Comm 610 –M01 Instructor’s information

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Vocabulary of the Media Critic

COMM 610 –M01

Instructor’s information

Name: Dr. Michael Banks

Office location: 16 W.61st St // room 1020

Telephone: 212-261-1635


Office hours: Thursdays 5-7 PM

Fridays 12 PM- 6 PM

Saturdays: by appointment

Course information

Term and date: Fall 2014

Course number and section: COMM 610 M01 Credits: 3

Meeting times: Fridays 6-9 PM

Building and room number: 16 W. 61st // room 1029

Required texts

The Power of Myth; Joseph Campbell; Penguin Books, 2001; ISBN 1-565-11-5-10-4

The Age of Spiritual Machines; Ray Kurzweil; Penguin Books, 1999; ISBN 0-14-02-82025.

Plus Extensive readings in current research e-mailed to each student at their NYIT e-mail address.

Course description from catalog

“This course is designed to provide the student with the critical vocabulary used by media critics in discussing and evaluating non-technological aspects of the various media. Material will be drawn from philosophy, psychology, semantics, aesthetics and literary criticism.”

Course goals and introduction

Course Introduction

Media criticism, like the content of mass media itself, is interdisciplinary both in structure and scope. Mature practitioners of the media arts need common forms of reference in judgment and value if they are to interact with other professionals in competent decision-making. Over the past ninety years mass communication scholarship has attempted to build its own critical grammar based largely upon the melding of methods of judgment and analysis borrowed from older disciplines; philosophy, aesthetics, semantics, music theory, or art and literary criticism. Each of these approaches to knowledge falls far short in providing understanding of the many levels of synthesis and decision-making required in the production of an advertisement or television program or film or computer animation or public relations campaign. However, when critical aspects of these disciplines are evaluated by means of their impact upon the pre-production/production/post-production structure shared by all mass communication fields, a new utility is readily apparent. Mass media criticism is the result. Such a base of value permits depth analysis of the rhetoric of an advertising campaign or principles of design in a film or prosodic elements in television editing.

Our course of study will be divided into eight parts, outlined below. Representative theories and theorists are selected primarily for their application to media studies, of course, but this selection is by no means exclusive and you are invited to bring to the attention of the class any relevant approach to knowledge. Because some of the subjects included are understood by students with varying degrees of speed, not all of this subject matter can be thoroughly covered in the course so pay particular attention to which segments receive the most attention. Because discussion of some subjects may lead into segues between others, subjects also may not be covered in the exact order listed.

Learning outcomes of this course

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply graduate-level terminology, research techniques and sensitivities by writing a scholarly, graduate-level, English language research paper.

  2. Critically analyze other scholarly writings, particularly those based upon qualitative evidence.

  3. Adapt interdisciplinary methods of qualitative data diagnosis to media research modalities.

  4. Demonstrate structured, clear, purposeful, and original thinking.

NYIT Graduate program general outcomes will also be applied (with apologies, redundancies required by bureaucratic mandate.)
Upon graduation, graduate students will be able to:
1. Choose appropriate research techniques analyze and interpret data and recommend an appropriate course of action for a variety of audiences.

2. Demonstrate professional level production skills, incorporating emerging technologies as appropriate.

3. Collaborate effectively, assuming a variety of job responsibilities, in a professional environment.
Instruments of assessment
Methods of assessment will include:

  1. One Course Examination which will permit the student to demonstrate appropriate critical media vocabulary knowledge. This examination will also require application of media –related theories promulgated and presented in both lecture and readings.

  2. A Research Paper Proposal which anticipates the content of the Paper’s Abstract.

  3. A 15-20 page research paper applying knowledge learned to original research of the student’s own choosing. This paper, which is referenced in many lecture/discussions throughout the term, serves as your final examination.

Grading formula

A Research Paper Proposal, anticipating your paper’s Abstract, is due at the 8th week and will be delivered digitally to The Proposal represents 5% 0f your grade.

The Course Examination is based upon understanding of vocabulary terms relevant to mostly qualitative and some quantitative scholarly analysis. The essay part of this examination is also based upon application of selected theories gleaned from lectures, discussions and assigned readings. This comprehensive examination takes place in the 12th week and represents 50% of your final course grade.
A Research Paper/Final Examination of 15-20 pages, carefully sourced, evidenced and presented digitally, to with an annotated bibliography, in APA style, is due in the 14th week of class. A generic Outline for Qualitative Scholarly Research will be provided and incorporated. The Paper represents 45% of your final course evaluation. In past departmental policy and practice for three decades, your paper is considered a Final Examination of both your knowledge and ability to apply same.

Policy for make-up exams and missed or late assignments

Examinations can only be made-up if a student has an excused absence from the class date of the examination.

Attendance policy

More than two unexcused absences from class may result in a student being withdrawn from the class. Consultation with such students will be held before withdrawal. Students who abandon their studies will be summarily withdrawn.

Withdrawal policy

A student may withdraw from a course without penalty in grade through the end of the 8th week of class during a 14- or 15-week semester and through the 8th meeting during an 8week course cycle. After this, the student must be doing passing work in order to receive a W grade. Students who are not passing after the 8th week or equivalent will be assigned the grade of WF.

It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor of his/her intention to withdraw from a course. If a student has stopped attending class without completing all assignments and/or examinations, failing grades for the missing work may be factored into the final grade calculation and the instructor for the course may assign the grade of WF. The grade of F is used for students who have completed the course but whose quality of work is below the standard for passing.
Withdrawal forms are available in departmental offices and once completed must be filed

with the registrar. Students should be reminded that a W notation could negatively impact

their eligibility for financial aid and/or V.A. benefits, as it may change the student’s

enrollment status (full-time, part-time, less than part-time). International students may

also jeopardize their visa status if they fail to maintain full-time status.

Academic integrity and plagiarism policies

Each student enrolled in a course at NYIT agrees that, by taking such course, he or she consents to the submission of all required papers for textual similarity review to any commercial service engaged by NYIT to detect plagiarism. Each student also agrees that all papers submitted to any such service may be included as source documents in the service’s database, solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of all or part of someone else’s works (such as but not limited to writing, coding, programs, images, etc.) and offering it as one’s own. Cheating is using false pretenses, tricks, devices, artifices or deception to obtain credit on an examination or in a college course. If a faculty member determines that a student has committed academic dishonesty by plagiarism, cheating or in any other manner, the faculty has the academic right to 1) fail the student for the paper, assignment, project and/or exam, and/or 2) fail the student for the course and/or 3) bring the student up on disciplinary charges, pursuant to Article VI, Academic Conduct Proceedings, of the Student Code of Conduct.

Library Resources

All students can access the NYIT virtual library from both on and off campus at The same login you use to access NYIT e-mail and NYITConnect will also give you access to the library’s resources from off campus.

On the left side of the library’s home page, you will find the “Library Catalog” and the “Find Journals” sections. In the middle of the home page you will find “Research Guides;” select “Video Tutorials” to find information on using the library’s resources and doing research.
Should you have any questions, please look under “Library Services” to submit a web-based “Ask-A-Librarian” form.

Support for students with disabilities

NYIT adheres to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. The Office of Disability Services actively supports students in the pursuit of their academic and career goals. Identification of oneself as an individual with disability is voluntary and confidential. Students wishing to receive accommodations, referrals and other services are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early in the semester as possible although requests can be made throughout the academic year.

Lecture schedule by week and topic
Week #1: Introduction to Critical Qualitative Analysis [readings distributed from handouts]
Week #2: Relationship of Art Criticism and Literary criticism to Media criticism. Scope and history of both quantitative and qualitative scholarly analysis. Pragmatic use of scholarly analysis in pre-production, production and post-production environments of mass media creation. [Campbell, Chapter 1]
Week #3: Sociological and Psychological perspectives on media research and criticism. The Jungian connection. Historical research. Philosophical underpinnings. Economic determinisms. [Campbell, Chapter 2]
Week#4: Impact of current technologies on analytical methodologies. Differing and evolving realities of Broadband and Broadcast delivery systems. Haptic communication. [Campbell, Chapter 3]
Week #5: Current Brain research and its impact upon criticism. [Kurzweil, Chapter 1]
Week #6: Electronic media creation. The visual and audio structure of a shot, a scene, a teleplay, a motion picture. Graphic effects. Principles of editing and critical analysis of same. [Campbell, Chapter 4 ; Kurzweil, Chapter 2].
Week #7: Visual Prosody; Review for Examination. [Campbell, Chapters 5,8; Kurzweil, Chapters 3-5].
Week #8: Research Paper Proposal Workshop. Research options for traditional scholarly writing in Communication theory.
Week #9: Film Criticism. Screening of a select film with which the class has little familiarity but which can serve as a common source for application of various media theories presented in the remainder of the course. [Kurzweil, Chapters 6,8]
Week #10: Genre criticism, auteur criticism, structural analysis, biographical fallacy, status conferral, cultural “stakeholding”. [Kurzweil, Chapter 7]
Week #11: Database analysis in a qualitative context. Structuring evidence in qualitative criticism contexts. ; Review for Examination.
Week #12 Course Examination
Week #13: In-service Workshop for students needing individual help in structuring their Scholarly Research papers. Those students not needing this service are free to finish, type, vet and proofread their submissions away from the classroom.
Week #14: Handing in of Final Examination papers. All papers must be handed electronically to . Papers received after 12PM on the evening of the 14th class will be diminished in grade. Please hand in your work on time and in proper APA order.
Please keep up with course readings as they form one basis of preparation for lecture/discussion meetings on Friday evenings. Please attend these class meetings possessed of an open and questioning mind. This course welcomes spirited, respectful debate on all topics presented in the readings, by students and/or by Dr. Banks. Final agreement on the subjects we discussed is neither expected nor encouraged. Form your own opinions based upon evidence. Make the ideas presented in this graduate level theory course pragmatic and applicable to your own career paths and mass communication philosophies. Hopefully many of the ideas presented in your readings, research and through your course interaction, will resonate with you for many years to come (an “outcome” reported by many past students who have taken this course, and the similar courses which led to its present structure over the forty-plus years of its on-going development.)

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