GEND 2166 Syllabus

Women, Media and Representation

Wednesdays 12:30-3:20

The body has always occupied a central place in the Western imagination and images of women, in particular, have long been a part of our everyday world. In this course, we will consider the different ways in which women have been represented through various media. In studying popular representations of women we will pay close attention to the ways in which women are differentially represented along lines of race, class, sexuality and age. We will review contemporary cultural theories of representation, tools for creating critical cultural analysis, as well as recent debates in feminist media studies, with a specific focus on postfeminist media culture. This course may be credited towards Film and English Studies (Group 2) and a Major in Fine Arts (Art History and Visual Studies stream.)

Instructor: Dr. Wendy Peters
Office: A310 (above the small cafeteria)
Phone: 474-3450 ext. 4889
Fall 2016 office hours: Tuesdays 2:30-3:20 – or by appointment

Texts: Five of the readings are available online and the other five are in Gail Dines & Jean M. Humez (2015) Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.). If you already own this book, please use it. If you do not own it, you will need to purchase these readings at Print Plus. Weekly readings are required and should be completed before class. All materials including images and screenings are considered testable material.

Marking scheme
Attendance & participation 15%
Take-home midterm 25%–Due: March 2 2016
Research essay 30%–Due: April 13 2016
Take home test final 30%–Due: by or before April 19 2016 at noon

Late penalties will be applied in this class. No assignment will be accepted after the due date without prior permission from the instructor. Extensions will be considered only in advance of the deadline and under truly exceptional circumstances. All assignments must be submitted at the beginning of class or they will be considered late. Any assignments submitted after the beginning of class will be penalized 10% per day, for up to 5 days, after which time assignments will not be accepted. Assignments will not be accepted by email.

All term work must be submitted by April 19, 2016, except with written permission of the Dean of Arts and Science.

Students with a range of learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability / health consideration that may require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office as soon as possible. The Disability Services staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.

Students are permitted to use laptop computers only for taking notes from the lectures. Playing games, surfing the internet, checking e-mail, instant messaging, watching videos or listening to music are not permitted during class time. If you are disrupting other students with this kind of laptop activity, you will be asked to turn off your laptop.

January 20 2016
Welcome and Introduction

In class screening: Codes of Gender (2009) 73 min., P96.S5 C6 2009

January 27 2016
Critical Media Studies

Lind, R. A. (2010). Laying a Foundation for Studying race, gender, and the media. In R.A. Lind (Ed.), Race / Gender / Media: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-11). Boston, MA: Pearson. Click here for pdf: laying a foundation for studying race, gender and the media

key concepts: social science media research; critical media / cultural studies; production; content; race; gender; ethnicity; social construction of identities and reality; symbolic annihilation; intersectionality; discourse; ideology; critical analysis

February 3 2016
“Inventing the Cosmo Girl”

Oullette, L. (1999 / 2015). Inventing the Cosmo Girl: Class Identity and Girl-Style American Dreams. In G. Dines & J.M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 258-270). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

key concepts: discourse; the economic context that gave rise to the Cosmo girl; cultural capital; constructing “raced” and “classed” femininities; class climbing vs. class leveling

February 10 2016
Postfeminist Media Culture

Gill, R. (2012). Postfeminist Media Culture: Elements of a Sensibility. In M.C. Kearney (Ed.), The Gender and Media Reader (pp. 136-148). New York, NY: Routledge. Click here for pdf: post feminist media culture

key concepts: postfeminist sensibility; centrality of women’s bodies; sexual objectification vs. active and desiring subjects; sex-positive vs. anti-sex; discourses of choice, autonomy and empowerment; self-surveillance of the body and self; disciplining women’s bodies; makeovers; essentializing sexual difference; ironic sexism; neoliberalism

The take-home midterm will be distributed at the end of class today. Click here for pdf: GEND 2166 Midterm

February 17 2016 – Reading Week 

February 24 2016
Constructing and Instructing Gendered Heterosexual Subjectivities

Farvid, P. & Braun, V. (2014). The “Sassy woman” and the “Performing man:” Heterosexual casual sex advice and the (re)constitution of gendered subjectivities. Feminist Media Studies, 14 (1): 118-134. Read online via Nipissing e-journals:

key concepts: constructing and instructing gendered heterosexual subjectivities; self-help; essentializing sexual difference; the social construction of casual heterosexual sex; discourse analysis; the “strategic” and “performing” man; the “sassy” and “vulnerable” woman

March 2 2016 
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty


Murray, D.P. (2012 / 2015). Branding “Real” Social Change in Dove’s Campaign for Beauty. In G. Dines & J.M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 285-296). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

key concepts: postfeminist citizenship; cause branding; neoliberal; linking consumption and self-governance in the service of “the goals of institutional power” (287); appropriation / co-optation of subcultural signs; “commodity feminism”

March 9 2016
International Women’s Week: Missing / Murdered Women

Gilchrist, K. (2010). “Newsworthy” Victims: Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women. Feminist Media Studies, 10 (4): 373-390.

Screening: Highway of Tears (2014), 1h 19 min

key concepts: newsworthiness; constructing daily news; racial bias; “good” women and “bad” women; the “girl next door;” hierarchy of female victims—worthy / unworthy; symbolic annihilation

March 16 2016
Indigenizing Girl Power

Gonick, M. (2010). Indigenizing girl power. Feminist Media Studies, 10 (3): 305-319. Read online via Nipissing e-journals:

“The film is based on the book The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. Ihimaera was inspired to write the book in 1985 while living in an apartment in New York overlooking the Hudson River. ‘I heard helicopters whirling around and the ships in the river using all their sirens – a whale had come up the Hudson River and was spouting,’ Ihimaera recalls. ‘It made me think of my home town, Whangara and the whale mythology of that area.’ Ihimaera had taken his daughters to a number of action movies. They asked him why in all of those movies the boy was the hero and the girl was always the one who was helpless. ‘So I decided to write a novel in which the girl is the hero and I finished The Whale Rider in three weeks’” (

Screening: Whale Rider (2002), 1h 41 minutes, PN1997.W444 2002

key concepts: decolonizing the screen; agency; “girl power;” Western constructions of Others as “backwards” and patriarchal in comparison to the West (p. 311); more than an individual hero—“her community is renewed through her actions” (p. 316); media and cultural survival

March 23 2016
“Good” Celebrity Mothers

Shome, R. (2011 / 2015). “Global Motherhood:” The Transnational Intimacies of White Femininity. In G. Dines & J.M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 108-117). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

key concepts: representations of “global motherhood;” whiteness; “Madonna / Child”

March 30 2016
“Bad” Rich Mothers

Lee, M.J. & Moscowitz, L. (2012 / 2015). The “Rich Bitch:” Class and Gender on the Real Housewives of New York City. In G. Dines & J.M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 143-156). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

key concepts: postfeminist; the “rich bitch;” irony; class; cultural capital; hegemonic motherhood; mother-blaming

April 6 2016
Female Celebrity, Ageing and the Gossip Industry


Fairclough, K. (2012 / 2015). Nothing Less Than Perfect: Female Celebrity, Ageing, and Hyper-Scrutiny in the Gossip Industry. In G. Dines & J.M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader (4th ed.) (pp. 297-305). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

key concepts: postfeminist; neoliberal; sexual objectification; gender and “age appropriateness;” ageing and the female body; to “deride and revere the processes of surgical transformation” (300); “the gruesome;” “the desperate;” “the sanctioned”

April 13 2016
Use the class time to work on your take-home test — due on or before Tuesday April 19, 2016 at noon.


Attendance & participation 15%
Attendance will be taken in class each week. Late entries, as well as early exits, are disruptive, and often result in the missing of important information. Participation includes, but is not limited to, contributing one’s own insights or ideas to class. It also entails respectful listening and a commitment to involving others in the learning process. You are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the day’s readings. Verbal participation in class should be relevant and connected to the readings for the week.

As per the Nipissing University attendance policy students whose absences exceed 20% of the total number of classes will be excluded from writing the exam: “Punctual and regular attendance is essential for the successful completion of a course. When absenteeism exceeds 20%, the student may be excluded from writing the final examination. If an instructor would like to exclude a student from writing a final examination, the Dean and the student must be notified in writing at least two weeks prior to the exam. Students who wish to appeal this decision may appeal to the Dean” (Accessed on December 31, 2014 at

Take-home midterm 25% Due March 2 2016
The take-home midterm will be distributed in class on February 10 2016. It will be a combination of short answer and essay questions based on the film Codes of Gender and the following four readings: Lind; Oullette, Gill; and Farvid and Braun.

Research essay 30% Due April 13 2016
Students are asked to choose a media text and create an original critical textual analysis that draws extensively on the course readings (minimum of three) and incorporates one academic journal article (not from the course readings). In addition to the required textual analysis, you may research the series’ audience, ratings, history, production, marketing and scheduling. The essay should be a minimum of 6 pages and a maximum of 7 pages. This minimum and maximum do not include the bibliography or a title page (optional). Please use a recognized style: APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago. 

Take home test final 30% Due by or before April 19 2016 at noon
The final take home test will focus on the materials covered in the final six weeks of classes: Murray; Gilchrist; Gonick; Shome; Lee and Moscowitz; and Fairclough. The final take home test will be a combination of short answer and essay questions.

Important notes for written assignments
– On the title page please include your name and always keep a copy of your paper in print or computer file.
– All assignments must be double-spaced, in 12 point font (not a fancy font please), with1 inch margins and page numbers.
– Remember to provide a title, preferably one that highlights your thesis or central concerns.
– Avoid lengthy, overly general introduction; state your intentions concisely and engagingly.
– Each paragraph is to be a unit of thought and should develop an idea.
– Provide transition between topics. Your essay should have continuity; it should “hang together.”
– Support or illustrate your assertions; be as specific and precise as possible.
– Quoted materials (see “plagiarism” below) belong in quotation marks and a page number should be supplied. See syllabus for APA references for readings in the course reader. Use a style guide for references and be consistent. Ideas or passages that are paraphrased (written in your own words) also need to be referenced.
– Avoid over-use of quoted materials. Passages that are quoted need to be contextualized and require comments that directly forward your own argument.
– You may use the word “I” in your work for this class, but your claims must be supported by peer-reviewed academic citations.
– Proofread to avoid errors of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

 Academic Integrity
Plagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious offences. It is your responsibility to be familiar with Nipissing’s policies on academic dishonesty:

Any instances of students plagiarizing or cheating will be dealt with according to this policy.

Statement of what grades mean

80-100% indicates EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE: comprehensive in-depth knowledge of the principles and materials treated in the course, fluency in communicating that knowledge and independence in applying material and principles.

70-79% indicates GOOD PERFORMANCE: thorough understanding of the breadth of materials and principles treated in the course and ability to apply and communicate that understanding effectively.

60-69% indicates SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE: basic understanding of the breadth of principles and material treated in the course and an ability to apply and communicate that understanding competently.

50-59% indicates MINIMALLY COMPETENT PERFORMANCE: adequate understanding of most principles and materials treated in the course, but with significant weakness in some areas and in the ability to apply and communicate that understanding.

0- 49% indicates FAILURE: inadequate or fragmentary knowledge of the principles and materials treated in the course or a failure to complete the work required in the course”

Faculty handbook, “Final Grades:”