TC512: THEOLOGY AND MEDIA CULTURE. Barry Taylor.
DESCRIPTION: The course will investigate visual media culture, with an emphasis
on both television and new social media, exploring the theological implications
of various forms of mass media upon culture, and in turn seek a theological
engagement with the diverse and varied contours of visual media. We live in an
age where television is acquiring a renewed influence upon society, and social
media networks such as Twitter and Facebook are transforming the way we relate
to each other in society. Cable networks, advances in media technology and
access are making television a prime location for cultural reflection and
SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: Since the middle of the twentieth century
television in particular, and visual media in general, have had an amazing
impact on our lives, bringing the world into our living rooms and forever
changing the way we view ourselves as human beings. As we entered the
twenty-first century a new wave of social media has begun to challenge the ways
in which we perceive our humanity and relate to each other. This class will
equip those seeking to engage contemporary culture, be it in a pastoral
ministry or social setting, by deepening our understanding of the nature of
visual media culture and its role in our lives.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Through examination and investigation of seminal television
shows and various aspects of social media, combined with an introduction to
visual media literacy, interactive discussion, and class lectures, students
will (1) gain a broad understanding of both the structure and social contexts
of visual media; (2) be equipped to engage theologically with the most
influential components of contemporary culture; (3) understand the ways in
which television and media culture influences and shapes our social
COURSE FORMAT: Classes will be divided between lecture and interactive
discussion, combined with multimedia approaches to understanding media culture.
The course will meet weekly for three-hour sessions.
REQUIRED READING AND VIEWING:
- Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media
Collide. NYU Press, 2008. ISBN: 0814742955. Pub. price $19.95
- Lynch, Gordon. Understanding Theology and Popular Culture.
Blackwell, 2004. ISBN: 1405117486. Pub.price $36.95.
- Lovink, Geert. Networks Without A Cause: A Critique of Social Media.
Polity, 2012. ISBN: 074564988 Pub. price $22.95
- McLuhan, Eric. The Essential McLuhan. Basic Books, 1996. ISBN:
0465019951. Pub. price $23.50.
- Mittel, Jason. Television and American Culture. Oxford University
press, 2009. ISBN: 0195306678. Pub. price $54.95
- * Viewing a selection of television shows and programs, spanning the
history of the medium, will be a required part of the curriculum (guidelines
for this will be presented in class).
- Bolz-Weber, Nadia. Salvation on the Small Screen: 24 Hours of
Christian Television. Seabury Books, 2008. ISBN: 1596270861. Pub.price
- Brewin, Kester. Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbor in a World of
Fractures. Hodder & Stoughton, 2010. ISBN: 0340996420. Pub.price
- Castells, Manuel. Communication Power. Oxford University Press,
2009. ISBN: 9780199567041. Pub.price $34.95.
- Detwieiler, Craig, and Barry Taylor. Matrix of Meanings: Finding Faith
in Pop Culture. Baker Academic, 2001. ISBN: 080102417. Pub.price $28.00.
- McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media Culture. Routledge, 2003.
ISBN: 041525549x. Pub.price $25.95.
- Shields, David. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. Knopf, 2010. ISBN:
0307273539. Pub.price $24.95.
- Zengotita, Thomas de. Mediated: How Media Shapes the World around
You. Bloomsbury, 2005. ISBN: 1596910321. Pub.price $14.95.
ASSIGNMENTS AND ASSESSMENT:
- Three two-page book reviews (35%).
- A viewing journal chronicling personal reflection and class-directed
responses to viewing material (30%)
- A twelve- to fifteen-page paper rooted in field research on one of the
television genres covered in the course. Papers will forge a theological
response to the research gathered. Students will study specific television
shows (guidelines will be given in class) and include a plan for a theological
presentation in their life and ministry (35%)
RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets the MACL in Integrative Studies requirement
for an interdisciplinary course (IDPL), and the MAT in Theology & Arts
format requirement in Integrative studies.
This ECD is a reliable guide to the course design but is subject to modification. (July 2012)