Assignment due Wednesday, July 23. (via email; No class)

July 17, 2008


I will be attending the UNITY journalists of color convention next week, so there will be no class on July 23.  Instead, I will be available for office hours on Monday 7/21 afternoon and Tuesday 7/22. If you need to ask questions about your final project,  please email me with a few proposed times to talk by phone on those 2 days. (I will be leaving town Thursday until late Sunday 7/20, so I will respond to email when I return.)

The next assignment is due Wednesday 7/23, during normal class time.  Please email me the next phase of reporting out your essay: That is a list of sources, online, in books, and a comprehensive news article search. This time I am requiring a clip search. You should have access to Nexis Lexis through the campus library. Please use that to compile a short list of the major coverage of your topic. If not the topic exactly, topics very analogous or similar. Please include this in a 1-2 page annotated source list for your subject. You should also include at the top of the piece, a revised budget line: one sentence explaining what the cultural trend is and what it means/whether it is a force for good or evil, etc.  

Please email me this information to my gmail account by Wednesday evening when we would have class.

I look forward to corresponding with you via email next week.

I’ll see you in class again on July 30. At that point, I’d like to see an outline and first draft of your essays for us to discuss in class. Please bring 4 copies. We will workshop those essays at that point. By the last day of class, August 6, we will discuss the final 3 readings, Hertzberg, DuBois, and Said.


Obama Caricature in the New Yorker

July 14, 2008


Obama New Yorker cover

Obama New Yorker cover

I am sure you have seen this already. But, I thought to pass it to you anyways. Hertzberg’s article along with the “offensive” satirical caricatur is very timely for our class this week.

 Adil Awadh


Also from me: The ranks of Cultural Critics dwindling

Best critics keep all of us honestBy Craig D. Lindsey, Staff Writer

Between 2006 and now, more than 30 film critics of all types all over the country have quit, retired, been laid off, accepted buyouts or been reassigned. With the myriad reports of print journalism going through an Internet-induced, ad revenue-depleted, downward spiral, critics of all forms of arts and leisure — movies, books, music, dance — have been among the first to get the ax.

So far this year, film critics have been exiting at an alarming rate. In March, veteran Newsweek critic David Ansen and New York Newsday critics Jan Stuart and Gene Seymour accepted buyouts, while the independent Village Voice’s Nathan Lee was laid off. In May, The Washington Post’s head critics, Stephen Hunter and Desson Thomson, accepted buyouts and left their positions.

It’s gotten so bad that Matt Zoller Seitz, respected critic for The New York Times and the man behind the online film-discussion blog “The House Next Door,” took himself out of the criticism game in April, opting to focus full-time on filmmaking. (His position at the Times has now been filled by Nathan Lee.)

Since I am, too, a film critic, this is an issue I treat with great concern. But not only because there’s a possibility I could lose my job. I’m also concerned that if print film critics are relieved of their duties — by those who think our opinions aren’t that important or are easily replaceable by another, less expensive writer somewhere else — the lack of serious discourse about film in the media will disappear as well.


July 10, 2008

Hello everyone. So there are few changes to the syllabus. Because I will be out on July 23 for the UNITY convention, we need to go ahead and get the topics for the final essays by next week. So by Wednesday, July 16, if you could have 3-4 ideas for the final project and we will spend much of the class pitching and discussing these ideas.

I would like for it to be an analyis of a cultural trend. It could be in the arts,  music, theater, visual art. It could be in food, fashion, language, technology, or otherwise. Basically anything that is a current movement that is impacting and affecting our culture.  Please a little bit of preliminary background work on each topic to be able to answer questions in class.

For next week, I’d also like you to read Hendrix Hertberg’s book, please read the Introduction, and Ch. 3 and Ch. 10. For Dubois Souls of Black Folks, I’d like you to read the introduction: Of Our Spiritual Srtiving, “Dawning of Freedom” and “Of the Sorrow Songs.” Please be prepared to discuss what DuBois theory of the veil and double-consciousness. Finally, if you could Check out Obama’s speech on race and be ready to talk about that as well


At this point I have not secured a guest lecturer for July 23, so you should plan to use that time to work on your final essays. That might change between now and Wednesday, but I’ll announce the plans by then either way.


Looking ahead, the final text that we will be discussing is Edward Said. Any readings that we did not get to that is listed on the syllabus, you may write an 800-word mini criticism of some aspect of the reading for extra credit.


Please feel free to contact me if anyone has any problems with any of this.


Thanks so much!



Readings for Wednesday, July 9

July 6, 2008

Hello. So I’m looking forward to reading your final drafts of your essays, due Wednesday.

I would also like you to be prepared to discuss Robert Warshaw, in addition to “Gangster as Tragic Hero,” you should read, “Clifford Odets, Poet of the Jewish Middle Class, and “The Idealism of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.” The other reading is by Dick Hebdige, “Subculture, Meaning of Style” Please still read, the Introduction as well as chapters 2, 4, and 7.

We will discuss the Dubois book to a later date.

I am also going to do some revisions to the schedule laid out in the syllabus to take us the rest of the way through the summer. Because I’d like us to focus on making the most of our time, I’m going to reduce the number of out of class written assignments to 2. So we will have this essay you’ve just written as well as the final essay.

The summer schedule is too scrunched for us to really do more than that. If there are any objections, please let me know!


Grammar workshops at GU–fyi

July 2, 2008
A message forwarded from the J School.
Dear Journalism Summer Faculty,
This summer the Journalism program is offering grammar and writing workshops on Thursday evenings.  The workshops are open to all of the Journalism and Public Relations students in the MPS programs.  They are scheduled for July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and August 7 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. 
The workshops will take place in classroom 202B at the 3307 M Street location.
We have notified the students, but please make this annoucement in your classes so the students can benefit from this. I would greatly appreciate it if you could emphasize to your students how important it is that they work on the quality of their writing.
If they would like to reserve a seat they will need to email Maggie Greaves. Contact the J school for the contact for Maggie.
Thank you,


Some notes on structure

June 27, 2008

Hi there. As promised, I am going to give you some suggestions on how to structure the essay for the first draft. I am going to figure out how to attach some examples.  

1– There are a variety of ways to open the piece. You could do an anecdotal lede, you could describe a scene, you could jump right into your argument. It is up to you and what makes the most sense for the subject.

2–Next, you MUST have a nutgraf. This is 1 -3 sentences giving an overview and or summary of your argument/analysis or question that you are proposing to explore in your piece.

3–After that, it is usually a good idea to step back an put this cultural phenomonenon into context. If there are similar current or historical examples of this phenomenon and how they are the same or different than what you are describing. A short contextual discussion this is where the info from your bibiolgraphy will come in.

4–This section is where you continue to explore more of the tension, controversy around your topic. If you have quotes from people arguing with you or against you, this would be the place to put it. You could also just expand the discussion of the specific subject here, and explore different facets of it.

5–Finally, you should think carefully about how to complete the essay, how to draw the conclusion. The last paragraph or sentence should either resolve or leave open the analysis of your topic in a really compelling and thoughtful way. The best cultural criticism pieces leave readers with a distinct taste that lingers logn after.

OK So I wasn’t able to figure out how to add the examples, but I’ll send them as an email.


July 2, 2008 Class Agenda

June 26, 2008

Hi there. Please have 4 COPIES of your 1st draft of essay #1 ready to turn in on Wednesday, July 2.

–We will be spending a majority of the class discussing and work-shopping your essays.

–Please aim for 800-1,000 words. This will also help to keep the essays short and tight.

–Please add citations, a few hyperlinks embedded in the Word documents itself. (In Microsoft Word, go the the menu, select “Insert” and hyperlink and you should be able to add the url.)

Next reading will be due July 9:

Dick Hebdige, “Subculture: The Meaning of Style,” chapters 2, 4 and 7:

W.E.B. Dubois, “Souls of Black Folk.”

Robert Warshaw, “The Immediate Experience” (“Gangster as Tragic Hero.”)

Warshow \

Another tip for getting story ideas: I recommend you sign up for a few RSS feeds for publications targeting topics you are interested in. This will help you keep track of current events, conversations and controversies swirling around the blogosphere, youtubeland, etc.

Wednesday, June 25 Class.

June 19, 2008

Hi everyone! I’m sorry that I kept you all so long last night. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing your ideas for the first assignment. And your enthusiasm for the ideas was truly inspiring I can’t wait to read them.

There are a few changes on the syllabus so here is the updated info. for what is due tomorrow.  

For Wed., June 25, please be prepared to discuss Robin Givhan’s Pulitzer catalogue and Valerie Steele’s book, chapters 4, 6 and 7. Please also add Susan Sontag, three essays: “Against Interpretation” (the title essay) “Notes on Style,” and “Notes on Camp.”

Secondly, instead of 1st draft, I would also like everyone to turn in a 1-2 page bibiliography/ source list of research you will be doing on the first essay. This is to make sure you become what Fernando called “Prophets of Context.” So that means any related Web sites, online groups, contemporary publications about the topics, so that you have a good idea of what is out there so that you can begin to zero in on your angle. So just a list of the sites, books, and other published material that will help you become more authoritative voice on your topic. At the top of this sheet, please state your essay in 1 sentence.

And finally, we will be wrapping up class a bit early to go to portfolio day for the journalism program. We will all walk together after class.

Thanks everyone! See you Wednesday!


Robin Givhan’s Pulitzer Collection 2006

June 11, 2008

Robin Givhan, Accepting the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Read Valerie Steele, Fetish.Introduction, chapters 4, 6 and 7.

Robin Givhan

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

WATCH her appearance on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

Read her Pulitzer catalogue, linked below. Be ready to discuss in class.

January 14, 2005: Clothes Make
The Sanctuary
January 28, 2005: Dick Cheney,
Dressing Down
February 13, 2005: J.Lo Beneath The Bling
February 25, 2005: Condoleezza Rice’s
Commanding Clothes
April 3, 2005: Dowdy Partner
May 20, 2005: Wookiee at Me! Clothes
Make the Myth
June 24, 2005 Oprah and the View From
Outside Hermes’ Paris Door
July 8, 2005: No False Moves In These
Sentencing Walks
July 22, 2005: An Image a Little Too
Carefully Coordinated
October 4, 2005: Rebels and Flourishes

Hello world!

June 11, 2008

Welcome to Cultural Criticism. 

I will use this space to post assignments,and for you to ask questions, and for you post your own articles.