calendar. Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance. Happy watching!

A Memo on Grades

As I have tried to emphasize from the beginning,...
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