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Course Information

Instructor Info:Christopher Tinson
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Wednesday
06:00 PM - 09:00 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105

black arts kiss

In the 1970s artist Gil Scott Heron announced, "the revolution will not be televised." In the 1990s critic bell hooks observed a direct relationship between oppressive images via mass media and the maintenance of global white supremacy. And today, professor Jared Ball writes, "all that is popular is fraudulent." This course takes these perspectives into serious consideration while exploring the complex relationship between African Americans and the function of mass media in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Using an African American Studies interdisciplinary framework that incorporates political history as well as popular culture, this course begs the question of how media influences the perception of Black people in the U.S. and the world. Importantly, this course will also look at contemporary visionary efforts to challenge dominant stereotypic images of African Americans and communities of color in the media and their participation in current media justice efforts. FILMS & OTHER VISUAL/AUDIO MATERIALS WILL BE DISPLAYED AND VIEWED DURING OUR COURSE MEETINGS UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED. 

Course Objectives:

Distribution: Power, Community, and Social Justice (PCSJ)

Cumulative Skills: Independent Work, Multiple Cultural Perspectives, Writing and Research

N.B. For purposes of efficacy, any part of this syllabus may be changed at the discretion of the professor. For example, readings or viewings may be added, removed, or altered depending on the direction and pace of the course. Please bring your syllabus with you to each class in case changes are made.

Evaluation Criteria:

Course Particulars – Vital information Follows.

please Read carefully.


* Prof. Tinson’s philosophy of critical education: This course seeks to achieve a courageous vocabulary of race and social justice, as such active and informed dialogue is encouraged and appreciated (attacks are not). We encourage getting real about race, and offering comments that stem from critical engagement with the course readings. We should expect some discomfort at times, and anticipate that some issues will be left unresolved and require longer consideration. And lastly, critical thinking and reflection is valued over self-righteousness.


Attendance, Tardiness, and names—Attendance is critically important and therefore mandatory. You are expected to attend each class for the full length of the course meeting. Don’t disappear from the course even (or especially) when you are struggling with an issue. Persistent tardiness is unacceptable under any circumstances.  Your attendance and tardiness will be included as a part of the overall course participation portion of each student’s course evaluation or grade. I take course attendance through a simple sign-in sheet. 


Please indicate on the sign-in sheet how you would like to be addressed. Include any names and pronouns you would like for your cohort and I to use when addressing you. As I teach a large number of new students each semester, I ask that you be patient with me.  It may take me a couple of course meetings to become familiar with you, especially if we’ve never met before this course.  But, rest assured, I will make every effort to address you as you wish.  In class discussions I will answer to “Professor Tinson” or “Professor T”. I do not answer by my first name, nor do I answer to “Mr.”; doing so will only yield blank, slightly hostile stares from me. 


Email ETIQUETTE —Please type the course number CSI 216 in the subject line of all correspondence directed to me (I will do the same).  Also, please properly address and sign your emails. I do not answer emails that begin “Hey”, “Hey prof.,” “So”, “Yo”, etc., or those that begin without any address at all.  “Hi Prof. T.,” or “Dear Professor Tinson” are great email starters.


If you need an answer to a burning question or need to inform me of a pressing issue (e.g. a medical absence), do not wait until the last minute to notify me.  I need at least 24 hours lead time to answer you.  Plan accordingly.  However, I do not accept emailed assignments.


Course Evaluation Policy—In accordance with the student assessment practices of Hampshire College, each student will be evaluated based upon their course attendance and participation, and the fulfillment of all assignments in a satisfactory and timely manner.  (Non-Hampshire students see “Five College Students” next.)


Five College Students—Those who are not Hampshire students will receive a letter grade a conventional A-Fail grading scale instead of a written evaluation.  Each assignment will be graded accordingly, including the final project.  Please see me to confirm and arrange.


NO LAPTOPS. Unless otherwise noted, you are not allowed to use your laptop during course meetings.


TAKE NOTES. I expect you to leave this course with knowledge, not just an experience.




Course portfolios—All students are required to submit all of their written work at the end of the semester. If you do not hand your portfolio in by the deadline, you will be in danger of receiving a No EVAL.  No exceptions.  Work turned in late cannot be guaranteed an evaluation. 


SEVERE WEATHER & CLASS CANCELLATION (just in case): On severe weather days please call the College’s weather information line to check the status of school closing.  If the school is open plan to attend class.  If school is closed due to weather, I usually issue (via email) a small assignment to make up for lost class time; so don’t be surprised. J If for some reason the professor is unable to come to class the CSI administrative assistants will place a written notice of class cancellation on the classroom door. 


All Out-of-class assignments must be typed.  Handwritten out-of-class assignments will not be accepted. 


LATE ASSIGNMENTS AND REWRITE POLICY: Yes, students are allowed to rewrite their written/evaluated assignments.  All rewrites must be received no later than one week (or two class meetings) after the assignment was evaluated by the instructor and returned to the student. However, assignments turned in late cannot be revised for reconsideration. Late assignments will be evaluated and returned in the student’s final portfolio.


Student Participation: Students are required to read all assigned course readings, however students will also select (or be assigned) readings for which they will lead course discussions throughout the semesterHow? Lead discussants will provide the overall argument in the article or chapter; they will offer one or two (or more!) critical questions about the material for the class to discuss; and give their own view of what readers should take away or conclude from the article or chapter. Students are encouraged to think about the stakes of a given argument, its implications, and consider its implementation. Students should have their 1 single-spaced page of notes to turn-in to the professor at the conclusion of their discussion.




Students are required to write two (very) short reflective essays (one at the beginning of the course, and another at the end), two critical papers, one website review of a site of your choice, and one research paper throughout the semester. These essays are a chance for you to explore an idea and to demonstrate your understanding of the particular themes and concepts we have read, observed and discussed in the course.


critical essays should be no shorter than 5 full double-spaced pages in length and not longer than 7 pages.  In these essays you are expected to draw upon one or more of the aspects of the reading, film/video, musical, or literary contents that pertain to historical, social and or political developments concerning the controversy and debate concerning media representation, consumption,  specifically engaging the assigned course readings. 


Research Papers must be 12-15 pages in length on a subject of your choosing closely related to our course.  Additionally, it is essential that students use proper citation methods (Chicago or MLA) in the critical and research essays. If you don’t know what this means, now is a good time to find out. Though each assignment has its own due date, it is expected that all evaluated coursework will be collected and included in a portfolio to be turned in at the conclusion of the course.


  • Examples of Final essay topic or approved “project”


  • RESEARCH ESSAYS: Study the work of an author, critic, artist or collective of your choosing and compose an essay detailing their history and work and contribution to Africana media production or an issue therein.


  • PROJECT: Could be organizing a campus wide program containing a serious interactive activity; it might also be a creative project of your choosing such as a *radio segment, a visual art piece, a collection of poems, a high school lesson plan, a community arts project, a zine, a website, etc. All projects must also include a descriptive write-up detailing the ideas and strategies contained therein. 
Additional Info:

A few websites (throughout the semester these sites can serve as a resource for material to engage in your writing assignments. Ideally, you would take an article or two from one of these sites and place it in conversation with our assigned readings). But by no means do you need to use the ones listed below. These are just suggestions.


Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC)

Shadow & Act (Black Cinema)

Global Griot

The Feminist Wire