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CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture


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Title: CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture

CMNS 320 Children, Media and Culture
  • Lectures Thurs 1230 - 320 WMC
  • Steve Kline
  • TA Masa
  • Course list

Todays Line Up
  • Review Objectives
  • Defining the Field
  • Introduce Course Pedagogy?
  • Topics
  • Assignments
  • Grading
  • Why Study Childrens Media/ Culture?
  • Over view of course perspective (my biases and
  • Cultural-historical Approach to Childrens
  • Critical Focus on Commercialization of Media
    Culture - formation of childrens cultural
  • Critical Reflection on Media Discourses
  • For the child - toys, books, films, TV shows,
    music, clothes
  • About the child/ family in films and TV

  • The course adopts a cultural-historical
    perspective on the development of children's
    media industries with an eye to contextualizing
    the critical debates about media-saturated
  • The course will direct itself to the following
    four objectives
  •  To provide a historical perspective on modern
    childhood tracing the emergence of the children's
    cultural industries (publishing, movies, radio,
    tv, toys, video games and the internet) and their
  • To introduce students to academic writing on
    children's media culture including policy issues
    and critiques of commercialized cultural
  • To overview and evaluate research into children's
    media use and its impact on children's lives
  •  To explore the key debates about media saturated
    childhood with an emphasis on consumerism and
    children's healthy lifestyles.

This course text provides a historical
perspective on the following key debates about
the role that communication media play in
childrens lives
  • The debates surrounding the development of
    childrens cultural industries and marketing
    (publishing, movies, radio, tv, toys, video games
    and the internet)
  • A variety of critical writing evaluating the
    quality of childrens media products and their
    aesthetics focusing on play and stories as the
    twin pillors of childrens culture
  • The research literatures on childrens
    audiences, tastes, competences and the
    consequences of their media use (violence, gender
    identity, addiction, learning)
  • The policy issues, debates and regulation
    emerging about childrens special status in the
    mediated marketplace (rights and restrictions)

Lecture Schedule
OTG Out of the Garden
Exercises Methods for study of children's media
Reading Log 15
Research Log 40 (cultural product review worth 10)
Participation 15
Cultural Research Project 25
Parsing the Course
Childrens Use of Media
  • The Child an rhetorical and legal abstraction
    pertaining to young peoples status in life lt 18
    (family, rights, education,for the sake of the
  • Gender, ethnicity, maturation
  • Childhood a cultural-historical construct which
    is ideological (ie childhood of the 1950s)
  • Children an abstraction about the experiences,
    competences and expressions of specific
    individuals (children who play violent video

  • Channels of Mediated Communication
  • Genres, Aesthetics and Culture Forms
  • Cultural Industries
  • Audiences and Market Segments

  • Discursive practices, institutions and social
    relations - context of socialization (sociology)
  • The creative products of the imagination - great
    works (literature and art criticism)
  • The daily experiences and behaviours of children
    (social psychology)
  • The myths, routines, roles and meanings that
    inform the performance of daily life
  • The ability of children to construct their own
    identity (cultural studies)

Pedagogy and Approach
  • Pedagogy
  • self reflection on own experience
  • critical analysis of examples and cases
  • learning by writing and doing research
  • option for video
  • Viewings to provoke the critical analysis of
    important cultural texts
  • Lectures to overview key debates, to analyze
    case examples and key research projects, and to
    provide a theoretical framework
  • Readings to be familiar with key writers and
    research traditions
  • Tutorials
  • encourage debate about ideas in the readings,
    films and lectures
  • To link readings with experience and observations
  • To help explain options for the practice of
    childrens cultural research

  • Reading Logs Critical Reflections on Readings,
    Lectures, Films
  • The log is submitted in lieu of an exam to show
    us that you have become acquainted with the
    field. Your log will be reviewed and evaluated at
    least twice during the term by the TA so it is
    important to keep up with the readings. The
    purpose of the reading log is to provide us with
    evidence of your active intellectual engagement
    with the course texts (which include readings,
    lectures, films and weekly exercises). In this
    regard, the films you see as well as the ideas
    presented in lectures and seminars are as much a
    part of the course texts as the readings.
  • A good reading log is not simply a set of notes
    showing us that you have read the material. It
    should also provide evidence of the mental work
    you do while reading, listening and watching,
    including your interpretations, critical
    reflections (evaluations) and ideational
    associations you make as you assimilate the
    theories, cases and evidence encountered on this
    course as you read, watch, listen to and
    discuss the course materials. We expect you to
    demonstrate that you understand and can define
    and paraphrase ideas/ arguments from these texts.
    We also expect you to provide a thoughtful
    commentary including situating these concepts in
    their cultural-historical context, explaining why
    you think they are relevant, providing other
    complex examples of these abstract concepts, as
    well as analyzing and evaluating arguments and
    assumptions. The application of a concept to a
    new example, or a refutation of it based on
    evidence or experience are strong evidence of
    active engagement. Remember your written
    comments and responses to these texts are
    intended to provide us with evidence of your
    critical reflections including your own
    understanding and analysis of these concepts/

  • Participation in Seminars
  • You will be evaluated both for your attendance
    and contribution to seminars. To this end the
    seminars on this course have two purposes. The
    first is to encourage you to discuss the ideas
    presented in the lectures, films and readings
    with the TA and fellow students. You are expected
    to have read all the core readings specified for
    the prior week and can bring examples or
    questions to the discussion. Each week students
    will be required to be the seminar leaders
    overviewing the additional reading material
    found in the folder. Students will be evaluated
    for their presentation and discussion of the
    reading in the seminar.
  • The other purpose of the seminars is to explore/
    apply in greater depth the key concepts, research
    approaches and arguments that are examined to
    this course. In order to focus these discussion
    we expect you to complete all the exercises
    listed below and be prepared to discuss your
    experiences and findings in the weekly seminars
    which follow the lecture. The exercise assigned
    for week 2 will be discussed in the seminar held
    in week 2. Each exercise should also be entered
    in the weekly log in note form for that week.
  • We very much advise you to keep up with the
    readings and exercises in your course logs.

What we expect
  • You will engage with childrens culture by
    reading, watching cartoons, playing with
    children, talking to children
  • You will draw upon your own childhood
  • You will read and take an active part in seminar
  • You will clarify your own perspectives and
  • You will learn to defend your own ideas and
    judgements about childrens media culture, its
    qualities and its effects on/ appeal to kids

Why study Childrens Media Culture?
  • For those who want to work in Childrens Cultural
  • Practical not only media education but
    childrens cultural industries/ marketing are
    expanding rapidly
  • J.J. Rowlings is richer than the Queen
  • Research into childrens taste, preferences and

Jobs that require you to know about childrens
  • Journalism Writing and Reviewing
  • Education teaching, libraries, policing
  • Marketing and retailing research, advertising,
  • Clinical psychology, advocacy and social work
  • Leisure industries, travel, sports
  • Media

Researching the Childrens Cultural Industries
Political economy production and consumption of
childrens culture Genre and Cultural Form
Historical and comparative critical analysis of
childrens media products Understanding
Authorship biography and inspiration of
creatives Policy and Impact regulation and
research in mediated marketplace
Animation is big business 2.6 billion
  • Lion King 504 mill
  • Incredibles70 million in one weekend
  • Polar Express23 M in opening weekend
  • Finding Nemo
  • Boxoffice865/ DVD324
  • Shrek 2 880 mill box ancillaries
  • Hasbros licensing of Marvel Characters205

For those who want to understand why Winnie the
Pooh is superior to Teletubbies?
  • Practical Parents and Teachers and the need for
    critical judgements on childrens culture
  • Some of the great works of cinema and literature
    are made for children
  • Critical writing and teaching about the
    childrens cultural products

Wonderland! Childrens creatives as pioneers of
the imagination
Production Stream -meeting after the Class!
J.M. Barry and Peter Pan
Alice Liddel and Charles Dodson
Some questions we will debate
  • What makes a story good to read?
  • What kinds of marketing is acceptable?
  • What do children learn in play?
  • What did children do before TV?
  • Havent boys always played war games?
  • Do Spice Girls empower tweens through fashion
    and music?

And write about Thomas?
For those in search of identity and
  • Personal Growth Childrens culture as a point of
    departure for self reflection on ones own
    history, cultural identity and taste
  • Maturation through reflection
  • The love of play and stories (resisting

The Child Within?
Liberating the Child Within? Or knowing where
your own tastes and values come from
For those who wish to study power and ideology in
contemporary culture
  • Theoretical Childhood is a site of ideological
    struggle family values and consumer
  • Political Children and democratization
    movements/ canaries in the coalmines

Biases of this course
  • Historical Perspective focus on change and
    continuity in the matrix of socialization ( the
    rise of the marketplace as an agency of
  • Social-Psychological - belief in the importance
    of play, stories and imagination in the childs
    healthy maturation and learning.
  • Consumer Culture - focus on consumer
    socialization and policy debates associated with
    the commericalization of media and the
    commodification of childrens culture
  • Critical - examine issues of morality, policy
    and politics associated with childrens rights
    and well being in a media saturated world

A Childs Festival of Greed or a chance to
research childrens consumerism in the mediated
Pilot Research Project
  • This pilot research project requires you to work
    in groups on some primary research either
    qualitative or quantitative using discourse
    analysis, surveys, interviews, focus groups, or
    ethnographic approaches. The main purpose of
    this pilot research project is undertake an
    empirical pilot investigation of one key issue/
    debate that has been identified in the course. A
    project requires you to 1) review what is known
    about the topic 2) to gather and analyse some
    evidence that relates to that topic 3) to
    explain the relevance of your finding to ongoing
    debates about children's cultural industries.
  • You are welcome to propose your own pilot
    research project or you can elect to work on one
    of the five theme questions outlined for this
    years class TBA.

(10) On-line Review of a childrens cultural
product (1000 words or less)
  • Although childrens books, toys and the latest
    blockbuster films are sometimes reviewed in the
    press, these are frequently part of the
    promotional spin. For this reason, this part of
    the assignment asks you to write an independent
    critical evaluation of a cultural product -- a
    toy, movie, video game, book etc.-- which might
    be useful to parents looking to make informed
    decisions about the merits, subject matter and
    appropriateness of the product. The assignment is
    first and foremost intended to get you reflecting
    on your evaluation of child appropriate
    judgements. Critical evaluation involves more
    than justifying your own taste by stating what
    you like and why you like it. It is also about
    you articulating your criteria for evaluating the
    qualities, experiences and values embedded in
    these cultural products for children by the
    childrens cultural industries that make them
    whether it be toys, TV shows, films or comics. In
    this sense the evaluation of a cultural product
    involves commentary on their design as objects
    for a purpose for communicating ideas and values,
    for educating and entertaining, or for supporting
    childrens maturation and adjustment. These
    reviews are intended to be read in the public
    domain as a resource which can be posted on the
    media lab website as an advisory to parents. The
    reviews should be submited as PDFs
  • Townsend, J. (1980). Standards of Criticism for
    Children's Literature. In Nancy Chambers (Ed.),
    The signal approach to children's books (pp.
    192-207). London Kestrel Books/Penguin.
  • Henri Giroux Are Disney Movies Good for Your
    kids? in S. Steinberg and J. Kincheloe (Eds.).
    Kinderculture The Corporate Construction of
    Childhood. (pp. 85-101). Boulder Westview

Assignment 1 Managing Freedom
  • Childrens leisure and cultural consumption
    stimulated a lively debate about growing up in
    the mediated marketplace. Analyze the system of
    family regulation you grew up with identifying
    the rules, rituals, and restrictions on your
    freedom, your leisure and your cultural
    consumption. What kinds of cultural activities
    were you required to undertake and what kinds
    were you restricted from.
  • Method involves reflection on your own family
    patterns of socialization (try looking at old
    photos what are you doing in them?)
  • Think about rules and expectations related to
  • media use (books, toys, music, TV, video games,
    comics )
  • allowances and spending
  • leisure time and activities
  • snacking and food consumption
  • How did these change with age?
  • Were they uniformly applied to siblings (gender,
    father mother)?
  • How were conflicts of taste and preference dealt
    with? How did you respond?

Assignment 2 Family Oral History
  • Is there a widening generation gap? Are there any
    major differences in childrens experiences today
    from yours? How do we understand changes in
    childrens culture?
  • Method Oral history Interview
  • Interview your parents (or better grandparents)
    about their own childhood experiences and
    culture what it was like when they were
    children. Ask them about the things they most
    liked to do, to play with, read watch and listen
    too etc in their leisure time. In what ways were
    their experiences similar to or different from
    yours. Are these just differences in general
  • Ask them about games and/ or leisure activities
    that they loved most -- and perhaps teach you
    about something that might otherwise be lost from
    their childrens culture -- a game, a joke, a
    trick, riddle or song etc.

Additional Refs.
  • Cross, G. (2004) Wondrous Innocence Print
    Advertising and the Origins of Permissive
    Childrearing in the US. Journal of Consumer
    Culture. 4(2) 183-202.
  • Zipes, J. (2001). Wanda Gags Americanization of
    the Grimms Fairy Tales. In J. Zipes, (Ed.).
    Sticks and stones the troublesome success of
    children's literature from Slovenly Peter to
    Harry Potter. (81-97). New York Routledge.
  • Jenkins, H.(1999). "No Matter How Small" The
    Democratic Imagination of Dr. Seuss. In M.
    Kinder. Kids' media culture (pp. 251-276).
    Durham Duke University Press.
  • Tolkein, J.R. (1964). Children and fairy
    stories. Tree and leaf (pp. 112-120). Boston
    Houghton Mifflin. Recommended
  • Valkenburg, P. and Cantor, J. (2000). Children's
    Likes and Dislikes of Entertainment Programs. In
    D. Zillman and P. Vorderer (Eds.). Media
    Entertainment The Psychology of Its Appeal. (pp.
    135-152). Mahwah Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Jordan, A. Schmitt, K, Woodard, E. Developmental
    Implications of Commercial Broadcasters
    Educational Offerings. In Calvert et al. (Ed.).
    Children in the Digital Age Praeger. Westport.
  • Mergen, B. (1995). Childrens Lore in School and
    Playgrounds. In B. Sutton-Smith et al. (Eds.).
    Childrens Folklore A Source Book. (pp.
    229-249). New York Garland Publishing Inc.
  • Media Awareness Network (2005), Canadian Children
    Go Online II. (on-line)
  • Cook and Kaiser Betwixt and Between Age
    Ambiguity and the sexualization of the female
    consuming subject. Journal of Consumer Culture.
  • Beresin, A. (1995). Double Dutch and Double
    Cameras Studying the Transmission of Culture in
    An Urban School Yard. In B. Sutton-Smith et al.
    Childrens Folklore A Source Book. (Eds.). (pp.
    75-91). New York Garland Publishing Inc.
  • Curry, D. (1999). Doing and Undoing The Everyday
    Experience of Subject-ivity. In D. Curry (Ed.).
    Girl Talk Adolescent Magazines and Their
    Readers. (pp. 207-246). Toronto University of
    Toronto Press.
  • Lemish et. al (2003) The Role of Media in
    Childrens Make Believe Worlds. Televizion No 16
    2003. (on-line)
  • Hobbs, R. 1999. The Seven Great Debates in the
    Media Literacy Movement EDRS. (on-line).
  • Kline, S. 2005 Countering Childrens Sedentary
    Lifestyles An Evaluative Study of a Media-Risk
    Education Childhood Vol. 12, No. 2 . (on-line)
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