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Literature in the Media—Semester B

Comedy Central comes to class.

Think about your dream class. What would it involve? Watching TV? Screening movies? Playing video games? Well then, welcome to your dream class.

Semester B of Literature in the Media provides in-depth readings and interactive assignments that will knock your pop culture socks off. With 90 lessons worth of Common Core-aligned activities, you will

  • analyze advertisements for their rhetorical strategies the same way you'd analyze a great work of literature.
  • think about why comedy and the news are classic besties.
  • consider how the Internet has changed the way we read.
  • start to think of video games as a type of literature, ripe for analysis.

And we'll end the course with one final question: is reading still a thing?

This is the second semester of a two-semester course. You can find Semester A here.

Course Breakdown

Unit 7. TV and Advertising: Reading Between the Lies

There's no question that Americans are generally way more literate in TV-watching than in book-reading. In this unit, we'll think about the TV phenomenon along with advertising and commercials, which are starting to look more and more like little mini TV shows in themselves. That's right, folks: TV is the new reading.

Unit 8. Infotainment: Comedy, the News, and Everything In Between

It's time for the odd couple: comedy and the news. In this unit, you'll see just how much they have in common and how we can read them the same way we read literature. With maybe a few extra grains of salt, of course.

Unit 9. Movies and Music: Fame On!

Hollywood and pop music, together at last. In this unit, we'll swing back to movies before diving into music like you've never seen it. Finding the poetry in music isn't hard—it's figuring out what makes it sing that's the challenge.

Unit 10. The Internet: The (Anti?) Social Network

In this unit, we're going to dig into all the ways that our lives got flip-turned upside-down by the Internet and what it means to be constantly connected to other people through our computers—for better or worse. You thought the Internet was just for zombies, but it turns out we've got some big time analysis to do.

Unit 11. Video Games and Remixes: Audience Participation

It wouldn't be a media course without tackling video games and everyone's favorite: the remix. In this unit, you'll use your analysis skills to dig deep into these pop culture phenomena that you never thought you'd be studying in school.

Unit 12. Reading: Is It Still a Thing?

In this unit, we'll head all the way back to that thing we call reading, focusing on how things have changed in the Ebook world. And since this is the final unit of your course, you'll have a chance to show your chops with a culminating project that puts the multi—er, and the media—in multimedia.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 8: Behind the Ads

Now that we've got an iron-fisted kung-fu grip on the ideas behind television and visual media, we're going to take a sideways step into television's shadowy twin: advertising. Particularly of the television variety. After all, TV and commercials go hand-in-hand—in most cases, you can't have one without the other.

The subtext of this advertisement: don't sit in tingling chairs.

Ads are fascinating for a bunch of reasons:

  • Their shortness (usually about 30 seconds or fewer) forces them to get their message across really quickly.
  • They have to compete with other ads for the attention of people who may not be paying close attention.
  • They want to do one thing, above all else: sell you stuff.

So how do they pull it off, even though we know that's what they're trying to do? Our answer: with billions of dollars ($139.5 billion in 2012 alone), an almost omniscient understanding of what makes people desire stuff, and—maybe most importantly—a mastery of rhetoric, the art of convincing people with words and images.

In this lesson, we'll learn some of those rhetorical techniques. Tricked no more, we say!