Assignment Due Date Weight
Bibliographic Source Sept. 22-Dec. 1, post on Slack before class (10 total) 20%
Media analysis of a controversy October 6 20%
Critical Reading Response November 3 25%
Keyword December 8 35%

Bibliographic Source
Each week, students are expected to read the required readings and locate one bibliographic source that is relevant to the weekly theme. Post the source (full citation) on the zone1001 Slack channel for that week.

1-bibliographic source, complete citation. 1-2 sentences that annotates the source (do not exceed 150 words)
Due: Post to Slack on the day of class.
Overall grade weight: 20%. Total: 10 citations.

Media news analysis of a controversy in critical information policy studies
Choose a specific controversy in critical information policy studies (yes, it can be one that we’re covering in class, or another current or past newsworthy item from the last decade) and write a short analysis of how it has been covered in the media using one distinct source. Your news source can be: traditional ‘legacy’ media (newspapers, magazines, television or radio broadcasts); news releases from governments or public interest groups; policy documents; alternative media sources such as independent magazines, radio or websites; expert blog posts, or other online forms of editorials and commentary.

In your analysis, you will:

  • Briefly describe the controversy
  • Describe how the issue is framed:
    How is the issue described? What is the overall narrative theme? Are there any assumptions or underlying stereotypes about how people, institutions, organizations, etc. are covered?
  • Is background material about the issue presented that aids to understand the overall issue? What kind of background material do you think would be important in order to provide context to the new story?
  • What are your news sources?
    Briefly, who owns the media source(s) you are looking at? Do they have an overall or assumed political or economic sentiment or slant?

: 500-750 words max., excluding reference.
Due: October 6
Overall grade weight: 20%

Critical Reading Response of One Weekly Theme
1000-1500 words maximum, excluding references

Students will choose one weekly theme of their choice and write a reading response that utilizes a selection of the required, non-required, and current controversy readings. A reading response demonstrates a student’s knowledge of the texts and provides a critical and formal reflection on the weekly theme, through individual and comparative analysis of the readings. While the readings must be summarized briefly, focus on the key arguments (thesis statements) of the readings. Respond directly to the readings, either agreeing or disagreeing with the arguments presented in the readings. Accurately quote and cite, but do not over-quote. You may provide examples from your personal experience, or examples from contemporary issues (media and policy) to bolster your arguments, if you wish.

Students may choose to respond to any weekly theme that most excites them, from Weeks 2-11. Students are thus encouraged to jump ahead to weekly themes in order to write their response.

1000-1500 words, excluding references
Due: November 3
Overall grade weight: 25

1001 Keywords
Students will each choose one unique keyword from a prepared list (or they may propose their own keyword with permission) and write a 1500 word (maximum!) entry about that keyword, along with 3-5 accompanying and relevant references. Keywords will be posted on zone1001.wordpress.com, the Slack channel, and will be discussed in class.

The concept of a keyword assignment derives from cultural theorist Raymond Williams, who in 1976 published his book, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987, rev. ed. 1983). As he wrote regarding the purpose of Keywords:

It is not a dictionary or glossary of a particular academic subject. It is not a series of footnotes to dictionary histories or definitions of a number of words. It is, rather, the record of an enquiry into a vocabulary: a shared body of words and meanings in our most general discussions, in English, of the practices and institutions which we group as culture and society. Every word which I included has at some time, in the course of some argument, virtually forced itself on my attention because the problems of its meanings seemed to me inextricably bound up with the problems it was being used to discuss. (p, 14, Kindle iPad edition)

Substitute knowledge and information in the above paragraph. In critical information policy studies, what is the vocabulary that we use and deploy? What are the available, developed, and often obscure meanings of the known words we routinely use in academic prose, policy documents, and in public discourse? How can we define and deconstruct this terminology so that we have a shared vocabulary for use in critical information policy studies?

As Williams wrote about his choice of keywords, “they are significant, binding words in certain activities and their interpretations; they are significant, indicative words in certain forms of thought. Certain uses bound together certain ways of seeing culture and society” (p.15). Again, substitute knowledge and information.

Keywords as a scholarly pursuit are burgeoning! I bring to your attention these two new books:

  • Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society & Culture, edited by Benjamin Peters, University of Princeton Press, 2016.
  • Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle, edited by Kelly Fritsch, Clare O’Connor, and AK Thompson. AK Press, 2016.

In this assignment, then, students will dig into their keyword, which may be a technical, theoretical or policy-specific term (or a combination of all), and consider the following, if applicable to your keyword:

  • How is the keyword recorded, used and analyzed in scholarly, policy and public debates?
  • How does the keyword open up and make us more conscious about issues and problems related to knowledge and information in society?
  • How does the keyword make explicit, or implicit, connections to new ways of discussing knowledge and information in society?
  • What are scholars or policy events associated with the use of the keyword?
  • What are key resources available for further exploration of the keyword?

The audience for the keyword assignments is your student colleagues. The keyword assignment is meant to be a reference tool for all students in 1001. Your entry should provide a launching point for any information studies student to explore an issue or topic in our field.

1500 words, excluding references
Due: December 8
Overall grade weight: 35%