NCSU Department of Communication

COM327::Critical Analysis of Communication Media
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva



Class schedule



Readings & resources


Contact information:
Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva
Assistant Professor
NCSU Department of Communication

Class meetings:
Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Winston 020

Winston 201K

Office hours:
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and by appointment.


Course Description:
This course critically analyzes new media as agents of change in cultural, social, and spatial infrastructures. By remembering that every media was once new, COM327 explores how the emergence of new interfaces change communication relationships, information dissemination, reading practices, and consequently the way we think about the world and ourselves. Within this context, this course focuses on expanding the meaning of traditional communication media, taking it beyond mass media, such as TV, radio, and even the fixed Internet, and re-thinking new media as mobile technologies, gaming, design, and media art. In order to accomplish this goal, it is critical to re-think old types of media as new media, as well as to create new concepts and new theories for new media. Having in mind that each media change carries old media meanings, but also creates new communication patterns, one must re-learn how to critically think about each new medium by taking into consideration its specific characteristics.

In summary, this course’s goals are to:

  1. understand communication media not only as the message transmitted, but also as the material interfaces in which the information is inscribed;
  2. explore how communication interfaces change social, cultural, and communication practices;
  3. expand the concept of communication media by defining and theorizing what new media is;
  4. perceive old media as new media.

In the first part of the course, we will study from a philosophical and historical perspective some main concepts necessary to understand new media, such as interface, information, virtual, and hypertext. A global understanding of these concepts will help us think how different information supports and material interfaces change modes of reading and social thought. The second part of the course is dedicated to exploring old forms of media as new media, with the goal to understand how specific media changes cause social, spatial, and cultural shifts. Lastly, we will look into current and emerging forms and practices of new media, bearing in mind that new types of interfaces also change our concept of communication media. How can we consider mobile technologies, gaming, and new media art as new media practices?


Catalog Description:
Theoretical frameworks, methods, and aims of various approaches to critical analysis of the media. Critiques of power over media production; social biases of informational, fictional, and hybrid media content; and historical forms of audiences and the public. Critical awareness of the media's effects in politics, public culture, and everyday life.


There will be weekly readings. You should expect to read about 60 pages a week, and write a brief summary/comment on each text you read. You are excused from writing your comment if you are presenting to the class. This is a reading-intensive course in which you will be asked to deal with material that is often quite challenging in its language and theoretical positions. You are responsible for not only reading all the material assigned to you, but engaging with it before class in a way that prepares you to participate in discussion. In order to do this, you will need to take careful reading notes and review your notes before each class.


Attendance and Participation:
Attendance is mandatory and required for a successful completion of the course. Unexcused absences will affect your grade directly, excused absences indirectly. Three unexcused absences will result in a reduction of the final grade by ½ letter grade (e.g., from A+ to A), four unexcused absences by 1 letter grade, and five or more unexcused absences will result in failing the course. Absences without the Professor’s prior permission are generally considered unexcused absences. Late arrivals are very disruptive for other students. Being late to class will count as one unexcused absence.

Absences are only considered as ‘excused’ with the Professor’s prior permission before the class meeting (accompanied by documentation). Students shall receive excused absences for a reasonable number of anticipated absences as well as for emergencies. For detailed information, please see: It is generally recommended to drop the course with more than three absences.

There will be a sign-up sheet for each class meeting; it is the students’ responsibility sign up in this list. The sign-up sheet is the basis to determine class attendance.

Every lecture and discussion from each class period will contain material covered on the tests and final exam. Consequently, you will need to be present in class, alert, and involved in order to grasp the material, ask questions about it when necessary, learn it, and pass the course. If you should miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and explanations from a classmate.

Participation entails not only attending the class but coming prepared having done all the readings, having made an honest attempt at understanding the author’s argument, and bringing reading notes and questions you’d like to ask.


Assignments will be evaluated based on their originality, their conceptual and content qualities, and the quality of your writing. All assignments must be completed in order to pass the course. Late assignments will reduce the grade by one step for each day (B+ will be reduced to a B).

You may not miss or make up an examination unless they have an official university excuse, as specified in , and in such cases they must provide a week’s notice in advance of the university-sanctioned absence.


Participation: 10%
Weekly reflections: 15%
Group presentation: 35%
Final paper: 40%

I will be grading on the University's A+/F scale, as follows:

  • 97-100 = A+
  • 93-97 = A
  • 90-92 = A-
  • 88-89 = B+
  • 83-87 = B
  • 80-82 = B-
  • 78-79 = C+
  • 73-77 = C
  • 70-72 = C-
  • 68-69 = D+
  • 63-67 = D
  • 60-62 = D-
  • below = F


Policy Statements

Statement of equal opportunity

All persons, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation shall have equal opportunity without harassment in Communication Department courses and programs. Any harassment or discrimination should be reported immediately to either the classroom instructor or the Department Head.


Statement on Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

NC State is subject to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 provides that:

“No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States… shall, solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This regulation includes students with hearing, visual, motor, or learning disabilities and states that colleges and universities must make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that academic requirements are not discriminatory. Modifications may require rescheduling classes from inaccessible to accessible buildings, providing access to auxiliary aids such as tape recorders, special lab equipment, or other services such as readers, note takers, or interpreters. It further requires that exams actually evaluate students’ progress and achievements rather than reflect their impaired skills. This may require oral or taped tests, readers, scribes, separate testing rooms, or extension of time limits.

Section 84.47 (b) of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 deals in particular with academic and vocational counseling. When advising disabled students, advisers should be careful not to guide them, because of their handicap, toward a more restrictive program or career than would be appropriate for a non disabled student. Factual information, such as licensing requirements, etc., that may present obstacles to disabled students should they decide to pursue a particular career or program, may be presented in an objective fashion.

Source: NC State Handbook on Advising and Teaching (


Statement of academic integrity and dishonesty

Academic integrity: “The free exchange of ideas depends on the participants’ trust that they will be given credit for their work. Everyone in an academic community must be responsible for acknowledging, using the methods accepted by the various academic disciplines, their use of others’ words and ideas. Since intellectual workers’ words and ideas constitute a kind of property, plagiarism is theft. (…) Plagiarism and cheating are attacks on the very foundation of academic life, and cannot be tolerated within universities.”

Academic dishonesty: “Academic dishonesty is the giving, taking, or presenting of information or material by a student that unethically or fraudulently aids oneself or another on any work which is to be considered in the determination of a grade or the completion of academic requirements or the enhancement of that student's record or academic career.

A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he or she:

  • Represents the work of others as your own;
  • Obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in a situation in which you are expected to perform independently;
  • Gives assistance to another individual in a situation in which that individual is expected to perform independently;
  • Offers false data in support of laboratory or field work.”

If you are in doubt regarding any matter relating to the standards of academic integrity in this course or on an assignment, consult with me before presenting the work. By submitting an assignment to be evaluated, you are certifying that you have not received unauthorized help on assignment.

Source: NCSU code of Student Conduct, approved by the Board of Trustees on 2/17/90. Please review the full text of the code on the web at