Amelia Couture is a third year PhD student in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. She is interested in the ways in which the media represent gender, empowerment, and objectification, with a specific focus on representations of women in advertisements. She is currently working on her dissertation, “Conflicting Messages: Empowerment and objectification,” which uses eye tracking to explore how people interact with and respond to visuals and captioning in both advertisements and social media posts. Amelia’s 2-hour (3 credit) seminar, COMM 404.102: Gender, Media, and Marketing will be offered this Spring term. The class will meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 2 pm – 4 pm.

Can you give us an introduction to your course?

Have you ever wondered about the ways in which representations of gender in media such as Barbie and Wonder Woman relate to social perceptions of gender? Want to spend more time talking about marketing and social media in the context of gender? This is the class for you! Each week we will explore how a different media outlet, such as advertising, social media, and video games, represent gender from both the perspective of femininity and masculinity.

What motivated you to pursue this opportunity to teach a course of your own design? What is it about this topic that interests you?

Teaching is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of being a graduate student, and I learn something every time I present my research to students. I love the idea of having a class where we can dive deep into issues such as intersectionality and critical approaches in a fun and accessible way.

What would you say to students who are considering taking your course? Why should they take it?

We’re going to cover some deep theories and topics, but we’re going to do it in the context of accessible figures such as Emma Watson, Instagram, and Barbie culture. This course will give you the opportunity to engage in critical conversations about things you experience every day from perspectives that you may not have considered before, and it’s my hope that everyone will walk away from this class understanding media expressions of gender a little differently. One of my biggest goals of this class is to help you make connections between the theories that you’re learning about in your Comm Studies classes with things you experience in your life. We’re going to read articles on a lot of really fun topics, such as representations of women in music videos, Disney princesses (and princes), and video game culture. We’ll also examine media displays of empowerment through characters like Katniss Everdeen side by side with deeper theoretical pieces about issues like objectification and feminism.

Is there a particular lesson plan or topic you will explore in the course that you are excited to delve into with your students?

In my own research, I mainly focus on representations of women. While putting together our reading list, I’ve been challenging myself to incorporate discussions of masculinity as well for a much more well-rounded course. It’s been fun to try to figure out the male equivalent of Katniss Everdeen. I also have an exciting final project up my sleeve…not ready to share it since I’m still working out the details, but if we can pull it off I think students will really enjoy it.

Any plans for the summer, outside of teaching a course of your own design?

For the second half of the summer, I’ll be using a map/compass to navigate my way across about 800 miles of Alaskan wilderness. Wish me luck!