As the title suggests, this course is about culture that appears in mass media. While at points during the course we will discuss other types of culture, our primary focus concerns mass or popular culture. This encompasses many types of texts, whether printed material, motion pictures, television programs, recorded and broadcast music, and online culture.

Each of these methods of communicating have been utilized for unique purposes, whether comedic or dramatic entertainment, political information and propaganda, advertising and public relations, or the transfer of a simple narrative.

To better understand how culture is conceived and understood, the instructor will discuss the history and context of these texts, methods scholars use to examine these materials, and theory relevant to the field of study. Students are expected to interact through analysis and discussion of the primary material presented in the classroom.

Student learning outcomes

Students who complete this course will learn:

  • The concept of culture and how it appears in the mass media
  • How to intelligently interpret popular culture
  • The history of popular culture in the United States
  • Basic theories of understanding and the effects of mass mediated culture
  • The classifications of culture – folk, high, mass, popular – and characteristics of these types
  • How popular culture is expressed in different artistic and communication formats (music, language, images)
  • How different groups express themselves through mediated, popular culture
  • Methods of cultural production and distribution
  • The processes and control of culture through legal and economic means

General Education status

This course satisfies a one-course requirement within Theme A: American Identities and Cultures. As such, there is a 2,500-word writing requirement that will be satisfied by Vista discussion board submissions throughout the semester.

Web-based instruction

This course requires you to have access to high-speed Internet access to listen to audio lectures as well as watch and listen to material online. Please make arrangements for accessing high-speed Internet -- the library is a good resource -- because this material is required.

Each week, there will be only one meeting, which occurs on Thursday. In lieu of the traditional Tuesday meeting period, there will be online material for student instruction. This material is linked on the course schedule weekly; it is labeled "online."

Required Web activities:

  1. Visit the course schedule at least twice weekly, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Material will be added to the existing schedule as we proceed.
  2. Watch, listen and think about material that is linked from the course schedule. You are responsible for material that appears beneath both the week and day headers.
  3. Listen to the audio lectures that appear on the page containing the day's lecture notes.
  4. Examine links that appear within lecture notes.
  5. Log on to the course Vista discussion board and contribute to the required subject matter. Also, you are required to read and react to your classmates' posts.

Books and materials

One book is required and is available at the bookstore and Amazon.com:

This book serve primarily as complements to in-class material; lectures will not recap course readings. During exam reviews I will briefly survey the most relevant material from the readings but students are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of these texts.

Throughout the course mass communications -- recorded music, motion pictures, documents, Web productions, television programs -- will be examined in the classroom. This material is also required. If you miss class it is your responsibility to watch, read or listen to the material presented during class time.


If you have a disability and require special accommodations, please see me after class to discuss possible arrangements.


Prof. Matt Blake
Tehama Hall 339
mdblake (at) csuchico.edu

Office hours

M 1-2, 5-6
T 5-6
W 1-3

I am usually around my office during late morning and throughout the afternoon. If my door is open -- it usually is -- you are encouraged to stop by with any questions or concerns.


Do not come to this class late. If you interrupt a lecture you will be asked to leave.

Do not speak above a whisper during lecture or the presentation of material in the classroom. Do not receive or answer text messages or phone calls in the classroom.

Plagiarism or cheating in this course will result in the student's course grade being an "F." 

If a test is not taken or presentation deadline not met, a doctor's note is required for an extension to be considered. Without a legitimate doctor's note, a missed exam will result in a grade of zero.

Dropping the class

You may drop classes via the Portal without restriction until the second week of class. After that date you must document (i.e. provide written evidence) a "serious and compelling reason" to drop and obtain the signature of the course instructor and the department chair on a Change of Program (COP) form.

After the fourth week of classes, the signature of the college dean is also required. After the fifth week, you will be required to pay the Records Office a $10 fee to process a COP form. For details, see the University Catalog .


Matthew Blake, CSU-Chico Department of Journalism