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Fall 2008 CMNS 320-4

Children, Media and Culture

Instructor: Dr. Stephen Kline

Office: TASC2 7460
Phone: 778.782.4793
Office Hours: Mondays 10:30-12

Teaching Assistant: Masayuki Iwase

Office: K7652 (Kids Media Cultures Lab)
Phone: 778.782.7291
Office Hours: Mondays 14:00-16:00 or by appointment

 Seminar: Every Wednesday 13:30-15:20 at WMC 3510

 Tutorials: 10:30-11:20; 11:30-12:20; 15:30-16:20 at TASC2 7460

Lecture Topics, Readings, Exercises, Films & Assignments

Week 1
September 3: Introduction: Why Study Kids’ Culture

Course Website:

Week 2
September 10: History, Childhood and the Matrix of Socialization

Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Chapter 2: The making of children’s culture. In Out of the garden”
toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.

Additional Reading
• Schor, J. B. (2004). Chapter 2: The changing world of children’s consumption. In
Born to Buy. New York: Scribner.

Exercise # 1: Lifestyle regulation:

• Children’s leisure and cultural consumption stimulated a lively debate about growing
up in the mediated marketplace. Analyze the system of family regulation you grew

up with identifying the rules, rituals, and restrictions on your freedom, your leisure
and your cultural consumption. What kinds of cultural activities were you required to
undertake and what kinds were you restricted from.
o Method: introspective reflexion involves examining your own family
patterns of socialization (try looking at old photos… what are you doing in
o Think about rules and expectations related to:
 media use (books, toys, music, TV, video games, comics …)
 allowances and spending
 leisure time and activities
 snacking and food consumption
o How did these change with age?
o Were they uniformly applied to siblings (gender, father mother)?
o How were conflicts of taste and preference dealt with? How did you

• The End of Childhood (1994)

Week 3
September 17: Childhood in Crisis: Mediated Markets & Cultural
Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Chapter 1: Communication analysis for the age of marketing. In Out
of the garden” toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK:
Additional Reading
• Pugh, A. J. (2004). Windfall child rearing: Low-income care and consumption.
Journal of Consumer Culture, 4(2), 229-249.

Exercise # 2: Oral History of Leisure

• Is there a widening generation gap? Are there any major differences in children’s
experiences today from yours? How do we understand changes in children’s culture?
o Interview with your parents (or better grandparents) about their own
childhood experiences and culture – what it was like when they were
o Ask them about the things they most liked to do, to play with, read watch
and listen too etc in their leisure time. In what ways were their experiences
similar to or different from yours. Are these just differences in general
o Ask them about games and/ or leisure activities that they loved most -- and
perhaps teach you about something that might otherwise be lost from their
children’s culture -- a game, a joke, a trick, riddle or song etc.

Exercise-Related Reading
• Mergen, B. (1995). Children’s lore in school and playgrounds. In B. Sutton-Smith et
al. (Eds), Children’s folklore: A source book (pp. 229-249). New York: Garland
Publishing Inc.

• My Little Sunshine (2006)

Week 4
September 24: Play, Games and Culture: Playgrounds

Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Chapter 5: Marketing toys to children and youth. In Out of the
garden” toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK:

Exercise # 3: Play Values: Observing the Meaning-Making Associated with Play

• Brian Sutton Smith defines play as a form of paradox communication. Watch children
on the playground or playing games or indoors with their toys

Exercise-Related Reading
• Beresin, A. (1995). Double Dutch and double cameras: Studying the transmission of
culture in an urban schoolyard. In B. Sutton-Smith et al. (Eds), Children’s folklore: A
source book (pp. 229-249). New York: Garland Publishing Inc.

• Small Soldiers (1999)

Week 5
October 1: Books, Literacy and Schooling: The Classics

Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Page 77-97. In Out of the garden” toys, TV, and children’s culture
in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.

Additional Reading
• Jenkins, H. (1999). No matter how small: The democratic imagination of Dr. Seuss.
In M. Kinder (Ed.), Kids’ media culture (pp. 251-276). Durham: Duke University
• Tolkein, J. R. (1964). Children and fairy stories. In Tree and leaf (pp. 112-120).
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Finding Neverland (2004)

Week 6
October 8: TV and the Mass Culture: Educating or Entertaining?

Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Page 97-118. In Out of the garden” toys, TV, and children’s culture
in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.

Additional Reading
• Valkenburg, P., Cantor, J. (2000). Children’s likes and dislikes of entertainment
programs. In D. Zillman and P. Vorderrer (Eds.), Media entertainment: Psychology of
its appeal (pp. 135-152). Mahwah, NJ: Lowrence Erlbaum.

Exercise # 4: Defending Quality: Analyzing Media for Children.

• The idea of ‘quality’ has all but disappeared from contemporary reviews of popular
culture, except when it comes to children’s culture. Although children’s books, toys
and the latest blockbuster films are sometimes reviewed, these are frequently part of
the promotional spin to make parents want to buy them. To help them guide their
children parents, appreciate reviews of children’s works that go beyond the
expressions of personal taste. Critical analysis of children’s cultural works are
therefore intended to make teachers, parents, libraries and publishers more informed
about the ‘quality’ of cultural products that exist in the market. With this in mind, this
assignment asks you to write an independent critical evaluation of a cultural product
which might be useful to parents looking to make decisions about the merits, subject
matter and appropriateness of the product.
o Your task is to choose a film, toy, video game, TV show or DVD and
write a review (1000 words max) that might help parents make choices
based on your assessment of the quality of the work. By a children’s
cultural product we mean any commodity which is designed for and sold
to children – from a My Scene Barbie to the animated film Polar Express
or the Tofu’s. Your review should provide a useful synopsis of the story
(or game), its themes, scope and characters, but also illustrate those
special qualities that you think makes it generally good to read, watch or
play with (or to critique it as bad). You should also comment on the
aesthetics and design, the themes and values it communicates to children,
its potential value in educating and entertaining them, or for supporting
their maturation and adjustment. It is also about you articulating your
criteria for evaluating the qualities and values embedded in these cultural
products and communicated to children. Since children are constantly
maturing you might discuss the age, gender and values appropriateness of
the work.
o But most of all, the assignment is intended to get you writing critically
about a cultural artifact for children. The point is articulate your judgments

based on identifying what makes the work interesting, informative or
enjoyable for children. You might also wish to comment on the genre
within which this work falls: what are the key similarities and differences
between it and its competitors or forebears. It is also important to ‘situate’
and ‘contextualize’ the work by comparing it to others, or by commenting
on the writers, producers and the companies who created the work. What
is their track record? How much did they invest? etc. Background
information might be especially relevant if you are doing a ‘bad’ review –
ie the reasons you would not recommend it. You must do more than state
your own taste or attitudes.
o These reviews are written to be read in the ‘public domain’ by a lay reader
-- a resource which could be posted on the media lab website providing
guidance to parents. The reviews should be submitted as PDF’s.

Exercise-Related Reading
• Jordan, A. B., K. L. Schmitt., Woodard, E. H. (2002). Ch. 8: Developmental
implications of commercial broadcasters’ educational offerings. In S. L. Calvert, A.
B. Jordan, and R. R. Cocking (Eds.), Children in the digital age: Influence of
electronic media on development (pp. 145-182). Westport, CT: Praeger.

• Sesame, Teletubbies, Chicken Run

Week 7
October 15: Comics and Films: The Globalization of Taste: Contamination of
Folk Cultures or Hybrid Culture?
Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Page 118-141. In Out of the garden” toys, TV, and children’s
culture in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.

Additional Reading
• Moon, H., Aidman, A., Lemish, D., Götz, M. (2003). The role of media in children’s
make-believe worlds: A cultural comparison of Germany, Israel, the USA and South
Korea. Retrieved September 1, 2008, from http://www.mediaculture-
• Zipes, J. (2001). Wanda gag’s Americanization of the grimm’s fairy tales. In J. Zipes
(Ed.), Sticks and Stones: The troublesome success of children’s literature from
Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter (pp. 81-97). New York: Routledge
• Allison, A. (2004). Cuteness as Japan’s millennial product. In J. Tobin (Ed.),
Pikachu’s global adventure: The rise and fall of Pokemon (pp. 34-49). Durham: Duke
University Press.

• Pokemon (1999- )

• Hayao Miyazaki’s Japanese animation films (Introduced by TA Masa)
• The Sweater (1980)



Week 8
October 22: Marketing to Kids: Shaping Gender and Identity in
Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Ch. 6: Building character & Ch. 7: Limited imaginings. In Out of the
garden” toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK:

Additional Reading
• Murray, S. (1999). Saving our so-called lives: Girls fandom, adolescent subjectivity,
and my so-called life. In M. Kinder (Ed.), Kids’ media culture (pp. 221-235).
Durham: Duke University Press.
• Curry, D. (1999) Doing and Undoing from Girl Talk U of T Press

Exercise # 5: Image Analysis: Thematic Analysis of Children’s Advertising

• Advertising to children is a unique genre. Using the on-line collection of ads on the
media lab site, choose a toy or game ad and construct a story-board. Then comment
on the values, ideologies and attitudes about children’s peer culture, leisure and play,
or family situation communicated in this ad. Be sure to pay attention to the use of
story, imagery and music in your account of both the manifest and implied content
(such as the child’s feelings, thoughts or motivations etc).

Exercise-Related Reading
• Cross, G. (2004). Wondrous innocence: Print advertising and the origins of
permissive childrearing in the US. Journal of consumer culture, 4(2), 183-203.

• Thirteen (2003)

***1st READING LOGS DUE (15%): Submit all logs completed by Week 7 (October 15)
during the seminar.

Week 9
October 29: Synergy Culture: Toys, Music and TV
Required Reading

• Kline, S. (1993). Ch. 8: The parables of play: Policy, strategy, and advertising design
& Ch. 9: Technicians and the Imagination. In Out of the garden” toys, TV, and
children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.

Additional Reading
• Hendershot, H. (1999). Sesame street: Cognition and communication imperialism. In
M. Kinder (Ed.), Kids’ media culture (pp. 139-176). Durham: Duke University Press.
• McAllister, M. P., Giglio, J. M. (2005). The commodity flow of U.S. children’s
television. Critical studies in media communication, 22(1), 26-44.
• Rescue Heroes (2003)
• Bratz (2007)

***CRITICAL PRODUCT REVIEW ASSIGNMENT DUE (25%): Submit the assignment

during the seminar. The details of the assignment will be given in Week 4 or 5.

Week 10
November 5: Old Arguments and New Media Literacies: Digital Playthings

Required Reading
• Kline, S. (1993). Ch. 10: Conclusion: Playing with culture. In Out of the garden”
toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London, UK: Verso.
Additional Reading
• Hobbs. R. (1998). The seven great debates in the media literacy movement. Journal
of communication, 48(1), 16-32.

Exercise # 6: E-culture Confidential: My (Secret) So-Called Second Life.

• Video Game Arcades, Internet Cafes and various web sites have become a ‘suspect’
places for youth to gather. So too on-line chat rooms, porn sites and violent games
have been stigmatized as places where young people are at risk because of the sex
and violence, identity masking, lurkers, marketers etc. Yet breaking the rules is
something children like to do. Researchers have found that many children and teens
actually chose x-rated games or visit pornographic sites because they are ‘dangerous’.
o Interview a friend (18-25) about their own ‘transgressive’ experiences
online as a child. What did they think about advisories and ratings for
movies, games and shows? Did they play games, watch videos or visit
web sites that were prohibited to them. How did they feel about it when
they did?

Exercise-Related Reading
• Canadian Teachers’ Federation. (2003). Kids’ take on media: What 5,700 Canadians
kids say about TV, movies, video and computer games and more. Ottawa, Ontario:
ERIN Research Inc.

• Elephant (2003)
• Bringing Up Brainy


the proposal will be given in Week 7.

Week 11
November 12: Discretionary Power and the Child Consumers

Required Reading
• Buijzen, M., Valkenburg, P. M. (2000). The impact of television advertising on
children’s Christmas wishes. Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, 44(3), 456-

Additional Reading
• Quart, A. (2003). Ch. 5: The great tween marketing machine. In Branded: The buying
and selling of teenagers. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.
• Webley, P. (1996). Playing the market: The autonomous economic world of children.
In P. Lunt and A. Furnha, (Eds.), Economic socialization (pp. 149-161). Aldershot,
UK: E. Elgar.

Exercise # 7: Pocket Money: What do you buy for yourself and how do you get it?
• A major debate has emerged about marketer’s influence on children under 12 years
old because they are ‘vulnerable’ to advertising’s persuasion. But how vulnerable are
children? From a very young age children have to learn about money as a medium for
getting what they want in life.
o Reflect back on your own consumer behaviour as a young child. Did you
get an allowance. What did you have to do to get it? How much
allowance were you given and how did you spend it? What were the
major influences on your choices (friends, advertising, parents etc.).
o Reflect on the strategies that you used to influence family consumption or
to get your parents/ relatives to buy you what you wanted.
o Now go interview a child 12 or under about their consumerism. Are they
consumer literate and marketing savvy? What makes you say this?

Exercise-Related Reading
• Roedder-John, D. (1999). Consumer socialization of children: A retrospective look at
twenty-five years of research. Journal of consumer research, 26(3), 183-213.

• Spice Girls
• La Senza Girl

Week 12
November 19: Sedentary Lifestyles and Fast Food Culture
Required Reading
• Buijzen, M., Bomhof, E., Schuurman, J. (2008). A test of three alternative hypotheses
explaining the link between children’s television viewing and weight status,. Journal
of children and media, 2(1), 67-74.

Additional Reading
• Kline, S. (2005). Countering children’s sedentary lifestyles: An evaluative study of a
media-risk education approach. Childhood, 12(2), 239-258.

• Media Risks Experiment
• Supersize Me (2004)

Week 13
November 26: Materialism and Family Life
Required Reading
• Schor, J. B. (2004). Chapter 8: How consumer culture undermines children’s well-
being. In Born to Buy. New York: Scribner.

Additional Reading
• Buijzen, M., Valkenburg, P. M. (2003). The unintended effects of television
advertising: A parent-child survey. Communication Research, 30(5), 483-503.

• Jingle All The Way (1996)

Week 14
December 3: No Class
***2st READING LOGS DUE (15%): Submit all logs completed by Week 13 (November
13) during TA’s offices hours (TBA) or to the general office of the School of
Communication in Burnaby (K9671).

December 5 (***Friday)

Guidelines for Course Work

READING LOGS: Critical Reflections on Readings, Lectures, Films and


• Grade allocation 20%

• Dues: Indicated above

• You must produce a total of 20 reading logs:

o You must produce reading logs for all the required readings assigned every week,
which consists 13 readings. For example, for Week 2, you must produce a reading log
for Ch. 2 of Out of the Garden (OTG). It is in the reading logs for the weekly required
readings that you must integrate materials you learn from the weekly lectures, weekly
exercises, and your own childhood experiences.
o In addition, you must select and produce reading logs for only 4 readings from the
weekly additional readings. For example, you select and do reading logs for 1) Ch. 2
of Schor’s book assigned in Week 2, 2) Jenkins’ article assigned in Week 5, 3) Zipes’
article assigned Week 7, and 4) Hobbs’ article assigned in Week 10.
o You must select and produce reading logs for only 4 films you watch during the
semester, such as 1) The End of Childhood?, 2) Little Miss Sunshine, 3) Finding
Neverland, and 4) Supersize Me).

Structure of a reading log (As an example):

• The task you must do for a reading log is indicated extensively in the sheet sent via email in
Week 3, which is reproduced the bottom of this section. For those who aren’t still clear
about what you are expected to do, here are some important things you want to take into
• A reading log can be a 2-page short critical analysis of a required reading, an additional
reading, or a film you select. You can here develop both a cogent summary and critiques of
the arguments presented in each reading or film. A reading log, as a critical short analysis,
is, thus, composed of two major parts: a cogent summary and a critique. Take into account
the following key elements when you deal with these two parts:
o Cogent Summary:
1. Find a key argument that an article is raising as its central focus.
2. Provide reasons that justify the argument.
3. Provide conclusion an article is drawing (if you can identify it).
o Critique:
The task you are supposed to do in the critique is to evaluate, rather than simply

criticize or disapprove of, an article. Evaluate any positive or negative value, worth,
or believability of the central argument you have stated in the summary part. For
example, you could:
1. Evaluate the key argument you state in the summary part (e.g, How significant
is it?)
2. Evaluate the reasons you provide in the summary part (e.g., How successful are
they? Is there any contradiction? )
3. Evaluate the fairness of the conclusion you identify in the summary part (e.g.,
Are there any other possible conclusions?)

From the sheet sent in Week 3

• Your engagement with the ideas, research evidence and debates covered in the readings,
lectures and seminars is central to this course. The log is submitted in lieu of an exam to
show us that you have become acquainted with the field. Your log will be reviewed and
evaluated at least twice during the term by the TA so it is important to keep up with the
readings. The purpose of the reading log is to provide us with evidence of your active
intellectual engagement with the course texts (which include readings, lectures, films and
weekly exercises). In this regard, the films you see and the mini-research exercises you
undertake (i.e., interviews and observations) as well as the ideas presented in lectures and
seminars are as much a part of the course ‘texts’ as the readings.

• A good reading log is not simply a set of notes showing us that you have read the material. It
should also provide evidence of the mental work you do while reading, listening and watching,
including your interpretations, critical reflections (evaluations) and ideational associations
that take place as you assimilate the theories and evidence encountered on this course –
as you read, watch, listen to and discuss the course materials. We expect you to demonstrate
that you understand and can define and paraphrase ideas/ arguments from these texts. We
also expect you to provide a thoughtful commentary including situating these concepts in
their cultural-historical context, explaining why you think they are relevant, providing other
complex examples of these abstract concepts, as well as analyzing and evaluating arguments
and assumptions. The application of a concept to a new example, or a refutation of it based
on evidence or experience is strong evidence of ‘active’ engagement. Remember your written
comments and responses to these texts are intended to provide us with evidence of your
critical reflections – including your own understanding and analysis of these concepts/

• Critical reflections obviously take many forms and we do not wish to privilege any one
theory or analysis. Although there is no ideal log, a good place to start your commentary is
with key definitions and concepts. Being able to paraphrase a complex idea is not only one
of the most important academic skills you possess, but frequently the first step in the
process of ‘deep learning’. Practice putting key ideas down in your own terms. But active
reading also requires that you articulate your own way of making sense of these ideas. You
can do so by also discussing the concepts relationship to other ideas, other readings, other
evidence, by contrasting and comparing various ideas, or by refuting the argument. But you

can also explain a theory’s implications and consequences, identify and discuss the
assumptions, values, ideologies or intent of the author, or explain the relevance and fit of the
examples or evidence provided. Other ways of ‘wrestling’ with texts are to analytically
situate them in their social-historical context and to substantiate and make sense of them with
specific rich examples from your own experience (or from the press etc.). We welcome
creative ideas, analogies and personal memories that help you to link your childhood
experiences to industry and social policies.

• Remember a log is a type of diary which articulates and records your learning experiences.
But we are NOT looking for a complete record of everything that you read or think about.
While it is ok to include some rough notes as you read, the idea of active reflection refers to
the selection, comparison, evaluation and synthesis of material. One excellent way
of consolidating your deep learning is to write a paragraph or two summarizing what you see
as the key ideas/ themes that you encounter in the text first. Then undertake a more in-depth
discussion of two or three key ideas that interest/ provoke or otherwise require elaboration or
counter-argumentation. Remember critical evaluation can be both positive and negative -- that
is you can explain why you think a particular point is useful, important or insightful as well
as why you don’t think the idea is helpful or valid.


• Grade Allocation: 40%

• Due: Indicated above

• The details of the assignment will be given in Week 4 or 5.


• Grade allocation: 25%

• 3 parts of the project:

o Forming groups
o Submitting a group project proposal
o Completing the group project

• Dues for each part indicated above

• The details of the assignment will be given in Week 7.

• Grade allocation: 15%

• Participation:
o You will be evaluated both for your attendance and contribution to weekly
seminars and tutorials. To this end the seminars and tutorials on this course have
two purposes. The first is to encourage you to discuss the ideas presented in the
lectures, films and readings with the TA and fellow students. The other purpose
of the seminars and tutorial is to explore/apply in greater depth the key concepts,
research approaches and arguments that are examined to this course. In order to
focus these discussions we expect you to complete all the exercises listed and be
prepared to discuss your experiences and findings in the weekly seminars and

• Exercises:
o ***The details of weekly exercises are explained during every week’s lecture or
are sent via email, and students should conduct them during the week following
the lecture. Students are supposed to conduct the exercises based on the
understanding of the weekly exercise-related readings. Students are supposed to
bring what they discover during the exercises to the next tutorial and seminar.

***Note: Some information provided above may be subject to change, such as the
allocation of the grades for each major assignment. The current grading indicated in the
handbook corresponds to the grading indicated in the course instructor’s 1st week’s lecture
notes, rather than to the course outline available at the general office or homepage of the
School of Communication. The course instructor will discuss this confusion in class in
Week 4 or 5.

Best of luck with this course and have fun!

Steve Kline
Masayuki Iwase