Media Literacy, Education, and a Global Pandemic: Lessons Learned in a Gender and Pop Culture Classroom

Jessica Lowell Mason
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York, USA

Ebehitale Imobhio
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York, USA


In Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, bell hooks writes that “to engage in dialogue is one of the simplest ways we can begin as teachers, scholars, and critical thinkers to cross boundaries.” Hence, this paper explores, through narrative dialogue, teacher and student perspectives on the pedagogical impact of the global pandemic on the process of engaging with and learning about media literacy. By naming and narrating teacher and student experiences and perspectives from a course on gender and pop culture that took place during the Spring 2020 semester, the paper aims to demonstrate the way that crisis can both expose certain pedagogical issues as well as generate pedagogical opportunities. It narrates and reflects on the ways in which moments of crisis create opportunities for educators to think differently and more expansively about pedagogy by demonstrating its occurrence in one course, and how the combination of factors specific to the crisis required both the instructor and their students to re-situate themselves in relation to the course content. Through a teacher-student meditation, the paper argues that media literacy is a subject that leads to increased pedagogical deliberation and experimentation in the study of pop culture. It suggests that the experiences described might provide wisdom for further pedagogical development on the subject of media literacy, more broadly, positioning and inviting educators and students to engage in dialogue in order to shift paradigms according to the moment of crisis at hand. The broader aim of the article is to encourage educators to follow the example of the students in the gender and pop culture course who felt empowered to create innovative and social-justice-focused media literacy projects as a way of exercising agency, and of confronting and dealing with the harsh realities of global circumstances. 

Keywords: Media literacy, media, pedagogy, pop culture, pandemic, education, gender, gender studies, gender and pop culture

Author Bios

Jessica Lowell Mason, Lecturer at Buffalo State College and Doctoral Candidate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University at Buffalo, is serving as Editor and Accessibility Fellow with the Northeast Modern Language Association. During the 2020-2021 year, she was a graduate fellow with the College Consortium and the Coalition for Community Writing’s Herstory Training Institute and Fellowship Program, Teaching Memoir for Justice and Peace, a year-long program in partnership with the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University. Some of Mason’s poems, articles, and reviews have been published by Sinister Wisdom, Lambda Literary, Gender Focus, The Comstock Review, IthacaLit, The Feminist Wire, SUNY Buffalo’s Romance Studies Journal, and Praeger. Her research, pedagogical, and literary interests and practices center, broadly, on identity and language, but more specifically on representations and constructions of madness within archival documents as they strive to assert identity and self-fashioning under systems of oppression that seek to silence and erase them. She is also the co-founder of Madwomen in the Attic, a feminist mental health literacy and advocacy organization in western New York.

Ebehitale Imobhio is currently completing her masters degree in Community Health and Health Behavior in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo. She is currently a member of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council and the co-founder of the Envision Mentoring Program for undergraduate students of color in the program. She is passionate about bridging the gap between academia and communities through the use of accessible language.

Suggested Reference


Lowell Mason, J. &  Imobhio E. (2021). Media literacy, education, and a global pandemic: lessons learned in a gender and pop culture classroom. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 8(3).


Lowell Mason, Jessica, and Imobhio, Ebehitale. “Media Literacy, Education, and a Global Pandemic: Lessons Learned in a Gender and Pop Culture Classroom.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 8, no. 3, 2021,

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