Communications 410

International Mass Communications

Fall 2018

Instructor: Azeta Hatef

Mailbox: 115 Carnegie Building

Office Hours: By appointment


Course Summary:

How do we know what we know about the world? In what ways do we know? This course will explore these questions by examining our knowledge of international communications. We will study the global mass media and the ways they function culturally and politically. We will engage with class material that addresses how media industries, representations and images, and powerful national organizations that influence media and government are related to the culture in which we live.

Furthermore, we will think through and discuss alternatives to our “common sense” sensibilities in order to reflect on the larger implications of media practices, cultural beliefs, and our relationships with them. It is essential that we understand ourselves, identities, experiences, and representations beyond the borders that confine us. We also seek to answer: How do we understand our place, and the place of others, in relation to all that global media promises us?


Course Objectives:

·      This course aims at instilling in students critical thinking, writing and reflection skills as they engage with course readings and media texts about communications across the world.

·      They will learn key concepts in international communications in order to engage with these texts.

·      At the end of the class, students should be able to engage in contemporary debates on media systems, international communications and globalization.

·      Professionally, the class presents students with knowledge on international communication systems to facilitate their future work as international journalists, film critics, media producers among others.


Grading Breakdown:

Participation: 10% (40 points)

Reflection Essay: 5% (20 points)

Response Papers: 35% (140 points)

Group project: 5% (20 points)

Midterm: 20% (80 points)

Final Paper: 25% (100 points)

Total points for this course: 400


Grading Scale:

 A 94 and higher A- 90 - 93.99 B+87 - 89.99 B 83 - 86.99 B- 80 - 82.99 C+77 – 79.99 C 70 – 76.99 D 60 – 69.99 F 59.99 and below

Note about readings: There is no required textbook for this course. All readings are available on Canvas unless otherwise noted. The readings for each week can be found under the files tab in Canvas. We will be referring to the readings throughout the week, therefore, the student is expected to bring a copy (hard copy or digital copy) to each class and engage in discussion.

Class Participation: Participation includes engagement in class discussions on assigned reading content and lecture with classmates and instructor. Students should come to class prepared, having completed readings for the week by Monday of the week they are assigned. Class attendance is crucial to the student’s success in this course and will contribute to their participation grade.

Group Project:  Students will divide into small groups for current event projects. For this activity, groups will identify a current example related to the topic of discussion for the week. As a group, they will present a 15-20-minute presentation to the class tying the example to the week’s lecture and discussing the relevance and importance of the example. Groups will hand in write-ups along with their presentation. Further details will be given about the group project during class.

Response Papers: There will be seven short response papers due throughout the semester. The response papers will be based on weekly readings. Again, all readings need to be completed before class on Monday, so that we can have a dynamic discussion. Therefore, the response papers are due by 6:00pm on Sundays via Canvas. The response paper should be no longer than 600 words. The response will be graded on grammar/quality of writing and ability to explain concepts.

Mid-term Exam: The mid-term will be on Friday, October 26, 2018. The exam will cover content from the first nine weeks of class. There will be a midterm review session on October 24th. Students will receive more information on the exam later in the semester.

Final Paper: In lieu of a final in-class exam, students are required to complete a final paper at the end of the semester. The final paper will be due Monday December 10th (finals week) by 9:00am. Further details will be given on the final paper during class.



Late Policy: Students will have plenty of time to complete each assignment. Therefore, the instructor expects assignments to be handed in on time. Late assignments will not be accepted. For extenuating circumstances such as a medical emergency, death in the family, or religious observance, please contact the instructor in order to arrange plans for the assignment. 

Missed Class: Again, class attendance is crucial to the student’s success in this course. Students are fully responsible of keeping up with any material missed due to absences. The instructor is not responsible for providing this information and it is recommended that students contact classmates for information they may have missed. For excused absences such as religious observation or medical emergency, please inform the instructor of the absence as soon as possible.

Canvas: We will use Canvas in this course regularly for information, correspondence, and at times, the distribution of course-related materials. Checking Canvas daily for any updates is highly recommended. 

Email Policy: All emails to the instructor should be made via the Canvas site. Some devices may not support this function on Canvas. If that is the case, ensure emails to the instructor read COMM 419 in the subject line. Please follow email etiquette. Opening an email with “Hey” is probably not the best etiquette.

Academic Integrity: Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly and creative activity in an open, honest and responsible manner, free from fraud and deception, and is an educational objective of the College of Communications and the university. Cheating, including plagiarism, falsification of research data, using the same assignment for more than one class, turning in someone else's work, or passively allowing others to copy your work, will result in academic penalties at the discretion of the instructor, and may result in the grade of "XF' (failed for academic dishonesty) being put on your permanent transcript.  In serious cases it could also result in suspension or dismissal from the university. As students studying communication, you should understand and avoid plagiarism (presenting the work of others as your own). A discussion of plagiarism, with examples, can be found at:

The rules and policies regarding academic integrity should be reviewed by every student, and can be found online at: and in the College of Communications document, "Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures." Any student with a question about academic integrity or plagiarism is strongly encouraged to discuss it with his or her instructor.

Reporting Bias: Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, harassment, and/or incivility due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias website:

Students with Disabilities: Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, you may visit the Office for Disability Services (ODS) located in room 116 Boucke Building or by telephone at 814-863-1807. For further information regarding ODS, please visit their web site at  Instructors should be notified as early in the semester as possible regarding the need for reasonable academic adjustments.

Psychological Stress:

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, thinking about hurting yourself or others, or if you are thinking about committing suicide, please talk with a counselor or advisor who can help you. You are not alone and you can get help. If you feel that you are in crisis right now, please call one of the following hotline numbers or go to the emergency room at Mt. Nittany Medical Center.

·      Call 911

·      Centre County CAN HELP Line (1-800-643-5432) (24 hours, for students)

·      Community Help Centre (Formerly Wellspring, Inc.: 814-235-1890)

To make an appointment to talk with someone 9am-5pm, you might call Center for Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS: 814-863-0395). They are on campus and help students.

Personal Communication Devices: Use of cell phones, iPods, or any other personal communication devices or programs in the classroom during class time is strictly prohibited. You will be asked to leave for the day if you engage in such practices (this includes texting). Remember, attendance is part of the student’s participation in the classroom, so being asked to leave class will impact the student’s participation grade. Please be mindful and respectful to your classmates.  

The syllabus is subject to changes, and will be updated as needed during the course of the semester. Readings may be added or removed. Such information will be announced in class and emailed to students through Canvas.


Week 1 – Thinking Internationally

8/20 – Monday: Introduction to COMM 410

8/22 – Wednesday: Thinking internationally

8/24 – Friday: The dangers of a single story

Weekly Reading:

1.      Ore- Critical Thinking

2.     Sreberny, A (2009) The global and the local in international communications. In Durham & Kellner (Eds.). Media and cultural studies: Keyworks. John Wiley & Sons.

Due: Reflection Essay due Friday 8/24 by 10:00pm


Week 2 – History of International Communications  

8/27 – Monday: The historical context of international communication

8/29 – Wednesday: Rise of communication research

8/31 – Friday: Following the path of global communication

            Weekly Reading:

1.     Thussu- Chapter 1- The historical context of international communication

2.     Palmer- Following the path of global communication

Due: Response Paper #1 due by 6:00pm Sunday 8/26

Week 3 – Globalization & Propaganda 

9/3 – Monday: Labor day (No Class)

9/5 – Wednesday: Globalization [Form groups for class project]

9/7 – Friday: Propaganda and mass communication

Weekly Reading:

1.     McChesney (2001) Global Media, Neoliberalism, and imperialism. Monthly Review- New York 52(10), 1-19. 

2.     Bamford (2005) The man who sold the war  


Week 4 – Theories of International Communication

9/10 – Monday: Modernization

9/12 – Wednesday: Free flow of information & dependency theory

9/14 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 1 & 2)

Weekly Reading:

1.     Lerner, D. (1963). Toward a communication theory of modernization: A set of considerations. Center for International Studies, MIT.

2.     Oliveira, O. S. (1986). Satellite TV and dependency: An empirical approach. Gazette (Leiden, Netherlands)38(1), 127-145.

3.     Varis, T. (1984). The international flow of television programs. Journal of Communication34(1), 143-152.

Due: Response Paper #2 due by 6:00pm Sunday 9/9


Week 5 – Theories of the Press & Hegemony

9/17 – Monday: Theories of the press

9/19 – Wednesday: Hegemony

9/21 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 3 & 4)

Weekly Reading:

1.     Siebert, F. S. (1956). Four theories of the press: The authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility, and Soviet communist concepts of what the press should be and do. University of Illinois Press (pgs. 1-7).

2.     Lull, J. (2000). Media, communication, culture: A global approach. Columbia University Press.

Week 6 – Political Economy of International Communications  

9/24 – Monday: Introduction to the political economy of communication

9/26 – Wednesday: Media ownership

9/28 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 5 & 6)

  Weekly Reading:

1.     Mosco- Overview of the political economy of communication

2.     McChesney & Schiller- The political economy of communications

Due: Response Paper #3 due by 6:00pm Sunday 9/23


Week 7 – Cultural & Media Imperialism

10/1 – Monday: Disaster capitalism

10/3 – Wednesday: Cultural & media imperialism

10/5 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 7 & 8)

Weekly Reading:

1.     Klein- The rise of disaster capitalism

2.     Fejes, F. (1981). Media imperialism: An assessment. Media, Culture & Society3(3), 281-289.

3.     Chadha, K., & Kavoori, A. (2000). Media imperialism revisited: Some findings from the Asian case. Media, culture & society22(4), 415-432.

Due: Response Paper #4 due by 6:00pm Sunday 9/30


Week 8 – Media Accessibility

10/8 – Monday: Digital divide

10/10 – Wednesday: International digital divide

10/12 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 9 & 10)

  Weekly Reading:

1.     DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality’: Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton: Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 4(1), 4-2.

2.     Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New economy handbook, 2003, 821-839.


Week 9 – Post 9/11 Media Environment & The Politics of Representation

10/15 – Monday: War and media coverage 

10/17 – Wednesday: Media representations after 9/11

10/ 19 – Friday: Current event group project (Groups 11 & 12)

  Weekly Reading:

1.     Jasperson & El-Kikhia (2003) CNN and Al-Jazeera’s media coverage of America’s war in Afghanistan (pgs. 113-132).

2.     Stabile, C. A., & Kumar, D. (2005). Unveiling imperialism: media, gender and the war on Afghanistan. Media, Culture & Society27(5), 765-782.

Due: Response Paper #5 due by 6:00pm Sunday 10/14


Week 10 – Under Western Eyes

10/22 – Monday: Under western eyes

10/24 – Wednesday: Review for Midterm

10/26 – Friday: Midterm Exam   

Weekly Reading:

1.     Mohanty, C. T. (1988). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist review, (30), 61-88.


Week 11 – Global Media, Television, & Film

10/29 – Monday: Media imports and exports

10/31 – Wednesday: TV format as a global industry

11/2 – Friday: Post-imperialist era?

Weekly Reading:

1.     Gray, J. (2007). Imagining America: The Simpsons Go Global. Popular Communication, 5(2), 129-148.

2.     Chalaby, J. K. (2011). The making of an entertainment revolution: How the TV format trade became a global industry. European Journal of Communication26(4), 293-309.

3.     Schiller, H. I. (1991). Not yet the post-imperialist era. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 8(1), 13-28.


Week 12 – Citizen Journalism & Global Resistance

11/5 – Monday: Gatekeeping, agenda-setting, and media framing  

11/7 – Wednesday: Citizen journalism

11/9 – Friday: Hip hop as global resistance

Weekly Reading:

1.     Shoemaker, P. J. (1997). A new gatekeeping model. Social meanings of news: A text-reader, 57-62.

2.     Ali, S. R., & Fahmy, S. (2013). Gatekeeping and citizen journalism: The use of social media during the recent uprisings in Iran, Egypt, and Libya. Media, War & Conflict6(1), 55-69.

3.     Lee (2011) Hip Hop as Global Resistance 

Due: Response Paper #6 due by 6:00pm Sunday 11/4


Week 13 – Media & Social Movement                                                                                              

11/12 – Monday: (Social) Media as spaces of resistance

11/14 – Wednesday: Media & global movements

11/16 – Friday: In class activity

Weekly Reading:

1.     Fluri, J. (2006). Our website was revolutionary: Virtual spaces of representation and resistance. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies5(1), 89-111.

2.     Golkar, S. (2011). Liberation or suppression technologies? The Internet, the Green Movement and the regime in Iran. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society9(1), 50.

3.     Tufekci, Z. (2014). Social movements and governments in the digital age: Evaluating a complex landscape. Journal of International Affairs, 1-18.

Due: Response Paper #7 due by 6:00pm Sunday 11/11


Week 14: Thanksgiving break – No classes 11/18-11/24

Week 15 – Media Systems  

11/26 – Monday: Thinking comparatively

11/28 – Wednesday: What is a media system?

11/30 – Friday: US & Afghan media systems

Weekly Reading:

1.     Sreberny (2004) Society, culture and media: Thinking comparatively.

2.     McKenzie- Chapter 1

3.     Hatef, A. (2017). From under the veil to under the knife: women, cosmetic surgery, and the politics of choice in Afghanistan. Feminist Media Studies, 1-17.

Due: Reflection Essay #2 due by 10:00pm Friday 11/30


Week 16- Final Paper Presentation

12/3 – Monday: Final paper workshop

12/5 – Wednesday: Final paper workshop

12/7 – Friday: Final paper workshop


Final Paper Due: Final Paper submitted to Canvas by 9AM on Monday December 10th