Communication And Culture | Current topics in Communication & Culture
C334 | 9390 | Yeidy Rivero


Topic: "Blackness," Culture and the Media in the U.S. and Latin
American Contexts

This course introduces students to the complex relationship
between "blackness" and its representations in popular cultural
artifacts (television, movies, and music). 'Race' has been defined as
a social construction which relates to specific historical processes
within nations. Even though 'race' comprises multiple categories,
ideological discourses, and constructions, this course will focus on
the construction of "blackness" in the United States and Latin
American contexts. Nonetheless, class discussion will also include
the ways in which other groups have been racially constructed in
media texts.

The course will be divided into three sections: (1) The meanings
of "blackness:" racial discourses in the U.S. and Latin America; (2)
Mainstream media and representations of "blackness:" from 'blackface'
to 'blacks;' (3) Vernacular cultures: racial consciousness and black
identities. Throughout the semester, we will try to disentangle the
meaning of 'race,' its relationship to particular cultures, and their
constructions in media cultural artifacts.

Objectives:
Understand the meaning of 'race' and "blackness" in the framework of
specific cultures and historical processes.
Analyze media representations of 'blackness' in relation to racial
and cultural discourses in particular historical periods.
Examine issues of power and control in media production.
Discuss the similarities and differences between American and Latin
American constructions of "blackness."
Consider the issue of racial consciousness, political mobilization,
and the ways in which blacks have created alternative cultural
products for the representations of their diverse identities.
Recognize the ways in which racism is a 'global' problem that
transcends the U.S. context.

Course requirements:
Papers (40%). Two short written assignments (approximately 5-7 pages
each). The papers are due at the end of the last two sections.
First paper: Research on mainstream media constructions
of "blackness." In the case of Latin America--due to access and
language--students are encouraged to select movies (subtitled)unless
they understand Spanish or Portuguese. There will be a list to
facilitate students' choices.
Second paper: Research on alternative representations. Students can
select either music, movies, TV, the internet, or theatre for their
research. Students are expected to incorporate the class readings
into their analysis.

Quizzes (45%): There will be three scheduled quizzes in this course
based on the class readings. No make-up quizzes will be given.

Class Participation(15%): Students are expected to attend class, to
actively participate in discussion having read assigned texts in
advance, and to turn in written papers when they are due.

Readings: A reading packet.