This course examines the relation of advertising to society, culture, history, and the economy. Using contemporary theories about visual communications, we learn to analyze the complex levels of meaning in both print advertisements and television commercials.
The course covers a wide range of topics, including the origins of advertising, the creation of ads, the interpretation of ads, the depiction of race, class, gender, and sexuality in advertising, sex and selling, adverting and ethics, and the future of advertising. The lectures will discuss theoretical frameworks and apply them to specific advertisements.
Week 1: What is advertising and where did it come from?
Week 2: Am I being manipulated by advertising?
Week 3: What’s in an ad beyond that which meets the eye?
Week 4: How do ads get made?
Week 5: What do ads teach us about race, class, gender, and sexuality?
Week 6: Does sex sell?
Week 7: What is the future of advertising?
No background is required; everyone is welcome!
Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we recommend that students refer to the free online textbook ADTextOnline.org. Other free resources will be suggested for each week’s module.
Most videos will be lectures with instructor talking. Each lecture will be illustrated with PowerPoint slides, print advertisements, and TV commercials. The videos for each week will consist of 3 self-contained segments of 15-25 minutes each. Each week will have one quiz that will appear as stand-alone homework. All resources beyond lectures will be available online to students at no charge. Most of these will be from ADTextOnline.org. Others will be visits to the sites of ad agencies in the US and abroad, open access websites that deal with course topics, and open-access journal articles. There may be guest presenters, interviews or Google hangouts to supplement the weekly videos.
What resources will I need for this class?
Nothing other than a Coursera account.
What is the coolest thing I’ll learn if I take this class?
You’ll never, ever be able to look at an ad again without thinking about the issues we discuss in this course.
What background is expected for learners in this class?
A genuine interest in advertising, what it is, where it came from, and how it works in our lives.
Please Note. This is NOT a course about advertising techniques and how to do advertising. Rather, it is a liberal arts course that examines the place of advertising in contemporary society and culture.