Media Studies Program

Director: Thomas Porcello (Anthropology) Steering Committee: Lisa Brawley (Urban Studies), Heesok Chang (English), Colleen Cohen (Anthropology and Women’s Studies), Robert DeMaria (English), Wenwei Du (Chinese and Japanese), Tom Ellman (Computer Science), William Hoynes (Sociology), Michael Joyce (English), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Mia Mask (Film), Jamie Meltzer (Film), Barbara Page (English), Philippe Roques (Film), Jeff Schneider (German Studies), Cindy Schwarz (Physics), Eva Woods (Hispanic Studies); Participating Faculty: Sarah Kozloff (Film), Amitava Kumar (English), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), Michael Pisani (Music), Harry Roseman (Art), David Tavárez (Anthropology), Adelaide Villmoare (Political Science), Silke Von der Emde (German Studies), Patricia Wallace (English).

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 is drawn from the program steering committee. Prospective majors 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 are evaluated by the program director, in consultation with the program steering committee.

As the Steering Committee occasionally requests revisions of focus statements in consultation with the prospective major adviser and the program director, students who plan to spend one or both semesters of their Junior year studying abroad should submit their focus statement no later than the Friday following October break of their sophomore year. Students who intend to take courses at another domestic institution during their junior year should submit their focus statements no later than the Friday of the first week of classes of the spring semester of their sophomore year. All other students should submit their focus statements no later than March 1 of their sophomore year.

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 advisers 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 study away 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 consult with the program director to select an adviser from the steering committee or participating faculty.

I. Introductory

160a and b. 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. Ms. Cohen, Ms. Woods.

II. Intermediate

250b. 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.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 160 or by permission of instructor.

Topic for 2007/08: History of the Book. A study of the rise of print technology in the west and its impact on the development of the book. Insofar as possible, the method of the class is empirical; class meets in the special collections seminar room where printed books of all sorts are available for inspection. There are also field trips to other rare books libraries. In addition to studying the book as object, the course treats questions concerning the sociology of texts, the influence of books on the nature of reading, the relations between form and content in printed books, and the effects of publishers and printers on the construction of literature. Mr. DeMaria.

Topic for 2007/08: Serious Play: Computer Games in Contemporary Culture. This course explores the medium of computer and video games, as a form of play and entertainment, as an important economic and cultural force, and in relation to other narrative forms, such as fiction and film. Questions raised in the course focus on how games work, what kinds of games are being produced (and not produced); why people play video games, who plays them, and how video games affect behavior; the economic structure of the gaming industry and tie-ins to other industries such as entertainment and military; the representational content of games and the broader and differential impacts of games on culture and society. Students address these questions by playing, observing and critically evaluating popular video games, as well as games of their own creation, in the context of theoretical and critical readings on the gaming phenomenon. Ms. Cohen, Mr. Ellman.

260b. Media Theory (1)

This course alms 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 vary from year to year, but readings are drawn from a broad spectrum of classical and contemporary sources. Ms. Brawley.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 160 or by permission of instructor.

[264a. The Avant-Gardes, 1889-1929] (1)

(Same as Art 264a) Ms. Nesbit.

Not offered in 2007/08.

265b. Modern Art and Mass Media, 1929-1968 (1)

(Same as Art 265b) Instructor to be announced.

268 The Times: 1968-now (1)

(Same as Art 268) Ms. Nesbit.

290a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

Permission of the director required.

298a 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 design their projects in consultation with the program director and a senior project adviser. Senior project proposals are evaluated by the program steering committee, and all projects are publicly presented and become part of a permanent media archive at the College. The program faculty.

310 Senior Seminar (1)

Special topics course for all senior Media Studies majors, providing a capstone experience for the cohort. This course is taught in the Fall semester each year; instructors will come from the media studies steering committee. Mr. Porcello.

Prerequisite: Media Studies 250 or Media Studies 260.

351b. Media (tized) Language (1)

(Same as Anthropology 351b) Mr. Porcello.

352b. The City in Fragments (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 352b) Ms. Brawly, Mr. Chang.

356b. Culture, Commerce, and the Public Sphere (1)

(Same as Sociology 356b) Mr. Hoynes.

[372b. The Thousand and One Nights] (1)

(Same as College Course 372b) Ms. Mark.

Not offered in 2007/08.

379b. Computer Animation: Art, Sciences and Criticism (1)

(Same as Art 379b and Computer Science 379b) Mr. Ellman, Mr. Roseman.

[385a. 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.

Prerequisites: Media Studies 160 or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2007/08.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1)

Permission of the director required.

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.

Africana Studies 236 African Cinema (1)

Africana Studies 301 Black Britain Literature in Film (1)

Anthropology 259 Soundscapes: Anthropology of Music
(Same as Music 259) (1)

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

Anthropology 351 Language and Expressive Culture (1)

Anthropology 361 Consumer Culture

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

Art 265 Modern Art and Mass Media (1)

Art 268 The Times, 1968-now (1)

Art 364 Seminar in Twentieth-Century Art (1)

Art 366 Seminar in African American Art and Cultural History (same as Africana Studies 366, and Women’s Studies 366) (1)

Chinese 217 Chinese Film and Contemporary Fiction (1)

Chinese/Japanese 250 Chinese Popular Culture (1)

English 275 Caribbean Discourse (1)

English 325 Studies in Genres (selected topics) (1)

English 362 “Because Dave Chapelle Said So” (1)

English 370 Transnational Literatures (1)

Film 210 World Cinema to 1945 (1)

Film 211 World Cinema After 1945 (1)

Film 212 Genre: The Musical (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 (same as Women Studies 230) (1)

Film 231 Minorities in the Media (1)

Film 233 The McCarthy Era and Film (1)

Film 236 African American Cinema (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 Media and Society (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)

Jewish Studies 315 Jews, Jewish Identity, and the Arts (1)

Music 238 Music in Film (same as Film 238) (1)

Philosophy 240 Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics (1)

Political Science 234 Media and Politics (1)

Religion 206 Screening American Religion (1)

Russian 231 Russian Screen and Stage (1)

Sociology 232 Cultural Sociology (1)

Sociology 256 Mass Media and Society (1)

Sociology 265 News Media in America (1)

Sociology 273 Sociology of the New Economy (Same as Science, Technology, and Society 273) (1)

Sociology 356 Culture, Commerce, and the Public Sphere (1)

Sociology 365 Class, Culture, and Power (1)

Sociology 380 Art, War, and Social Change (1)

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

Women’s Studies 240 Construction of Gender (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 Study Away 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 1 (1)

Art 204-205 Sculpture 1 (1)

Art 206-207 Drawing (1)

Art 208-209 Printmaking: Introduction (1)

Art 212 Photography (1)

Art 213 Photography II (1)

Art 275 Architectural Drawing (1)

Art 276b Architectural Drawing (1)

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

Computer Science 102 Data Structures and Algorithms (1)

Computer Science 379 Computer Animation (same as Art 379) (1)

Dance 364-367 Repertory Dance Theater (1/2)

Drama 209 Topics in Production (1)

English 205 Composition (1)

English 206 Composition (1)

English 207 Literary Nonfiction (1)

English 208 Literary Nonfiction (1)

English 209-210 Narrative Writing, (1)

Film 240 Experiments in Video (1)

Geography 220 Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)

Geography 224 GIS: Spatial Analysis (1)

Earth Science 261 Field Geophysics: Digital Underground (1)

Music 215/216 Composition I (1)

Music 219/220 Electronic Music (1)

Physics 100 Physics in Motion. (1)