SOCY 368: Society Through Visual Media

An undergraduate course (occasionally) taught by Dr. Mathieu Deflem at the University of South Carolina.


Situated in the sociology of culture, this course offers an introduction to and application of the use of visual media in sociological inquiry. Visual media are used to examine important traits of the socio-cultural context in which they are produced and are also relied upon as a pedagogical tool to examine a variety of sociological concepts and theories.

In terms of the media used, the course will rely on examples from American cinema and/or television. In terms of the thematic issues of sociological interest, analysis centers on a variety of empirical issues, such as law, crime, deviance, power, culture, and other relevant sociological themes.
As time permits, specific attention in this course will go to one or more of the following topics: a sociological history of American cinema; the movies of Alfred Hitchcock; and American TV detective shows. The temporal emphasis is on the recent past, specifically the 1920s through the 1980s.

Consult the academic calendar for important dates. Useful information is also provided by the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, such as its integrity policies (including the Honor Code and the Student Code of Conduct). Information is also available online about academic regulations and the Student Success Center.

Note: Until 2017 this course was called, "Society Through the Lens."

The course syllabus will be provided to all registered students via Blackboard.


        Introduction: Popular Culture and Visual Sociology
        *   A Sociological History of American Cinema
             -  The Hollywood Industry
             -  Cinematic Genres
             -  Inequalities at the Movies
             -  Film Noir
        *   The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock
             -  Biography and Career
             -  Cinematic Style
             -  Hitchcock and the American Family
             -  Hitchcock on Guilt and Innocence 
        *   Television and Social Control: U.S. Detective Shows
             -  The American Detective
             -  Gender and Race 
             -  Hero, Villain, and Anti-Hero 
             -  Rehabilitation versus Retribution 
             -  From Fantasy to Reality 


The required readings for this course consist of a collection of articles and internet-based sources, which are available online via the following links or on Blackboard:

Videos on Hollywood

Online Articles on Sociology and Cinema

Videos on Hitchcock


Supplementary Resources on Hitchcock and TV detective dramas: 

Back to the Teaching Pages