MC1110 - History of Mass Communication & Culture

SchoolCardiff School of Journalism, Media & Cult'l Stud
Department CodeJOMEC0
Module CodeMC1110
External Subject CodeP300
Number of Credits20
LevelL4
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Professor Justin Lewis
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

The aim of the module is to introduce and apply some of the main terms, theories and frameworks for understanding mass communications and popular culture. This will involve examining the past, present and future of a range of cultural industries and practices, including broadcasting, journalism, pop music, advertising and consumerism. We will ask critical questions about the role and potential of media and popular culture in the modern world. METHODS OF TEACHING: Lectures and seminars; independent reading and research. METHODS OF ASSESSMENT: Written exam 50% and Coursework 50%.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

On successful  completion of the module, students will be able to understand some of the key frameworks and approaches for the study of mass media and culture, and, most importantly, use historical and analytical approaches to think critically about contemporary media and popular culture.

How the module will be delivered

The module involves a two hour lecture and one hour seminar every week. Lectures are designed to present you with a significant body of information from a wide range of sources.  Seminars provide an opportunity to enhance your understanding of some of the key issues covered by the module.

How the module will be assessed

Assessment will comprise of one piece of written coursework and one formal examination.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Examination - Spring Semester 50
History Of Mass Communication & Culture
2 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50
Mid Term Essay
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

1)   Key Concepts and Theories

This introductory session begins with the question of why we study the mass media and popular culture. We shall then look at some of the key concepts and theories involved in the study of mass communication, focusing on the economics of cultural production, power and the process of meaning making. These approaches will then be applied to various examples of mass culture

Suggested Reading

Sections on Cultural Studies and Culture in Television Studies, the Key Concepts

Preface to Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

A. O’Conner and J. Downing, ‘Culture and Communication’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

J. Thompson (1997) ‘Mass Communication and Modern Culture’ in T. O’Sullivan and Y. Jewkes (eds), The Media Studies Reader, Arnold,

Further Reading

T. Bennett, ‘Popular culture and “the turn to Gramsci”’ in Approaches to Media: A Reader.

J. Fiske (1990) Introduction to Communication Studies, Routledge,.

E. Herman,  ‘Media in the U.S. Political Economy’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

S. Thomas, ‘Myths In and About Television: Entertainers and Economics’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

R. Williams (1997) ‘Culture is Ordinary’ in  A. Gray and J. McGuigan (eds) Studying Culture: An Introductory Reader, Arnold.

2)  History of Mass Communication  and Media Studies

This session will provide a brief historical overview of the concept of “mass communication”. We shall then look at key moments in the study of media and culture from the 1940s to the present day, touching on research into production, content (or “texts”) and reception. Underlying this account will be the central question of the role and power of media in society.

Suggested Reading

W. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ from Illuminations, London: Fontana 1973 (pp. 219-254).

Section on Mass Culture in Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

Chapters 1-3 of  J. Lewis (1991) The Ideological Octopus, Routledge.

Chapters 2 and 4  of  J. Lewis (2001) Constructing Public Opinion, Columbia University Press.

A. Sreberny, ‘Forms of media and ways of knowing’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

John B. Thompson, ‘Mass communication and modern culture: contribution to a critical theory of ideology’ in Approaches to Media: A Reader.

Further Reading

Chapter 5 from Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences.

Chapter 15 of J. Curran and J. Seaton (1991) Power Without Responsibility,  Routledge, 4th edition (pp 249-176).

H. Wilensky, ‘Mass media and mass culture: interdependence or independence?’ in Approaches to Media: A Reader.

R. Williams (1997) ‘Mass and Masses’ in T. O’Sullivan and Y. Jewkes, The Media Studies Reader, Arnold,

3)  What Barbie tells us (without moving her lips)

This session will sum up various approaches to media and then apply various them to a specific case study of the history of one commodity in popular culture: the Barbie doll. We will look at the history of Barbie and consider what it tells us about media and gender, as well as production, globalisation and ownership in the contemporary cultural industries.

Suggested Reading

Sections on Feminism, Gender, Hegemony and Political Economy in Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

M. Macdonald (1995) Representing Women,Arnold.

A. Sreberny and L. van Zoonen (eds.) (2000) Gender, Politics and Communication, New Jersey: Hampton Press,

J. Urla and A. Swedland (1995) `The Anthropometry  of Barbie'  in  J.  Terry  and J.  Urla  (eds.)  in  Deviant  Bodies  Bloomington: Indiana University Press (pp. 277-313).

Further Reading

S. Douglas (1994) Where the Girls Are, New York, Random House,

J.    van Zoonen (ed.) (1994) Feminist Media Studies, London: Sage.

4)   Broadcasting in the UK: The public service model

This session will look at the history of television and radio in Britain, from the 1920s to the present day. We will examine key moments in that history, including: the creation of the BBC radio; the development of  BBC television; the creation of ITV and its effect on BBC; the creation of Channel 4; and the advent of satellite, cable and digital television. These developments will be looked at in the framework of the concept of public service broadcasting. We will end by considering the future of public service broadcasting in Britain.

Suggested Reading

Section on Public Service Broadcasting in Television Studies, the Key Concepts, Routledge.

Chapters 11,12 and 13  of  J.  Curran and J. Seaton (1991) Power Without Responsibility,  Routledge (pp189-233).

Introduction to Parts 2 and 3 and Chapter 7 Critical Cultural Policy Studies.

D McQuail, ‘Western European Media – the Mixed Model Under Threat’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

P. Scannell (1997) ‘Public Service broadcasting and Modern Public Life’ in T. O’Sullivan and Y. Jewkes, The Media Studies Reader, Arnold.

Chapters 5 and 8 of K. Williams (1998) Get Me A Murder a Day! A History of Mass Communication in Britain, Arnold (pp: 88-109 and 171-192).

Further Reading

A. Crisell (1997) An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, Routledge.

R. Negrine (1990) Television and the Press since 1945, Routledge.

5)  Broadcasting in the US: the commercial model

The U.S. broadcasting system represents an archetype of a commercial approach to television and radio, as opposed to the public service models developed in Europe and elsewhere. This session will look at how and why the US system developed in the way that it did, as well as the nature of programming produced by such a system. We will then consider the limits of television and radio in the US and of commercial broadcasting systems in general, and thereby consider the role of regulation and ownership in media production.

Suggested Reading

Section on Commercial Television in Television Studies, the Key Concepts..

E. Herman, ‘Media in the U.S. Political Economy’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

D. Kellner (1990) `Broadcasting and the  Rise  of  Network Television'  in Television and the Crisis of Democracy,  Boulder: Westview, pp. 25 – 70.

Chapters 3 and 8  of Critical Cultural Policy Studies.

R. McChesney (1990) ‘The Battle for the U.S. Airwaves, 1928-1935’, Journal of Communication, 40 (4), pp 29-57.

B. Winston, ‘How are Media Born and Developed?’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

Further Reading

C.J. Robinson, ‘Mass Media and the U.S. in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

C. Sterling (2000) ‘US communications industry ownership and the 1996 Telecommunications Act: watershed or unintended consequences?’ in  H. Tumber (ed.) Media Power, Professionals and Policies, Routledge.

S. Thomas, ‘Myths In and About Television: Entertainers and Economics’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

6)   A brief history of journalism

This session will begin by looking at the history of newspapers in Britain, from the rise and fall of the radical press to the mass circulation newspapers industry that exists today. We will then trace the emergence of journalism, and the development of key concepts in news reporting such as “objectivity” and “news value”. These ideas will then be placed in a broader critical context, as we consider the role newspapers play in shaping politics and opinion.

Suggested Reading

Section on News  in Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

Chapters 3 and 4 from Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences.

Chapters 5-7  of  J.  Curran and J. Seaton  (1991) Power Without Responsibility,  Routledge.

Chapters 2 and 3 of K. Williams (1998) Get Me A Murder a Day! A History of Mass Communication in Britain, Arnold.

Further Reading

G. Boyce, (1978) Newspaper History From the 17th Century to the Present Day, Constable.

P. Chippendale (1999) Stick it Up Your Punter!, Pocket.

J. Tunstall (1996) The New National Press in Britain, Oxford.

7) 17 November: The history of reporting war and foreigh policy

This session will be a case study in the history of journalism, and will look at how the news media have reported international conflict and war since World War Two, in both the US and Britain. Under particular consideration will be the Cold War from 1945 to 1989 and first major “post Cold War” in the Persian Gulf in 1990/1. Throughout, we will consider how objective the news media been in reporting international conflict, and, in particular, their relationship with government agencies.

Suggested Reading

W. Dorman and S. Livingston in W.L Bennett and D.L, Paletz (1994) Taken By Storm: The Media Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf War, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Chapter 12 from E. Herman (1999) The Myth of the Liberal Media, New York: Peter Lang.

Chapter 2 from E. Herman and N. Chomsky (1988) Manufacturing Consent, Pantheon.

Further Reading

R. Harris, Gotcha! : The Media and the Falklands War, Faber, 1993.

Chapter 6 from D. Kellner (1995), Media Culture, Routledge,

P. Knightley (2000) The First Casualty: The War Reporter as Hero and Myth Maker, Prion.

D. Mercer et al (1987) .The Fog of War, Heinemann,

H. Mowlana, G. Gerbner and H. Schiller (eds.) (1992) Triumph of the Image: The Media’s war in the Persian Gulf – A Global Perspective, Boulder: Westview,.

8) The media and the military industrial complex

This session will look at the media’s relationship to what President Eisenhower referred to as the ‘military industrial complex’. We will look at global levels of military spending – focusing on the US and the UK – and ask how the media portrays the military, and specifically, what role it plays in supporting spending levels.

Suggested Reading

Lewis, J, et al: (2006) Shoot First and Ask Questions Later, Peter Lang, New York

Lewis, J (2008) ‘The Role of the Media in Boosting Military Spending.’ Media War and Conflict, 1 (1) pp 108-118.

9) 1 December: The pop music industry: past and present

This session will look at the history of popular music industry, from the 1940s to the present. One of the key issues we shall explore is the relationship between ownership and the degree of diversity or innovation in the industry. In particular: has the industry been most dynamic when controlled by a few “major” record labels, or when a variety of independent labels have been able to flourish? This then allows us to consider broader issues about the relationship between economic structures and cultural outcomes.

Suggested Reading

Introduction to Part 7 and Chapters 18 and 19 Critical Cultural Policy Studies.

Richard A. Peterson and David G. Berger (1990)`Cycles in  Symbol Production: The Case of Popular Music' in Simon Frith and  Andrew Goodwin (eds.) On Record, New York: Pantheon.

K. Negus ‘Popular Music: Between Celebration and Despair’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

K. Negus (1997) ‘Priorities and Prejudice- “Artists and Repertoire” and the Acquisition of Artists’ in T. O’Sullivan and Y. Jewkes, The Media Studies Reader, Arnold.

Chapters 2  from R. Shuker (1994) Understanding Popular Music, Routledge.

Further Reading

Section on Music Video in J. Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

Chapter 2  from Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences.

S. Frith(2000) ‘Power and policy in the British Music Industry’ in  H. Tumber (ed.) Media Power, Professionals and Policies, Routledge,

10) The media and consumer capitalism (1)

In the next two sessions we will take examine the history of consumer capitalism as an economic, social and cultural model, leading towards a critical evaluation of the system in the 21st century. Our focus will be on the role of the media and telecommunications industries in consumer capitalism, and we will look in particular detail at the role of the advertising industry. The key questions addressed in these lectures are:

Suggested Reading

Lewis, J. and Boyce, T. (2009) ‘Climate Change and the Media: The Scale of the Challenge’ in  Boyce, T. and Lewis, J. Climate Change and the Media, Peter Lang

Section on Advertising  in Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

Introduction to Part 9 of  Critical Cultural Policy Studies.

D. Kellner ‘Advertising and Consumer Culture’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

T.H. Qualter. (1997) ‘The Social Role of Advertising’ in T. O’Sullivan and Y. Jewkes, The Media Studies Reader, Arnold.

Section on Globalisation in Television Studies, the Key Concepts.

Chapter 10 from Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences.

D. Demac and L. Sung, ‘New Communication Terchnologies and Deregulation’ in Questioning the Media – A Critical Introduction.

E. Herman and R. McChesney, (1997) Global Media, Cassell.

Chapter 19 of  Critical Cultural Policy Studies.

H. Schiller (2000) ‘Digitised capitalism: what has changed?’ in  H. Tumber (ed.) Media Power, Professionals and Policies, Routledge. 

11)  The media and consumer capitalism (2)

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Essential Reading and Resource List

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