Examples of Comps Questions
Concepts of Race and Ethnicity: Discuss: a) Marxist scholarship on race, ethnicity & class; b) how it can be/has been extended and applied to the American case from the 19th century-forward (e.g., Bonacich's "Theory of Ethnic Antagonism"); and c) the critiques of these Marxist theories and a delineation of competing theories. Conclude: d) with what kinds of challenges the Marxist race concept faces in the global and/or domestic environment of the 21st century. Sample essay (in a take-home exam format).
Audience Theory: Raymond Williams famously wrote, "There are in fact no masses; only ways of seeing people as masses [or audiences]." Why is it necessary to "construct" an understanding of audiences? Is it possible to escape the constructed nature of our understanding of audiences? What is gained and what is lost in creating these constructions? How do some of these constructions reflect the interest or priorties of the various stakeholders (scholarly or lay stakeholders) that create them? In what ways do you recommend that audience researchers be mindful of these constructions as they design and then carry out their studies? Readings; Sample essay.
Conditions of Queer Visibility: A familiar arc to the story of queer media visibility posits a change over close to 50 years (from the early 60s) from symbolic annihilation to conditional visibility. Is that an adquate frame? What does it describe and explain and, what, if anything, does it leave out or obscure? How might you trouble or complicate that art, drawing on the key terms from your reading lists (otherness, normalcy, deviance; sex and space; market formations; grassroots visibility)? Readings; Sample essay.
Media Technology, Identity and Community: Write a response in which you discuss how the authors from your reading list understand the relation between postmodernism and communication technologies. How is postmodernity/communication technologies related to the changes in notions of identity or self? If time permits, provide some critiques of early discussions of postmodern notions of self, either by you or by recent authors who write from postcolonial theory or political economy insights. In your discussion, use readings by authors such as Baudrillard, Jameson, Jenkins, Lyotard, McRobbie, Poster, Turkle, and Gergen. Readings; Sample essay.
Qualitative Inquiry Tradition and Its Challenges in ICT Research: Reflect on how scholars who do qualitative research online or in new media environments have provided a fresh look at some of the fundamental assumptions or issues that we face in implementing qualitative methods. These issues might include questions of ethics, both substantive and procedural; how we define field site, access, and rapport; what criteria we use to judge the validity of qualitative research; and what issues are involved in "writing culture." Address these issues (and others not mentioned if you think they are important) in an essay that puts the readings on your list into a productive dialogue. Readings; Sample essay.
Sexuality and Community: Despite a virtuous and often celebratory reputation, the idea of "sexual community" is layered, uneven, sometimes empirically adequate, other times mythical. Drawing from your bibliography materials, please prepare an essay about the different ways "sexual community" has been imagined and found, and how it might be partly reconceptualized. (Are there circumstances, e.g., when we can see the idea of "community" operating as a regime [or discourse of regulation] alongside its familiar "positive" value?). Readings; Sample essay not available.