Course Spotlight

This page is dedicated to courses designed for or especially relevant to the Year of Media.


Africana Studies

  • AFRC-006-401; ASAM-006-401; SOCI-006-401; URBS-160-401: Race & Ethnic Relations
  • The course will focus on race and ethnicity in the United States. We begin with a brief history of racial categorization and immigration to the U.S. The course continues by examining a number of topics including racial and ethnic identity, interracial and interethnic friendships and marriage, racial attitudes, mass media images, residential segregation, educational stratification, and labor market outcomes. The course will include discussions of African Americans, Whites, Hispanics, and Asian Americans and Multiracials.



  • ANTH-258-401; CIS-106-401: Visualizing the Past
  • Most people's information about the Past is drawn from coffee table picture books, popular movies, video games, documentaries about discoveries of "ancient, mysterious, and lost" civilizations, and tours often led by guides of limited or even dubious credentials. How are these ideas presented, formed, and circulated? Who creates and selects the information presented in this diverse media? Are these presentations accurate? Do they promote or hurt scientific explanations? Can the artistic, aesthetic, and scientific realms be bridged to effectively promote the past? This class will focus on case studies and critiques of how archaeology and the past are created, presented and used in movies, museums, games, the internet, and art. In addition to exploring general concepts of archaeology and the media, students will work in teams to produce an interactive, digital media exhibit using the latest modeling and augmented reality programs for the new archaeological museum at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Although nearly abandoned for a millennium and sacked by treasure hunters, the ruins are considered one of the most important archaeological sites in South America and visited by 45,000 tourists a year. Potential class projects include fly-throughs of architectural renderings; simulations of the design and engineering of the pyramids, temples, and palaces; modeling of human behavior within architectural settings; and studying artifacts in the Penn Museum. The results will be displayed in the Tiwanaku Museum and will serve to introduce visitors to the site.


Art History

  • ARTH-107-401; ENGL-078-401; CINE-103-401; COML-099-401: Television and New Media
  • As a complex cultural product, television lends itself to a variety of critical approaches that build-on, parallel, or depart from film studies. This introductory course in television studies begins with an overview of the medium's history and explores how technical and industrial changes correspond to developing conventions of genre, programming, and aesthetics. Along the way, we analyze key concepts and theoretical debates that shaped the field. In particular, we will focus on approaches to textual analysis in combination with industry research, and critical engagements with the political, social and cultural dimensions of television as popular culture.



  • COMM-290-301: From Beulah to Awkward Black Girl: Black Women On and In TV in the US
  • The course explores Black women's involvement in the television industry as actors and content creators, beginning in the 1950s with Beulah and then transitions throughout the decades into the contemporary moment with Black women's presence in unscripted programs, dramas and web series. The course engages Black feminist debates about Black women's representation in media, and interrogates the cultural and political conditions, and industry discourses and practices that coincide with many of the shifts in Black women's visibility on and in television.
  • COMM-301-301: Introduction to the Political Economy of Media
  • This course has two aims. First, assuming that communications are central to any society, it situates media systems within larger national and international social relationships and political structures. Second, this course critically examines the structures of the communication systems themselves, including ownership, profit imperatives, support mechanisms such as advertising and public relations,and the ideologies and government policies that sustain these arrangements. Considering case studies ranging from traditional news and entertainment media to new digital and social media, the course provides a comprehensive survey of the major texts in this vibrant sub-field of media studies.



  • ENGL-159-301: Writing About the Presidential Election
  • A primer on writing about U.S. politics, in an era of major technological upheaval and serious voter polarization. Today's 24/7, wi-fi'd, blogging environment-along with the rise of new conservative media are changing the ways that writers cover politics and deliver the information.



  • HIST-165-401; CINE-167-401: Hollywood & American History
  • This course examines crucial events in American history, from the Puritans to the present, through the lens of Hollywood film and other media. We will consider how these visual representations have influenced our present understanding of key matters such as the Constitution, presidential politics, Protestant religion, racial tensions, and war-making. Material to be viewed includes The Patriot, Gettysburg, Gold Diggers of 1933, The Best Years of Our Lives, West Side Story, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?



  • MKTG-270-401: Digital Marketing, Social Media, and E-Commerce
  • MKTG 270 explores the digital marketing environment from both a consumer and business perspective. The course provides an overview of various online business models and delves into digital advertising and social media marketing techniques and technologies. A mixture of case studies, guest speakers and assignments, including one that uses real advertising data, translates theory into practice. It is recommended that students enrolling in the course be comfortable using Excel and are knowledgeable in applying regression analysis techniques. Students who would prefer a less technical course may wish to take MKTG 227, Digital Marketing and Electronic Commerce, a half cu course offered by the department.



  • SOCI-137-601: Sociology of Media & Pop Culture
  • This course relies on a variety of sociological perspectives to examine the role of media and popular culture in society, with a particular emphasis on the power of the mass media industry, the relationship between cultural consumption and status, and the social organization of leisure activities from sports to shopping. Specific course topics include the branding of Starbucks, the rising importance of aesthetics and style in everyday life, and how young people use social media in the digital age.