In this course, we think critically about the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of media forms (e.g. television programs, viral videos) and practices (e.g. sending text messages, participating in social media networks). In readings, screenings, written assignments, and discussions you develop a working knowledge of different intellectual traditions used to study media. From the very start, the course pushes past simplistic, binary assessments of media consumption as being either "good" or "bad." Instead, we survey the complicated routes through which media forms and practices inform people's understandings of themselves and the world around them. Organized into three units, the course aims to provide you with conceptual frames for 1) understanding the relationship between media and culture, 2) identifying how media make claims to represent truth and authenticity, and 3) comprehending the role of media in ideological conflict. Throughout the term, you are asked to question many ideas and beliefs that people take for granted: that media are "bad" for children, that some television programming is "realistic," or that we could ever exist outside the web of mediated communication that informs our day-to-day lives, even if we wanted to do just that. The overarching aim of the course is nuance - a deeper understanding of media, and a refined critical lens of assessing its role in contemporary life.