Reading Media Imagery: Critical Thinking and Literacy

Dan Grano, Associate Professor of Communication Studies,  UNC Charlotte

This seminar will focus in the general area of media literacy, or, put another way, approaches to “reading” media texts. More specifically, we will imagine a focus on characteristics of media texts that are particularly prominent in contemporary culture, characteristics that should resonate with teachers and students in the classroom: symbolism, identity, and distribution. Breaking these down individually, a focus on symbolism would introduce basic understandings in communication studies about how words, phrases, visual images and other symbolic constructions come to mean within a cultural context; a focus on identity would allow us to discuss how media texts position us as viewers, what they tell us about ourselves, and the kinds of identities they tend to promote; and a focus on distribution would address the ways in which students (and all of the rest of us) encounter and interact with media texts (whether in “traditional” patterns on television or “viral” patterns of new media, for example). This introduction in these three basic areas would cover important bases for learning how to “read” media texts and how those reading practices might be discussed in the classroom. This seminar would be relevant for teachers who find themselves bringing media texts into the classroom, or who are interested in doing so.

Participating Fellows