This is the home page for the Spring 2013 version of COM 327, “Critical Approaches to Communications Media.”

Some general information about the course…

Spring 2013
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45

Caldwell Hall, G108

Dr. Nicholas Taylor
Assistant Professor of Digital Media
Department of Communication, NCSU
Office: 225 Winston Hall
Office hours available upon request

Teaching assistant:
Emily McKeown
Office hours are 45 minutes after class, Tuesdays & Thursdays


“We drive into the future using only our rear view mirror” (Marshall McLuhan)

“Report: 90% of Waking Hours Spent Staring at Glowing Rectangles” (The Onion)

Communications media not only affect how we send and receive messages; they alter the ways we view, think about, talk about, and move through the world. They shape how we relate to, (mis)understand, and share experiences with each other. Media make us.

Building on the theoretical foundations developed in COM 250 and on the research methods surveyed in COM 240, COM 327 provides students in the Communication Media Concentration with more in-depth understandings of some important theories and perspectives developed in and for the critical analyses of media.

Throughout the course, we will engage with key critical approaches to communications media — including political economy, surveillance studies, cultural studies, feminism, queer theory, post-colonialism, and critical ethnography — in order to explore some of the defining characteristics of our technologically-mediated society. Throughout, we will explore what all these “critical” approaches have in common: each offers us ways of understanding how our experiences with communications media are shaped by institutions, policies, ideas, and interests that are often invisible to us in our day-to-day lives.

The course will include a combination of lecture, discussion of media clips and artifacts, and in-class activities carried out in small groups. Emphasis will be on the use of digital media as not just objects of critical analysis, but as tools for producing and sharing critical analyses.

The basic format of the course is by units: each unit focuses on a specific theme and uses a particular critical theory / approach to explore that theme.


By the end of the course, you should be capable of the following:

  • Identify and compare different critical approaches to communications media;
  • Have a greater appreciation for the role of media industries in shaping our everyday lives;
  • Be able to interpret (and appreciate) media texts, from games to film to tweets, using critical theoretical  perspectives;
  • Understand and articulate the communicational affordances and constraints of different media technologies;
  • Formulate and carry out your own ‘critical making’ project.


See the Coursework page for a description of the required assignments.

See the Schedule page for a day-by-day overview of the course and links to all the readings.

See the Toolkit page for a list of resources you might use in your Final Project.

Finally, the Policies page has the administrative details for the course.

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