Women in the Media Reading List

So, I am teaching a totally new to me class this fall- Women in the Media- and designing it from scratch.  Here’s my vision for it: 

Women in the Media explores the representation of women across television, film, magazines and newspapers, advertising, music, and the internet, looking at how media creates and challenges stereotypes, and creates ideas of difference.  We will consider issues of authorship, spectatorship, and the ways in which various media content enables, facilities, and challenges social constructions and examine how gender affects the production of media. 

 Specifically, we will… 

  • Interpret, critique, and analyze the representations of women in media   
  • reflect upon the work of women within these industries  
  • explore how media shapes our attitudes and identities
  • analyze the treatment of women’s issues in media  
  • develop our ability as thinkers, creators, and interpreters of meaning
  • investigate the role of activism in challenging media and our possible roles within that activism
  • enhance our critical thinking skills and our writing skills through comprehensive discussions and intensive writing assignments 

I’ve spent the summer dreaming all of this up and choosing the reading materials and since people are often interested in what we’re reading in class, I thought I’d share the final selections here (don’t worry, my students don’t have to buy this number of books.  We’re reading excerpts from most of them that will be on reserve in the library for them). 

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

The World Has Curves: The Global Quest for the Perfect Body by Julia Savacool

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body by Courtney E. Martin

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Pozner

30-Second Seduction: How Advertisers Lure Women Through Flattery, Flirtation, and Manipulation by Andrea Gardner

Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel by Jean Kilbourne

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media by Susan J. Douglas

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Have any book suggestions for future body image classes, for the Women and the Media class I am now putting together, or for blog readers?  Hope you’ll leave them here!

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10 responses to “Women in the Media Reading List”

  1. JL @ Stop Chasing Skinny

    This is a fantastic list! I can take your class virtually! :) I’ve read (and loved) The Beauty Myth but just downloaded The World has Curves to my Kindle. Anxious to dive into it!

  2. Carrie

    Thanks for the reading list! I’m checking them all out and will be adding many/most/all to my “to be read” shelf. Maybe during the course you can have another twitter party…one with your students, and those of us who are interested in the topic can witness and/or participate to learn a bit more through that dialogue.

  3. Kip DeForest

    Rosie…check out “Women’s Reality” by Anne Wilson-Schaef (http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Wilson-Schaef/e/B001H6RZ90/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0).

    I read it in college (’91) and really got a lot out of it…unfortunately, I think I just donated my copy with a bunch of other books as I was trying to reduce my bulging library!

    Sadly, I can’t remember a lot of details on this, but it may be worth a look!

    Your class looks great! Wish I could sit in!

  4. Kate

    I want to be a part of the class! I’ll be purchasing several of these soon. Thanks for the list, Rosie. Your students are so lucky to have you!

  5. Jennifer L. Pozner

    Thanks for including Reality Bites Back in your list. Will they be reading the whole book, or if just excerpts, which chapter(s)? I ask because I would love for your students to engage with some of the critical analysis re. gender and race, some of the overarching discussion of media economics and the influence of advertising and product placement, and then move on to the “what we can do” piece, which takes them beyond content analysis to critical media literacy and media activism. I know that whole books aren’t always taught, and I completely understand that. But if there are ways for your students to get a little of each of those topic areas, that’d be great. If your students have questions, they can contact me through http://www.realitybitesbackbook.com

    You can also find articles about women and news media in my archives on Women In Media & News’s website ( http://www.wimnonline.org ), essays by many of our bloggers at WIMN’s Voices ( http://www.wimnonline.org/WIMNsVoicesBlog ), and my archives from back when I was the women’s desk director at FAIR, and Laura Flanders’ pieces when she held that post before me, and several of Janine Jackson’s pieces for them as well ( http://www.fair.org).

    Additional books — a bit older, but extremely relevant, especially for an understanding that the issues we’re currently struggle with have historical relevance (and are slow to change):

    * Real Majority, Media Minority by Laura Flanders
    * Backlash by Susan Faludi
    * A variety of books on women and media policy by Carolyn Byerly
    * If you want international perspectives, you should check out the work of Ammu Joseph from India, Maria Suarez Toro in Costa Rica, and others (let me know if you’d like more international references)

    You may also want to check in with fellow profs who teach courses on women and the media, including Jamii Claibourne in Iowa, Melanie Klein in California, Shira Tarrant in California, Jennifer Smith in Tacoma, Washington, and profs who include media in their gender and race studies courses, such as Melissa Harris Perry (formerly Princeton, now New Orleans).

    Please let me know how the class goes.

  6. Jennifer L. Pozner

    PS: Forgot to mention, if you think your school would be interested in an event on these issues, let’s talk. ( See: http://www.realitybitesbackbook.com/lectures-workshops/ and http://www.wimnonline.org/analysis/lectures.html )

  7. Jennifer L. Pozner

    Honored that you’re assigning the whole book! (And I’m sure my publisher will be happy, too. When you write a book extremely critical of corporate media, you don’t usually expect to get a lot of corporate media attention — meaning that courses like yours are the way the book will stay alive in the long term.) I just noticed another commenter above suggested a Twitter party for the course. That’s a great idea. I can’t promise I’ll be available on the day or days you choose to have it, but if you want to coordinate with me in advance, if it would be at all helpful for your students, I’d be happy to join for an hour or two on Twitter some time in the fall. @jennpozner is my handle there. What’s yours?

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