COMS 4800A – Media & Poverty
Fall Term, Mondays 1135-1425 – K. Dobson

This course introduces students to media representations of poverty and the ‘poor,’ beginning by examining different definitions of poverty from government and non-government organizations, and providing an overview of poverty in Canada, the UK and in the United States. Students will learn about the role of media framing and other journalistic practices, as well as the critical role of the political economy of the news industry, in how poverty is represented to the public. We will also look at poverty representations through social media and in popular culture, deconstructing widely circulated imagery and narratives and discussing potential impacts. The course will examine poverty and intersectionality, including race and gender.

COMS 4800B – Media Fandom
Fall Term, Tuesdays 0835-1125 – B. Woo

This class is about the intense relationships that (some) audience members develop for (some) media. Originally objects of suspicion and derision (“fan” is short for “fanatic,” after all), media fans now enjoy a complex relationship with both media industries and the so-called mainstream audience. Over this semester, we will explore the social worlds of fandom, connecting foundational work in the field of fan studies to contemporary research on topics such as social media and digital fandom; identity and toxic fan cultures; and the labour of media fans.

COMS 4800C – Media and Disability
Fall Term, Wednesdays 0835-1125 – M. Brady

This course explores contemporary and historical issues at the intersections of Media Studies and Critical Disability Studies. It will provide a broad overview of the historical treatment of disability as well as more contemporary social movements and corresponding policies. We will explore the ways in which media have been employed as tools to facilitate mediated kinships and communities of care around disability rights justice. We will also problematize the long legacy of harmful mainstream media constructs and institutional ableism. We will discuss various models of media production that allow for the inclusion of impairment. Finally, we will critically engage media forms designed for inclusion and ask whether they merely make retrofits of existing infrastructures or provide new avenues for meaningful change.

COMS 4800D – Popular Media & Sexual Health
Fall Term, Thursdays 1805-2055 – M. Macaulay

Defined by the World Health Organization as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, the term “sexual health” has become a catch-all for everything from HIV/STI prevention and contraception to sexual dysfunction and sexual violence. The term “popular media” is also an all-encompassing term that includes everything from mass-consumed commercial outlets that are visible and accessible to the public, to those functioning as sites of cultural struggle and power. How does popular media illuminate, obscure, and complicate our understandings of sexual health, and what does a study of sexual health reveal about popular media? In this seminar, we will explore these questions through course readings, analysis of popular media texts, and classroom discussions. This course emphasizes classroom participation and public speaking, and will include topics such as LGBTQ issues, rape, abortion, and sexual performance in popular media. Attendance is mandatory. If these topics are difficult to discuss in a classroom setting, please contact the instructor to discuss whether the course is appropriate for you.

COMS 4800E – Public Relations & Social Issues
Winter Term, Thursdays 0835-1125 – B. Gauthier

This course is designed to introduce students to key elements of strategic public relations planning and practice in the context of contemporary social issues, including poverty, environmental damage, and affordable housing. When practiced effectively, public relations can raise awareness about social issues and advocate for solutions. The focus will be on developing students’ ability to think strategically about the public relations challenges faced by different social groups, plan a complete public relations campaign to address those challenges and create effective communication vehicles for that campaign.

COMS 4800F – Piracy
Winter Term, Tuesdays 1135-1425 – D. Jackson

This course offers a historical and critical introduction to issues related to the legal, historical, social, economic and cultural phenomena that have framed debates around piracy in relation to the production, circulation, and consumption of various media. At the core of this course is the tension between cultural production (art) and commodification (money). Key questions we will ask in the class concern the legal and political history of pirates; ideas of originality and authorship, piratical relations to sovereignty; notions of property and privation; gift economies; media industries; and alternative models of cultural production and ownership. 

COMS 4800H – Communication, Music & Regulation
Winter Term, Tuesdays 1805-2055 – C. Allison

An investigation of music from a communication studies perspective, analyzed through a regulatory framework. Exploration of social, political, technological and economic conditions under which music has evolved as a tool of communication and as a regulated cultural product since the 1500s. We examine key issues, including the emergence of, and relationships between, actors in the music industry, both past and present; the evolution of models of music distribution, production and consumption; and the regulation, commoditization and promotion of music and its creators. We discuss academic texts and popular literature related to music, communication and regulation through individual and group activities. We listen to and analyze diverse music genres and formats from the 1500s to 2020; we will also hear from a guest speaker in the music industry; attend a live concert; and tour a music venue.