COM 251-01 (11291) Introduction to Electronic Mass Media
Steven Alan Carr, Ph.D.
Course Syllabus
Fall 2005

Course Content and Goals

Building upon COM 250, which focuses on the history and structure of media industries, this course asks you to take mediated texts seriously.  You will learn established concepts and language to analyze form and structure in film, television, and other mediated formats.  You will demonstrate that you have thought about mediated texts seriously when discussing how a film or television program creates meaning.  Thus, the course objective is for you to demonstrate literacy in using established concepts and language to explain how form and structure operate in mediated texts to create meaning for audiences.

Prerequisites and Intended Audience

Although there are no prerequisites for this course, it is assumed that students have taken or are currently enrolled in COM 250 Mass Communication and Society. The intended audience consists of freshmen and sophomore Communication majors in the Media and Public degree track, as well as anyone seeking General Education credit in Area IV Humanistic Thought.


If you continue with this course, you agree to be responsible for all required assigned readings, including the DVD-ROM bundled with Film, Form, and Culture.  If you do not have access to a computer with a DVD-ROM drive, or you are unable to make arrangements to use the computers in NF B73, you will still be held responsible for all assigned material on the DVD-ROM.  No exceptions.  DVD drives have been installed in the NF B73 computer lab.  You are responsible for providing your own headset.

Course Requirements

The normal schedule for reading assignments will be between 30-60 pages per week. Consequently, one of your primary responsibilities will be to prepare for each weekÕs reading by completing assigned readings before TuesdayÕs class meeting. To that end, there will be fifteen (15) online quizzes worth 100 points each, due before class on the assigned date before 12 PM noon. In addition, your IPFW email address will be subscribed to a class listserv; you are responsible for checking that address, or arranging for forwarding email to another email address. You should check both your email and WebCT on a daily basis for important course announcements.  Working in teams of 5-7, you will propose, design, test, and evaluate ten (10) learning modules worth 100 points each due on the assigned date before 3 PM. You will take a midterm and a final. You will be required to write a final, argument driven paper analysis paper showing how you have taken a particular mediated text seriously. Finally, your participation will be assessed, primarily on the basis of what you do during the scheduled class meeting time, but in general on the basis of what you do as a stakeholder to help make this class a success.


No incompletes will be given for this course, except in extreme circumstances. If an extreme circumstance does arise, however, you are urged to notify the instructor and propose a workable solution as soon as possible. A workable solution in this case, of course, would include the possibility of an incomplete.  However, a request for an incomplete will only be granted only for assignments that have already been started.  Under no circumstances can a student do additional work after final grades have been submitted to raise his or her final grade.


It is expected that all work submitted is the original work prepared specifically for this course by the student whose name appears on it.


Fifteen (15) online quizzes worth 100 points each for a total of 1500 points will be available for a 24 hour window before the date of an assigned reading, and due before 12 PM noon on that date. You may use your textbook and notes, but you will have a maximum of 30 minutes to take each quiz.  Quizzes will consist of ten (10) multiple-choice questions.  You will take these quizzes online.  Once you open the quiz and see the questions, you must answer at least 6 questions correctly on that quiz in order to be eligible to retake it.  You may print off the quiz.  However, if you print a hard copy of the quiz to study with it and you do not complete the quiz within 30 minutes, you will receive a grade of zero and you will forfeit the opportunity for a retake.  If you score 60% or more on a quiz, but less than 100%, you will be able to access the questions, but you will not be able to distinguish between which questions were answered correctly and which were not.  Once you answer all questions correctly, the quiz will be removed and you no longer will be able to access it.  Any distribution of the questions and/or their answers, whether electronically or in hard copy, by one student to another will be treated as an instance of academic dishonesty and will result in an automatic grade of F for the course for all involved.


Ten (10) times throughout the semester, in-class teams will author, test, and evaluate a learning module (LM) and post the results on WebCT.  Learning modules must extend a significant concept relevant to the assigned reading for the week.  Each learning module should use resources already available on campus during regularly scheduled meeting times and be completed in less than 30 minutes.  Each team will have approximately 30 minutes of class time to develop any module.  However, teams are encouraged to develop their own workflow by generating and developing ideas in advance of this meeting.  The instructor will make WebCT resources available, including an online discussion forum for each team.  Each submission is worth 100 points for a total of 1000 points and is due before 3 PM on the assigned date. You will not receive written feedback from the instructor on these modules, unless specifically requested. Each module will be assessed on the basis of its substantiality, its relevance to the reading, and its feasibility.  Based on these criteria, modules will be assessed as excellent, satisfactory, or poor.  Only team members who earn 60 points or better on a module may revise and resubmit that module once it has been submitted.  Each module must include the names of all team members who participated.  It is each teamÕs responsibility to maintain the Honors System in accurately reporting the names of those who contributed to the project.


You will take a midterm and a non-comprehensive final. Both the midterm and final will build upon readings, questions that appear on the quizzes, on online discussion questions, and on issues raised in class discussion. Both the midterm and the final each will count 500 possible points toward your final grade.


You must write a final, argument-driven analysis paper worth 500 points.  This paper will be submitted in parts - including a proposal (100 points), a sample paragraph (100 points), a scene segmentation (100 points), and a final draft (200 points) - at various intervals throughout the semester.


Your participation is worth 1000 points or 20% toward your final grade. This participation will be assessed primarily, though not exclusively, on the basis of what you do during our scheduled class meetings. You will not receive feedback on your participation unless specifically requested. The burden of proof is on you to maintain detailed, accurate, and clearly presented records of your contributions to the success of the class. Although you are not required to do so, you are strongly encouraged to maintain evidence of these contributions throughout the semester. This data can include evidence of preparation (such as detailed, original notes), letters of support from other students, written self-evaluations of your performance, etc. Should a difference of opinion arise with regard to the level of your performance, you will be asked to produce these records upon request.  Failure to participate in class, regardless of attendance, will directly impact this portion of your grade.


Your final grade will be determined based on the following criteria:

Fifteen (15) Quizzes @ 100 pts ea

1500 points (30%)

Tue before noon (unless otherwise noted)

Ten (10) Learning Modules @ 100 pts ea

1000 points (20%)

Thu before 3 PM (unless otherwise noted)

Midterm Exam

500 points (10%)

Thu 6 Oct

Argument-Driven Analysis Paper

500 points (10%)

T 4 Oct; R 13 Oct; T 22 Nov; R 8 Dec

Final Exam

500 points (10%)

Thu 15 Dec 1-3 PM


1000 points (20%)



5000 points (100%)




(Above Average)


(Below Average, But Passable)






0 - 2999


Tentative Course Schedule





T 23 Aug

Course Introduction


Taking Mediated Texts Seriously

R 25 Aug

Media Criticism

Corrigan ch 1

Quiz 1

F 26 Aug

Last Day to Complete Online Student Agreement

T 30 Aug

Analyzing Form and Structure

Bordwell and Thompson; Corrigan ch 2

Quiz 2

R 1 Sep

Form and Structure

LM 1

T 6 Sep

Reality and Realism

Kolker ch 1; Sontag

Quiz 3

R 8 Sep

Reality and Realism

LM 2

Media as Industrial Art Form

T 13 Sep

The Moving Image as Art

Corrigan ch 3; Aristotle

Quiz 4

R 15 Sep

The Moving Image as Art

LM 3

U 18 Sep

Last Day to Withdraw with partial refund

T 20 Sep

The Rise of the Classical Hollywood Style

Kolker ch 2

Quiz 5

R 22 Sep

The Rise of the Classical Hollywood Style

LM 4

T 27 Sep

Television: Cultural Forum or Wasteland?

Newcomb and Hirsch; Gitlin

Quiz 6

R 29 Sep

Television: Cultural Forum or Wasteland?

LM 5

T 4 Oct

Rosh Hashanah – Reading Day

Analysis Paper Proposal and Abstract (due 3 PM)

R 6 Oct


T 11 Oct


R 13 Oct

Yom Kippur – Reading Day

Analysis Paper Sample Paragraph (due 3 PM)

Elements of Style for Moving Image

T 18 Oct

The Shot

Kolker ch 3

Quiz 7

R 20 Oct

The Shot

LM 6

T 25 Oct


Kolker DVD: Mise-en-Scene

Quiz 8

R 27 Oct


LM 7

F 28 Oct

Last Day to Withdraw (no refund)

T 1 Nov


Kolker DVD: Long Take, Lighting, and Camera

Quiz 9

R 3 Nov


LM 8

T 8 Nov


Kolker ch 4

Quiz 10

R 10 Nov


LM 9

T 15 Nov

Continuity Editing and Montage

Kolker DVD: Continuity Editing, Montage, and Point of View

Quizes 11

R 17 Nov

Continuity Editing and Montage

LM 10

T 22 Nov


Kolker DVD: Sound and Music

Quiz 12

Analysis Paper Scene Segmentation

R 24 Nov


Interpreting Authorship and Cultural Practice

T 29 Nov

Authorship in and Outside of the Studio System

Kolker chs 5-6

Quiz 13

R 1 Dec

Authorship in and Outside of the Studio System


T 6 Dec

Narratives, Genres, and National Cinemas

Kolker chs 8-9

Quizzes 14-15

R 8 Dec

Narratives, Genres, and National Cinemas / Conclusion

Analysis Paper Final Draft

All Retakes and Resubmits

R 15 Dec

Scheduled Final Exam 1-3 PM