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Centre for Media and Film Studies

Theoretical Issues in Media and Cultural Studies

Course Code:
15PMSH005
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the main theoretical approaches in the closely related disciplines of critical media and cultural studies, which are necessary for any study of contemporary media, and are particularly relevant to appreciating the distinctiveness of non-Western media and the problems in their study. The course also aims to familiarize students with the richness and diversity of Asian and African media production, distribution, reception and commentary, both by introducing contemporary issues addressed by media in different regions and by requiring students to engage in project research on some specific aspect of media discourse in Asia, Africa or their diasporas.

The course starts from the recognition of the impossibility of declaring a specific field of non-Western media studies. Techniques of industrial production, a significant proportion of output, and most media and academic commentary, are Euro-American. So, any critical inquiry has to start from an analysis of the theoretical discourse in media studies and its relationship to the history of this media production and practice, together with a review of the relevance of existing approaches to Asian and African media. What emerges from such a review is the high degree of closure both among media professionals and academic media scholars around a very narrow range of kinds of mass media production and use, and a prevailing Eurocentrism. An analysis of key theoretical issues exposes presuppositions that need to be made explicit if scholars are to engage with media discourse elsewhere in the world without prejudging what still largely remains to be researched. The course considers rival accounts of this ‘hegemony’ and the role of the mass media, media studies itself and other human scientific disciplines in such processes. 

Method of assessment

100% Coursework.