Diverse Cultures in Mass Communication

Discipline: Media Studies
Instructor: Ferrara
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1540
End: 1655
Field Work: Day 1 | Japan Download Syllabus

This course is an Upper Division Course. It is designed to develop students’ ability to critically think and analyze issues of gender and communication. From the moment we enter the social world, we are assigned a biological sex (i.e. ‘It’s a girl!’). We then begin the complicated process of learning what it means to be ‘female’ or ‘male,’ ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine,’ ‘gay’ or ‘straight.’ In this course, we will focus on the ways in which media culture is central to the creation, maintenance and subversion of gender divisions. In addition, we will consider how these gendered identities intersect with race, class, sexuality and nationality. As a problem-based learning course, students will identify inequalities in media production and representation, and will design activist-centered projects to address these problems in the local area.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 1

When it comes to pop culture and trends, Tokyo is the place to see and be seen. We will spend the day visiting three areas of Tokyo to explore how the youth culture and mass media influence each other.

  • Shibuya Station:  shinjinrui, kogul, and gyaru girls.
  • Harajuku Station: Lolita goth girls, visual kei, decora, and cosplayers.
  • Akihabara "Electric Town”: Anime/manga (cartoon) subculture, with the legions of otaku fanatics
Get ready to snap pictures, interview youth, taste local cuisine, play games, experiment with technology, try on trendy clothes/accessories, and sing Japanese-style karaoke. During our adventure we will host mini debates as to whether these trends are shallow, materialistic, hyper-sexualized, devoted to conspicuous consumption or representative of strong, innovative, and active youth.  Our guide for the day is a local public relations specialist who will contribute to our discussion of media theory, Western influence, Japanese culture, and Japanese media distinctions. This field lab is part of a larger Media Portfolio Project where students will collect images (billboards, magazines, photos of people on the street, etc.) and interviews. Students will analyze Gottman’s Codes of Gender and the Lolita Effect within the images and interviews. Academic and Behavioral Objectives During the field lab students will:
  1. Identify at least five different youth trends by walking around the different areas of Tokyo (i.e., shinjinrui, kogul, gyaru, cosplay, kei, lolita goth, manga)
  2. Take at least 20 photos of Tokyo youth and billboards for their media project portfolio
  3. Participate in at least three Tokyo trends (i.e., karaoke, anime games, try on clothing, purikura, cosplay)
  4. Interview at least one local, asking the list of questions designed for your Media Portfolio Project
  5. Identify three differences between American media and Japanese media. The media selected has to be a hard copy for your project (i.e., newspaper, magazine)
  6. Identify the codes of gender from Sut Jhaly in Japanese images
  7. Compare and contrast themes in one American media to a similar Japanese media
  8. Connect the youth trends to media consumption and theory
  9. Engage in debates on (note* these debates will require incorporation of readings and notes from class)
  • Whether the trends are shallow, materialistic, hyper-sexualized, devoted to conspicuous consumption or representative of strong, innovative, and active youth
  • Compare and contrast the two powerhouses in global media marketing: Anime vs. Disney