Context.

This final project offers students the opportunity to think about material in a Media Theory class in a different format. The course already has a final exam where students write essay responses engaging with the critical material, so this project allows them to think about this material in a creative form. As an example of the type of creative project students could do, I made the remix video The Other Hidden Figures. More on that project can be found here.

Assignment Prompt.

The final project asks, Who gives a damn about media theory? It is an opportunity to take the insights you have gathered throughout the semester and create a media object that shares these insights with people outside of the classroom. Your project should focus on one of the five areas of the class:

  • Empathy and Othering
  • Piracy
  • Surveillance
  • Labor
  • Embodiment

The project itself can take many forms: it could be a website, video essay, podcast, remix, or app. Choose the type of project that best suits the area you are focusing on. That is, why is this medium the most appropriate to convey the theoretical ideas you engage? In order to structure the ideas of your project, consider the three aspects of the question Who gives a damn about media theory?

1.- Media Theory

The final project asks you to delve deeper into one specific area that we covered in class. What are the key issues in this area of media theory? You will need to do some further reading in order to fully answer. Your project thus will be informed by two course readings and two readings chosen from the optional list. The issues and critiques raised by these authors should inform what your project says and whom it addresses. Your project should also be grounded in one or two media examples. Choose wisely the examples that will best illustrate the ideas in your project.

2.- “Damn”

Your project should explain why the issues and problems raised by these authors are important. Questions that could guide the development of your project include, Which kinds of people have a stake in these issues? Who has power and who doesn’t, and how is this difference significant? Despite being media issues, why are these concerns relevant to society at large? Broadly, why does critical media theory matter?

3.- Who?

Your project should have a specific public in mind. Think about which set of people would benefit the most from learning about the issues you address. Is it high school teachers, local politicians, CEOs, college students…? There is no such thing as a “general audience.” In your final project, you should be able to articulate what audience you are hoping to reach, and what about the project makes the theoretical ideas accessible to them.

Timeline.

First, I have one-on-one meetings with students about their project. We discuss which area they have chosen, the two optional readings, a rationale for the type of project, and some ideas for media examples.

A 1-page prospectus is due in class two weeks later. It should include a summary of key ideas from the readings and a description of the examples they will use. It should also have a progress report: what they’ve done so far and what they’ve left to do. We devote the latter half of the class to discuss general issues that have come up, such as questions about the material, appropriateness of the media object, or time management.

The final project presentations occur during the last week of instruction. On the day of their presentation, students also turn in a 1000-word Critical Statement where they explain the importance of the project and the ideas gathered from the readings.