Cross-Cultural Media

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS: In this class, both graduate and undergraduate students grapple with the question: What role does culture play when communicating with designed images in print and digital media? A critical component of the course’s curriculum is the development of the student’s cognizance of the target audience’s culture-based needs when communicating with images. By reading theory and criticism, analyzing existing media and evidence-based findings and proposing a hypothetical field study, graduate students gain an understanding of what constitutes cultural difference and how to engage in cross-cultural research appropriately and effectively. Whereas, by reading theory and criticism; analyzing media, market research and other evidence-based findings; and doing applied exercises undergraduate students gain an understanding of how to communicate across cultures appropriately and effectively.

COURSE TEXTS: The course schedule includes a complete list of required readings. Soft copies of all required readings are available via Rensselaer’s Learning Management System. Use your Rensselaer username and password to enter the system at lms.rpi.edu. Students who prefer to read hard copies of required readings, may print them from LMS or purchase the books (in their entirety) online via Amazon.com or an equivalent online commercial venue. Supplemental required readings may be scheduled throughout the term as needed.

LEARNING OUTCOMES AND ASSESSMENT MEASURES: Upon completion of this course, graduate students will be able to develop a research project that uses fieldwork to gather data from human subjects in an ethical manner; whereas, undergraduate students will be able to manage a design project from conception to production within a limited timeframe. Both graduate and undergraduate students will be able to:

  • Define culture and communicate understanding of its varied components of difference including but not limited to: age, race, ethnicity, religion and language.
  • Use semiotics as an analytical framework to interpret designed images across print and digital media.

I will evaluate you on your ability to achieve these outcomes by assessing your progress on the following milestones:

MILESTONE 1 (G + UG): Write a paper, 10-12 pages (G) | 4 to 8 pages (UG) in which you define the word “culture” and either explain all of its varied components of difference (e.g. gender, race/ethnicity, language, religion, etc…) or focus on one component (e.g. gender). You may choose a paradigm of culture not represented in the course schedule (e.g. fan culture, gaming culture, violence, LGBT culture, youth, food, economic class, etc…). If you choose to write about a new paradigm, you will be opting for more work since you’ll need to compile your own bibliography of books. I am happy to assist in compiling an appropriate reading and media list if you come to see me during office hours. Use Microsoft Word, double-spaced, Georgia or Verdana font, 12 points, 1 inch margins. Include your name, date, title of paper, and page numbers.

MILESTONE 2

  • Graduates: Write an IRB proposal to conduct user research on a topic related to culture from a cross-cultural perspective. Use the template available via the IRB webpage of Rensselaer’s main rpi.edu site. Check the schedule for due dates for preliminary drafts of the IRB proposal and the CITI Certificate exam. See: http://www.rpi.edu/research/office/irb/index.html and http://www.rpi.edu/research/office/irb/training.html 
  • Undergraduates: Design your paper into a visually stunning hand made, hard bound book that contains the following interior sections in this order:
    • Blank Page
    • Title page: Include the title of the book only.
    • Title page: Include the title of the book, author (your name), publisher’s name and logo (make something up); on the back include copyright information: First line: Copyright [copyright symbol] by author’s name. All rights reserved.); Second line: Published by [name of publisher, city, state]; Third line: Printed in the United States of America
    • Dedication page
    • Table of contents: Separate the contents of the book into sections. These sections should be based on those used in your paper. For instance, you might use the different components of cultural difference (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, etc…) as different sections for the book.
    • Acknowledgements
    • Introduction
    • Body of book: Visually translate the paper you wrote into visually stunning spreads that are unpredictable, readable and visually appealing. Use the following as a guide: James Craig, Designing with Type: The Essential Guide to Typography (New York: Watson Guptill Publications, 1971), 82. (See LMS “Book design and binding resources”)
    • Colophon: A statement at the end of the book that tells the reader details about the production of the book including the name of the font, its designer and anything special about the book’s production process or materials that you’d like to share with the reader.
    • For the cover you will need the following materials: Your book’s cover designed on a 10” x 18 3/4” piece of quality paper or book cloth; pencil; ruler; exacto knife; 12” x 18” cutting board; acid-free adhesive for bookmaking; bone folder; heavy book or other weight for flattening completed book; two cover boards 7.5 x 7.5 inches; one board for spine. For your convenience, the “Shizen Bookmaking Kit” includes spine and cover boards pre-cut to the exact size that you will need. You can purchase this kit online via Blicks or Amazon or locally at Arlene’s in Albany. If you purchase the ‘value pack’ you will receive two sets of the aforementioned materials. Then, you can use one for practice in class and the other for your final book. The cover of the book should include a title for the book and your name. Typographic-only book covers are strongly encouraged. The spine of the book should include the title of the book, the author’s last name, and the publisher logo. You may use Lulu for printing your book. However, be aware that you’ll have to allot 2 to 3 three weeks prior to the final class for printing and shipping. Specifications: 116 pages, 29 sheets of paper, 7.5 x 7.5 inches.

MILESTONE 3 (G + UG): Reflect on the required reading visually and verbally–in writing and orally in class and in your sketchbooks (UG) | journals (G). Sketchbooks must be neat and aesthetic. Label each page with a date and number. Label each entry and include a table of contents.

  • Written reflections: Write a 3 to 5 sentence summary of each required reading prior to the class in which it is discussed. Second, include a quote from the reading that resonates with you and explain why in a sentence or two. Write one or two questions inspired by the reading?
  • Oral reflections: Constructively critique the creative work of peers and professionals. Be prepared to participate professionally in group discussions of readings.
  • Visual reflections: See the course schedule for specific instructions for visual reflections. Document all visual reflections in your sketchbooks or journals.

MILESTONE 4: Attend class and be prepared to participate thoughtfully, respectfully, and according to the guidelines in the course schedule. You will exceed expectations for this milestone when you attend and participate in all class sessions or have one absence. You will meet expectations for this milestone with 2-3 absences. You will fail to meet expectations for this milestone with four or more absences. Being late 3 times by 15 minutes or over will constitute an unexcused absence. Leaving early or taking a break from class for more than 15 minutes will also constitute an unexcused absence.

GRADING: On Milestones 1-3 you will be evaluated according to how well you follow a given set of criteria for what constitutes good design. For each assignment you will receive an “E (Exceeds expectations)” based on how well you follow the relevant conventions missing no more than 2 from each relevant category. Otherwise you will earn an “M (Meets expectations)”. If you fail to submit your assignment then you will earn an “F (Fails to meet expectations).” If you receive an “F”or an “M” on Milestones 1-3, you can revise and resubmit as many times as you desire, up until the last day of class, for a better grade.

YOU WILL EARN AN “A” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 1-4.

YOU WILL EARN AN “A-” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestones 1-3 and meet expectations for Milestone 4.

YOU WILL EARN A “B+” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 4 and exceed expectations for two of the remaining three Milestones (1-3), meeting expectations for the remaining milestone.

YOU WILL EARN A “B” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestone 4 and exceed expectations for one of the remaining three Milestones (1-3), meeting expectations for the remaining two milestones.

YOU WILL EARN A “B-” in the course if you exceed expectations for Milestones 4 and meet expectations for Milestones 1-3.

YOU WILL EARN A “C+” in the course if you meet expectations for Milestones 1-4.

YOU WILL EARN A “C” in the course if you exceed or meet expectations for Milestones 4 but fail to meet expectations for one of the remaining Milestones 1-3, meeting expectations for the remaining two milestones.

YOU WILL EARN A “C-” in the course if you exceed or meet expectations for Milestones 4 but fail to meet expectations for two of the remaining Milestones 1-3, meeting expectations for the remaining milestone.

YOU WILL EARN A “D” in the course if you fail to meet expectations for Milestones 1-3 and exceed or meet expectations for Milestone 4.

YOU WILL EARN AN “F” in the course if you fail to meet expectations for Milestone 4. Please note that I am required to give you an EWS for excessive latenesses, absences, or poor quality work.

If you have questions about your grade at any time during the semester, please contact me immediately by email.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: You must complete written assignments with the industry-standard software application for word-processing (Microsoft Word). Undergraduate students must complete visual assignments with the industry-standard software application for drawing (Adobe Illustrator). Visit: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud/buying-guide-education.html to pay for a cloud subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite. The suite of software applications are also available in Sage 4510, Vast Lab (Sage 2411), and the VCC in the evening and weekends and when class is not in session. You are expected to have the technical skills necessary to complete the coursework. Advanced instruction on how to use any design software application will not be provided during class time. If you require more training beyond the basic training provided in class  you may opt to pay a discounted subscription for software training tutorials via Lynda.com. Bring your laptop to every class if the course is not situated in a computer lab.

COURSE TEXTS: The course schedule includes a complete list of required readings. Soft copies of all required readings are available via the course website. Students who prefer to read hard copies of required readings, may print them from the course website or purchase the books online via Amazon.com or an equivalent online commercial venue. Supplemental required readings may be scheduled throughout the term as needed.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Student–teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, you must trust that I have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the course; and, I must trust that the assignments that you turn in are your own. Acts that violate this trust undermine the educational process. The Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities defines various forms of academic dishonesty and you should make yourself familiar with these. In this class, all assignments that you turn in for a grade must represent your own work. Submission of any assignment that is plagiarized or otherwise in violation of this policy will result in a penalty of failure of the course.