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FILM 4090 Race and Media, Fall 2021 - Rusnak

Course guide for FILM 4090 Race and Media, Fall 2021 - Stacy Rusnak

Course Information

Course Information

Class Details

Course Details: FILM 4090-01, Race and Media, 3 Credit Hours

Class Time: 3:30-4:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays

Course Location: Blackboard Collaborate

Web Conferencing

This course will use Blackboard Collaborate for our online “virtual classroom” video conferencing sessions and collaboration activities. Some or all of the sessions may be recorded. The recordings will only be available to students enrolled in this course.

Course Description

This course examines mass media portrayals of race from past to present. Students will analyze media artifacts, identify recurring themes, and explore research about the societal effects of stereotypical media portrayals.

Course Prerequisites

FILM 3005, Film Theory.

Course Resources

Required Texts

There is no required text for purchase for this class.  You will be required to vistit our libray research guide, where you should find most, if not all, of our readings and screenings.  Items not listed on the guide (if any) will be clearly stated on the syllabus.  The link for our library guide will be posted on D2L.  There will be a separate forlder for Library Resources.  You will find it there.

Course Goals and Objectives

This course examines some of the relationships between the media in the U.S.  and the social constructions of race and gender.  Four related concerns are at the heart of many of these relationships.  It will be our goal to work through these relationships.

Media representations of race,

Audience interpretations of media portrayals,

Critical analyses of media culture and media content, and

What to do about these concerns: media literacy, activism, and advocacy.

Course Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. Analyze the ways race impacts both media content and audience interpretations of media content.
  2. Interpret media culture through examination of various production, construction, and meaning-making processes.
  3. Identify issues and “dialogues” over media relationships to race and of how it is shaped by power— structural political and economic inequities.
  4. Identify approaches used to study media and race.
  5. Critique the media's cultural influence and become more media literate.

Course Requirements and Grading

You can expect to access the course materials and grades via our course in Brightspace (Desire to Learn). Students should check this Brightspace course daily, as changes will always be announced and recorded on the course site.

Missing Assignments and Your Grade

Please note that your grade in the class is the grade you earn, not a grade I give you.  At the end of the semester, if you have a C (for example), it is because you earned the C.  I cannot give you credit for a B or A at that point.  Also note, if your final grade is 89.1, this means you earned a B.  If it is an 89.5 (.6, .7, .8, .9), this means your grade is an A.  I can make an exception for a student who has really worked very hard during the semester, but if you have an 89.3 and you have 1 ZERO in the grade book, you will still have a B. So, be sure to check your syllabus, the calendar, D2L and turn in ALL of your assignments on time.

Grading Scale

  • A (Excellent) 90-100
  • B (Good) 80-89
  • C (Fair) 70-79
  • D (Poor) 60-69
  • F (Failure) 59 and below

Grading Percentages

Grading Category

Percent Weight



Discussion Posts


Reflection Writing


Class Participation




Final Paper


Peer Evaluation


Late Work Policy

I do not take late work unless there is a verifiable excuse such as a verifiable college event, religious holiday or illness.  If you have such an excuse, you should reach out to me by the next class period.  Any permitted late work will be due within 1 week of your absence. It is at the discretion of your instructor to grant permission to submit late assignments.  If you find yourself in a extremely difficult situation that is negatively impacting your ability to complete assignments, reach out to me immediately. I am more than willing to assist in any way that I can so that you can remedy the situation,  or apply for an Incomplete, should it come to that.  We need to maintain clear communication through the semester.

Assessment Tools

Participation, 15% You are expected to attend the course and to participate.  This is a small course, which means everyone has to participate to make the class move smoothly.  This means you are responsible for reading all of the assignments and watching all of the assigned films. 

Discussion Posts, 15%. Students will compose responses and/or questions in relationship to the material covered for a particular day.  Additionally, students will respond to other classmates’ posts, using a minimum of sentences/paragraphs as mentioned in the actual discussion post assignment.  These posts may require you to respond to an image, watch a short trailer/clip, read a short passage or post your own image. 

Reflection Writing, 20%.  There will be several short writing assignments where you will reflect on the readings and films discussed in class.  These assignments include, but are not limited to:

A short 2-3 page reflection essay on a reading.

A short 2-3 page essay examining your perspective of race.

A short story that involves issues of race (~ 5-6 pages).

A poem expressing your response to a selected film.

Presentation, 20%.  Everyone will complete a short presentation on any topic related to race/ethnicity and media.  Chose something that really appeals to you.  We will discuss more about the requirements and expectations for this assignment.

Final Paper, 25%.  You will write a 10 to 12-page research paper on any topic of your choice that relates to race and/or ethnicity.  You will have to incorporate a minimum of 5 different scholarly sources in your essay to investigate your research topic.  This will mean that you will have to do research through the library.  I am more than happy to help you with library resources, if you do not know where to find items.  I will also create a D2L folder with links to the library research guide and other resources.

Peer Evaluation, 5%.  Each student will be assigned a peer’s paper to read and peer evaluate.  You will be looking for grammar errors, paper organization, researched support, etc.  We will do a mini-example of peer evaluation before you will be required to assess your classmate’s work.