Media Studies 101: Spring 2020
Asian American Media in Communities

Time/Location: M/W, 1:15pm-2:30pm, West Hall Q120

Instructor: Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Phone: x74319

Office + Hours:
• Scott Hall 213
• Monday / Wednesday 4:00pm-5:00pm
• Tuesday / Thursday by appt.

Course Description
This course focuses on the exhibition and distribution of Asian American independent media, and explores how it can mobilize, educate, and empower communities.  Working in small groups, students will engage in service-learning projects in collaboration with local non-profit community partners.  Through these collaborations, they will learn to design and execute screenings, exhibitions, and other media events in diverse Southern California communities based on programs from the Asian Americans in Media (AAIM) Film Festival, curated by the students in MS100: Asian Americans in Media.  They will also learn to assess the impact of their programs and perform follow-up with community partners.  A parallel course of study is designed to supplement student’s hands-on experiential learning with the historical knowledge of the exhibition and distribution of Asian American independent media from the 1970s to the present—studying Asian American film festivals and media organizations—as well as with the praxis of critical pedagogy, theories of social change and media activism, and case studies on how media can inspire and facilitate community building.

Prerequisites: MS49, 50, or 51; ASAM125, 150, or 91. Although it is not required, students who have taken MS100 will be given priority for enrollment.

This course fulfills the IMS major and minor's media history and media theory requirement, Pitzer Media Studies's community-engagement / internship requirement, as well as IDAAS's Asian American Studies major and minor community studies requirement.

Please note: This course satisfies Pitzer College’s Social Responsibility Praxis (SRPX) educational objective. Therefore you are required to complete the necessary number of semester hours outside of class to accomplish various community projects. By enrolling in this class, you are agreeing to participate in all aspects of this course, including all of the community engagement projects, mandatory field trips and community outreach events. Failure to do so will result in failure of the class.

Updated Course Organization and Policies
The following are changes made to accommodate our new remote learning format. See the end of the syllabus for updates on course schedule.
All class and site group meetings will take place on Zoom (meeting ID: 773-331-5933)
Class meetings will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays 1:15pm-2:30pm PST. Some accommodations can be made, within reason, for differing locations and time zones.
All site work will be remotely, per specific arrangements with community partners.
Revised project proposal (due by the end of Week 12) should still contain group membership, organizational background, and contextualization using ideas and theories from class. The design of your media event should be modified to account for remote engagement, revised course schedule, and the emerging needs of community partners.
Media events (Weeks 13-15) will be online or done remotely, with an emphasis on research, resource development, and future program design for community partners. Your media events/programs can respond to the immediate needs to the community partner, and/or identify and prepare tangible tools, long-term goals, and other ways to prepare for the future of the organization, to help keep momentum and motivation going in the process of slow-moving change. Here are some specific ideas:
  • Respond to specific needs or issues that have risen out of the current pandemic, for the specific community you are working with;
  • Organizing an online resource, chat group, google doc or other open source document listing resources, services, and/or ideas;
  • Designing programs and workshops that can be utilized by the community partner when they can resume group activities and gatherings;
  • Crafting a grant proposal to fund a community organization or campaign;
  • Creating a new website or other online media for community partners;
  • Lobbying on behalf of an issue, writing letters to elected officials, phone or email campaign;
  • Making a documentary about community members, collecting their oral histories living with the pandemic
Presentation of Learning will be done for our class only, via Zoom, during Week 16 . I will work with each site groups to plan and practice there presentation.
Reflection Papers are still going to be your only individual graded assignment. Due Wednesday 5.13 (latest by Friday 5.15)



Statement of Student Learning Outcome
By the end of this course, students ideally are expected:

  • To acquire a sense of the history of and theories on Asian American independent media, with a specific focus on exhibition and distribution
  • To be able to convey this knowledge in written arguments, oral presentation, and program design
  • To gain an understanding of how media can be used in critical pedagogy and community organizing, and to be able to assess and critically reflect on self-designed programs for such purposes
  • To learn how to collaborate with each other as well as with community based partners to design, execute, and evaluate screening-based events
  • To gain skills in event production and media exhibition


Course Organization

This class meets twice a week. Normally, one day will be a classroom meeting devoted to lecture, screening, student presentations, discussion of reading and media assignments. The other day will be working on site at community partner organizations, meetings with instructor and / or host / collaborator at community partner sites, which may take place outside the posted class meeting time, depending on the schedules and availability of all parties. Therefore flexibility with your schedule and the ability to work outside of class time will contribute to your success in this course.

Commitment and responsibility are very important components of this course. Students will meet as teams of two or more to discuss, plan and implement community projects with the site hosts/facilitators and constituents. Clear and prompt communication (in-person, email or telephone) with the course instructor, host/facilitator and other team members is essential to developing effective working relationships. Timeliness and follow-through are most important for all participants involved. When engaged with site-based work, students will normally average a minimum of 8-10 hours each week outside of class working with their site participants and/or on project planning & implementation.


Course Requirements
1. Attend all classes, including mandatory site visits and working at communty partner sites outside of class meeting time
2. Participation in class discussions
3. Completion of reading assignments, group projects (project proposal, media event, presentation of learning) and reflection paper
4. Design, execution, and evaluation of a community-based event working in collaboration with a community partner



Reading Assignments
Required readings are drawn from the texts below, and will be on the class Sakai site. Readings are for the day when they are posted. You should be able to draw from them during class discussions and are required to reference them in all assignments.


Karin Aguilar-San Juan, The State of Asian America: Activism and Resistance in The 1990s. Boston; South End Press, 1994.
Peter X. Feng, ed., Screening Asian Americans. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of The Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1990.
Martha Gever, John Greyson, Pratibha Parmar, eds. Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video, New York: Routledge, 1993,
bell hooks, Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice to Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Steve Louie & Glenn K. Omatsu, eds., Asian Americans: The Movement and The Moment. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2001.
Lori Kido Lopez, Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Culturral Citizenship. New York: New York University Press, 2016.
Ming-Yuen S. Ma and Erike Suderburg, eds. Resolutions 3: Global Video Networks, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012,
Jun Okada, Making Asian American Film and Video: Histories, Institutions, Movements. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.


Class Assignments
You are responsible for reading assignments, contribution to class discussions, working in small groups with a community partner to develop and execute a media event, (develop a project proposal; plan, realize and execute a media event, organize a presentation of learning of your group's media event at the IMS end-of-the-semester screening), and an individual reflection paper on your experience designing and realizing the media event. All written assignments should be typed and double-spaced.

1. Project Proposal

Project proposals are due Week 7-8. One proposal per group - please email one copy to me. Proposals (5-7 pages, typed and double-spaced, in MS Word.doc or .docx format) should include the following:

  1. Group membership: names and contact information for all group members. If appropriate, you can also include the different positions and duties for the group members (e.g. Student A is in charge of promotion, and Student B is the contact person for filmmakers, etc.)
  2. Organization background: your research into the history and mission of the community partner your group is collaborating with, your observations on the day-to-day workings of the organization, your analysis of its successes and needs;
  3. Project description: based on your understanding of the community partner's history, mission, and needs, design a media event that could impact its mission and areas of need. Specify which program(s) from the AAIM you plan to show, how you will show it, the resources you will need for this event (including budget, if necessary), and a timeline for the production and execution of the event. A one-time event or series of events (e.g. workshops) are both appropriate. Also explain what issue(s) your group intends to address in the event, and what impact do you anticipate it will have for the community partner.
  4. Contextualization: explain how your proposed event is informed by the theories and history we study in class. You are also encouraged to adapt, expand upon, and challenge these theories. Use citations (required) or quotes from the class reading

This is a collaborative assignment, each group will receive a grade for their proposal. If you do not contribute to the best of your abilities, your grade could be marked down irrespective of the group’s grade.

2. Media Event

Working in groups of 2-5, students will create a media event (e.g. screening, a series of workshops, etc.) that features one or more programs and works from the 2019 AAIM Film Festival (see Festival program here) for the community that you are working in. Students who choose to work with Visual Communications will work on the 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) and will engage with new material.

Media events should take place between Week 10-14 (with some exceptions, e.g. LAAPFF takes place April 30-May 8) Each group will design and execute their event collectively in consultation with instructor and host / collaborator, who will both evaluate the event. These can be one-time events (e.g. a screening of the AAIM program of your choice) or a series of events (e.g. workshops). Your event must include a plan for documentation as well as evaluation.

This is a collaborative assignment, each group will receive a grade for this project, to be determined by the professor in consultation with the host / collaborator upon completion of the event. Go to this link for more detailed information on the media event assignment.

3. Presentation of Learning

A presentation of your learning experience will occur at the end of the semester, during the Media Studies end-of-the-semester screening. This public event (open to faculty, students, participants and guests) will demonstrate the process, collaboration, and outcome of your learning experience where you will summarize your working experience with the community partner, and present documentation as well as evaluation of your media event. A similar culminating event with the community partner should also be planned after the completion of the media event.

This is a collaborative assignment, each group will receive a grade for their presentation. If you do not contribute to the best of your abilities, your grade could be marked down irrespective of the group’s grade.

4. Reflection Paper


In addition to evaluation of the media event by the instructor and host / collaborator, each individual student will write a 3-5 page paper, typed and double spaced, that reflects on their experience working on their collaborative media event with the community partner.

In your reflection, discuss your experience. How did the group process worked for you - are there things that you would do differently in retrospect? If so, why? What about the collaborative relationship with the community partner? What did you learn from conceptualizing, organizing, executing, and assessing your group's media event? (group evaluations of the event should be incorporated in this part of your discussion) How were you and your group influenced by ideas and case studies from the class readings? Were there things that you learnt from the experiential aspects of the class that expanded upon or challenged what you studied? Did you learn something new about how Asian American independent media can work in the community that your group worked with? Did your views on Asian American independent media or that community change in the process? Were there things that did not work, or ones that worked differently from what you expected?

This is an individual assignment, each student paper will be graded separately. If you do not hand in your paper, your grade for the media event could be marked down irrespective of the group’s grade.

Your final grade will be based on the following
Project proposal (group) 20%
Media event (group) 30%
Presentation of learning (group) 10%
Reflection paper (individual) 10%
Host / collaborator evaluation (group) 10%
Class participation* 20%

* This includes your general class participation, presentation, discussion, attendance, and punctuality (except in the special cases listed above, such as if you have more than 3 un-excused absences).

Generally, outstanding ('A') students in this class have good attendance and completed all their assignments on time. They are consistently well prepared for class, and actively participate in and advance our discussions with pertinent information, questions, and observations. Their work demonstrate their awareness of the issues at hand, the historical context for the film and videos they are discussing, as well as their ability to articulate their observations and analyses in a clear and concise manner. Only letter grades are given out in this class.

Unless an extension is approved by myself in advance of the due date, your grade will be reduced by one letter grade (i.e. B to C) per class day your assignment is late. You are encouraged to meet with me individually during my office hours to discuss your assignments, your grades, and your overall performance in class. I am always open to suggestions and feedback!


Attendance and participation of all classes is required. Do not miss class or arrive late! If you miss class 3 times without a proper excuse, (e.g. a doctor's note if you are sick) you fail the class. Absences must be cleared by me before or after (in case of emergencies only) the class you missed in order for it to not affect your final grade. Attendance is determined by when I take roll.


Your active, well-prepared participation in class discussions is essential to creating a dynamic (i.e. not boring!) learning environment. Although you will not receive a letter grade for class participation, it will figure into your final grade based on my observations.

Use of Laptops and Other Digital Devices
Please turn off all phones and mobile digital devices during class. Laptops can only be used for taking notes and for relevant web searches; no emailing, texting, and other activities unrelated to this class. These and other diversions are not acceptable during class time, and will lower your grade. 

Safe Space
We may study sexually explicit, political, and otherwise challenging material in this course. These are not included for shock value, but are legitimate investigations of controversial subject matters in media. You are certainly encouraged to explore difficult and complex subject matters in your work, and should be prepared to consider these issues intellectually and emotionally. Our class is a safe space in which students can express their beliefs and opinions. You always have a voice, but please be respectful of others as well. Abusive language and behavior are not be tolerated. Open-mindedness is encouraged!

Academic Accommodations
A student’s home campus is responsible for establishing and providing accommodations.  Below is a list of coordinators for the five colleges: 
CMC - Julia Easley ,
Harvey Mudd – Dean Q,
Pitzer - Jill Hawthorne,
Pomona - Jan Collins-Eaglin,
Scripps - Sonia De La Torre-Iniguez,

Academic Honesty
All work done for this course must be the original work of the student submitting it, and should have been undertaken exclusively for this course. No work done prior to this class maybe used to fulfill the class assignments. Plagiarism will result in the student receiving an F for the class grade.

Extra Credit
Students are encouraged to attend screenings, conferences, lectures, exhibitions and web events related to this course. Write a two-page (typed and double-spaced) report of the event or activity. Incorporate the event's relevance to the class as well as your personal responses to it. Proof of attendance is required (keep your ticket stubs, programs, etc.) Students are allowed two extra credit papers. Announcements for events of interest to this class are done in the first 5 mins. of each class.

Questions About Grading
I try my best to make my grading criteria as clear as possible, and you are welcome to come and discuss your grades and your class performance with me. However, I only consider legitimate concerns, and be aware that your grade is as likely to go down as it is to go up after I reassess your assignment. I do not tolerate haggling, bribing, threats, and any other pointless arguments. I consider all aspects of your performance before I assign a grade, please respect my assessment as I respect your efforts.





Course Schedule:

Weeks 1-4: Introduction, Theory and History, Community Partner Site Visits
During this first phase of the course, we will meet as a class two days a week during class meeting times. We will study the history of Asian American independent media, with a focus on exhibition and distribution. Students will also view and familiarize themselves with the programs from the 2019 AAIM Film Festival(s). Starting the second week, we will conduct weekly site visits to one of the community partner sites. These site visit may take place outside of class meeting time.

Please view and familiarize yourself with the programs (
see below) from the 2020 AAIM Film Festival, as well as works from the Festival pool (download document from Sakai).

Wednesday 1.22
Go over syllabus, class policy, introduce community partners

Monday 1.27
Reading: Screening Asian Americans, pp. 101-110; Pedagogy of The Oppressed, pp. 9-56. We will begin with SAA, and continue with PTO this and next week.
Powerpoint for this week: 1, 2

Wednesday 1.29
Presentation: AAIM Festival 1.0 Program + notes on Sakai

Monday 2.3
Site visit: Visual Communications
Meet in our classroom during class meeting time (1:15PM-2:30PM)
Reading: Making Asian American Film and Video, (link to ebook here - you will need to log in as a 5Cs student with your ID number) Introduction (skim) pp. 1-11, Ch.1 (read) pp. 12-38
Powerpoint for this week
Note: due to the two site visits and AAIM program presentation, we probably will not get to start our discussion of the Okada reading until next week. I would suggest you get started on it if you are done with Freire.

Wednesday 2.5
Virtual site visit: imMEDIAte Justice
Meet in our classroom during class meeting time (1:15PM-2:30PM)
Presentation: AAIM Festival 2.0 Program + notes on Sakai

Saturday 2.8, 10:00AM
Site visit: Saturday Tongan Education Program (STEP)
Walker Lounge, Pomona College
Please watch this video before the visit.

Monday 2.10
Site visit: Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability
Meet in our classroom during class meeting time (1:15PM-2:30PM)

Wednesday 2.12
Presentation: AAIM Festival 2.0 (cont.) AAIM Festival 3.0 Program on Sakai


Week 5: Site Selection
Groups are formed for each site. Students begin preliminary research on site mission and history, and begin on site work.

Monday 2.17
Discussion on Making Asian American Film and Video

Wednesday 2.19
Presentation: AAIM Festival 4.0 Program on Sakai
Student information forms due, groups formed. Site forms are on Sakai, in the "resources' folder for this class.

If you have not gone through the Mandatory CEC Ethnics and Orientation Training in person, please complete the online training (direct link here) before you begin your site work for this class.


Week 6-8: On Site Work & Project Design
Each groups will begin work on site. Fridays are reserved for this purpose, although each site's work schedule may vary due to the schedule and needs of the different community partners and programs. Wednesday class meetings are for checking-in, discussion of logistics, class readings, and meetings between instructor, host / collaborator, groups, and with individual students. As each group are working on site, they should continue their research into the history, mission, and needs of the community partner, and work on developing their project proposal.

Monday 2.24
Reading: Pedagogy of The Oppressed, pp. 57-74
Powerpoint for this week
Log forms are on Sakai, in the "resources' folder for this class.

Wednesday 2.26
Discussion on Pedagogy of The Oppressed

Monday 3.2
Discussion on Pedagogy of The Oppressed

Wednesday 3.4
No class meeting - site work

Monday 3.9
Reading: Asian American Media Activism, (link to ebook here - you will need to log in as a 5Cs student with your ID number) Introduction (skim) pp. 1-34, Ch.5 (read) pp. 181-216
Powerpoint for this week

Wednesday 3.11
No class meeting - site work
Project Proposals Due
Each group should send me one copy of their proposal: 5-7 pages, MS Word document (.doc or .docx) via email by 5PM


Week 9: Spring Break - No Class Meeting

Week 10: Class cancelled this week due to COVID-19 policy



Updated Course Schedule:

Week 11: Introduction of Revised Syllabus, Class Format, Meeting with Site Groups
This week we will go over the new course schedule and class policies. I will also meet individually with all the site groups and community partners.

Monday 3.30
Class meeting to go over revised syllabus, class policies, and course schedule
Meeting with site groups

Wednesday 4.1
Meeting with site groups



Week 12: Site Groups Re-Connect with Community Partners, Re-design Media Event/Program Proposal
No class meeting this week. I will work with each group to facilitate re-starting their remote community engagement. Revised media event/program proposal due at the end of this week.



Week 13-15: Event Execution
Each group's media event should take place during this period, and be completed by Week 15. There will be variation in class schedules and meetings depending on the media events each group is working on. I will meet with each site group at least once a week.

Reading: these are various reflections by Asian American and media activist that are meant to inform and inspire your own reflection paper. We will not discuss them in class, and you do not have to read all of them. I suggest skimming them and then selecting 1-2 of the ones most interesting to you to read in-depth before Week 16. Enjoy!
Richard Fung, "Shortcomings: Questions About Pornography as Pedagogy," in Queer Looks, pp. 355-367.
3 reflections on Asian Media Collective by Nancy Hom, Bob Hsiang, and Gordon Lee in Asian Americans: The Movement and The Moment, pp. 101-128.
Beverly R. Singer, "To Touch, Plot, and Dream the Il Ngwesi Maasai Landscape," in Resolutions 3, pp. 159-173
Yoko Yoshikawa, "The Heat is On Miss Saigon Coalition," in The State of Asian America, pp. 275-294.


Week 16: Evaluation & Assessment
Group evaluation of media events due. Student work on individual reflection paper and prepare for presentation of learning. Instructor consult with host / collaborator for feedback on each media event. Class discussion and feedback on media events. Class evaluation.

Monday 5.4
Presentation of learning in class

Wednesday 5.6 - Final class meeting
Presentation of learning in class
Wrap-up discussion
Online class evaluation

Wednesday 5.13
Deadline for Reflection Papers please email them to me, final deadline for all graded assignments Friday 5.15 by 12 noon

Thursday 5.21
All grades (including seniors) due

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