Black Femininities & Masculinities in the US Media

Course Code
AAS 2224
Lisa Shutt

This course will address the role the media has played in creating images and understandings of “Blackness” in the United States, particularly where it converges with popular ideologies about gender. Concentrating on media texts that have influenced and ‘set the stage’ for today’s media, we will primarily examine media texts from the 1970s through the first decade of the 21st century. We will explore how different media, including feature films, popular television, documentaries, television, and print news media create categories of race and gender in different ways for (different) Americans – each medium encapsulating its own markers of legitimacy and expertise – each negotiating its own ideas of authorship and audience. We will concentrate on the particular ways various media produce, display, and disseminate information; in particular, we will be analyzing cultural texts, the cultural environment in which they have been produced, and the audience reception of those texts. Finally, we will ask what responsibilities those who create and circulate information have – and whether or not the consuming/viewing public shares in any sort of responsibility. This class will enable students to cultivate theoretical tools and critical perspectives to analyze and question the influence of the popular media that saturate our lives.