Download full syllabus PDF

Spring 2014 / 11:00am-12:15pm/ Silver 507
Prof. Laura Portwood-Stacer, PhD

Prof’s Email: lps2@nyu.edu / Twitter: @lportwoodstacer
Office: 239 Greene St, 8th Floor
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 1-3pm, Tuesdays 1-3pm via Google Chat
Course Website: advsoc2014.wordpress.com

Course Description

This course examines the role of advertising as an economic force and a form of cultural representation and the social implications of the role of consumerism in contemporary American society. The course surveys the history of advertising in the United States and investigates the changing strategies that have been used by advertisers from the 19th to the 21st centuries. It approaches advertisements as texts that indicate cultural attitudes and norms of their time and that can be understood through textual analysis. This course examines the broader context of consumerism in which advertising is a key factor. It thus provides a cultural approach to advertising and its history, as a means to understand both advertising as a central component in capitalist economies and its role as an indicator of cultural attitudes and ideologies.

Required Texts

Leiss, William, et al. 2005. Social communication in advertising. 3rd Edition. New York: Taylor & Francis.

All other required readings will be provided as PDFs during the first week of the term.


Blog essays

  • Initial post
  • Historical analysis
  • Semiotic analysis
  • Creative revolution
  • Target Niche post
200 points total

  • 10 points
  • 30 points
  • 30 points
  • 30 points
  • 100 points
40% of final grade
Quizzes (5 + 1 make-up) 150 points 30% of final grade
Digital/Social presentation + post 100 points 20% of final grade
Attendance/Participation 50 points 10% of final grade

Assignment instructions will be given in class. If you miss class be sure to get notes from a classmate in case assignment instructions were given, in addition to any lecture notes.


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