Media Studies Program

Director: William Hoynes (Sociology); Steering Committee: Lisa Brawley (Urban Studies), Heesok Chang (English), Colleen Cohen (Anthropology and Women’s Studies), Robert DeMaria (English), Tom Ellman (Computer Science), William Hoynes (Sociology), Michael Joyce (English), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Mia Mask (Film), Thomas Porcello (Anthropology), Philippe Roques (Film), Eva Woods (Hispanic Studies).

The Media Studies Program encourages the understanding and critical evaluation of new and old media technologies, the centrality of media in global and local culture, social life, politics and economics, and the contemporary and historical impact of media on individuals and societies. As defined by the Program, “media” includes all forms of representational media (oral/aural, written, visual), mass media (print, television, radio, film), new media (digital multimedia, the Internet, networked media), their associated technologies, and the social and cultural institutions that enable them and are defined by them.

The Program emphasizes several interrelated approaches to the study of media: multidisciplinary perspectives derived from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences; the historical study of various forms of communication and the representation of knowledge; theoretical and critical investigation of how media shape our understandings of reality, and the dynamic interrelationship of media industries, cultural texts, communications technologies, policies, and publics; examination of global, as well as non-Western, indigenous, and oppositional media forms and practices; and practical work in media production and the use of media technologies.

Because the Media Studies concentration incorporates courses originating within the program as well as a wide range of courses from other programs and departments, students wishing to concentrate in Media Studies should consult with the Program Director as early as possible to design their course of study in consultation with a faculty adviser who will be drawn from the Program Steering Committee. Prospective majors will submit a “focus statement” outlining their interests, objectives, the proposed course of study, and a tentative senior project. The proposed course of study should be rigorous, well-integrated, and feasible in the context of the College curriculum. Focus statements should identify specific courses and provide a narrative explaining the linkages across departments/programs and curricular levels among the proposed courses, as well as their relevance for the proposed senior project. Focus statements will be evaluated by the Program Director, in consultation with the Program Steering Committee.

Requirements for the Concentration: 14 units, including Media Studies 160, 250, 260, 300, and 310. The additional 9 courses will ordinarily be selected from courses cross-listed with Media Studies and the list of Media Studies Approved Courses, which will be made available prior to pre-registration each semester. Students wishing to apply other courses toward the Media Studies concentration should consult with their adviser before petitioning the Program. All petitions must be approved by the Program Director. The additional courses must be distributed as follows: (1) 200-level course work from a minimum of three different departments or multidisciplinary programs; (2) a minimum of two 300-level courses, from more than one department or program, and which must reflect the intellectual path set by previous coursework; (3) a minimum of one course on multicultural media practices or issues. Students should consult with their faculty advisors to identify appropriate courses from the list of Approved Courses; (4) one practice-based course. If the course is not selected from the list of Approved Courses, a JYA or Fieldwork course may satisfy the requirement upon approval of the Program Director. While students are encouraged to pursue further practice-based coursework or internships, a maximum of two such units may be applied toward the concentration.

After declaration of the concentration, no courses applied toward the concentration may be elected NRO.

Senior-Year Requirements: Media Studies 310, Senior Seminar; Media Studies 300, a senior project under the supervision of a member of the Program faculty. Advisers: Students will consult with the Program Director to select an adviser who is a member of the Program Steering Committee.

I. Introductory

160a. Approaches to Media Studies (1)

This course explores concepts and issues in the study of media, attentive to but not limited by the question of the “new” posed by new media technologies. Our survey of key critical approaches to media is anchored in specific case studies drawn from a diverse archive of media artifacts, industries, and technologies: from phonograph to photography, cinema to networked hypermedia, from typewriter to digital code. We examine the historical and material specificity of different media technologies and the forms of social life they enable, engage critical debates about media, culture and power, and consider problems of reading posed by specific media objects and processes, new and old. We take the multi-valence of “media”—a term designating text and apparatus of textual transmission, content and conduit—as a central problem of knowledge for the class. Our goal throughout is to develop the research tools, modes of reading, and forms of critical practice that help us aptly to describe and thereby begin to understand the increasingly mediated world in which we live. Mr. Joyce.

II. Intermediate

[250. Medium Specificity] (1)

Medium specificity is a consideration of what makes a medium a medium. The emergence of so-called new media has called attention to the ways in which new forms borrow upon or “remediate” older forms. By asking what aspects a particular medium can surrender to another without losing its particularity, we can form provisional representations of the essential aspects of a given medium, new or old, which differentiate it from others. The course considers old and new media including literature, photography, film, television, computer games, immersive computer environments, new media art, and digital image manipulation, sometimes viewing them comparatively in order to isolate those cultural, economic, and ideological structures which have led to the construction, identification, and conservation of a specific medium. The program faculty.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 160.

Not offered in 2004/05.

[260. Media Theory] (1)

This course aims to ramify our understanding of “mediality”—that is, the visible and invisible, audible and silent contexts in which physical messages stake their ghostly meanings. The claims of media theory extend beyond models of communication: media do not simply transport preexisting ideas, nor do they merely shape ideas in transit. Attending to the complex network of functions that make up media ecologies (modes of inscription, transmission, storage, circulation, and retrieval) demonstrates the role media play not only in the molding of ideas and opinions, but also in the constitution of subjectivities, social spheres, and non-human circuits of exchange (images, information, capital). Texts and topics will vary from year to year, but readings will be drawn from a broad spectrum of classical and contemporary sources. The program faculty.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 160.

Not offered in 2004/05.

264b. The Avant-Gardes, 1889-1929 (1)

(Same as Art 264) The formation of European avant-gardes is studied as part of the general modernization of everyday life. Various media are included: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, the applied arts, and film. Ms. Nesbit.

[265. Modern Art and the Mass Media, 1929-1968] (1)

(Same as Art 265a) The history of modernist painting in Europe and America from 1930 to 1975, together with those contemporary developments in film, photography, and the mass media. Special attention is paid to the criticism, theory, and politics of the image. Ms Nesbit.

Not offered in 2004/05.

280b. Image Text (1)

What Richard Lanham terms the “renegotiation of the alphabet/icon ratio upon which print-based thought is built” has become an active, if often unspoken, force in contemporary developments in media, economy, politics, literature, and philosophy. This course examines the effects of that renegotiation upon our ideas of culture, tradition, and community. As technological visionaries and shucksters alike seem ready to abandon the body (as if it were possible) and to remap the physical world in the image of the mind (as if we could comprehend either), the course likewise becomes a consideration of our human nature and embodiment as witnessed and sustained in its representations in media. Course “readings” are wide in their scope and multiple in their modalities, with works from literary, feminist, and media theory augmented by a historical, media-specific consideration of image/text relationships from Plato to Blake to twentieth century art to graphical novels, the world wide web, and immersive environments. Mr. Joyce.

290 a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

Permission of the director required.

298 a or b. Independent Study ( 1/2 or 1)

Permission of the director required.

III. Advanced

[300. Senior Project] (1)

A full-length thesis or (multi)media project. Students will design their projects in consultation with the Program Director and a senior project adviser. Senior Project proposals will be evaluated by the program Steering Committee, and all projects will be publicly presented and become part of a permanent media archive at the College. The program faculty.

Not offered in 2004/05.

301b. Ancient Societies and New Media: The History and Historiography of Antiquity in the Digital Age (1)

(Same as Classics 301b) Mr. Lott.

[310. Senior Seminar] (1)

Special topics course for all senior Media Studies majors, providing a capstone experience for the cohort. This course will be taught in the Fall semester each year; instructors will come from the Media Studies Steering Committee. The program faculty.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 250 or Media Studies 260.

Not offered in 2004/05.

351b. Sound (1)

(Same as Anthropology 351b) Mr. Porcello.

[356a. Culture, Commerce, and the Public Sphere] (1)

(Same as Sociology 356) Mr. Hoynes.

Not offered in 2004/05.

360a. Writing, Memory and Power (1)

(Same as Anthropology 360a) Mr. Tavarez.

385b. Media and War (1)

Senator Hiram Johnson's 1917 remark “The first casualty when war comes is truth” is often repeated. But the processes through which (mis)information and images circulate in wartime are less well known. This course explores the role of popular media in the production and circulation of knowledge about war. Drawing on both news and entertainment media, we examine how war is represented and remembered in various media, including newspapers, photographs, radio, television, film, and online. Through a series of historical and contemporary case studies, we explore topics such as the practices of the war correspondent, strategies of news management by military planners, the relationship between media images and public attitudes toward war, media as a propaganda tool, and the role of popular media in constructing and contesting national myths and memories of war. Mr. Hoynes.

388b. Computer Animation: Art, Science, and Criticism (1)

(Same as Art 388b and Computer Science 388b) Mr. Ellman, Mr. Roseman.

Approved Courses

Courses on the Approved list may be applied to the concentration in Media Studies; students may petition the Program Director to apply other courses to their concentration. Students must complete all prerequisites prior to enrolling in courses on the Approved list.

[Courses not offered in 2004/05 are in brackets]

American Culture 285. New York in Film and Photography. (1)

American Culture 289. Pop and Politics in Asian America. (1)

[Anthropology 259. Soundscapes: Anthropology of Music (xlist Music)]. (1)

[Anthropology 263. Anthropology Goes to the Movies: Film, Video, and Ethnography]. (1)

Anthropology 351. Language and Expressive Culture: Sound (xlist MSDP). (1)

Anthropology 360. Writing, Memory, and Power (xlist MSDP). (1)

[Art 160. Social Movements and Visual Culture in the United States]. (1)

Art 264. The Avant-Gardes, 1889-1929 (xlist MSDP). (1)

[Art 265. Modern Art and Mass Media (xlist MSDP)]. (1)

Art 366. Seminar in African American Art and Cultural History (xlist AFRS, Women's Studies). (1)

Art 385. Seminar in American Art: Modernity and the Movies. (1)

[Chinese 212. Chinese Film and Contemporary Fiction]. (1)

Classics 301. Ancient Societies and New Media (xlist MSDP). (1)

English 219. Hypertext Rhetoric and Poetics. (1)

Film 210-211. World Cinema. (1)

[Film 212. Genre: The Musical]. (1)

Film 214. Genre: The War Film. (1)

[Film 215. Genre: Science Fiction]. (1)

[Film 216. Genre: Romantic Comedy]. (1)

[Film 218. Genre: The Western]. (1)

Film 219. Genre: Film Noir. (1)

Film 230. Women in Film (xlist Women's Studies). (1)

Film 231. Minorities in the Media. (1)

[Film 232. African American Cinema (xlist AFRS)]. (1)

[Film 233. The McCarthy Era and Film]. (1)

Film 234. Film and “The Sixties”. (1)

Film 260. Documentary: History and Aesthetics. (1)

Film 392. Research Seminar in Film History and Theory. (1)

French 212. Reading French Literature and Film. (1)

French 213. France Through Her Media. (1)

German Studies 230. Contemporary German Culture and Media. (1)

German Studies 235. Introduction to German Cultural Studies. (1)

German Studies 265. German Film in English Translation. (1)

Italian 250. Italian Cinema in English. (1)

[Italian 255. Four Italian Filmmakers]. (1)

[Japanese 222. Narratives of Japan: Fiction and Film]. (1)

[Japanese 224. Japanese Popular Culture and Literature]. (1)

[Music 238. Music in Film (xlist Film)]. (1)

Philosophy 240. Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics. (1)

[Political Science 234. Media and Politics]. (1)

[Religion 160. Religion and American Film]. (1)

[RUSS 231. Russian Screen and Stage]. (1)

Sociology 256. Mass Media and Society. (1)

[Sociology 265. News Media in America]. (1)

[Sociology 273. Sociology of the New Economy (xlist Science, Technology, and Society)]. (1)

[Sociology 356. Culture, Commerce, and the Public Sphere (xlist MSDP)]. (1)

Sociology 365. Class, Culture, and Power. (1)

Science, Technology, and Society 136. Patent Law and Policy. (1)

Science, Technology, and Society 200. Science and Technology Studies. (1)

Science, Technology, and Society 302. History of Science and Technology since World War II. (1)

Urban Studies 273. Representations of the City. (1)

Urban Studies 382. Walter Benjamin (xlist MSDP). (1)

Women's Studies 240. Construction of Gender: Representations of Women in American Popular Media. (1)

Practice-Based Courses

Media Studies majors must complete a minimum of one practice-based course. If the course is not selected from the list of Approved Courses, a JYA or Fieldwork course may satisfy the requirement upon approval of the Program Director. While students are encouraged to pursue further practice-based coursework or internships, a maximum of two practice-based course units may be applied toward the concentration.

American Culture 212. The Press in America. (1)

Art 102-103. Basic drawing. (1)

Art 108. Color. (1)

Art 202-203. Painting I. (1)

Art 204-205. Sculpture I. (1)

[Art 206-207. Drawing]. (1)

Art 208-209. Printmaking: Introduction. (1)

Art 212-213. Photography. (1)

Art 275-276. Architectural Drawing. (1)

Computer Science 101. Problem-Solving and Procedural Abstraction. (1)

Computer Science 102. Objects ad Data Abstraction. (1)

Computer Science 388. Computer Animation (xlist Art, MSDP). (1)

Dance 364-367. Repertory Dance Theater. (1)

Drama 209. Topics in Production. (1)

English 205-206. Composition. (1)

English 207. Art of the Essay. (1)

English 208-209. Narrative writing. (1)

English 210-211. Verse Writing. (1)

Film 240. Experiments in Video. (1)

Geography 220. Cartography: Making Maps with GIS. (1)

Geography 225. GIS: Spatial Analysis. (1)

Geology 261. Field Geophysics: Digital underground. (1)

Music 215-216. Composition. (1)

Music 219-220. Electronic music. (1)