Summer 2016 Oxford University, Trinity College

Class meetings: 10 am – 12:30 pm Monday and Wednesdays


Lynn Phillips, Ph.D.                                                   Erica Scharrer, Ph.D.                                                                      

Course description: In this seminar, we will explore the role of media (television, Internet, video games, film, etc.) in shaping the lives of children and teens in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other locations around the globe. We will consider how children make meaning of and navigate their complex relationships with media and consumer culture, as well as the implications of those relationships for children’s individual and collective well-being. We will draw on psychological, social, and cultural theory and research to examine a wide range of topics, including: the nature and politics of children’s programming; gendered toys and games; the sexualization and commodification of children in advertising; psychological, social, and familial impacts of marketing strategies aimed at children; depictions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in ads, programming, and fairy tales; cultural, environmental, and health consequences of childhood consumerism; the roles of various media in the construction of adolescent identity; and the possibilities of early media literacy, parental rules and dialogue, and public policies to shape children’s interactions with media.

Using the Oxford model of teaching and learning, intensive student preparation outside of class is expected, and a highly interactive classroom environment is encouraged. Because this is an honors seminar and a 4-credit course, students are expected to read and write extensively and critically. Students will read original research and other course content, propose their own research study, lead classroom discussions, and make class presentations.  Our classroom is a place for active learning through questioning (oneself, the professors, the course readings, and each other), offering insights and opinions, and learning from other students and from one’s own experience. While an understanding of the topics presented in class is, of course, vital to success in this course, students are also expected to broaden their understandings of media, childhood, culture, and related issues by grappling actively with ideas and weaving readings throughout our discussions.