Course syllabus



This is a concurrent course. The lecture is the same for MEDIA 218 and 323, but tutorials are separate and assessment is differentiated (by word length and breadth and depth of research). The course is designed to fit the University’s view that students need to commit to 10 hours per week for each 10-point course. Course announcements will be posted weekly on Canvas, so check regularly.


Lecture:                 Tuesday 2 – 4 pm, 109-B15 (General Library, Room B15)

Tutorial:                  Check Student Services Online


Convenor:            Associate Professor Nabeel Zuberi                                                                                                                         Email:

                                    Office hour: Wednesdays 12-2 pm or email to make an appointment

                                    Room: 536, Social Sciences Building (formerly Human Sciences)

                                    Tel: 923 7722


Graduate Teaching Assistant:

                                    Anna Faber


                                    Office hours: Thursdays 10-11 am

                                    Room: 525, Social Sciences Building (formerly Human Sciences)       


Aims and objectives of the course

The course explores the relationships between popular music and visual media, including film, television and social media. We analyse textual forms (e.g. documentaries, feature films, music videos). We consider the economy, production, circulation and social meaning of these texts which are embedded in debates about popular culture and power relations, particularly those marked by class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism, capitalism and media industries. We discuss the sounds, looks and feelings associated with music styles and cultures. We focus on musicians, fans, songs, genres, dance and the representation of music technologies on media screens of various kinds. We draw on examples of both historical and very recent popular music on screens. The course engages with a range of theories, methods and approaches to music and screen media, including those in the fields of popular music studies, sound studies, film studies, television studies, (new) media studies, communication and cultural studies.

Skills and competencies

You will develop skills for the analysis of sound and image in a range of audiovisual forms, media spaces, industries and experiences. You will enhance your knowledge of research on media and music. You will conduct independent research projects, and produce writing that analyses relevant topics of your choice (not only the required course texts). You will have the opportunity to develop your own creative and critical voice in collaboration with others. In tutorials, you will be able to improve your presentation skills and collaborate in the exchange of ideas during group exercises and workshops on research, writing in progress and preparation for the test.


Required course reading is available via Canvas in Files and via Reading Lists (Talis). The reading should ideally be completed by the time of the lecture, but definitely before the tutorial on that topic. All assessment involves the required reading and additional research. Students are expected to use library databases and other sources/archives for their research.


Required viewing material is available via Canvas and in the University Library. Ideally read and view before the lecture, but definitely before the tutorial on the topic.


Lecture attendance is essential. It’s the main place to get oriented to the topic. A lot of discussion of assessment and revision will happen here. There will be many video clips. We will have dialogue as well as monologue in these classes. Lecture recordings may be posted but will not include visual material, so you’d be missing out if you were to not attend. We also believe in the value of being in the same room sometimes with music and images.


Tutorials begin in Week 2. These focus on more concentrated work with fellow students and the teacher, usually on the course material from the previous week. You must participate actively (not only attend) tutorials in order to receive marks. All required reading and viewing should be completed before the tutorial on that topic. You will only be awarded full participation marks if you demonstrate in the classroom that you have engaged with the course material. We will discuss the required viewing and reading in detail. You must bring the reading to class. We’ll look at clips. Tutorials also involve in-class preparation for the assignments, including presentation of your research topic, thesis statements and paper outlines. We also have some creative tasks designed for pleasure as well as learning. Tutorial tasks will be discussed in lectures and on Canvas. Students must bring their notes from lectures, viewing and reading to the tutorial. Your active participation in the tutorials constitutes 10 points of the assessment for the course. The test will also cover material discussed in tutorials.

Attendance, Contacting teachers, Student Rep

You’ll get more out of the course if you attend all or most of the classes. You can email or talk to the teaching staff if you can’t make it to class for an important reason. Unless it’s an emergency, please avoid contacting your teachers at the weekend. They will also help you find the appropriate support services at the University of Auckland for your coursework or for anything else. There will be one student rep for each of the courses (218 and 323) that will represent the students at Staff-Student Committee meetings during the semester.


There are four assessment components for this course:

  • Active participation in tutorials (10 points)
  • Research Paper 1 on a topic of your choice related to course material from weeks 1-4 (questions TBA)

      (40 points; 1500 words; due by 11:59 pm on Friday 24 August)   

  • Research Paper 2 on a topic of your choice from weeks 5-10 (questions TBA)

      (40 points; 1500 words; due by 11:59 pm on Friday 12 October)

  • Test on the course material across the whole semester

      (10 points; multiple-choice questions on Canvas; 18-26 October)

There is no plussage on this course. A total of 50% (C-) is the minimum pass mark.

Presentation of coursework and word count

You must type your research papers in plain, 12 pt. font and double-space. Allow a 1-inch left and right margin for the marker’s comments. Number your pages and also give the word count at the end of your paper (the word count includes footnotes/endnotes but not the list of works cited). You have the Faculty of Arts leeway of 10% for the word count on both your two papers: You may include carefully chosen images. Keep electronic and hard copies of your assignments as backup. Failure to present your coursework appropriately will lose you marks.

Referencing correctly and avoiding plagiarism

You must reference the sources from which you have taken ideas, arguments and/or quotations, according to MLA style. Please consult the following University website which provides information on referencing: and/or the 2009 MLA Guide at You must cite relevant page numbers, full titles and publication details when you refer to other people’s work. All directly quoted writing must be placed in quotation marks. You must include in-text referencing and a list of Works Cited. You may also use footnotes.

Anything that is the work of another person must be referenced. Page numbers and web addresses must be included. All direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks. All students in this course are required to submit their coursework assignments to, which reveals both direct and paraphrased use of published material. The University of Auckland regards plagiarism seriously and proven cases will result in a fail grade and the assignment being withheld. All cases of plagiarism are brought before a Disciplinary Committee and a record of the student’s academic misconduct is kept on file until one year after the student graduates. The most serious cases can result in disciplinary action at the Faculty level, suspension or expulsion from the University and/or a fine. The University of Auckland’s approach to plagiarism can be found at

 Submission of coursework

The research papers must be submitted by the deadline in electronic form only to Canvas before midnight on the due dates.

 Deadlines, late penalties and extensions

Deadlines for coursework are non-negotiable. In circumstances such as illness you may seek an extension but you will require a doctor’s certificate. Extensions must be personally negotiated with the course convenor at least two days before the assignment is due. All late assignments will be penalised one mark per day. This includes each day of the weekend.

 Tuakana Arts Undergraduate Mentoring Programme

This programme provides academic support for all Maori and Pasifika students. The Tuakana Tutor is Kaitiaki Rodgers. Contact:

Other University-wide academic support and services

UoA provides a range of resources to support students towards achieving their academic potential. These resources are not restricted to assisting students who are encountering difficulties in their studies. To access information about the range of academic and learning support services at the University, please visit:

Student Learning Centre web site:

ELSAC web site:




Week 1                  (17 July)                 Popular Music and Visual Culture

Topics: The visual cultures of popular music; the many screens of music; the multiple forms of visual music and music visualization; multidisciplinary analysis of music and audiovisual culture; sound vs. vision debates; the textual analysis of music and moving images


Week 2                  (24 July)                 Documentaries

Topics: Capturing ‘live’ performance on screen; the concert spectacle; discourses of fidelity, the ‘real’ lives of musicians, performing selves, and ideas of authenticity; the types and changing forms of music documentary; documentaries as histories and archives


  • Strachan, Robert and Leonard, Marion. “Reel to Real: Cinema Verité, Rock Authenticity and the Rock Documentary.” Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media: An Overview. Eds. Graeme Harper, Ruth Doughty, Jochen Eisentraut. New York and London: Continuum, 2009. 284-299.
  • Henderson, April. “Māori Boys, Michael Jackson and that 1984 Structure of Feeling.” MEDIANZ: Media Studies Journal of Aotearoa New Zealand 13.1 (2012): 29-53.



Week 3                  (31 July)                 Biopics

Topics: Real musicians’ lives turned into fictions; discourses of stardom and celebrity


  • Marshall, Lee and Kongsgaard, Isabel. “Representing Popular Music Stardom on Screen: The Popular Music Biopic.” Celebrity Studies 3.3 (2012): 346-361.
  • Corbella, Maurizio. “Live to Tell: Remediating Historical Performance in the Popular Music Biopic.” IASPM@ Journal 7.1 (2017): 29-54.


  • Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007, 122 minutes)


Week 4                   (7 August)             Performance on Television

Topics: Rock ‘n’ roll film and television; on-screen relationships between musicians/stars and fans; television formats and popular music; idol shows


  • Coates, Norma. “Elvis from the Waist Up and Other Myths: 1950s Music Television and the Gendering of Rock Discourse.” Medium Cool: Music Videos from Soundies to Cellphones. Eds. Roger Beebe and Jason Middleton. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. 226-51.
  • Tongson, Karen. “Empty Orchestra: The Karaoke Standard and Pop Celebrity.” Public Culture 27.1 (2015): 85-108.


  • A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964, 87 minutes)
  • Undercover Karaoke with Jewel (Eric Appel, 2010, 7 minutes)


Week 5                   (14 August)          Songs in Film and Television Narratives

Topics: Industrial synergies; Soundtracks and musical moments; the integration of songs and moving images; songs in full and in fragments in many kinds of film and television content; soundtracks and listening formations; the influence of music genres on film and television narratives


  • Hubbert, Julie. “The Compilation Soundtrack from the 1960s to the Present.” The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies. Ed. David Neumeyer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 292-318.
  • Anderson, Tim. “From Background Music to Above-the-Line Actor: The Rise of the Music Supervisor in Converging Televisual Environments.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 25.3 (2013): 371–388. 


  • Morvern Callar (Lynn Ramsay, 2002, 97 minutes)


Week 6                   (21 August)          Music Technologies and Formats on Screen

Topics: Music technologies, objects and devices such as records, radios and personal stereos in media narratives; representations of popular music’s material culture and the feelings associated with it; commodity fetishism and nostalgia; gender, technologies and listening


  • McNelis, Tim and Boschi, Elena. "Seen and Heard: Visible Playback Technology in Film." Ubiquitous Musics: The Everyday Sounds That We Don’t Always Notice. Eds. Marta García Quiñones, Anahid Kassabian and Elena Boschi. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. 89-106.
  • Garwood, Ian. “Vinyl Noise and Narrative in CD-Era Indiewood.” The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media. Eds. Liz Greene and Danijela Kulezic-Wilson. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016. 245-260.

Research paper 1 due Friday 24 August by 11:59 pm

Mid-Semester break

 Week 7                   (11 September)                   The Visuals of Music Genres and Subcultures

Topics: The characteristic visual styles of music genres; case study: hip hop


  • Maira, Sunaina. “Palestinian Hip Hop: A Different Map.” Jil Oslo: Palestinian Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and the Youth Movement. Washington, DC: Tadween Publishing, 2013. 70-110.
  • El Zein, Rayya. “From ‘Hip Hop Revolutionaries’ to ‘Terrorist Thugs’: ‘Blackwashing’ between the Arab Spring and the War on Terror.” Lateral (2016).


  • Slingshot Hip Hop (Jackie Reem Salloum, 2008, 87 minutes)

·       Jowan Safadi – “To Be An Arab להיות ערבי” (Nayef Hammoud, 2015)


Week 8                   (18 September)                   Dancing on Screen

Topics: The body, dance and cultural studies; values and social differences in dance; dance studies and screen dance; the genre of the popular dance film; dance and media


  • Dodds, Sherril. “Values in Motion: Reflections on Popular Screen Dance.” The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen. Melissa Blanco Borelli. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 446-454.
  • DeFrantz, Thomas F. “Afrofuturist Remains: A Speculative Rendering of Social Dance Futures v2.0.” Choreography and Corporeality: Relay in Motion. Eds. Thomas F. DeFrantz and Philipa Rothfield. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 209-222.


  • Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino, 1987, 100 minutes)


Week 9                   (25 September)                   Music Videos
Topics: Precursors of the music video; approaches to the study of music video; the proliferating forms of music video


  • Vernallis, Carol. “Music Video’s Second Aesthetic.” The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Eds. John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman and Carol Vernallis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 437-465.
  • Manghani, Sunil. “The Pleasures of (Music) Video.” Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media. Gina Arnold, Gina, Daniel Cookney, Kirsty Fairclough, and Michael Goddard. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017. 21-40.


  • Music videos mentioned in the reading (up to 2 hours of them)

·  Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture] (Andrew Donoho & Chuck Lightning, 2018, 48 minutes)


Week 10                (2 October)                             Social Media

Topics: Web 2.0; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.; musicians and fans on social media; live music and screens; the politics of circulation and appropriation


  • Marwick, Alice and boyd, danah. “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17.2 (2011): 139-158.
  • Gaunt, Kyra D. “YouTube, Twerking & You: Context Collapse and the Handheld Co‐Presence of Black Girls and Miley Cyrus.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 27.3 (2015): 244-273.


  • Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke MTV VMA Awards 2013 Performance (7 mins)
  • Katie Melph – Where Da Melph At? (David S. White, 2011, 4 mins)
  • Kyra Gaunt - How to Twerk: (Re)Stigmatizing Black Girls For Clickbait, TEDxEast, 2016, 16 mins)


Week 11                (9 October)                   Course Summary & New Directions in Visual Music

  Research paper 2 due by 11:59 pm on Friday, 12 October


Week 12                (16 October)                   Revision for Test

(Canvas, multiple-choice questions, Test: Thursday 18 October–Friday 26 October)


Course summary:

Date Details