Class Calendar (1139)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013
  • Introductions, syllabus review
  • Activity: notecard introductions
  • Activity: reading the room
  • Homework: read over the syllabus and prepare questions/comments for Thursday, September 5, 2013.

Writing Instruction

Thursday, September 5, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Thursday, September 26, 2013

Structure: Semiotics, Representation, Ideology, Hegemony

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Using tools from your toolbox (Semiotics: T & “t”, Representation: encoding & decoding, Ideology: common sense, and Hegemony: agency), analyze an ad for it’s cultural content and significance. Identify facts about the ad that stand out to you and then state one or more possible meanings that could be interpreted from the ad. Be sure to post a link to the ad on your blog.

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
  • Discuss Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice
  • Discuss Occupy Wallstreet
  • Homework: print, read, annotate and bring to class excerpts from The Communist Manifesto and Capital, Volume 1 for Thursday, October 17, 2013.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
  • Quiz on Genesis
  • Write Flarf
  • Homework: find, print, and be prepared to introduce a news article on a current issue in the world today. No limitations on content, here. Think “Mean People Suck” and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The only limitations are that it must be a news article (print or [printed] electronic, international news A-okay) and remember that we are a community–no mean-spirited topics.
  • Homework: read Genesis 6:1 – 8:22 and The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI. Post a 500-word essay to your blog due Sunday, November 3, 2013 by 11:59 pm (remember daylight savings!) addressing the following prompt:

Note: Post the URL to your blog post in the “Leave a Reply” filed at the bottom of the Genesis page.

What are the cultural implications of a Bible written by multiple sources? We have read multiple sources that support the notion that the creation story in the book of Genesis has multiple layers, whether at the level of authorship, influence or poetic license. Using the material available to you in 1) Genesis 6:1 – 8:22, 2) The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI, and 3) John J. Collin’s A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (pages 28-35), first demonstrate–using specific examples–how biblical scholars identify different strands of the flood story before meditating on some of the implications for 21st-century American society.

Paragraph 1: show your audience where some of the similarities and differences are in the flood story between the J source and the P source -and/or- between the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Collins’ work is there to help you, but please cite his references (see MLA Style for citation help).

Paragraph 2: accepting that multiple sources exist in the book of Genesis, what are the cultural implications of an edited Bible? How is religion represented in the public sphere? What is the relationship between politics and religion? What religious issues exist in public debate? How do traditional views about religion influence the tenor of discussion in America and how would diverse interpretations effect the conversation?


  • Homework: find a current article (within the last two years) that deals specifically with  conflict between religion and 21st-century American culture. Evolution, abortion, terrorism, separation of church and state, gay marriage, etc. More than just an opinion piece, analyze the article from a cultural studies/critical theory perspective. What representations are being presented? How are encoding and decoding working behind the scenes? How are capital-Truth and “truths” being bandied about? Analyze the power structure–who has agency?

Paragraph 1: present a general overview of the article as well as the main issue you wish to analyze. Analyze the article according to the facts: what has occurred? What has been said about it? How are authoritative voices represented? Etc.

Paragraph 2: discuss  meaning as interpreted from the article. Choose one “side,” then choose the other. Represent an analysis of opposing viewpoints and discuss how each of them attempt to work on groups and individuals who are both for and against each viewpoint. You must represent both sides in order to satisfy the requirements of this essay.

Post the URL to your blog post in the “Leave a Reply” field at the bottom of the Genesis page.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
  • Introduction to News Media Unit
Thursday, November 7, 2013
  • Watch Zeitgeist: The Movie (in-class)
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
  • Finish watching Zeitgeist: The Movie (in-class)
  • Discuss Zeitgeist: The Movie
  • Homework: find, print, read and annotate/highlight an article on a topic represented in Zeitgeist: The Movie. Be prepared to discuss your findings in class and to turn in your annotated/highlighted article.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
  • Discuss Zeitgeist: The Movie
  • Homework: post a 500-word essay to your blog due Sunday, November 17 at 11:59 pm addressing the following prompt:
“Live and Let Live”

Who gets to make decisions for other people? Is there a need to come to terms with an understanding of human rights? Not surprisingly, the two often clash when culture is introduced to the equation. On the issue of gay marriage, for example, one way of thinking creates restrictions to individual expression, but change to those restrictions necessarily infringes on closely held beliefs. If our goal is to reach a state of utopia where people are free to make their own decisions, how do we come to terms with this opposition?

Post a 500-word essay to your blog addressing a hot-button issue topic of your choice (e.g. abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights, etc.). In the first part of your essay, investigate the religious, political, or social/cultural, etc., influences that inform both sides of the topic you choose. See if you can determine who is making the decisions in the first place. If not, why not? Remember your Circuit of Culture handout, here.

In the second part of your essay, begin to work out a solution to how (at least) two opposing viewpoints can be reconciled. Think big. Think outside the box. Get creative here. You’ll have to understand who is making the decisions on both sides of the argument, what the motivations are for those decisions, and you must propose a solution that does not infringe on the rights of either side’s decision-making process.

Also, keep it realistic and respectful. Blatantly violent, disrespectful, or unrealistic solutions will not be accepted for credit. Remember what you all said together in our first in-class discussion: that you just want people to be a little more conscious and a little nicer to each other.

Good luck. Be creative. Remember that this writing assignment is pass/fail, so don’t stress yourself out trying to find an answer. This is a tough one. Have fun with it.

Post a working URL to your blog post in the “Leave a Reply” field at the bottom of the Live and Let Live Webpage.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
  • Writing Feedback
  • Homework: prepare for debate
Thursday, November 21, 2013
  • The Debate!
  • Homework: begin reading Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism for Tuesday, December 3, 2013
  • Homework: revision essay:

One of the requirements of a writing-intensive course at the University of Minnesota is to submit a revision of one of your writing assignments. Revisit/reread Free-Thinking, Free-Wheeling, Free-Writing. I will hand back your original free-writing exercises in class. Review your old writing and reflect on what you have learned since:

  • Choose one of the three free-writing prompts to revise.
  • Post a 500-word essay to your blog describing how what you have learned in this class has  changed the way you thought at the beginning of the semester. Be specific, make reference to specific content covered in class, and describe how specific content has worked on your view of our culture. You must also use specific references from your original free-writing exercise.
  • Post your essay to the “Free-writing” page on your Website. Post a functioning link to your essay (double check) to the “Leave a Reply” field at the bottom of the Free-Thinking, Free-Wheeling, Free-Writing Web page by 11:59 pm Sunday, December 1, 2013.

Please note: if you are not in class to receive your free-writing assignments, in order to receive credit on this assignment and your writing portfolio, you must make other arrangements (via email) to pick them up from me in 235 Nicholson Hall or 212 Johnston Hall before 12:00 noon on Wednesday, November 27.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
  • No class: Thanksgiving Holiday
Thursday, November 28, 2013
  • No class: Thanksgiving Holiday
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
  • Discuss Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism
  • Begin watching Crips and Bloods: Made in America
Thursday, December 5, 2013
  • Finish watching Crips and Bloods: Made in America
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
  • Final examination

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