MC 631 Topics in Mass Communication Theory
Unit III: Cultural/Critical Studies

Spring 2000 (3 credit hours)

Instructor: Jeremy Butler
Office: 430C Phifer, 348-8659
Office hours: M 3-5:00, & by appt.

TCF Website:
MC 631 Listserv:
Listserv Archive
MC 631 Bulletin Board

Course Objectives:

This unit of MC 631 aims to introduce the student to the major models of cultural and critical theory.


  1. Robert C. Allen, ed., Channels of Discourse, Reassembled (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992).
  2. Stuart Hall, "Encoding/Decoding," in Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe and Paul Willis, eds., Culture, Media, Language, 128-138 (London: Hutchinson, 1980).
  3. Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture 1-126, 231-254 (London: Routledge, 1999).
  4. The Philadelphia Story (Cukor, 1940), Bama Theatre, April 6-11; and in the CIS Reading Room.
  5. Ellen Seiter, "Making Distinctions in TV Audience Research: Case Study of a Troubling Interview," in Horace Newcomb, ed., Television: The Critical View, 5th Ed., 387-410 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
  1. Evaluations of theories. Before class each week, each student must e-mail an evaluation of each chapter/article to . I will then post them to the online MC 631 bulletin board. These posts should evaluate the efficacy of the approach in the context of your own research. Each post must contain at least one positive and one negative comment about the theory. Worth 10 points.
  2. Student presentations. On April 26, each student will present a 15 minute analysis of The Philadelphia Story from the perspective of one of the cultural/critical theories discussed in class. An outline of this presentation must be posted directly to the MC 631 bulletin board before class meets. Worth 30 points.
  3. A take-home exam, distributed April 26 and due five days later (May 1). Worth 60 points.

Academic Misconduct Policy:

All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Disabilities Accommodation Policy:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Disabilities Services (348-4285). After initial arrangements are made with Disabilities Services, contact Jeremy Butler.

Course Schedule

Subject to revisions announced in class.

Date Topic Readings
3/24 Introduction to Cultural/Critical Studies
Semiotics, Narrative Theory
Allen, Intro. & chs. 1-2

Audience-Oriented Criticism,Genre Study, Ideological Analysis

Allen, chs. 3-5; The Philadelphia Story (Cukor, 1940) @ Bama Theatre 4/6-11
4/14 Psychoanalysis, Feminism, British Cultural Studies Allen, chs. 6-8; Hall, 128-138; Seiter, 387-410
On the Madonna controversy (Laurie Schultze)
(username/password: tcfuser)
4/21 Visual Culture Mirzoeff, 1-126, 231-254
4/26, 2:00
Student Presentations
Take-Home Exam
4:45 p.m., 5/1, Monday

Exam Due
TCF Office


Last revised: Friday, April 14, 2000 12:23 AM