Category Archives: M84MC (2012-13)

M84MC – Applied Communication

This module will perform a theoretically informed critical analysis of a contemporary applied communication case study. The analysis will examine the communication strategies employed by two successful PR organisation:  Madonna and Lady Gaga. To do so, the module will utilise four different perspectives based on relevant theoretical approaches:
  • communication as structure
  • communication as ritual
  • communication as performance
  • communication as a discourse
For each approach, the module will ask the following questions:
  1. How the chosen organisations use communication strategies and techniques
  2. What type of structures underlie said communication
  3. How the chosen organisations use the media
  4. How the chosen organisations influence and are influenced by contemporary culture


01. Introduction

Final Assessment

Coursework  1

(Group presentation) 50%
As a group, choose two celebrities. Compare and contrast their communication strategies.

Coursework 2

(2.000 words essay) 50%
Pick one celebrity of your choice. Choose one of the four theoretical approaches covered in class. Using these theories, perform an analysis of your celebrity’s communication strategy.



Coventry University Open Media Research Seminars

When: 12:15-1:15pm on selected Tuesdays in October and November

Where: ET 130 (Ellen Terry Building)

 October 23rd: Nathaniel Tkacz (University of Warwick) – ‘From Flame Wars to Frame Wars: The Structure of Conflict in Networks’ (Read More) 

November 13th: Matt Johnston (Coventry University) – ‘Online/Offline: How Digital Media Facilitates and Encourages the Generative Experience’ (Read More)

 November 20th: Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex) – ‘Silence, Delirium, Lies: An Uncoded Response to Social Media’ (Read More)

 November 27th: Eva Weinmayr and Lynn Harris (AND) – ‘Men Meets Machine’ (Read More)

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Nine: Communication as Discourse- part 2

This is the second of two lectures focusing on specific discourses pertaining to celebrity. This lecture briefly examines the discourse of celebrity activism. As this is the final lecture in the module, it will include a recap of the main topics touched throughout the term.
group 1: 1-1.30 pm
group 2: 1.30-2 pm
group 3: 2-2.30 pm

Lecture slides:   M84MC.09 28 Nov 2012

 Readings:  Ambassador Mom

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Eight: Communication as Discourse- part 1

This is the first of two lectures focusing on specific discourses pertaining to celebrity. This lecture examines the discourse of aging surrounding Madonna today.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.08 21 Nov 2012

Homework – due 28 Nov 2012

1. Work on your final assignment (presentation)

2. Readings

Featherstone, M. and Wernick, A. (2005) Images of Aging: Cultural Representations of Later Life. London: Routledge.
(Read intro plus one chapter of your choice)
Available in the library

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Seven: Communication as Performance- part 2

This is the second of two lectures dedicated to the performative dimension of celebrity communication strategies. This lecture considers identity in its discursive and performative aspects. Celebrity identity is often predicated on notions of gender and sexuality, which are discussed here together with the notion of camp.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.07  14 Nov 2012

Homework – due 21 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one

As a group, start outlining the structure of your final presentation. Ask yourselves:

What are the most important things you want to say?

What type of argument are you putting forth?

What are you basing the argument on?

How can you support it?

What possible objections to your points can you envision?


3. Readings

Diamond, L. (2005) “ ‘I’m Straight, but I Kissed a Girl’: The Trouble with American Media Representations of Female–Female Sexuality” Feminism & Psychology 15 (104-110) – Diamond.2005.Kiss.Girl

Richardson, N. (2006) “As Kamp as Bree: The Politics of Camp Reconsidered By Desperate Housewives” Feminist Media Studies 6: 2 (57-174) – Richardson.2006.Kamp Bree

Horn, K. (2010) “Camping with the Stars: Queer Perfomativity, Pop Intertextuality, and Camp in the Pop Art of Lady Gaga”

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Six: Communication as Performance- part 1

This is the first of two lectures dedicated to the performative dimension of celebrity communication strategies. The lecture focuses on issues of media productions. The theoretical approaches informing current professional practices are compared with more historical analyses of mass media production, notably Debord’s notion of spectacle. The question asked is, how much of Debord’s theories we can use today, given the entirely different context of production of the media and communication industry?

Lecture slides:  M84MC.06 7 Nov 2012

Homework – due 14 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one
Pick 3 examples of Debordian spectacle. What are their intended functions? How can we read them? How do can we use them? How can detournement work?
2. Assignment two
By now, each group should have picked the celebrities you want to compare, and which specific aspects of their strategies you want to examine. Now you need to decide which approaches and tools you want to invoke to help with your  comparison. As a group, go over the materials and approaches we discussed so far, and weigh their pros and cons. Write your conclusions on the blog. E.g. “We think that adopting perspective X will help us highlight characteristic A of our celebrities. However, perpective X is not taking into account this or that factor…”  

3. Readings

Turner, G. (2004) Understanding Celebrity. Ch.2 “Production” Turner.2004.Celebrity-Production

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Five: Communication as Ritual- part 2

This is the second of the two lectures dedicated to analysing the ritual aspects of the communication strategies implemented by celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga.  The lecture focuses on socio-anthropological aspects of modern celebrity myths, and explores notions of “authenticity”.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.05– 31 Oct 2012

Homework – due 7 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one
Read carefully the excerpts from a blog discussing Lady Gaga’s “authenticity” and “fakery” (in the lecture slides). In pairs, relate the excerpts to the concepts of authenticity, image management, being yourself, performance. Post your reflections on the blog.
2. Assignment two
Referring to the materials covered in the module so far, list three points or concepts you understood, and explain them in your own words. Then, list three things you didn’t understand. Be as specific as possible. Post your reflections on the blog.

3. Readings

Woolf, J. (2007) “Not the girl but the legend: mythology, photography and the posthumous cult of Diana” Woolf.2006.Mythology.Diana

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Four: Communication as Ritual- part 1

This is one of the two lectures dedicated to analysing the ritual aspects of the communication strategies implemented by celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga.  The lecture considers the ways in which social interactions are formalised and regulated. It also examines the ways in which such interactions can be disrupted or subverted, and how habits and conventions of taste influence and regulate mechanisms of social class.

Lecture slides: M84MC.04 – 24 Oct 2012

Homework – due 31 Oct 2012

Organise yourselves in groups of 4 to 5 people.  Meet at least once to brainstorm your final assignment one, which will count for 50% of your total mark. (As a reminder, assignment one requests that you, as a group, choose two celebrities, and thay you compare and contrast their communication strategies.)


Tyler, I. and B. Bennett (2010) “Celebrity Chav: Fame, Femininity and Social Class” European Journal of Cultural Studies 13 Tyler and Bennet.2010.celebritychav

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Three: Communication as Structure – part 2

This is the second of the two lectures dedicated to analysing  applied communication from a  structural perspective. The lecture considers how the history and practice of advertising can be applied to the analysis of the image constructed by Madonna and Lady Gaga. The lecture also examines the mechanisms of branding and product placement, and its associated moral panics.

Lecture slides: M84MC.03– 17 Oct 2012

Homework – due 24 Oct 2012

Think of your  favourite ad. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis it? Do you like because it is convincing? Do you like it despite what it’s trying to say, or how it’s saying it? How easily persuaded are you?  Post your work as a comment to this blog entry.

Lovely work you all–well done!

It is apparent from the range of your analyses that we all have complex reactions to advertising, which go well beyond the simplistic Pavlovian approach some theorists used to propugnate.


Choi and Rifon.2007.Celebrity Advertising-excerpts

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Two: Communication as Structure – part 1

This is the first of the two lectures dedicated to analysing  applied communication from a  structural perspective. The lecture uses techniques drawn from visual analysis, semiotics and narrative theory to explore music videos, interviews and discussions of Madonna and Lady Gaga’s marketing and branding strategies.

M84MC.02– 10 Oct 2012

Homework – due 17 Oct 2012

Individually, pick either Lady Gaga or Madonna, and find three of her interviews from different media (audio, video, in print). Apply a narrative analysis: what narratives are present? What is told, what is not? What formal techniques are used? What personas does she build? How she constructs and represent her “authentic” self? Post your work as a comment to this blog entry.


COMMENTS TO STUDENTS’ ASSIGNMENT: Lecture 2-comments to assignment

M84MC (2012-13) Lecture One: Introduction

This lecture provides an overview of the module; it outlines its content and its goals, and it gives a quick preview of the key thematic blocks constituting the syllabus. The presentation also outlines the final assignment, and it includes logistic information and other resources.

M84MC.01 – 3 Oct 2012

M84MC.01-homework– due 10 Oct 2012

Students can use the comment function to ask questions or–when asked to do so–post their homework.