Modern Culture and Media (MCM) is committed to the study of media in the context of the broader examination of modern cultural and social formations. Our curriculum proposes a distinctive subject matter, stresses comparative analysis and theoretical reflection, and highlights the integration of theory and practice, creative thought and critical production. In research and teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate level, MCM combines the analysis of diverse texts — visual and verbal, literary and historical, theoretical and popular, imaginative and archival — with the study of contemporary theories of representation and cultural production and creative practice in a range of media. Through studying MCM, students will become critically sophisticated and knowledgeable about the theory, history, and analysis of media and cultural forms. They will also learn to produce innovative work — whether in theory, media practice, or historical scholarship — that interrogates and transforms conventional understandings of these forms.
For additional information, please visit the department's website: http://www.brown.edu/academics/modern-culture-and-media/
MCM 0110. Theory and Analysis of Modern Culture and Media.
An introduction to critical theory, cultural studies, and media analysis that addresses print, photography, film, television, and digital media. We will examine these media in relationship to influential theoretical approaches such as structuralism and post-structuralism, ideological analysis and psychoanalysis, feminist and queer theory, critical race theory and theories of post-colonialism and globality, and media and technology studies.
MCM 0150. Text/Media/Culture: Theories of Modern Culture and Media.
This introductory course will explore its three key terms "modern," "culture," and "media" through a variety of theories, historical narratives, and media objects. We will ask how different media—including print, photography, cinema, television, digital art, online video, archival practices, and social media—yield distinct modes of seeing, thinking, and feeling, structure the ways we act and engage with the common world, and communicate and collaborate. We will read semiotic theory, critical race studies, feminist, post-colonial, queer and political theory, and examine concepts such as textuality, visuality, and networks. Open to undergraduates only.
MCM 0220. Print Cultures: Textuality and the History of Books.
Print media are ubiquitous, appearing in myriad forms, material configurations, and genres. This course investigates the concept of print as a mass medium, the first produced by means of mechanical reproduction. We will give particular attention to the theoretical problematics that govern its analysis and to competing concepts of print as a form. The course will trace the emergence of mass literacy and reading habits, print culture and the public sphere, the rise of the novel and history of the book, as well as concepts of literariness and representation, mediation and signification, narrativity and virtuality, the work and the text.
MCM 0230. Digital Media.
This course introduces students to the crtiical study of digital media: from surveillance to hactivism, from cyberpunk fiction/films to art installations, from social media to video games. We will analyze the aesthetics, politics, protocols, history and theory of digital media. Special attention will be paid to its impact on/relation to social/cultural formations, especially in terms of new media’s “wonderful creepiness,” that is, how it compromises the boundaries between the public and private, revolutionary and conventional, work and leisure, hype and reality.
MCM 0240. Television Studies.
Introduces students to the rigorous study of television, concentrating on televisual formations (texts, industry, audience) in relation to social/cultural formations (gender, generational, and family dynamics; constructions of race, class, and nation; consumerism and global economic flows). That is, this course considers both how television has been defined and how television itself defines the terms of our world. Students MUST register for the lecture section, the screening, and a conference section. Open to undergraduates only.
MCM 0250. Visuality and Visual Theories.
How do we see the world? Not only through our own eyes but through the eyes of others and with the mediation of technologies, perspectives, and points of view, giving us an embedded language to interpret what we see. In the last centuries, this construction of our visual field has been heavily indebted to imperial and racial capitalist modes of production. We will examine these constructions through a variety of technological devices: the camera obscura, panorama, photography, and cinema, and their use in processes of colonization and decolonization, drawing on the case of Algeria and other cases as well.
MCM 0260. Cinematic Coding and Narrativity.
Introduces students to rigorous study of the structural and ideological attributes of cinema, concentrating on the dominant narrative model developed in the American studio system and alternatives to that model. Attention to film theory in relation to questions of representation, culture, and society. Students become conversant with specific elements and operations of the cinematic apparatus (e. g. camerawork, editing, sound-image relations) and how they produce discursive meanings. Students MUST register for the lecture, section and one screening. A sign-up sheet will be available for conferences after the first class meeting. Open to undergraduates only.
MCM 0700. Introduction to the Moving Image.
The purpose of this course is to provide a basic introduction to film and video production and to begin to consider the kinds of texts that might be produced using these media. Students are expected to work in an intelligent manner, take risks with the content and form, engage in empirical research of the medium, and in so doing, examine common presumptions about media production. Students will utilize 16mm non-sync film cameras and small format video to produce a series of short projects emphasizing the creative use of these media in various social and visual arts contexts. Classes will consist of screenings and discussion of a wide variety of works, basic technical demonstrations, and critiques of student work. No previous production experience necessary. Prerequisites (two of the following or equivalent): MCM 0100, 0150, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, 1110. Application required. Enrollment limited to 15. Written permission required. Mandatory S/NC.
MCM 0700A. Introduction to the Production Image.
The course will provide students with a basic introduction to digital sound and image acquisition and post-production, and to consider the particular capabilities of these digital technologies, especially as these relate to the production of meaning. Of particular interest will be the representational limits of these technologies at the intersection of science and art. Classes will be organized as workshop environments where extensive class time will be devoted to hands-on learning with digital film cameras, lighting, and digital sound recorders. There are no prerequisites for this class.
MCM 0700B. Mediating the Live: Making and Documenting Performance Art.
This course focuses on performance art and how artists use recording technologies to document their acts. We will look at key examples of performance art from the past five decades to understand how artists have explored gesture, movement, conduct, speech, embodiment. Documentation is especially important to performance because of the ephemeral nature of the art form. While the performance document is not the same as the performance, it is central to our understanding of the medium and often intrinsic to the works themselves. Students will experiment with various presentation platforms and recording technologies to understand their relationship to performance art.
MCM 0700C. Screenwriting I (LITR 0110E).
Interested students must register for LITR 0110E.
MCM 0710A. Introduction to Filmic Practice: Time and Form.
A studio-style course on working with time based media, focused specifically on the technology of 16mm film production. With its focus on photographic and montage processes, as well as lighting and sound, the principles established in this course provide a solid foundation for all subsequent work in media, whether cinematic, video or new media, and it is strongly advised as a foundation level, skills oriented media course. Students produce a series of short, non-sync films. No previous experience required. Screenings, demonstrations and studio work.
MCM 0720. Intermediate Filmmaking: Cinematic Space.
Introduces more sophisticated film production techniques, including sync sound and lighting technique. Explores the influence of digital technologies on cinematic practice. Studio work supplemented by screenings, demonstrations, and discussions. Group and individual projects. Prerequisite: MCM 0710. Application required. Application is available in the MCM office or from http://www.brown.edu/Departments/MCM/. Students must bring a completed application to the first class to be considered for admission. Class list will be posted 2 days after the first class meeting. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor's permission required. S/NC.
MCM 0730A. Introduction to Video Production: Critical Strategies and Histories.
Provides the basic principles of independent media production through a cooperative, hands-on approach utilizing digital video. Emphasizes video as a critical intervention in social and visual arts contexts. A major project, three shorter works, and in-class presentations of work-in-progress required. Weekly screenings contextualize student work. No previous experience required.
MCM 0730C. Foundation Media (VISA 0120).
Interested students must register for VISA 0120.
MCM 0740. Intermediate Video Production: Sound, Image, Duration.
Expanded principles of independent video production utilizing small format video (Mini DV). Emphasizes video as a critical intervention in social and visual arts contexts. A major project (10-20 minutes) and a class presentation concerning your project are required. Prerequisite: MCM 0730. Application required. Application is available in the MCM office or from http://www.brown.edu/Departments/MCM/. Students must bring a completed application to the first class to be considered for admission. Class list will be posted 2 days after the first class meeting. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor's permission required. S/NC.
MCM 0750A. Art in Digital Culture.
How do we produce, disseminate, and exchange images in a global networked society? How do digital technologies challenge conventions about art making, authorship, and audience? This production course introduces students to the practice, and critical inquiry into art in digital culture. The class will engage in contemporary debates on art and new media and will experiment with digital photography, video, and coding. Throughout the semester, students will work on a series of short projects, and a final individual or collaborative work. Artist case studies include Harun Farocki, Oliver Laric, and anonymous-memes-creators; readings include, Hito Steyerl, David Joselit, and Boris Groys.
MCM 0750C. Subtle Machines: Designing for Engagement and Response-Ability.
We will build novel individual and collaborative extensions enabling engagement in dialogues and in structures of communication otherwise difficult due to social, political, technological, habitual, and/or unavowable circumstances. Students will develop individual and collective hypotheses, project plans, built apparatuses and systems, actions and performances. We will read and discuss excerpts from Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, D. W. Winnicott's Playing and Reality, and Karen Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway. We will build with familiar and experimental electronic and other materials. Work may occasion collaboration with multiple departments at Brown as well as more broadly.
MCM 0750D. Dynamic Futures: Speculative Media.
In this co-learning course we will articulate the eﬀects rapid adoption of AI has in culture to speculate possible actions, technologies, systems, and performances for futures which value ethical relationships. What contributions can artists uniquely bring to cybernetics? Can we reach beyond the limits of technological “ﬁxes” and the veil of novelty ‘clout’ or ‘inﬂuencer’ culture? How do we design for the beneﬁt of diﬀerently abled bodies? Can artists reconcile systems designed for endless growth on a ﬁnite planet? This course will be driven by readings and discussions as we build to present collaborative proposals for dynamic holistic futures.
MCM 0760. Intermediate Digital Media Production.
How do technologies enabling new forms of media and communication reconfigure notions of geography, location, speed, presence, community, autonomy, public, private, and one's ability to participate in culture? This class is an exploration of how artists and other cultural producers use these new technologies and new conditions to activate networks, form communities, create access, self-publish, proliferate, draw attention to context, demand agency, redefine property, and develop spaces for exchange and play.
MCM 0780A. Soundtracks: Sound Production and Visual Media.
A production course that examines the role of sound in film, video, and installation forms. The listening assignments and visual media screenings will foreground the usage of audio in the works of selected artists/filmmakers. The course also considers works of sound art. Readings by sonic theorists and producers will examine the possibilities of sound production as a key register of modern social and aesthetic experience. Class members should have completed at least one time-based media class. Students are expected to be competent technically.
MCM 0790. This is a Public Service Announcement.
This course will examine the broad mission of "public service" media in its various iterations, both in commercial broadcast television, state run television, and in numerous forays by artists and collectives into public space. Students will produce a series of short video and/or installation projects that will explore critically the content and form of the Public Service Announcement and its historical precedents. In addition, the class will also collectively design, shoot, and produce, in collaboration with the RI Department of Education, their own Public Service Announcement that will air on local television stations. This will be a rare opportunity for undergraduate students not only to gain hands-on production experience, but also to think about and exhibit work outside of the University classroom context. Prerequisite: MCM 0700, MCM 0710, MCM 0720, MCM 0730, or MCM 0740.
MCM 0800A. Agency and Representation.
Agency is one of the most popular concepts across the disciplines today, but its definitions are often far from satisfactory in relation to representational forms such as literature and film. Using both fictional and theoretical texts, this course will examine some common assumptions about agency and develop a range of possible interpretations that will make the term viable in the study of artistic representation. For first year students only.
MCM 0800B. Freshman Seminar on Visuality.
An examination of the key texts (from such diverse fields as philosophy, visual arts, cultural studies) which describe the historical transformation of personal and social visual space. We will explore, for example, Renaissance and Cartesian optics, the mechanization of vision in the late nineteenth century and recent hypotheses around machine-centered visuality. For first year students only.
MCM 0800C. Marx, Nietzsche, Freud: History of Theory.
Many of the most pressing theoretical issues addressed by contemporary cultural analysis were first investigated in the works of these three ground-breaking intellectuals. This course will survey some of their major works, with attention to such concepts as ideology and the commodity; the will to power and truth in language; the unconscious and sexual difference. For first year students only.
MCM 0800D. Sound for A Moving Image.
A production/seminar. An examination of the role of sound in the works of five exemplary artists/filmmakers while we produce sound works for filmic projects. For first year students only.
MCM 0800E. Race and Imagined Futures.
Why is race so important to imagining utopian or dystopian futures - to signaling world peace or Malthusian disaster? What do these imaginings tell us about contemporary anxieties over / desire for multiculturalism and globalization? This course responds to these questions by examining speculative, science and utopian fiction and films by African-, Asian- and Euro-American authors/film makers. Readings will be theoretical, as well as literary. Enrollment limited to 19. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 0800F. The Face in Cinema.
Cinema has always been obsessed with the thematics of the human face. The close-up is most frequently associated with a revelation of intense human signification, with a rendering legible of the face as the signifier of the soul, and with the face as the privileged signifier of individuality, truth, beauty, and interiority as well as the most basic support of intersubjectivity. We will examine the face in the cinema in relation to the star system, theories of desire and affect, and a history of representation of the face (Darwin, Galton, Duchenne, etc.). Films by Dreyer, Hitchcock, Warhol, Wiseman, and others. Students must register for the primary meeting and one film screening. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
MCM 0800H. TV/Not TV: Theory and Production.
This freshman seminar examines both commercial television and non-commercial media forms, considering the dialogue and/or tensions between them. What are the critical potentials and political stakes of viewing TV and of making independent media? How can we re-write TV's cultural codes by stimulating alternative readings, fostering new interpretive practices, creating different texts, or developing diverse modes and sites of distribution? Combining theory and practice (media studies, televisual and anti-televisual screenings, and simple production assignments using available technologies), this course encourages students to read and critique commercial television through both analysis and their own creative media practices. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
MCM 0800I. Victim Testimonies.
This seminar will explore primarily first person narratives and historical and other accounts that seek to recreate victim's voices (of the Jewish Holocaust, Stalin's terror, the Algerian War, the Rwandan genocide) in order to understand the cultural contexts and narrative styles that fashion victims, shape readers' views of them, and lead us to take some more seriously than others. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
MCM 0800J. The Revolution is Being Photographed.
The course will examine the following idea: revolution is not an epoch making event but a dialect, a genre and grammar of practices and gestures. Images and moving images will be read as the "written" signs of this dialect, which document more and less known revolutionary moments. The recurrent familiar gestures repeated by the demonstrators will be studied as components of a language rather than planned actions carried out to achieve a given goal. The recurrence of the same idioms and gestures in various parts of the world requires questioning the universal and regional dimension of this language. Enrollment limited to 19 first year student.
MCM 0800K. Pirates!.
This course examines the figure of the pirate and understandings of piracy from Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean to Pirate Bay and the WTO–that is, from sea-faring pirates and early print culture to the Internet and "pirate modernity." What do pirates do, mean, stand for, teach us? Readings, discussions and screenings will focus on both the history of pirates and piracy as well as the contemporary (media) pirate and issues related to creativity and originality, intellectual property rights and global governance, participatory cultures and democratization, information feudalism and the pirate modernities of the Global South, enclosures and the common. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
MCM 0800L. "I Don't Even Know Why They Call It Color TV": Television and Race in America.
Our era has been called both "post-televisual" and "post-racial," yet images that define and are defined by (mis)understandings of race fill our screens (whether on TV sets or other means for disseminating TV). Formations of television and race not only remain pressing concerns but are intertwined, mutually constructing one another. This course thus explores how notions of race have been mediated and how media have figured race. Topics include: stereotype analysis; race in television history; scandal and crisis; intersections of gender and sexuality; consumerism and commodification; racial representation across TV genres (comedy, drama, sports, reality TV), and new media possibilities.
MCM 0800M. The Terrible Century (ENGL 0150U).
Interested students must register for ENGL 0150U.
MCM 0800N. Hitchcock! (ENGL 0151A).
Interested students must register for ENGL 0151A.
MCM 0800O. Global Anime.
This course provides a systematic introduction to the forms, history, and culture of Japanese animation (anime). Surveying the historical developments, artistic styles, major themes and subgenres of anime under both the national context of Japan and a wider trajectory of globalization, this course focuses on analyzing the forms and idioms of anime in relation to changing technological conditions and their cultural ramifications. The students are expected to relate anime culture with their experience of new media technologies, and to expand their artistic interest in anime to wider theoretical questions such as posthumanism, globalism, techno-orientalism, and media convergence.
MCM 0900A. Cinema and Stardom: Image/Industry/Fantasy.
Focuses on the star within the "machinery" of Hollywood cinema: how stars function in the film industry, within cinematic and extra-cinematic texts, and at the level of individual fantasy and desire. Including screenings of films which exploit, foreground, or critique star images, also considers the ideological implications and cultural consequences of stardom.
MCM 0900B. Global Cyberpunk.
Examines how cyberpunk functions both as a global phenomenon and as a way to imagine the global. Texts include American science fiction by authors such as Octavia Butler and Neal Stephenson; anime such as Akira and AD Police Force; feature films such as Blade Runner; as well as theoretical texts on globalization, science fiction, and animation.
MCM 0900F. Real TV.
This course will investigate the construction of reality on U.S. television, considering not only specific reality genres (news and "magazine" programs, crisis coverage, docudrama, talk and game shows) but the discursive and representational modes that define the "reality" of commercial television as a whole. Issues include: "liveness"; social relevancy"; therapeutic discourse; TV personalities; media simulation; independent television; and new technologies/realisms.
MCM 0900G. Representing the Internet.
Investigates popular representations of the Internet (many of which precede the WWW) from cyberpunk to Supreme Court decisions, from mainstream film to Internet map sites. Considers the relationship between representation, ideology, culture, and technology. All written work for the seminar will be digital.
MCM 0901C. Photography/Film/Art: Memory, History and Ruin.
Questions of the nature of the photographic image have come to the fore in some of the most exciting modern art, such as the work of Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol. In particular, the question of how the photograph relates to film and history has generated important questions about art and media. This course will analyze these questions through the work of such artists as Jeff Wall, Jean-Luc Godard, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. We will examine these in relation to writings that theorize the relationship of photography to film and art after World War Two. Readings include Benjamin, Barthes, and Krauss. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 undergraduates.
MCM 0901D. Film Comedy.
What makes some films so funny? This course will investigate many different forms of film comedy-- from slapstick physical gags involving hapless men and umbrella-wielding matrons, to eccentric verbal banter, to parodies that subvert state politics using puppet characters. Instead of treating film comedy as "just mindless escapism," we will study how comedy's complex and slippery devices are central to the history of cinema. Readings in critical discourses about comedy, film history and film theory, e.g. Freud, Bergson, Benjamin, Rob King, Miriam Hansen, and Kathleen Rowe. Screenings range from silent slapstick, to communist satire, to romantic comedy, to political mockumentary. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901E. The Fantastic in Contemporary Cinema.
This course addresses the idea of the Fantastic from its definition to its articulations in contemporary cinema. Focusing more on form than on content, we will privilege a reading of the Fantastic as an effect rather than a genre or a theme: specific attention will be given to the relationships between filmic texts, spectatorship and the production of meaning. Screenings will include popular Hollywood cinema as well as European and independent films. We will discuss works by directors such as Lynch, Nolan, Fincher, Spielberg, Gondry, Cronenberg and Haneke. Readings will range from literary theory and psychoanalysis to film theory and semiotics. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 undergraduates.
MCM 0901F. "America" in Diaspora Literatures.
How have diasporic and immigrant writers come to see the United States? How do these writers negotiate dominant understandings of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and language that come to define "the nation"? Is all immigrant/minority writing necessarily (auto)biographical? How are notions of history, memory, and futurity taken up by writers of diasporic and hybrid cultures in the US? These are some of the questions that this course will take up through a close reading of canonical and contemporary African-American, South/Asian-American, and Arab-American texts. This course is ideal for students interested in minority literatures, diaspora studies, and Ethnic Studies.
MCM 0901G. Digital Culture and Art after 1989.
How can we contextualize new media art alongside earlier forms of media such as photography and cinema? Is its relation to the "outside world" primarily conceived as representation, or as process? What are the cultural effects of this mediatic shift? Taking as our starting point the fall of the Berlin Wall and the resulting spread of capitalism as a near-global political-economic system, we will "read" a variety of works of art and culture from several contemporary theoretical perspectives. Topics include digital media, the Internet, European cinema, and popular music. Readings from Galloway, Fukuyama, Deleuze, Hardt and Negri, Freud, Jameson, etc. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901H. Uncomfortable Media.
Why are we often addicted to that which disgusts us? This course analyzes why "uncomfortable media" – media that plays with notions of the perverse, the abject, and the taboo – remain so popular in the American cultural imaginary. Studying a variety of popular television programs and films, this course will approach these viscerally transgressive media texts through analyzing representation (how cultural taboos appear in popular culture) and analyzing spectatorship (how viewers perform discomfort). We will examine how developments in genre and narrative form, affect studies, performance studies, and queer theory have contributed to theorizing the perverse. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901I. Body Count: Technologies of Life and Death.
From the War on Terror and the global obesity crisis to self-help reality TV and new biotechnologies, questions of life and death have come to center stage of contemporary politics. This course investigates the theoretical and historical contexts under which "life itself" has emerged as a key arena of social, cultural, and technological importance. We will read critical studies of race, media, embodiment, and the state, tracing how distinctions between life and its others have structured the distribution of death, risk, and freedom in modernity. Topics include biocolonialism, cyborgs and swarms, U.S. prison regime, computer viruses, "bugchasing," suicide bombing. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901J. Adaptation Culture: New Media <---> Traditional Theatres (TAPS 0080).
Interested students must reigster for TAPS 0080.
MCM 0901K. Statelessness and Global Media: Citizens, Foreigners, Aliens.
What is citizenship? What does it mean to be granted or refused state protection within the global system? To better understand how nation-states govern subjects, we will consider the condition of refugees, displaced persons, illegal residents, undocumented aliens, and stateless persons. We will read the representations of non-citizenship in global media texts (humanitarian graphic narrative, migrant diary, atrocity photography, world cinema, war fiction, crowdsourced crisis mapping). This course will place a special emphasis on how perpetual warfare, territorial re-mappings, and nationality legislation continue to generate sliding scales of non-citizenship. Readings include Arendt, Balibar, Chatterjee, Foucault, Lowe, and Said. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901L. African American Media Visibility: Image, Culture, Crisis.
This course explores the "problem" of the black image in 20th - 21st century U.S. film and television. What is the role of spectacle and scandal in (re)presenting blackness to the public? Emphasis placed on the tension between invisibility and (hyper)visibility of the black subject in relation to gender and sexuality as well as the political, ethical, social, and psychical implications of such varying degrees of visual exposure. Topics include the aesthetics of black celebrity from Josephine Baker to Beyoncé, cinematic practices from filmmakers Spike Lee to Tyler Perry, and televisual blackness from The Cosby Show to Flavor of Love. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0220, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 0901M. Ishiguro, Amongst Others (ENGL 0710L).
Interested students must register for ENGL 0710L.
MCM 0901N. Body/Gesture/Cinema.
Antonin Artaud once called the body “a language to which it seems we no longer have the key.” This course is an attempt to take up his challenge in light of our experience at the cinema. Two questions will guide our investigation: Do the bodies on film “signify”? If so, how does this signifying practice trigger our own corporeal unconscious? We will explore a wide range of texts across film studies, theatre, anthropology, linguistics, and critical theory. Topics include gesture, ethnography, disability, violence, horror, and phenomenology. Readings include Didi-Huberman, Benjamin, Ricoeur, Merleau-Ponty, Kristeva, Shaviro, Sobchack, Naremore, Clover, Linda Williams, etc.
MCM 0901O. Reinventions of Life: Aesthetics, Biopolitics, and the Avant-Gardes.
The impulse to connect art with life runs through the avant-gardes of the early and mid-twentieth century. Yet recently, the question of what constitutes life itself has emerged with increasing persistence. In this course, we will reconsider the history of the avant-gardes – and avant-garde cinema particularly – in relation to this question. Drawing broadly on theories of how contemporary forms of life have been managed and made productive, we will explore the links between the avant-garde’s aesthetic and political practices and its ongoing efforts to redefine and reinvent social existence. Readings include Benjamin, Foucault, Lacan, Fanon, Debord, Mulvey, and Agamben.
MCM 0901Q. Governing Sex: Citizenship, Violence, Media.
From the photographs of Abu Ghraib, to Tyler Clementi's suicide, and the rise of “revenge porn,” contemporary media have been central to understanding the ways in which sexuality, law, and citizenship are negotiated in our present moment. This course will take these moments of public crisis as instances from which to understand the politics of belonging within the framework of the contemporary nation-state. We will examine the inter-related problematics of sexuality as a site of state governance, and the anxieties about sexual violence as national crises. Assigned readings will include queer of color critique, critical race theory, feminism, and postcolonialism.
MCM 0901R. Altered Cinema: The Cultural Politics of Film Revision.
Repetition and variation define contemporary cinema texts. Media producers create multiple “cuts” of the same picture for domestic/international theater, television and home video markets. Meanwhile, consumers use new technologies to create their own textual variations and share them using informal distribution channels. This is a primary concern of Altered Cinema, which examines the history and culture of film revision from multiple perspectives, including originality, authorship, censorship, globalization, preservation, translation, copyright, fandom, new media and piracy. Screenings compare and contrast different editions, including director and fan cuts, of Metropolis, Star Wars, Dune and Night Watch among others.
MCM 0901S. Mediating Reproduction: Feminism, Art, Activism.
How have feminist artists and activists imagined and transformed the politics of reproduction? This course explores the complex meanings of “reproduction” across media, performance, and public culture, with a focus on questions of sexuality, race, labor, and aesthetic practice. Situating reproduction in an expanded frame, we will consider the relationship between biological reproduction and the gendered labor of reproducing social life (e.g., domestic labor, sex work, care work). Throughout, we will pay special attention to the entanglements of artistic labor with women's reproductive labor. Topics include: eugenics, housework/welfare activism, art workers movements, biotechnologies, queer kinship, and feminist utopias.
MCM 0901T. Shakespeare: The Screenplays (ENGL 0310E).
Interested students must register for ENGL 0310E.
MCM 0901U. What is Colonialism - Archives, Texts and Images (COLT 0812B).
Interested students must register for COLT 0812B.
MCM 0901W. The Space Within: Contemporary Borderland Moving Image Practice.
In this course we will examine post-NAFTA moving images that take as their subject the culture and politics of the Mexico-US Borderlands. We will tackle problems such as globalization, neoliberalism, the drug war, securitization, migration, biopolitics, and femicide. To make our claims we will place importance on film form as we unpack how the films figure and/or represent the bodies and spaces of the Borderlands. More, we will think seriously about how the concepts we adopt—including that of “border” itself—function as epistemological tools. This will be a course for those invested in Borderland issues and political moving image practice.
MCM 0901X. Digital Cinema and the Inhuman.
From the incursions of biopolitics to the specter of ecological collapse, the problem of how life is organized, sustained, and functionalized strikes at the heart of contemporary society. And yet to whom or what “life” belongs remains an open and evolving question. This course examines contemporary digital cinema as a textual, technological, and political site to rethink the concept of “the human.” Drawing on theoretical traditions that investigate the nature of vitality, automation, and the distinction between human and nonhuman, we will study how bodies, identities, and categories of thought are troubled and transformed by moving images.
MCM 0901Y. Puzzle Films.
This course explores a group of diverse and increasingly popular films termed “puzzle” or “mind game” films. The first unit of the course focuses on a sample of the debates surrounding post-classical cinema and its stylistic and institutional features. We will then explore these films against the background of the economic and political shift to Post-Fordism and Neoliberalism. Since many of these films explicitly with philosophical issues, we will also examine these. The topics will include skepticism and its relation to a changing and expanding media environment, and the importance of speculation in neoliberal economics and culture.
MCM 0901Z. Reading Practices: An Introduction to Literary Theory (ENGL 0700P).
Interested students must register for ENGL 0700P.
MCM 0902A. Cultures, Societies, and Resistance (MES 0950).
Interested students must register for MES 0950.
MCM 0902B. Film Classics: Greeks on the Silver Screen (MGRK 0810).
Interested students must register for MGRK 0810.
MCM 0902C. Digital Media in the Time of Ecological Crisis.
In a time characterized by anthropogenic climate change, militaries forecast climate refugees, scientific communities broadcast the end of ‘nature’ while politicians engineer influence in a media ecosystem. What are the politics of how media represents science, the environment and ecological crisis? This course considers the historical emergence of digital media alongside ecology. By studying the exchange between scientific knowledge, digital technology and the communication of environmental crises at local and global scales, we will attempt to establish an interpretive framework for the matrix of politics, power, inequality and violence that accompanies the historical and temporal conditions consistent with climate change.
MCM 0902D. The Visual Culture of Suffering.
This seminar explores how suffering is constructed as a visual phenomenon. Through close analysis of photographs, films, monuments, and exhibitions, we will explore how suffering has been deployed, and the sort of meanings it has been assigned. We will examine four specific scenes of historical suffering: Lynching and Reconstruction, The Holocaust, Hiroshima, and 9/11.
MCM 0902E. In Design: Layouts of Modern Media and Design.
This course aims to engage with media and design by thinking critically about them and asking questions about their relationship to the larger culture. We will survey design elements and principles and show how they construct products and media. Beginning from the basics, we will move onto systems to demonstrate how they lay out the rules of design. We will then move to digital media in which the design elements are re-organized by new uses of old principles and inventions of new ones. Readings include: Ranciere, Latour, Flusser, Bloch, and Baudrillard, alongside with Lupton, Buchanan, Papanek, Dunne and Raby.
MCM 0902F. Post Cinema? Histories and Politics in the “Digital Revolution”.
The rapid influx of digital technology and so-called “new media” around the new millennium has led some to suggest that Cinema—conceived of as a photochemical technology experienced publicly as a mid-twentieth century cultural phenomenon—is dead or dying. This course explores the political and historical stakes of this claim, taking an archaeological and genealogical approach to problematize notions of technological progress and periodization. Rather than seeking to “rescue” cinema, we will instead explore how “the cinematic” has been adopted and dismantled by the logics of neoliberal governmentality, and what it can still offer for modes of political resistance.
MCM 0902G. Visual Cultures of Repair and Resistance.
This seminar will explore the poetics and politics of cultural production that engages war, state violence, and intersecting social inequalities through processes of repair and resistance. Using methodologies of visual culture analysis, we will examine how images shape the political imagination, paying special attention to the politics of looking, witnessing, and (not) being seen. Addressing various historical and political contexts, we will focus on a few primary loci: Afrofuturism and what Saidiya Hartman calls “critical fabulation” in the “afterlife of slavery”; acts of witnessing and speculation in Palestine-Israel; and transnational resistance to surveillance, drone warfare, and global networks of control.
MCM 0902H. Cinema and Revolution: A Global Perspective.
This course provides a critical introduction to the history and theory of revolutionary cinema. Students will be exposed to a range of filmic modes and textual practices that mediated the political idea of revolution, including such celebrated movements as Soviet formalism, Surrealism, 60s Counter Cinema, and Third Cinema. We will investigate the role of film in the revolutionary renewal of life, the dialectic of repetition and emergence that structures revolutionary temporality and the modernist work of art, the compulsive drive to reconstruct revolutions as cinematic events, and the political antagonisms that prevent the revolutionary project from achieving representational closure.
MCM 0902I. Never Work! History, theory and media of work and its refusal.
This course attempts to clarify some of the intricacies of the category of work and examine the role of media in its articulation. We will explore the charachterization of historical epochs and articulation of theoretical binaries that have contributed to a contemporary understanding of labor and productivity: the transition from feudalism to capitalism, idleness and leisure, productive and reproductive labor, etc. Throughout the course we will explore both media produced with the intent to glorify, enforce and structure work as well as media intended to reflect critically on conditions of labor and instigate work refusal.
MCM 0902J. The Humanities in Context: Literature, Media, Critique (HMAN 0800A).
Interested students must register for HMAN 0800A.
MCM 0902L. Film Classics: The Greeks on the Silver Screen (MGRK 0810).
Interested students must register for MGRK 0810.
MCM 0902M. The end of politics as we know it? New Media & Political Imagination.
Technical inventions have always spawned utopian visions of total social amelioration, followed closely by dystopian fears and moral panics. Digital information technologies are no different. Producing the full range of reactions—from celebrations of “networked protests” to wild accusations of “fake news”—responses to today’s media environments proclaim the end of politics as we know it. Reading works by political theorists alongside scholars of the digital, this course will question both triumphant digital utopianism and fatalist assumptions of ubiquitous manipulation, and instead engage in more complex readings of the ways media shapes and is shaped by subjects and communities alike.
MCM 0902N. Identification Technologies: Sense, Surveillance, Subjectivity.
What does it mean to identify as, or to be identified as? Identification has become both a sign of our identity’s unavailability to external prescription or visual verification, and the impetus of state biometrics, corporate data analytics, and military surveillance tactics. This course plumbs the ubiquity and polysemy of identification to consider its theoretical, political, and ethical effects on and for our contemporary moment. Tracing the concept through surveillance studies, trans/gender and sexuality studies, and critical race studies, we will examine how identification makes and unmakes subjects, populations, and worlds, in concert and in tension with technologies old and new.
MCM 0902O. Neural Media: A Cultural History of Machine Learning.
After decades at the fringes of computer science, neural networks are now recognized as one of the most effective models for machine learning. A key object of study for media studies, these systems provide a privileged entry into the history and epistemology of computing machines, digital cultures, and the supposedly “objective” data practices underpinning them. Readings works from media studies, history of science, and postcolonial theory, this course will link the historical emergence of neural networks to the remediation of broader ideals and practices of knowledge related to the classification, management, and regulation of individuals and populations.
MCM 0902P. Digital Media on Trial.
Digital Media on Trial explores the traffic between media, technology, and the law. We are familiar with lamentations over the law’s struggle to keep up with rapid technological change. We are also familiar with claims of the law’s ‘timeless’ or even ‘universal’ principles. This course troubles both of these dominant conceptions of the law’s relationship to technology through media. How do courts of law and of public opinion respond to seemingly accelerating cycles of obsolescence? How is technological ‘innovation’ shaped by legal discourses in return? How might a focus on digital media and technology throw these questions into sharper relief?
MCM 1110. The Theory of the Sign.
A survey of three late twentieth-century theorists: Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. Our analyses will focus on these figures as they emerge from and reorient the broad field of semiotics, with particular attention to the evolution of each oeuvre, the continuities and discontinuities that distinguish their theoretical claims, and their diverging legacies. Readings will include Althusser's Reading Capital and "Contradiction and Over-determination;" Derrida’s Of Grammatology and Spurs; and Foucault's This is Not a Pipe and History of Sexuality. Critical concepts to be examined include signification, reading, discourse, subjectivity, power, historicism, archaeology, the supplement, and difference.
MCM 1200D. African Cinema.
Subsaharan African cinemas 1960-present, primary emphasis on narrative films. We will analyze cultural and aesthetic strategies, (cinematic style, narrative, and subjects). in the context of postcolonial African and international film histories. Themes include: anticolonial resistance/nationalist ideologies; third cinema/international art cinemas; oral aesthetic culture and cinematic style; political critique (e.g., gender, state politics); media globalizationand resistence; the struggle for a mass audience. Enrollment limited to 50. Previous coursework in MCM, Africana Studies, or related areas highly recommended.
MCM 1200G. Cinema and Stardom: Image/Industry/Fantasy.
This course focuses on the role of the star within the "machinery" of Hollywood: how stars function in the film industry, within cinematic and extra-cinematic texts, and at the level of individual fantasy and desire. The paradoxes posed by stars--represented as like yet unlike us, public yet privately known, commodities yet (super)human--suggest complex formations and implications of the star system. We will read film theories and histories and investigate films in which star images are foregrounded to explore these issues.
MCM 1200K. Hollywood as Global Cinema.
Commonly treated as a U.S. national cinema, Hollywood film has long been a global institution dominating worldwide distribution. We reread U.S. narrative filmmaking and its products in relation to its global ambitions. Topics include: internationalizing the history of U.S. cinema; rethinking theories of the classical and anticlassical text; local, national and global spectatorship; concepts of cultural imperialism and cultural globalization; etc. Students interested in the class who have not fulfilled the prerequisite may apply to the instructor for permission to enroll. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50. Students must register for the primary meeting and one film screening.
MCM 1200Q. Publicity and Surveillance.
Investigates the converging technologies and practices of publicity and surveillance. Considers phenomena such as webcams, face recognition technology and networked art, as well as concepts such as enlightenment, paranoia and exhibitionism. Theoretical, historical and legal readings.
MCM 1201C. Imagined Networks, Glocal Connections.
This course examines emergent "imagined networks" (Arab Spring activists, global anti-globalization networks, global climate and financial systems) impacted by new media technologies and applications. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the changing relationship between the local and the global, and how "glocal" phenomena affect national and personal identities. Readings will be theoretical, historical, political and literary. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1201E. Feminist Theory and the Question of Sexual Subjectivity.
Many contemporary theories of sexual subjectivity have to do not with the body but with gender. Gender is seen to have liberated people from the dictates of biology. But there are other feminist theories that see sexual subjectivity as reducible neither to anatomy (biologically male/female) nor to gender (culturally male/female/other). We'll look at current debates among theorists and will ask what these debates have to do with the canonical work of earlier feminist film theorists on questions of spectatorship. Readings include Butler, Copjec, Freud, Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Mulvey, Doane, and others. Prerequisites: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1201J. Aesthetics and Politics (ENGL 1900E).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900E.
MCM 1201K. Queer Relations: Aesthetics and Sexuality (ENGL 1900R).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900R.
MCM 1201O. Global Media/Global War.
The 20th Century has been called the age of total war. Alongside the globalized military conflicts of the past 100 years is a corresponding globalization of visual media technologies. This course is a study of the links between the technologies, strategies, tactics and technologies of the military and those of various media industries. Topics include "target markets"; flight simulators; Google Earth; "the logistics of military perception;" the bombing of television and radio stations in Serbia and Iraq; the global presence of U.S. military bases and their role in the Americanization of global culture; and Michael Bay's Pentagon contracts. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50. First year students require instructor permission.
MCM 1201P. Freedom in Africana Political Thought (AFRI 1020B).
Interested students must register for AFRI 1020B.
MCM 1201R. Music and Modern Life (MUSC 1920).
Interested students must register for MUSC 1920.
MCM 1201T. Russian Cinema (RUSS 1250).
Interested students must register for RUSS 1250.
MCM 1201W. Modernity, Italian Style (ITAL 1030A).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1030A.
MCM 1201X. Global Media: History, Theory, Production (INTL 1800N).
Interested students must register for INTL 1800N.
MCM 1201Y. Reading Michel Foucault.
This course will explore Foucault's work and impact primarily through his own writings, but also by exploring the transformation his thought has effected on tradtional ways of approaching state and society, the body, social discipline, and a number of other areas of study. In short, this course seeks to put his work in the context of ideas he meant to challenge and how those challenges have been met and incorporated in current thought about politics, society, and culture. We will follow Foucault's trajectory from what he termed "archaeology" to "geneaology." Prerequisites: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260 or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.
MCM 1202A. The Poetics of Confession (ENGL 1561J).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1561J.
MCM 1202B. Literature and Politics (ENGL 1900D).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900D.
MCM 1202C. Camera Works: The Theory and Fiction of Photography (ENGL 1900V).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900V.
MCM 1202D. China Through the Lens: History, Cinema, and Critical Discourse (EAST 1270).
Interested students must register for EAST 1270.
MCM 1202E. Extreme Asian Cinema: Contemporary Genre Cinemas in an East Asian Context.
Since the late 1990's, a discourse of "extreme Asian cinema" has gained traction among aficionados of global cinema, transforming our understandings of "national cinema." In this course, we will interrogate the spectacular aesthetics of "extremity," with its violence, polymorphous perversion, and grotesquerie, in relation to social and cultural phenomena in contemporary East Asia. By analyzing the genres of the gangster film, the revival of wuxia (heroic martial arts genre) and samurai films, horror, revenge films, and techno-dystopia and ecological disaster anime, we will explore "extreme Asian cinema," as a response to cultural shifts in global identities and film experience. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1202F. Science Fiction Cinema.
Although it raises compelling philosophical, aesthetic, and socio-historical questions, science fiction cinema has been underrepresented in scholarly literature and the academic curriculum. This course surveys the modern science fiction film from experiments in the silent era through the contemporary science fiction blockbuster (with particular emphasis on the latter). Covers various thematic concerns (disaster, post-apocalypse, the future, simulation, space travel and inhabitation, future cities, alien arrivals/invasions, posthumanity) and is international in scope. Films by Kubrick, Cameron, Scott, Verhoeven, Gilliam, Bigelow, Boyle, Emmerich, and others. Readings in theory, philosophy, cultural studies, film studies, gender studies, and fiction. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50. Not open to first-year students.
MCM 1202H. French Cinema: The First Fifty Years (FREN 1150C).
Interested students must register for FREN 1150C.
MCM 1202I. Warriors, Gangsters, and Misanthropes: Violence and Sociality in Asian Genre Cinemas.
By analyzing films from a variety of popular genres, from war to horror, gangster, action-thriller, and disaster films, we will consider the problem-solving function, visual pleasure, visceral thrills, and ethical stakes of multiple forms of film violence, including state violence, gendered violence, heroic and anti-heroic violence, and spectacular, extreme, or fantasmatic violence. Further, we will ask what forms of sociality or intersubjective relations these differing modes of violence posit or problematize, to gain insight into broader questions concerning the anti-sociality of violence and the prevalence of film violence in the social, cultural, and historical contexts of contemporary East Asia. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1202J. Faking Globalization: Media, Piracy and Urbanism.
This course explores issues related to media, piracy, and development—centering on two entangled processes: faking and globalization. It asks: how do we understand globalization? And what does it mean to fake, forge or fail at it? We will examine theories of globalization and global media as well as challenges to dominant models of neoliberal modernity. Key examples include "pirate modernity," "information feudalism," parasites, terrorists, copycats and other markers of excess or imitation. Rather than dismissing alternative or counter-globalization practices as aberrations, the course examines how faking globalization enables both new forms of control and capacities in political society. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1202K. Garibaldi Panorama: the Invention of a Hero (from pre-cinema to digital) (ITAL 1340).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1340.
MCM 1202L. The Many Faces of Casanova (ITAL 1400J).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1400J.
MCM 1202M. Issues in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema.
How can we begin to think about contemporary Hollywood? This course examines Hollywood filmmaking from the end of the studio era through the present. It interrogates the concept of "classical Hollywood cinema" as it persists, develops, and/or attenuates outside of its natural habitat under the studio monopolies, addressing topics and areas like genre revisionism, New Hollywood, technological development, postmodernity/simulation, digitization, corporatization, merchandising, globalization, Vietnam, counterculture, Reaganism, 9/11, etc. Films by the likes of Sirk, Fuller, Hitchcock, Peckinpah, Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Cassavetes, Polanski, Malick, Spielberg/Lucas, Carpenter, Bigelow, Cameron, Scott, Verhoeven, Lynch, Nolan, Peter Jackson, Jonze, P.T. Anderson, Rian Johnson, Winding Refn. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1202N. Global Theatre and Performance: Paleolithic to the Threshold of Modernity (TAPS 1230).
Interested students must register for TAPS 1230.
MCM 1202P. Fellini (ITAL 1030A).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1030A.
MCM 1202Q. Word, Media, Power in Modern Italy (ITAL 1590).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1590.
MCM 1202R. Rhetorics of New Media.
Digital technologies have shaped culture, but they've also shaped how we talk about culture, and about art, bodies, and communities. Is there political potential in the trend toward computerization? Or might technophilia and technocracy obstruct collective betterment? We’ll study the legitimizing rhetorics of our increasingly digital present, and read electronic literature, print sci-fi, film, games, and art, along with cultural theory spanning the past half century. Historically arrayed, our topics range from globalization to the aesthetics of code, the newness of new media, technics-out-of-control, gamification of war, technologies of race and gender, digital narratology, and the ideology of computationalism. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0220, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 50 sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
MCM 1202S. Click Here to Continue: Bodies, Identities and Practices in a Digital Age.
Why is the notion of ‘post-racial’ synonymous with this digital age? How are political and social effects visible not only in the practice of digital technology, but in the underlying structure itself?
Crossing the fields of digital humanities, critical theory, feminist theory, race studies, and new media studies, this course considers how technology is a constant reflection of fantasies and fears. We will consider the interplay between users, humans, bodies, avatars, code and systems as we simultaneously practice and critique the prevalent forms of digital technology in our lives today. Readings include work by Nakamura, Gonzalez, Haraway and Coleman.
MCM 1202T. Perverse Cinema (ENGL 1762A).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1762A.
MCM 1202U. Sex and Sexuality in American Film.
What is the connection between “sex” and “sexuality,” and how do these terms intersect in film and theory? In this course, we take a long historical view of both mainstream and experimental American film. We look at how sex and sexuality have been depicted on screen, while exploring cinema’s role in the construction of diverse, often radical, identities and practices. We test a range of critical approaches—deconstruction, feminism, close reading, queer historiography—to the theory of sexuality, and read major figures in film from Greta Garbo, Orson Welles, and Rock Hudson to Lizzie Borden, Divine, and the Brokeback cowboys.
MCM 1202X. Twentieth-Century Western Theatre and Performance (TAPS 1250).
Interested students must register for TAPS 1250.
MCM 1202Y. World Cinema in a Global Context (ITAL 1029).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1029.
MCM 1202Z. Native Americans in the Media: Representation and Self-Representation on Film (ETHN 1890G).
Interested students must register for ETHN 1890G.
MCM 1203A. Gaming of the Oppressed: Theory and Design.
This course gives an overview of various types of “serious games” or “anti-oppressive games” that range from videogames to immersive transmedia storytelling games. We will explore issues of why gaming is so enticing and the potential games have through their history, procedure, and design. We will then examine the role games play in our everyday lives and games’ potential for understanding motivation, education, and labor. Students will also work with complimentary theories of race formation, queer theory, and gender identity. At the end of the semester, students have the opportunity to create their own game.
MCM 1203B. Politics + Aesthetics of Hollywood.
Hollywood is an industry, a cultural bellwether, and a globally distributed artform. This course will consider these functions together, asking how Hollywood’s aesthetics connect to its ideology and commerce. Focusing on the post-studio life of Hollywood, and on Hollywood’s preoccupation with sex and violence, we’ll pay special attention to the genres of melodrama and crime film, 1945-2000. We’ll read film theory, “Hollywood novels,” and documents of film culture, and watch films by filmmakers who were central to the industry (like Hitchcock and Minnelli) as well as by those at its margins (from Lupino and Waters to Burnett and Cronenberg).
MCM 1203C. Tv Time Machine: History, Representation, Politics.
How does television both document and represent historical events? This course examines American history “as seen on TV”: how viewers watch noteworthy events live; how television archives crucial moments and time periods; and how genres such as the news, period drama and sitcom, and reality TV differ in their representations. We consider what makes television a unique medium for which to study history, particularly focusing on questions of gender, class, race, and sexuality. Utilizing approaches including the study of collective memory, historiography, aesthetic and textual analysis, and media theory, we will assess the imbrication of American history and popular culture.
MCM 1203D. Back to the Future: Nostalgia and Futurity in Contemporary Sci-Fi TV and Telefantasy.
How do contemporary science fiction and fantasy television programs not only imagine our future, but also our past? How do visions of the future from the past inform both of these genres today? And what does contemporary TV’s nostalgic longing for futures past suggest about where the medium is headed? This course addresses these and other related questions while providing students with an overview of contemporary English-language sci-fi and fantasy television. The course combines elements of both the lecture and seminar, and will included screenings of such varied programs as Babylon 5, True Blood, and Dr. Who.
MCM 1203E. Intellectual Life and Culture in the Post-Western World.
No one alive today has experience of a world in which the United States is not the leading economic power. This is the world we shall all encounter, however, very soon. Such headlines are small indices of an emerging post-Western future. We will investigate the intellectual, political and aesthetic culture of this future. What will change when Judaeo-Christian societies no longer monopolize global conversation? When societies that have historically rejected Western capitalism come to dominate it? What new ideas will be unleashed in such a world, and what will their consequences be for our thinking about politics, economy and identity? This is a half-credit course.
MCM 1203F. The Aesthetics of Political Cinema: Montage, Political Modernism, and Beyond.
In the 1920s, Russian filmmakers with political concerns blended mass cinema and innovative avant-garde and modernist filmmaking styles. Their most famous filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein, elaborated his concept of montage to explain his ideas of cinema. This course will examine the heritage and strategies of political filmmaking which draws on modernist aesthetics, beginning from the montage filmmaking of the 1920s. Some emphasis on 1920s-30s and 1960s-70s, but not limited to those years. Work by filmmakers such as Eisenstein, Vertov, Brecht, Ivens, Capra, Godard, Marker, Oshima, Bertolucci, Tavianis, Kluge, Fassbinder, Akerman, Rainer, Mulvey, Solanas, Hondo, Gerima, M.Moore, Oppenheimer, and/or others.
MCM 1203G. East Asian Internet Cultures.
This course examines the social, cultural, and aesthetic dimensions of internet life in China, Japan, and South Korea. Our focus will be on the formal diversity of internet use (including websites, social media, mobile phones, blogs, gaming, and streaming video); the relationship between the internet and other media (literature, film, animation, documentary); and interdisciplinary methods for studying online life. By considering how the internet has developed in each country and how it has reshaped identity, sociality, politics, public space, and aesthetic form, we will work towards building a conceptual and critical vocabulary for the comparative study of internet cultures.
MCM 1203H. The Visual Culture of Freedom.
Organized around three classics of anticolonial thought by M.K. Gandhi, C.L.R. James, and Frantz Fanon, this course aims to formulate the relationship between visual media and the pursuit of freedom across the globe. We will critically examine various forms of resistance, from insurgency to civil disobedience, from fugitivity to refusal, in the theatre of colonialism. Through visual materials like the monster film, human rights photos, and new wave cinema, we will consider the cultural mechanisms of othering, stereotyping, removal, and exoticization that constitute the history of colonial rule and determine the course of resistance against it.
MCM 1203I. Media, or Affect.
The concept of affect—what we feel, what our bodies do and can do—is now at the center of vibrant theoretical debates. This course selectively surveys the “affective turn,” focusing on four related areas: 1) the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and its influence today; 2) the work of Deleuzian theorist Brian Massumi, who rejects the very concepts of media and mediation; 3) developments in film theory and new media theory following from Spinoza, Deleuze and Massumi; 4) psychoanalytic accounts of affect that endeavor to reaffirm mediation, representation, and sexuation against affective immediacy. Films by Malick, Cronenberg, Resnais, and others.
MCM 1203J. Anime Studies.
The scholarly study of anime has rapidly matured over the past few years, and now represents a key site for debates over the social status of drawn characters, the role of animation within larger media ecologies, and the transnational reach of Japanese popular culture. Through close engagement with the central books in anime studies and the major works of anime history, this course examines how anime has forced the rethinking of gender, sexuality, labor, intellectual property, narrative form, and the convergence of on and off-screen space.
MCM 1203L. Media and Everyday Life in Japan.
This course examines how media use intersects with the aesthetics of everyday life in modern Japan. We will examine the role of mediation through Japan’s tumultuous modern history, from the early 20th century to the early 21st, drawing on accounts from a range of creative works and critical studies. In the process, we will map out shifts in the circulation of emotion, the border between private and public, the deployment of routine and habit, and the objective design of the ordinary.
MCM 1203N. The Collapse of the Nation-State System: An Intellectual Preparation.
The century-long dominance of the nation-state idea is ending. Radical Islamic internationalism, at war with twentieth-century state divisions, has created post-national forms of personal identity which bewilder the old archetypes. Russia and China are reverting to a nineteenth-century model of regional empires. Even the most stable nations are contorted by global currents which increasingly undermine the national sense in favour of new forms of localism, regionalism and internationalism.
Looking at theory and contemporary culture we will consider the long dominance of the nation-state idea, and study the emerging territorial concepts with which a world "after nations" might organise itself.
This course begins half-way through the semester. The first screening will start, before the lecture begins, on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The first lecture will begin on Thursday, March 9, 2017 and the last lecture will be Thursday, May 4, 2017. The instructor, Rana Dasgupta, will make contact with all students via email in the first half of the semester to establish the rapport of the group and answer any queries students may have. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
MCM 1203O. Modernity, Italian Style (ITAL 1030B).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1030B.
MCM 1203P. Fashion as Technology.
The course explores the interplay between fashion, subjectivity and technology, tracing a genealogy of clothing and adornment as a fundamental tool for gendering and racializing subjects – from analog prosthetics to the Click-and-Buy apps of today, from tattooing to the burkini. Central to the course will be the status of the material body (along with its cosmetic and pharmacological appendages and enhancements) in an increasingly digital world. We will gain critical literacy in the history of fashion and luxury, assessing the role of dress in fabricating sexual difference and holding it into place, as well as fashion’s potential for subversion.
MCM 1203R. Visual Politics in Contemporary Middle East (MES 1200).
Interested students must register for MES 1200.
MCM 1203T. Digital Masculinities.
Masculinity has historically been associated with agency over objecthood. What happens, then, to masculinity’s strategies of survival within a context of perpetual digital representation? This course examines the ways male and masculine bodies – cis, trans, queer – perform themselves online, and how the digital may threaten masculinity’s undoing whilst revealing its modus operandi in unprecedented ways. Through digital media theories, queer theory and psychoanalytic concepts, we investigate the various virtual, fleshly and fantasmatic assemblages that prop up phallic power in late capitalism: from trolling and online misogyny to drone warfare, from racial and gender passing to digitally enabled terrorist networks.
MCM 1203U. East Asian Cinemas in a Global Frame.
Arguably, cinema has political value because it manipulates the texture of our collective imaginations, shaping how the world, races, nations and regions appear before globally differentiated audiences. By analyzing films from Hollywood, the PRC, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, this course charts how “East Asia” emerged cinematically as a textured cultural and geopolitical entity within the framework of a broader global circulation of images. Topics covered include Hollywood Orientalisms, Japanese Empire, postsocialist China, and New Korean Cinema.
MCM 1203W. Social Media Networks: From Local to Global.
Social media networks have played an increasingly conspicuous role in national and transnational politics, from the Arab Spring uprisings, to the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations in Turkey, to the viral spread of fake news leading up to the 2016 US election. In this course, we will discuss how media connect people across the globe to an unprecedented degree, as well as the stark divisions and borders they reveal, complicating any utopian visions of a “global village.” We will explore how individuals’ networked identities and national and global scales of social media communities are mutually constituted.
MCM 1203X. Digital Bodies: Cyborgs, Biometrics, and Corporeal Data.
In this course we will learn about the ways human bodies interface with digital technologies. Medical scans, prosthetic limbs, and technologies like the Pacemaker promise to protect and supplement the human body, and feminists and disability scholars have at times embraced the empowering potentials of the cyborgian body. Yet the ways in which the human body is digitized—its data harvested, charted, and merged with technologies—also have more dystopian valences. We will discuss how medical technologies, CGI, phone apps, and corporations have translated and used the data of the human body, and how this changes definitions of "human."
MCM 1203Y. Rhythm Beyond Music (MUSC 1240L).
Interested students must register for MUSC 1240L.
MCM 1203Z. Race, Ethnicity, and American Film.
This course asks what a study of selected American films offers to our understanding of “race,” “ethnicity,” “power” and “resistance.” We ask how cinema participates in shaping our collective sense of race and ethnicity, of racialization, and of racial and ethnic identity. We seek to answer our questions by attending to cinematic productions that offer insights in the history and contemporary situations of African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanos and Latinx, Native Americans, and European Americans. An aim is to work towards a comparative analysis of racialization that reveals not only differences between these groups, but also commonalities among them.
MCM 1204B. China Modern: An Introduction to the Literature of Twentieth-Century China (EAST 1070).
Interested students must register for EAST 1070.
MCM 1204C. Ways of Seeing: The Arab World in Global Perspectives (MES 1200).
Interested students must register for MES 1200.
MCM 1204D. Politics of Chinese Cinemas.
Focusing on films produced since 1949, this course explores how “Chinese cinema” delimits a field of political contest, a global arena for antagonism over the meaning of revolution, the definition of art, the reach of propaganda, the articulation of gender, and the boundaries of culture. We begin with an examination of cinema in the Maoist PRC, moving on to a discussion of China’s international Cold War presence, and finally to contemporary themes of independent film production, women’s and queer cinema, and the place of Hong Kong and Taiwan in the shadow of the PRC’s “rise.”
MCM 1204E. The Politics of Perspective: Post-war British Fiction (ENGL 1711K).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1711K.
MCM 1204F. Critical Video Game Studies.
This course serves as a gateway into the study of video games from an analytical humanities perspective. Because reception, design, and, ultimately, interpretation are intimately entwined in gaming culture today, students will also engage the popular and corporate discourses surrounding gaming, particularly as they address issues of social justice, gender, race, and sexuality. Over the course of the semester, students will fine-tune interpretive skills that have been developed in other humanities courses for the unique challenges presented by video games and other interactive texts.
MCM 1204I. On Both Sides of the Lens: Latin American Women Filmmakers (GNSS 1070).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1070.
MCM 1204J. A New Black Gaze.
What is a ‘black gaze’? The title of this course is a provocation that poses the question of whether we can identify the existence of a black gaze, while asserting the transformative potential such a gaze both promises and portends. Starting from a close examination of theories of the gaze, we will engage the relationship between contemporary black visuality and what constitutes a black gaze in the twenty-first century. Focusing on a select group of black contemporary artists, we will explore how their work challenges traditional notions of what constitutes the power/politics of the gaze.
MCM 1204K. From Analog to Analogue: Digitality and Ephemerality in Audiovisual Archives.
This seminar explores histories of moving image and sound archives in relation to social movements, technological change, and philosophies of cultural memory and value that dictate the content of archives and shape perceptions of their use value. We begin by exploring archives as physical entities (buildings), structures of information (catalogs, databases, finding aids) and arbiters of meaning (collections). We also consider enterprises that increasingly present themselves as archives of our contemporary selves and collective existence: Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Twitter. As well as exploring these issues historically and theoretically, we will visit local archives and engage in hands on activities.
MCM 1204L. Transmedia Storytelling and the New Italian Epic (ITAL 1350A).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1350A.
MCM 1204M. Latin American Horror Film (GNSS 1520).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1520.
MCM 1204N. TV and/as Popular Culture.
TV and/as Popular Culture is a broad critical exploration of to U.S. television, broadcasting, popular culture, and media convergence from the 19th century to the current day. Students will explore the roles of industry, advertising, representation, and technology in the development of broadcast media, and learn to analyze these texts within their cultural and historical contexts. Special attention will be paid to issues of class, gender, race, and reception.
MCM 1204O. Post-1989 Chinese Media: The Culture and Politics of Control.
1989 is a dramatic turning point in China’s recent history, when the crackdown of the democratic movement in Tiananmen Square led to profound socio-political changes that significantly transformed the nation’s media culture. This course maps the history, politics, and culture of contemporary China through the changing lenses of post-1989 Chinese media including film, television, digital videos, visual arts, and the Internet. The focus is the culture and politics of control in post-1989 China. We will examine the controlling mechanisms in Chinese media in public and commercial domains, as well as the counter-control practices among media artists and general audience.
MCM 1204P. Nationalism and Transnationalism in Film and Fiction (COLT 1440P).
Interested students must register for COLT 1440P.
MCM 1204Q. Anime Culture: Theory and Media Ecology of Animation.
This course introduces students to the critical study of Japanese animation (anime) in a global context of media environment. We will study the history, aesthetics, politics, and theory of anime and its socio-cultural formations. The focus is to analyze the forms and idioms of anime in relation to changing media technologies and their impacts. Students are expected to explore the technological and cultural characteristics of anime in tandem with the studies of media theory and history, and to expand their interest in anime to wider questions such as posthumanism, techno-orientalism, cyborg feminism, media convergence, and participatory cultures
MCM 1204R. Memory, Identity, and the Archival Paradigm.
As ‘alternative facts’ proliferate, archive-based evidence is valued for its ability to document the histories and perspectives of diverse peoples, cultures, and movements. The inter-relationship of archives, memory, and identity was predicated on theories of power relations in archives. Today, archives are increasingly considered “memory prostheses.” Audiovisual archives have inherently problematized these theories due to issues of provenance. This class questions the archival paradigm as it relates to community, celebration, reclamation of identities, artistic re-use of archives, and social activism. Students are encouraged to imagine new paths of access to media archives and to create new works using archival materials.
MCM 1204S. Asian Extreme: Beauty and Violence in Korean Media (EAST 1292).
Interested students must register for EAST 1292.
MCM 1204U. Slow Cinema.
In the wake of the increasingly frantic pace of 21st century life, a loose, international movement known as “slow cinema” has gained a significant following in the last two decades. But what do we mean by “slowness,” and can these films reveal anything about our current moment of crisis and economic contraction? Are they simply a nostalgic repetition of earlier art cinemas, or are they capable of engendering new, oppositional modes of spectatorship? We will attempt to answer these questions while grounding our inquiry firmly in a close, formal analysis of key slow films.
MCM 1500C. Archaeology of Multimedia.
A historical and theoretical study of "multimedia" from magic lanterns to the Internet. Examines the ways in which media have always been multiple and have always impacted on each other, as well as the ways that various media discourses constitute an "archive" of the knowable and sayable.
MCM 1500D. Contemporary Film Theory.
Major arguments in film theory from the late 1960s to the present, contextualized by contemporaneous intellectual tendencies and selected films. Some key issues: cinematic specificity and signification, the politics of form and style, subjectivity/spectatorship, gender/sexuality, postmodern media, digital theory and cinema. Readings from figures such as Baudry, Bordwell, Deleuze, Doane, Elsaesser, Gunning, M. Hansen, Heath, Jameson, Koch, Manovich, Metz, Mulvey, Pasolini, Rodowick, L. Williams, Willemen, Wollen, etc. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: one MCM core course.
MCM 1500J. Feminist Theory and the Problem of the Subject.
Readings in contemporary feminist theory and 20th-century theories of subjectivity. Topics include interpellation, modes of address, apostrophe, positionality; texts include Butler, Haraway, Spillers, Spivak. Previous work in feminist theory strongly recommended.
MCM 1500K. Film and the Avant-Garde.
An examination of film's historical relations with various avant-garde movements from surrealism, French Impressionism, German Expressionism, and Dadaism to the theoretically informed independent film of the 1970s and beyond. However, the goal of the course is not a historical survey but the investigation of various conceptualizations of "avant-gardism" and its relation to modernity, mass-culture, and technology.
MCM 1500L. Film Theory.
Major positions in the history of film theory, contextualized by both contemporaneous filmmaking and intellectual approaches (phenomenology, Marxism, structuralism/poststructuralism, feminism, etc.) Key issues include: cinematic specificity, cinematic representation and the real, the politics of form and style, cinema and language, subjectivity and spectatorship, film and postmodern "media." Readings in Munsterberg, Arnheim, Kracauer, Bazin, Balazs, Metz, Heath, Mulvey, Williams.
MCM 1500O. Film Theory: From Classical Film Theory to the Emergence of Semiotics.
Readings from earliest film theory through the emergence of cinema semiotics, with awareness of contemporaneous filmmaking and underlying philosophical and ideological tendencies. Some key issues: cinematic specificity and relations to other media; the politics of cinema; filmic representation and the real; cinema, modernity, and modernism; mass culture debates; cinema, language and signification. Readings drawn from Adorno, Arnheim, Balázs, Bazin, Benjamin, Bergson, Debord, Eco, Eisenstein, Epstein, Kracauer, Lukács, Merleau-Ponty, Metz, Munsterburg, Pasolini, Sartre, Wollen, etc. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students.
MCM 1500S. In the Public's Eye: Publicity and Surveillance.
Investigates the converging technologies and practices of publicity and surveillance. Considers phenomena from the paparazzi to digital surveillance, from the commodification of privacy to reality television, in order to analyze this convergence's impact on theories of public sphere. Theoretical and historical readings. Class hours include viewing time.
MCM 1500X. Middlemarch and the Sopranos.
The world of The Sopranos has been called "a postmodern Middlemarch, whose inhabitants' moral and spiritual development (or devolution) unfolds within a parochial social milieu." This course offers a comparative analysis of Eliot's 1871-72 novel and HBO's (continuing) television drama, juxtaposing these two very popular, very powerful serializations in formal, thematic, ideological and narrative terms.
MCM 1501B. Nation and Identity: The Concept of National Cinema.
Comparative study of constructions of nationhood in films and written texts about cinema. Interrogation of the discursive, political and epistemological power achieved by different version of the concept "national cinema" and the kinds of collective identities they imagine, from early cinema to globalized media. Readings by theorists, historians and filmmakers. Screenings from pertinent contexts (e.g. Weimar Germany, U.S. classical cinema, Japanese 1930s, third cinema, New German Cinema, New Chinese cinema, multinational corporate cinema, etc.)
MCM 1501C. National Cultures/Global Media Spheres.
Contemporary cultural practices and media processes are often described as being implicated in "globalization," but this is a linkage that may well predate the present. This course examines theoretical, historical, and critical texts that conceive of media culture through notions of globalization, with attention to the status of nation and cultural identity in a transnational context.
MCM 1501I. Reading Marx.
What is it to read Marx now? We will begin with a group of key texts written by Marx drawn from different points in his development, including the first volume of Capital and sections from the other volumes. We will study influential later reinterpretations and commentaries on Marx that argue for his contemporary importance (drawn from figures such as Althusser, Balibar, J. Butler, Derrida, Haraway, Hardt, Negri, Virno, Zizek, etc.
MCM 1501K. Seeing Queerly: Queer Theory, Film, Video.
While cinema has typically circumscribed vision along (hetero) sexually normative lines, can film also empower viewers to see "queerly"? How do we, as sexual subjects (gay and straight), "look" in the cinema, in both senses of the word? How have sexual desires been portrayed across film history, and how might audiences wield the look, appropriating or creating imagery with which to (re)formulate subjectivity and sexuality? This course addresses such questions as it considers both "mainstream" and "alternative" productions. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0260, or 1110, or instructor permission. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 1501N. Television Time and Space.
Explores television's temporal and spatial construction, considering how television demarcates time (regulating it through flow and segmentation, articulating work and leisure times, marking familial and national events, encouraging rhythms of reception) and space (mapping public and private space, defining a "global media culture" through local viewings, representing and enacting travel and exchange, creating imaginary geographies and communities).
MCM 1501O. Television, Gender, and Sexuality.
Television, across all the screens on which we view, has an enormous impact on society—including on relations of gender and sexuality—just as it is impacted by those relations in turn. This course investigates how television produces and reproduces constructions of gender and sexuality through its institutional form (as it maps relations between public and private, domestic and social, familial and defamiliarized), narrative patterns (as it circulates family romances, links gender and genre, and mediates sexual and social tensions), and spectatorial relations (as it variously addresses viewers as sexed and gendered subjects, consumers and commodities, "mainstream" and marginalized).
MCM 1501Q. The Close-Up: Theory and Practice.
An examination of the use of the close-up in film and theory, from the "primitive" cinema to IMAX and from Münsterberg to Aumont and Deleuze. Special attention to the way in which the close-up has been associated insistently with the face and its heightened cultural significance, with the advent of a "cinematic language," and with questions of cinematic space and scale.
MCM 1501W. The Rhetoric of New Media.
An examination of contemporary theories and practices of "new media," but in particular cyberspace; investigates the ways in which information technologies are challenging our inherited ideas about knowledge and ethics. All written work for the seminar will be digital. Application required. Occasional screenings to be announced during semester.
MCM 1502B. Publicity and Surveillance.
Investigates the converging technologies and practices of publicity and surveillance. Considers phenomena such as webcams, face recognition technology and networked art, as well as concepts such as enlightenment, paranoia and exhibitionism. Theoretical, historical and legal readings.
MCM 1502C. Race And/As Spectacle.
Theoretical and historical examination of race and/as spectacle, from 19th century world fairs and exhibitions to 20th century media events. Focuses on the productive relationship between race and media, from early cinema to the Internet.
MCM 1502E. Theories of the Photographic Image.
Examines the history of attempts to assimilate the photographic image to a theory of representation. Will analyze theories of photography, chronophotography, film with respect to issues of time, subjectivity, historicity, the archive. Will also address the rise of the digital image and its potential threat to photography. Readings in Kracauer, Benjamin, Bourdieu, Barthes, Batchen, Marey, Bazin, Aumont and others.
MCM 1502H. Information, Discourse, Networks.
What is information and how can we understand its relation to narrative, networks and power? this course offers a historical and theoretical examination of the rise of information and networks. Key issues include: the relationships between cybernetics and humanistic theories, information and language, the rise of big data, questions of gender, sexuality and race.
MCM 1502J. Race as Archive.
Examination of the importance of race to the logic and practice of biological, technological and cultural archives. Engaging the similarities and differences between the categorization of race in these fields, the course will focus on race as a justification for archives more broadly, and race as an archival trace "evidence" of a biological or cultural history. Readings will be theoretical, historical and literary. Preferences given to students in Modern Culture and Media, Art-Semiotics, Modern Culture and Media- German, Modern Culture and Media-Italian, Semiotics-French, Ethnic Studies, and Science & Technology Studies. All others seek permission from the instructor.
MCM 1502K. Real TV.
How does television bring "real" events to us? How do we know what's "real"? What kinds of "realities" exist on television, and how do they operate (in relationship to one another, to TV fantasy, and to our everyday lives)? This course will consider not only some specific "reality genres" (news, catastrophe coverage, "surveillance programming," documentary and docudrama, talk and game shows, reality series and "docu-soaps") but the representational modes that define the reality of commercial television as a whole. Issues to be addressed include: TV "liveness," crisis and scandal, therapeutic discourses, "surveillance society," media simulation, realism and anti-realism, civic and commercial discourses, and television's construction of history and knowledge. Preference given to graduate students, seniors, and juniors in Modern Culture & Media and Art-Semiotics. Prerequisites - two of the following: MCM 0100, 0150, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, 1110. Interested students who cannot pre-register should come to the first day of class for an application for admission by instructor permission.
MCM 1502N. Derrida and Telecommunications.
Derrida famously proclaimed that writing preceded speech¿rendering all communications a form of writing¿but he also argued that the history of psychoanalysis would have been different if Freud had used e- instead of snail-mail. Tracing Derrida's thought re. telecommunications from Grammatology to Writing Machines, as well as engaging his interlocutors (Samuel Weber, Avital Ronell, etc.), this course examines the importance of medium-specificity to post-structuralism. Prerequisite - two of the following: MCM 0100, 0150, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, 1110. Preferences given to juniors and seniors in Modern Culture and Media, Art-Semiotics, Modern Culture and Media-German, Modern Culture and Media-Italian, Semiotics-French, Science Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, Gender Studies, and Philosophy. All other seek permission from the instructor.
MCM 1502P. Nation and Identity in Cinema.
Comparative study of constructions of nationhood in films, different cinematic strategies, and written texts about cinema. We will examine the discursive, political and epistemological power achieved by different versions of the concept of "national cinema" and the kinds of collective identities they imagine, from early cinema to current globalized media. Readings by theorists, historians and filmmakers. Screenings from pertinent contexts (for example, Weimar Germany, U.S. classical cinema, Japanese 1930s, third cinema, New German Cinema, New Chinese cinema, multinational corporate cinema, etc). Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0260, or 1110, or instructor permission. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 1502T. Film Noir: Femmes Fatales, Urban Space, and Paranoia.
An examination of film noir, concentrating on the classic films of the 1940s and 1950s, but also investigating film noir's relation to German Expressionism as well as remakes and reincarnations of the genre such as Blade Runner. We will discuss various methodologies: psychoanalysis, ideological analysis, close textual analysis, the historiography of noir. Films by Lewis, Tourneur, Wilder, Hawks, Lang, Pabst, Welles, Preminger, Hitchcock, Ray. Readings in Copjec, Zizek, Naremore, Dimendberg, Vernet, Jameson. Enrollment limited to 20. Primarily for MCM senior concentrators and MCM graduate students; other qualified students must obtain permission from the instructor.
MCM 1502U. Media and Memory: Representing the Holocaust.
The Holocaust has been described as unimaginable, at the limits of representation. Yet there have been numerous attempts to imagine and represent it, across media (film, television, graphic novels), genres (documentary, melodrama, comedy, fantasy), and modalities (through history and memory, "high" and "low" culture, fiction and nonfiction, reporting and marketing). Considering such attempts to represent the unrepresentable and "mediate" the immediacy of trauma, this course will explore media texts and theoretical/philosophical reflections on the Holocaust. Enrollment limited to 20. Prerequisite: one of the following: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Preference given to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. All others seek permission from the instructor.
MCM 1502V. Theories of the Body and the Limits of Constructionism.
Scholars currently argue that cultural constructionism went too far, that theories of subjectivity that dominated the academy for over two decades neglected the materiality of the body. We will examine these criticisms as well as what it means to theorize the body. Readings include Merleau-Ponty (phenomenology), Freud and Dolto (psychoanalysis), Damasio (neurology), Fausto-Sterling (biology), Butler, Grosz, Kirby, Moore, Wilson, etc. Enrollment limited to 20. Prerequisite: one related MCM course.
MCM 1502X. Race and/as Technology.
This course asks: to what extent can race be considered a technology? That is, not an identity that is true or false, but rather a technique that one uses, even as one is used by it? Ranging from contemporary cyborgs to early 20th century eugenics, it investigates what race does, regardless of what we think it is. Readings will be theoretical, historical and literary. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students. All other seek permission from the instructor. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110.
MCM 1502Y. Simulation Speed Implosion: Theories of Media Technology.
Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio are generally regarded as two of media studies most notorious pessimists and hyperbolists. Yet they are also theorists who treat the media as technological systems that transcend the traditionally held boundaries of the cultural, economic, social and political. This course will place Baudrillard and Virilio in a context of media theory and technology studies rooted in the work of Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan while demonstrating important differences between these figures. We will engage in close readings of Baudrillard's and Virilio's major works as well as some of the writings of their interlocutors. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110.
MCM 1502Z. Art Cinema and Its Legacy.
Art cinema is associated with directors who achieved international prominence after World War II, with unconventional narrative films that were understood as expressions of original artistic subjectivities and film movements like the French New Wave (e.g., Antonioni, Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Resnais, and many others). Art cinema defined how many imagined non-Hollywood cinema in a global context, but was neither avant-garde nor necessarily political. Its legacy persists to the present, for example, in the reception of recent Iranian cinema and New Taiwanese cinema. We will study its aesthetic and textual strategies, its significance in global film history, and its theoretical implications. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110.
MCM 1503A. The Ethics of Romanticism (ENGL 1560Y).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1560Y.
MCM 1503B. Jane Austen and George Eliot (ENGL 1560A).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1560A.
MCM 1503C. "Terrible Beauty": Literature and the Terrorist Imaginary (ENGL 1760I).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1760I.
MCM 1503D. W. G. Sebald and Some Interlocutors (ENGL 1761Q).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1761Q.
MCM 1503E. Aesthetic Theory/Cultural Studies.
Aesthetic thought has a long and varied history, but aesthetic categories have recently become a central concern of cultural studies. This course combines readings in the history of aesthetics; twentieth-century work on aesthetics from various philosophical and disciplinary perspectives (from the "anti-aesthetic" to "a return to aesthetics"); and recent scholarship addressing (while not necessarily celebrating) the reemergence of aesthetic questions in cultural and media studies and the evolving relationship of the aesthetic to categories such as ideology, form, and virtuality. Readings from Schiller and Kant to Adorno, Berube, Foster, Ranciere, and Spivak.
MCM 1503F. Critical Methodologies: Contemporary Literary Theory (ENGL 1900I).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900I.
MCM 1503G. Representations of Suffering in History and Media.
This course will explore accounts of suffering in works on slavery, genocide, as well as extra-legal violence (lynching, gay bashing) in order to explore debates about the representation of violence and the use of new technologies of representation. Readings include historians, critical and legal theorists, and journalists. We will also explore recent debates around images of suffering and the reemergence of "shame" as a topic in the context of combatting violence and asserting identity in queer theory. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors, seniors and graduate students. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110, or instructor permission.
MCM 1503H. Literature and the Ideology of the Aesthetic (ENGL 1950B).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1950B.
MCM 1503I. Digital Media and Race: Ethnicity, Technicity, Embodiment.
Are we becoming post-racial in the digital age? This course questions what constitutes "race" through exploration of the ways technology affects identity. Turning to examples from new media art, World of Warcraft, cyborgs and cyberculture, the role of race in the "natural" body, and the formation of identity in online communities, we will explore the relationship between race and digital media. We draw upon critical race theory, critical theories of new media and technology, postcolonial theory and posthumanism to provide a clear and nuanced understanding of race and identity, situating it within the digital culture of our increasingly virtual world. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1503J. Film Authors and Authorship.
Who is the "author" of a film? Drawing on readings about authorship from literary theory, semiotics, poststructuralism and film studies, and close attention tofilms by major American and international directors (e.g. Hitchcock, Welles, Mizoguchi, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Godard, Akerman, Jodorowsky, Deren, Brakhage, Malick, Scorsese, Lynch, Kiarostami, Aronofsky, Nolan, Bigelow), this course examines theories and practices of film authorship and the historical development of the idea of film directors as authors within film criticism and theory. Film authorship will also be considered in relation to other formations such as genre, national cinema, gender, race, coloniality, etc. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1503K. Memory and Modern Media: Permanence and Presence in Film and Digital Media.
Film and digital media, often claim to remember or preserve our experiences. But what does it mean to capture, catalogue and archive experiences by such media? How are mediated memories encoded within a larger cultural order? How do these media make fleeting moments permanent, lend an air of truth to the image, compose an archive of experiences? We will study key examples in photography, experimental and mainstream cinema, video art, and new media, which engage with memory and visuality. Readings include key critics and theorists concerned with these issues. Screenings will include Marey, Brakhage, Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Frampton, and Marker. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1503L. South Korean Cinema: From Golden Age to Korean Wave (EAST 1950U).
Interested students must register for EAST 1950U.
MCM 1503O. Market Economy, Popular Culture, and Mass Media in Contemporary China (EAST 1950G).
Interested students must register for EAST 1950G.
MCM 1503Q. Communication Culture and Literary Politics.
A common concept of "medium" ties communication culture to art and literature. But what's a medium? Is it basic material for a work of art, like a sculptor's clay? Is it a communications device, like a telephone? Or is it a means to share information, like a network? The course explores the social ramifications of these questions, while also considering how politics can mediate art and technology, not just the other way around. Materials include novels by Delany, Yamashita, Mackey, and LeGuin; video art; and media and community theory by Nancy, Terranova, Rancière, Riley, Mattelart, and Liu. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1503S. Cinema and Memory.
This course investigates some of the major ways in which cinema has been associated with memory from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing from the history of cinema practice and criticism, as well as from key theories of memory, it provides multiple frameworks for making sense of cinema as a technology of memory. While we will examine popular films, emphasis is also placed on local, minority, non-theatrical, and small-scale cinemas. Topics to be covered include film archives, prosthetic memory, trauma, community and home movies, race, migration, nostalgia, and postmodernism. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1503T. Sensing Time: Affect and the Moving Image (GNSS 1960R).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1960R.
MCM 1503V. Reading Michel Foucault.
A study of Foucault's work from his early texts through his last. We will look at the ways Foucault challenged conventional thinking with his theories of discourse, epistemic rupture, disciplinary formations, power, sexuality, biopolitics, governmentality, and the care of the self. We will examine the questions and tensions that drive Foucault's work internally and will consider the ways his thinking has been both used and perhaps abused. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. Prerequisite: MCM 0110, 0230, 0240, 0250, 0260, or 1110.
MCM 1503W. Getting Emotional: Passionate Theories (ENGL 1560W).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1560W.
MCM 1503X. The Ekphrastic Mode in Contemporary Literature (ENGL 1762B).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1762B.
MCM 1503Z. Dialogues on Feminism and Technology.
This experimental course asks students to reexamine the critical practices and discourses of science and technology through a feminist lens. “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology” is part of a worldwide network of feminist scholars, artists, and activists called femtechnet. We will ask students to consider how feminist thought contributes to computing, hacker culture, new media, nanotechnology, surrogacy, genetic culture, bioart, and a wide range of related topics. Students will be expected to participate in the discussion of the class both online and in person, give short presentations, write a research paper, and complete a creative assignment outlined in the syllabus. Limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
MCM 1504B. Democracy Among the Ruins (POLS 1823M).
Interested students must register for POLS 1823M.
MCM 1504G. Chinese Women, Gender, and Feminism from Historical and Transnational Perspectives (EAST 1950B).
Interested students must register for EAST 1950B.
MCM 1504H. The Panorama and 19th-Century Visual Culture (ITAL 1340).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1340.
MCM 1504I. Image, Music, Text (ENGL 1762C).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1762C.
MCM 1504J. Kubrick (ENGL 1762).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1762D.
MCM 1504L. Radical Poetics + World Cinema.
“Cinema is a language,” so they say. But what kind of language? Is it prose, telling stories about the world? Or is it poetry, with no formal rules but those it imposes upon itself, and with enough creative energy to remake or shatter the world? As we’ll see, “film poetry” has, since cinema was born, been a watchword to filmmakers and theorists for whom cinema might deform the world’s grotesque structures of power. We’ll read manifestoes of radical poetics and “film poetry”—authors range from Glissant and Kristeva to Ruiz and Pasolini—and watch political films from all seven continents.
MCM 1504M. The Politics and Practices of Digital Media.
Crossing the fields of digital humanities, critical theory, feminist theory, race studies, and new media studies, this course considers how technology is a constant negotiation of fantasies and fears, politics and practices. We will consider the negotiation between users, bodies, code and systems as we simultaneously practice and critique the prevalent forms of digital technology. We will address questions such as: how are political and social effects visible not only in the practice of digital technology, but in the underlying structures themselves? How are digital technologies both producing and produced by certain forms of sociality and cultural discourse?
MCM 1504Q. Reading Narrative Theory (ENGL 1950G).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1950G.
|Fall||MCM1504Q||S01||17283||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
MCM 1504R. Iranian Cinema.
The emergence in the 1990s of Iranian cinema onto the world stage caught many by surprise. This cinema has, however, had a long and illustrious history. While attempting to provide an historical survey of these films, we will focus primarily on those produced in the last two decades. We will pay close attention to cinematic form but will also examine the ways the films intersect with cultural-political events, including the Revolution and the subsequent Islamicization of the culture, the institutionalization of the “modesty system,” and the alteration of divorce laws.
MCM 1504S. 1948 Photo Album: From Palestine to Israel (COLT 1440F).
Interested students must register for COLT 1440F.
MCM 1504T. Literature and Judgement (COLT 1813Q).
Interested students must register for COLT 1813Q.
MCM 1504V. Technologies of/and the Body: Mediated Visions (GNSS 1720).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1720.
MCM 1504X. Landscape and Japanese Cinema.
This class explores what a hundred years of Japanese cinema can reveal of the shifting meanings, emotions, and values ascribed to human and non-human landscapes. What role has film played in crafting our collective imagination of landscape and lived space? How does the meaning of “landscape” shift across time and culture? Engaging with a range of interdisciplinary approaches to these questions (including cultural studies, environmental history, philosophy, geography, and film theory), this seminar pairs an introduction to key works of Japanese film with a close look at the shifting landscapes at the base and the “background” of this cinema.
MCM 1504Y. Spatial Audio: Envelopment & Immersion.
Spatial Audio: Envelopment and Immersion investigates historical and contemporary theories and creative sound practices involving the perception, interpretation, and production of auditory space. Course participants analyze and explore how the sensation of space is activated in the listener through soundscapes, built environments, and audio technologies. Readings from psychology, philosophy, the arts, and sound studies support class discussions and students’ writings and projects that examine the reception and composition of works that exploit acoustic phenomena to create immersive experiences. Spatial audio techniques are introduced including the use of multichannel loudspeaker arrays, binaural and surround sound formats, reverberation effects, and recording strategies.
MCM 1505B. Hitchcock: The Theory.
The films of Hitchcock bind together compelling narratives and meta-cinematic reflections by means of a single, distinctive shape or form. this method of construction has piqued the attention not only of cinema theorists, who look to Hitchcock to tell us about the nature of cinema and spectatorship, but also philosophers, who look to him to tell us about the nature of thinking, promising, doubting, and obsession.Examining the films themselves, alongside the philosophical speculations they have inspired, we will try to define the complex pleasure -- cinematic and cerebral -- they elicit.
MCM 1505C. Cinema's Bodies (COLT 1440T).
Interested students must register for COLT 1440T.
MCM 1505E. Theory and Practice of the Essay: Word/Image/Remix.
This course will approach the art of the essay in its written and cinematic renditions as we experiment with – and critique – the interactive and remix configurations of essayistic thinking in contemporary digital culture. What is (in) an essay? How do we write essays for the digital era? The goal is to develop essayistic literacy through the crafting of ideas in various platforms (word, image, interaction), highlighting the maker's subjective position while finding new ways of enjoying the pleasures of argumentation. How do we choose the technologies to best support and perform our thinking?
MCM 1505F. The Child and the Digital: Queer Theory, Psychoanalysis and New Media.
The child as victim and master of digital technology; the trans-national child; the fetishized child; the queer child as a redundancy; the child as site of futurity and panic, anxiety and eroticism...We will explore the intersections and frictions between queer theory and psychoanalysis in the face of new media through the figure of the child. What's the role of Desire in the formation of new media objects, i.e. toys for adults and children alike? We will develop a strong literacy in psychoanalytic and queer theory as we utilize digital technologies to complicate them.
MCM 1505I. Writing and the Ruins of the Empire (ENGL 1561D).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1561D.
MCM 1505J. Oppositional Cinemas.
This seminar explores the ways in which cinema is mobilized in the service of “opposition,” that is critique, revolution, resistance, and the invention of alternative pleasures. It asks how films and their spectatorship become matters of political urgency. The arc of our screening itinerary moves at a deliberate pace from the historical avant-garde’s interest in the revolutionary potential of cinema as a new industrial medium to an examination of the themes of realism, gender, race, geopolitics and temporality. Discussions and readings will emphasize close reading, theoretical concerns, and historical contexts of production, distribution and exhibition.
MCM 1505K. Blackness and the Cinematic.
This course equips students to think creatively and well about what might be encountered under the categories of “Blackness” and “cinematic reality” even as it aims to expose students to how “Blackness” and “legibility” have been thought in selected recent scholarly and expressive works. Our emphasis will be on Black diasporic audio-visual culture. We will consider scholarship in the cinema and media studies, performance studies, art history, and visual studies. Though most of the material we will consider was published recently, we will strive to understand the ideas and expressions that have created the fundament for our present concerns.
MCM 1505L. Framing Gender in Middle Eastern Studies (GNSS 1961G).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1961G.
MCM 1505M. From Nanobots to Space Probes: Media and Scale.
Bridging science studies and media studies, this course asks how media represent and make accessible scales of time and space that are otherwise outside the scope of human perception. We will cover how media translate nano, micro, somato, local/global, cosmic scales of space, addressing scientific visualizations and questions of representation and exhibition across media forms (including cinema, electron microscopes, radio telescopes, video games, IMAX, Planetariums, space probes, and more). We will also discuss media representations of diverse scales of time. This will involve the exploration of speculations, simulations, and questions of visualizing and narrating “deep time,” both past and future.
MCM 1505N. Gender, Sexuality and the Imagination.
This seminar is designed to encourage students to think creatively and well about what might be encountered under the categories of “gender,” “sexuality,” and “media.” We will take up “the Imagination” as a concept that has a history and therefore a discernible (even if contradictory) set of politics and as an injunction to create from within existing paradigms. Please note, this course is not a survey of existing scholarship, nor is it an engagement with or production of a canon. It is instead an opening to the possibility that gender, sexuality, and media might be thought otherwise.
MCM 1505O. Does Utopia Still Exist? Media, politics and the hope of something else.
Why, in so many of our fantasies, do we leave behind a ruined earth in search of new planets? Is it really easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than to imagine the end of capitalism? In this course we examine Utopia—its philosophical architecture and its media history—in an attempt to diagnose (and overcome?) our present inability to think ourselves into any world better than this one. This is a global course, in which we journey through theory, literature, cinema and art from all over the world.
MCM 1505P. Channeling Race: Television and Race in America.
Our era has been called both "post-televisual" and "post-racial," yet images that define and are defined by (mis)understandings of race fill our screens (whether on TV sets or other means for disseminating television). Formations of television and race not only remain pressing concerns but are intertwined, mutually constructing one another. This course explores how notions of race have been mediated and how media have figured race. Topics include: stereotype analysis (and beyond); televising Civil Rights; intersections of gender and sexuality; consumerism and commodification; crisis and scandal; racial representation across TV genres (comedy, drama, sports, reality TV), and new media possibilities.
MCM 1505S. Cinema and Imperialism.
This seminar examines how cinema has been utilized in the service of and in opposition to imperial projects from the twentieth century to the present. We will consider the close kinship between the capture of moving images and practices of imperial war and domination. We will also explore how movements such as Third Cinema have sought to create oppositional space within global culture industries. Films we will discuss include non-fiction such as U.S. Information Agency shorts and the work of Harun Farocki, as well as narrative features such as Apocalypse Now, Zero Dark Thirty, Battle of Algiers, and Perfumed Nightmare.
MCM 1505U. The 60s: Film Countercultures (ENGL 1901H).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1901H.
|Fall||MCM1505U||S01||17299||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
MCM 1505V. Reading Sex (ENGL 1900K).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1900K.
MCM 1505W. Queerness & Games.
This advanced seminar introduces students to the intersection of LGBTQ issues and video games, or “Queer Game Studies,” a growing area of interest for scholars, game developers, critics, and artists. Both an overview of a field in formation and an invitation to participate in the creation of this new area of critical theory and practice, this course asks students to familiarize themselves with games, books, and articles in the field, to engage critically through game design and scholarly writing, and to (virtually) attend the Queerness and Games Conference, an annual event which will be held this year in Montreal Canada.
MCM 1505X. TRANS/MEDIA: Transgender Studies and (Trans)Media Narratives.
The field of transmedia studies addresses the travel of intellectual properties across the world and across media platforms, conceptualizing the “trans” prefix through transnational, transmedia intertextuality (Kinder 1991), and transmedia storytelling (Jenkins 2006). Yet new work in film and media studies on transgender film and media authorship also demands attention to the work of trans media producers in this transmedia landscape. This course asks a set of questions to address the need for representation of trans media producers in transmedia studies. Is transmedia trans? Is trans media transmedia? What would happen if we understood transgender as central to transmedia?
MCM 1505Y. In Order to Write About the Twenty-First-Century City, We First Have to Imagine It (ENGL 1160L).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1160L.
MCM 1506A. Digital Media and Virtual Performance (MUSC 1971).
Interested students must register for MUSC 1971.
MCM 1506I. Fanon and Spillers (ENGL 1901J).
Interested students must register for ENGL 1901J.
MCM 1506J. Representing Sexuality and Gender on Screen.
Representing Sexuality and Gender On Screen explores the relationship between censorship and self-expression, with a particular focus on queer and feminist readings of Hollywood cinema and the history of the adult film and video industry in the United States. Students will learn queer and feminist reading strategies, performative strategies of resistance, and artistic movements including the New Queer Cinema within the histories of regulation that shaped them, from the Motion Picture Production Code, to the ratings system, to SESTA-FOSTA.
MCM 1506K. Image, Spectacle, Everyday Life.
In 1967, Guy Debord famously declared that we inhabit a “society of the spectacle,” a society in which images dominate everyday life. In the decades since, this state of affairs seems only to have intensified. Yet how exactly might we understand spectacle today? How, given our current social and political climate, might we conceive spectacle’s role in shaping our ideas and perceptions? Foregrounding cinema but also examining television and new media, we will consider these questions in broad historical perspective, emphasizing in turn both the wide-ranging political implications of spectacle and the critical counter-practices that have arisen to contest it.
MCM 1506L. Small Screens.
While television is often called “the small screen,” digital distribution finds TV, film, video, and games coexisting on the small screens of mobile devices, and the big, HD screens of home entertainment systems. Yet smallness persists in aesthetic modes of the everyday, toy, mobile, cute, viral, indie, trashy, and pirated. Small Screens (MCM 1506L) is an advanced seminar exploring the theory and aesthetics of the small. It considers film, video, television, video games, and digital media within global distribution networks, and the changing meaning of media reception in the home.
MCM 1506M. Art, Culture and Society in Tehran (MES 1120).
Interested students must register for MES 1120.
MCM 1506N. From Pathogens to Memes: Media, Pandemics, and Globalization.
Plagues and epidemics have fueled narratives, imaginations, and media events when rumors and gossip spread as fast as germs and viruses. The fear and fascination with pathogens have also revised our understanding of the technology and culture of global media that are often metaphorically described as “contagious” or "viral." This seminar explores the historical and theoretical intersection between media and pandemics. Conjoining media studies, postcolonial criticism, and the history of medicine and public health in an interdisciplinary approach, we will critically examine how power, body, machines, chemicals and bio-organisms are mediated in the contexts of colonial expansion and global migration.
MCM 1506O. Technologies of/and the Body - Mediated Visions.
The relationship between body and machinery, technology and biology is often thought in terms of the mechanical doll, the animated robot and other hybrid figures. Science fiction films for example offer double visions of the gendered body: women are masters/slaves of the technology and still symbolic bodies of biological surviving of the human species. We will explore mediated visions in films and other media of different kinds spanning a bridge between SciFi-films and performance art. And we will study theoretical texts (like Haraway et al.) on the problem of the merging of technology and body.
MCM 1506P. From Hypernovel to Paranoid Fiction (ITAL 1400T).
Interested students must register for ITAL 1400T.
|Fall||MCM1506P||S01||17433||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
MCM 1506R. Anime Culture: Theory and Media Ecology of Animation.
This course introduces students to the critical study of Japanese animation (anime) in a global context of media environment. We will study the history, aesthetics, politics, and theory of anime and its socio-cultural formations. The focus is to analyze the forms and idioms of anime in relation to changing media technologies and their impacts. Students are expected to explore the technological and cultural characteristics of anime in tandem with the studies of media theory and history, and to expand their interest in anime to wider questions such as posthumanism, techno-orientalism, cyborg feminism, media convergence, and participatory cultures.
MCM 1700A. Approaches to Digital Cinema.
An advanced seminar for students of film and video production. Examines the impact of digital technologies on the forms and practices of time-based media. A production seminar in which students undertake a semester-long project. Requires technical competence and completion of an intermediate level production class. Projects may include digital films, video, installations, and other media-based works. Application required.
MCM 1700B. Approaches to Narrative.
A production seminar for intermediate to advanced students in film and/or video production. Students complete a substantial media project in the course of the semester. Class meetings will focus on close readings and critical feedback of students' work during all phases of production. Texts related to narrative theory and production will be discussed. Screenings of exemplary works will supplement the class. Class members should have completed at least one time-based media class. Students are expected to be competent technically. An application will be completed during the first class session and the final class list will be determined after this meeting, with permission of the instructor. S/NC
MCM 1700D. Reframing Documentary Production: Concepts and Questions.
An advanced seminar for students of video and/or film production. Focuses on the critical discussion and production of documentary media. A major project (10-20 minutes), three shorter works, and in-class presentations of work-in-progress required. Readings on the theory and practice of the form and weekly screenings augment the presentation of student work. Class members should have completed at least one time-based media class. Students are expected to be competent technically. Application required. Application is available in the MCM office. Students must bring a completed application to the first class to be considered for admission.
MCM 1700F. Theory for Practice / Practice as Theory.
This advanced seminar explores the tensions between theory and practice in contemporary media and art works. The course examines how recent creative practices use theoretical concepts, and how practices today often include textual production or crucial theoretical implications. Requirements include: a major production project, short papers, presentations of work-in-progress, and weekly readings and screenings. Application required. Application is available in the MCM office. Students must bring a completed application to the first class to be considered for admission. The final class list will be determined after this meeting, with permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20. S/NC.
MCM 1700J. Tv/Tv: Commercial and Alternative Television.
Given the centrality of commercial television in our culture, what possibilities exist for independent television viewing and/or independent television production? How might we re-write TV, either by stimulating alternative readings and new interpretive practices or by creating alternative texts and new modes of transmission? Combining theory and practice (television studies and video production), this course will encourage students to critique commercial television through both media analysis and their own video work. Enrollment limited to 20. Preference given to advanced students (graduate students, seniors, juniors) in Modern Culture & Media, Art-Semiotics, MCM German, MCM Italian, Semiotics French and Visual Arts. Prerequisites: any two previous MCM courses. Interested students who cannot pre-register should come to the first day of class to fill out an application for admission by instructor permission.
MCM 1700M. Techniques of Surveillance.
In the decades since George Orwell wrote 1984, Big Brother has evolved from a menacing specter of government power into a form of entertainment--a reality TV show that makes a game of the camera's watchful eye. Yet from NSA wiretapping to Facebook, our images and words are relentlessly tracked and profiled. This production seminar investigates surveillance as an object of cultural fascination and as a means of production in cinema, television, social software, and media art. Students give presentations and produce media art projects. Readings include Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Laura Mulvey. Enrollment limited to 20. S/NC
MCM 1700N. Open Source Culture.
Where do we draw the line between sampling and stealing? What would it mean to call a urinal a work of art? This production seminar explores the tension between artistic appropriation and intellectual property law, considering open source software as a model for cultural production. We will trace a history of open source culture from Cubist collage and the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp through Pop art and found footage film to Hip Hop and movie trailer mashups. Students give presentations and produce media art projects. Readings include Roland Barthes, Nicholas Bourriaud, and Rosalind Krauss. Enrollment limited to 40. S/NC
MCM 1700P. Radical Media.
Walter Benjamin wrote that in the age of mechanical reproduction art ceases to be based on ritual and "begins to be based on another practice--politics." What is the relation between art and politics in an age of digital distribution? This course explores the nexus of media production and political action from the films of Sergei Eisenstein to WikiLeaks. Students give research-based presentations produce media art projects. Readings include Walter Benjamin, Jacques Rancière, and Claire Bishop. The final class list will be determined by the instructor. Enrollment limited to 40. S/NC
MCM 1700Q. Approaches to Media Form.
A production seminar for advanced students, organized around the completion of a substantial film or video project. Screenings and discussions will emphasize alternative approaches to media practice. Students will conduct a series of presentations on their own work as it progresses. Intermediate level production class required. Application required. Applications (available at the MCM department) should be completed and returned. Decisions will be posted on the MCM office door at the beginning of pre-registration. Enrollment limited to 20. Instructors permission required. S/NC. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 1700R. The Art of Curating.
It is sometimes said in contemporary art circles that curators are the new artists. Curating involves a wide range of activities, including research, selection, commissioning, collaboration with artists, presentation, interpretation, and critical writing. This production seminar considers curatorial practice as a form of cultural production, paying particular attention to questions of audience, ethical responsibility, and institutional context. Students give presentations, develop exhibition proposals, curate online exhibitions, and collaborate on gallery exhibitions, screenings, performance art presentations, or public art programs. Visiting curators present case-studies on recent projects. Readings include Pierre Bordieu, Douglas Crimp, and Boris Groys. Enrollment limited to 40. S/NC
MCM 1700S. Narrative and Immersion.
A production course examining the potentials for engagement in new media installations. The course draws on techniques of narrative to establish engagement in immersive environments. Students will be introduced to cinematic concepts, interactive technologies, multi-channel video and surround sound environments. Classes meetings will consist of viewing and analysis of exemplary work, discussion of readings, and critiques of student projects. An additional 1-hour technical workshop will be devoted to learning Jitter. Class members should have completed advanced work in film/video, digital sound, and/or creative writing. Open to upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students. The final class list will be determined after the first class meeting, by permission of instructor. Lab times to be announced. S/NC
MCM 1700T. Approaches to Narrative.
A media production course concerned with practical and conceptual aspects of narrative in contemporary film and dv cinema. After attention to technique (use of 16mm film and digital cameras, lighting, sound and editing), the second half of the semester will be devoted to individual projects and discussion of them. Screenings and close analysis of contemporary narrative films from the current global renaissance in narrative cinema, involving filmmakers in China, Thailand, the Philippines, Argentina, Greece, Portugal, etc. – partly led by feature filmmakers with backgrounds in the art world. Requirements include a group project and an individual, advanced level project in film/video. Application required. Application is available in the MCM office. Students must bring a completed application to the first class to be considered for admission. The final class list will be determined after this meeting, with permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors. S/NC
MCM 1700U. Experimental Data Representation.
Experimental Data Representation (EDR) focuses on generatively composed, multimedia experiences utilizing the large-scale, video wall within the Digital Scholarship Lab. This interdisciplinary course brings together students from Brown and RISD to explore the creation of screen-based visualizations via programs authored by course participants. EDR provides a platform for students to examine and design ways in which experiential variables (as output) may be algorithmically determined by data sets (as input). Readings and projects will engage areas such statistical graphics, cartography, multimodal interaction, data visualization, sonification, and media art. Instruction will be offered in programming environments: NodeBox, Processing, Max/MSP, and Pure Data. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 1700V. The Place of the Moving Image.
Our experience of moving image-based media is intimately connected to our experience of place. Moving images have a unique ability to record, document, and archive places, and to alter or even produce the experience of place itself. Through readings, screenings, and production work, this hybrid production/theory course confronts place as a dynamic process, as more than the backdrop against which concrete actions and concepts form. Readings in philosophy, critical theory, and media theory. Screenings from popular, art, and experimental film/media. Students will produce three media projects related to questions of place. Previous production experience and technical competence are required.
MCM 1700W. History, Theory and Practice of Storytelling Using Stereoscopic (“3D”) Motion Pictures (HMAN 1971C).
Interested students must register for HMAN 1971C.
MCM 1700X. New Genre: Site and Sound (VISA 1710).
Interested students must register for VISA 1710.
MCM 1700Y. Expanded Storytelling: Capture, Share and Expose.
How can we shoot a documentary inside an online videogame? How can we transform a historical archive into a dynamic narrative platform? How can we tell a story together with hundreds of other people? How can we create portraits with data retrieved from the Internet/mobile companies about ourselves? In this production course we will explore how emerging technologies and new habits of image making/sharing are challenging traditional forms of storytelling. In particular, we will focus on collaborative authorship, citizen journalism, fictional online persona creation, big data, and digital archives editing. Includes screenings, readings, technical-workshops (video/lighting/editing/coding), assignments, and a final project.
MCM 1700Z. What is Happening to Narrative?.
An advanced media production seminar about the impression of digital technology on the practice of media based storytelling. We begin with questions: are we still interested in telling stories? What kinds of stories do we tell? Are there narratives specific to particular technics? What happens when technology makes things “easier?” We explore forms that work well online, on smart devices, or in theaters and TV. This workshop includes group experiments and a major individual project that may be linear, installation, or interactive in format. Projects should function as a stimulus and a challenge to conventional practices of duration-based narrative.
MCM 1701A. Art/Gender/Technology.
This production course explores and actively engages digital media and art practices that investigate questions of technology, gender, sexuality, and the body. Key topics include: cyberfeminism, gaming and virtual worlds, the social and the deep web, health apps and the datafication of the body, gendered social media bots, and affective digital labor. Technical workshops (on video/editing/coding/live-video-performance), guest speakers, and in-depth analysis of relevant case studies will provide students with the necessary skills and theoretical understanding to develop their own artworks during the course. This class is a Distributed Open Collaborative Course networked with FemTechNet.
MCM 1701B. Hearing Image, Seeing Sound.
This course explores how composers, filmmakers, painters, and others have forged connections between sound and image, and how we might learn from them to create our own meaningful creative work. Our readings and screenings will dig deep into the geneologies of film sound, and students will create their own imaginative combinations of sound and image throughout the semester. Final projects will be screened, performed, and/or exhibited publicly at the end of the semester. Note: although there will be a few labs, students should have experience with media production of some kind, be it sonic or visual.
MCM 1701C. Advanced Digital Language Arts.
Interested students must register for LITR 1010D.
MCM 1701D. Writing3D (LITR 1010G).
Interested students must register for LITR 1010G.
MCM 1701E. Experimental Narrative.
With film well into its 2nd century, a large body of work has emerged that plays with, around, and against conventions of classical cinema. Specifically, what we understand to be traditional narrative structures, such as drama, documentary, and action films. In fact, experimental narrative now has some of its own genres, which are to be found in both mainstream and fringe media. The goal of this class is to investigate some of these forms of experimental narrative. It is predicated on a basic understanding of narrative conventions, and designed to encourage students to make work that challenges those conventions.
MCM 1701G. Text in Time-based Art.
Semiotics has taught us to regard each film as a text. What, then, is the role of written text in film? This advanced production seminar explores the interplay of film’s desire to image language and language’s desire to produce images, not to mention the temporal constraints placed on reading when it is no longer a private, self-regulated activity. We will consider text as a purely visual character, the impact of subtitles, television’s gluttonous use of text, and film’s appropriation of literary forms. In addition to screenings and readings, students will create their own instantiations of written language in time-based art.
MCM 1701I. Digital Worlding: Terraforming Future, Fact, Fiction and Fabulation.
Inspired by Marilyn Strathern’s concept of ‘worlding,’ this production course, will speculate on technologies of the future as a way to address the present. We’ll work in the game designing platform, Unity, Adobe Premiere, and Photoshop to fabricate and co-create our worlds. Although not a gaming course, tools, theories, and vernaculars of game design may be utilized/subverted. Expect readings, discussions, technical workshops, and weekly assignments leading to a final project. “Art in the biological, ecological, and cyborg modes are all aspects of worlding. We cannot denounce the world in the name of an ideal world” - Donna Haraway
MCM 1701J. Data Visceralization and Climate Change.
The body - our biological corpus, and its social, environmental, and technological extension - grounds our ability to sense and make sense. In ever-changing ways, the sensing and acting body is extensible. Apparatuses, networks, patterns, and affects are central in sculpting consciousness, addressability, and accountability. In contrast to Data Visualization, in which perspectival representations of data are arranged and optically received, Data Visceralization foregrounds information via translations that are physically experienced. In this course, students will focus on climate change and will develop individual and collective hypotheses, projects, and actions disrupting habitual procession and enabling active engagement.
MCM 1701K. AS ABOVE, SO BELOW: Spatial Relations in Film Practice.
We commonly watch most time-based media through a rectilinear frame, and just as commonly acknowledge that what we are seeing are two-dimensional representations of three-dimensionality. However, it is less common to examine closely the functions of scale, perspective, distortion, and proprioception in the cinematic image. This course proposes to delve deeply into the myriad manifestations of how spatial relations impact our viewing experience. Since this is a production seminar, students will make a series of short videos that attend to various aspects of our investigations, completing the semester with a longer piece on a relevant topic of their choosing.
MCM 1701L. Time Deformation (VISA 1740).
Interested students must register for VISA 1740.
MCM 1701M. Advanced Screenwriting.
Interested students must register for LITR 1010E.
MCM 1701O. The Arts Workshop for Practice and Practice-Oriented Research (LITR 1000).
Interested students must register for LITR 1000.
MCM 1970. Independent Study in Modern Culture and Media.
Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Courses @ Brown for the section number and CRN to use when registering for this course or contact the MCM office if you need a section number created for an instructor that’s not listed. Time dedicated to the project should fall within the recommended range for independent studies (10-20 hours per week). Instructor’s permission required.
MCM 1980. Honors Thesis/Project Research in Modern Culture and Media (Part 1).
Independent research under the direction of a faculty member leading to an honors thesis/project. MCM 1980 is the first of two courses required of MCM honors candidates and is taken in the 7th semester. Instructor’s permission required.
MCM 1990. Honors Thesis/Project in Modern Culture and Media (Part 2).
Independent research and writing a thesis or creating/producing a project under the direction of a faculty member leading to an honors thesis/project. MCM 1990 is the second of two courses required of MCM honors candidates and is taken in the 8th semester. Instructor’s permission required. Prerequisite: MCM 1980.
MCM 2100A. Contemporary Feminist Theory and the Problem of the Subject.
Recent feminist theory represents the persistence of identity politics and the problem of the subject in various forms: through the "intersectionality" of race, class and gender; in the idioms of psychoanalysis; in terms of the "queer" subject. We will examine these often conflicting theories and the subjects of feminism they invoke with particular attention to the modes of address.
MCM 2100B. Culture and Criticism in Marxist Theory.
Readings in major 20th and 21st century texts, with emphasis on Western Marxist thought, from Lukács through the present. Focus on problems in the conception and reading of culture and cultural texts, with some attention to cinema and other media where possible. Where appropriate, consideration of interaction with other major theoretical frameworks (such as aesthetics, phenomenology, semiotics, psychoanalysis, feminism, postcolonial criticism, globalization theory, affect theory etc.) Readings may include figures such as Lukács, Benjamin, Eisenstein, Bakhtin, Adorno, Sartre, S. Hall, Haraway, Heath, Mouffe, Virno, Spivak, Lazaratto, Jameson, Zizek, etc. Some screenings.
MCM 2100G. Freud and Lacan.
Readings of major texts by Freud and Lacan will stress the relations between language, subjectivity and sexuality and the feminist use and/or critique of psychoanalytic concepts. We will also look at texts by other theorists (e.g. Melanie Klein, Heinz Kohut) and investigate the clinical implications of various approaches. Familiarity with semiotic and poststructuralist theory required. Enrollment limited to 20. Primarily for MCM graduate students; other qualified graduate students and MCM seniors must obtain permission from the instructor.
MCM 2100J. Space and Time in Media Discourse.
The course asks how space and time are conceptually, socially and aesthetically constructed thru different media. Perspectival constructions of space and time were always in the center of analysis when it came to cultural representations of the subject. Here will be the main focus of the course: Reconstructing the discourses on perspectivism (Nietzsche), pictorial perspective (Renaissance perspective) and temporalities of media like seriality, repetition, duration etc. During the course we will look on concepts of narrative and temporal perspectives in the context of general theories of time as well as in the context of specific media as photography and film.
MCM 2100O. Queer Theories.
This course will engage with possibilities and problems of queer theorizing, from the emergence of queer theory, through its (precarious) institutionalization, to its multiplied interventions. Rather than understanding queer theory as a unified approach, we will consider a range of queer theoretical work as well as challenges within queer analysis itself. Issues to be explored include formations of gender and sexuality, race and nation, epistemology and ethics, politics and communities, subjectivities and socialities, identifications and disidentifications, bodies and pleasures, publics and privates, and the temporalities and locations of our world. Preference given to graduate students; all others seek instructor permission.
MCM 2100Y. Solidarities: Sharing Freedom, Inventing Futures (HMAN 2971H).
Interested students must register for HMAN 2971H.
MCM 2110B. Freud and Lacan.
This course will stress the relations between language, subjectivity and sexuality and the feminist use and/or critique of psychoanalytic concepts. Familiarity with semiotic and poststructuralist theory required. Additional readings in Laplanche, Weber, Zizek, Gallop, Butler.
MCM 2110E. The Reading Effect and the Persistence of Form (ENGL 2900M).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2900M.
MCM 2110M. Literary Theory I: Continental Aesthetics and the Questions of Politics (COLT 2650M).
Interested students must register for COLT 2650M.
MCM 2110N. Literary Theory II: Post-Structuralism and the Problem of the Subject (ENGL 2901B).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2901B.
MCM 2110S. Ethical Turns in Psychoanalysis and Literature (ENGL 2900N).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2900N.
MCM 2110V. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis.
Jacques Lacan’s seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis examines theories of ethics, from Aristotle through Bentham and Kant, before proposing an ethics proper to psychoanalysis. The seminar concludes with a fascinating analysis of Sophocles’ Antigone. We will read the seminar closely alongside texts by Freud, Lacan, Badiou, and other contemporary thinkers. Why does psychoanalysis bother to enter ethical debates rather than reject the category altogether?
MCM 2120A. Media Archaeology.
Provides an intellectual history of "Media Archaeology," focusing on contributions by the "SophienstraBe" departments of Humboldt University in Berlin and on the importance of Marshall McLuhan and Michel Foucault, amongst others, to its development. Readings by Friedrich Kittler, Wolfgang Erst, Cornelia Vismann.
MCM 2120B. New Media Theory.
An interdisciplinary investigation of "New Media Theory," bringing together historically significant texts from the fields of media, film, literary, music, visual, HCI and cultural studies, with more recent texts in new media studies. As well as exposing students to the canon (from hypertext theory to software studies, HCI to media archaeology), the course will also address the question: what is at stake in the creation of this canon and this discipline? This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2120C. Cinema, State Violence and the Global.
Theoretical and political conceptions of state and global violence posed against the theory and history of cinema, as representational apparatus and as instruction. Special attention to the establishment of film as global medium around World War I; current issues around the global, state, and biopower; "postmodern media culture;" etc. Readings from sociopolitical theorists (e.g. Weber, Schmitt, Arendt, Foucault, Agamben, Hardt and Negri, etc.) and media scholars/theorists (e.g. Virillio, Prince, L. Williams, Miller, etc.) Enrollment limited to 20. Permission required for undergraduates only.
MCM 2120D. Derrida and Telecommunications.
Derrida famously proclaimed that writing preceded speech--rendering all communications a form of writing--but he also argued that the history of psychoanalysis would have been different if Freud had used e-instead of snail-mail. Tracing Derrida's thought re. telecommunications from Grammatology to Writing Machines, as well as engaging his interlocutors (Samuel Weber, Avital Ronell, etc.), this course examines the importance of medium-specificity to post-structuralism. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students. Permission required for undergraduates only.
MCM 2120E. Cinema, Media Culture and Political Theory: Rancière and Others.
There is a strand of contemporary thinkers concerned with political theory, in whose writings media and especially film play significant roles. Jacques Rancière has produced a major body of work on political theory, on aesthetics, and on film as well as media culture. This class will focus on a close examination of his political theory, his conceptions of film and media, and relations between the two fields in his writings. For comparison, we will also look at smaller samples of texts on political theory and film drawn from figures such as Agamben, Badiou, Jameson, etc. Enrollment limited to 20. This class is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor permission.
MCM 2120F. Concepts of Space and Time in Media Discourses (HMAN 2970C).
Interested students must register for HMAN 2970C.
MCM 2120H. Objects of (and in) Animation.
The course focuses on the notion of animation as a general concept. This includes more than just the genre of animation films. It also includes the animation of objects that are neither organic nor alive: The animation of the machine. The technical object plays here an important role The focus will be on the discussion of concepts of film as medium of animation per se and on different procedures of animating. Our debates here will cover: cartoon, the digital, experimental and animated effects in film. The aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the animated character of film.
MCM 2120I. Why and How We are Looking for the Comical? Theories and Objects.
The course focuses on the notion of the comical as a general concept. This includes more than just different genres and techniques of comedies. We will start with a close reading of old and new theories of the comical in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and poetics. Why and about what are we laughing? This is a general question that concerns the specific cinematic and visual strategies in film. Along film theoretical and analytical texts we will further focus on visibility and vision and on picture/language gaps as media for filmic jokes, wit and humour. Course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergrads require permission.
MCM 2120J. Realism - Concepts, Forms and Styles.
The course focuses on the notion of realism as a general concept. Realism is a philosophical concept that defines the relationship between the external world and the subject and the media involved establishing this connection. At the same time, it is in the center of many artistic styles with many aesthetic and political consequences (cp. Italian neo-realism) Bringing this two dimensions together opens the field of attention to the borders between fact and fiction, fiction and documentary etc. The aim of the course is to enhance a broader understanding of the notion by exemplifying the problem. Enrollment limited to 12. This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2120K. Deleuze and Cinema.
This seminar is devoted to reading Gilles Deleuze’s two volume work on cinema, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, and Cinema 2: The Time-Image, and assessing its impact on and continuing relevance to the study of film and culture. We will screen selected films of significance to Deleuze’s own study of cinema, as well as a few not referenced by him that nonetheless might prove relevant to or provocative in the context of a sustained study of Deleuze’s cinema book. We will read selections from work that influenced Deleuze as well as from the secondary literature on Deleuze and cinema.
MCM 2120N. Critical Theories of Mass Media.
The rise of mass media from print to social media was accompanied by critical discourses that emphasized both euphoric acclamation for the new media and emphatic warnings about the dangers. We will discuss how these critiques are conceptualized in terms of culture, media and of mass in three blocks, each based on the emergence of a specific medium and its technology. The main focus is the reconstruction of basic notions in the critique of mass media and the analysis of specific works by Adorno, Benjamin, Kracauer, Dewey, Lippman and others.
MCM 2120O. Concepts of Technology and Media.
Media and technology are often used as if they were interchangeable. What is named today ‘German Media Theory’ is based on the philosophy of technology. In this course we will start to discuss the problem of the connection between technology and media in two blocks. 1. We study the concepts of technology, technique, techné.
2. We study their impact in the definition of media and the impact of those understandings for media analysis, e.g. we practice on concrete cases in film, TV, music, theatre and Internet.
The aim is to learn how to conceptualize and analyze technology based mass media.
MCM 2120P. Photography on the Picket Line: Unlearning Imperial Formations of Photography.
What does it mean to take one’s photograph? What is implied in this seemingly descriptive sentence, in the gesture, practice, and action to which it refers? For this formula – taking a photograph - to be naturalized in many languages, a set of imperial rights that let some people take from other people other things (besides their photographic images) should already be in place. We will learn the role of these rights in sustaining the condition of racial capitalism. We will focus on three settler colonial locations and contexts - the US, Palestine and Algeria.
MCM 2300A. Real TV.
This course will investigate the construction of reality on U.S. television, considering not only specific reality genres (news and "magazine" programs, crisis coverage, docudrama, talk and game shows) but the discursive and representational modes that define the "reality" of commercial television as a whole. Issues include: "liveness"; social relevancy"; therapeutic discourse; TV personalities; media simulation; independent television; and new technologies/realisms.
MCM 2300B. Television, Gender and Sexuality.
This course investigates how television produces and reproduces constructions of gender and sexuality through its institutional form (as it maps relations between the public and the private, the domestic and the social, the inside and the outside), narrative patterns (as it circulates family romances, links gender and genre, and mediates sexual and social tensions), and spectatorial relations (as it variously addresses viewers as sexed and gendered subjects, consumers and commodities, familial and defamiliarized viewers). Enrollment limited to 20. Preference given to graduate students, and then to seniors and juniors in Modern Culture & Media, Art- Semiotics, MCM-German, MCM-Italian, Semiotics French and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Instructors permission required for all undergraduate students. Interested students who cannot pre-register should come to the first day of class to fill out an application for admission.
MCM 2300C. After Postmodernism: New Fictional Modes (ENGL 2760X).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2760X.
MCM 2300D. Historicism/Photographic Media: From Kracauer and Benjamin to the DEFA Documentary (GRMN 2660H).
Interested students must register for GRMN 2660H.
MCM 2300E. Things Not Entirely Possessed: Romanticism and History (ENGL 2561B).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2561B.
MCM 2300F. Animation.
The course focuses on the notion of animation as a general concept. This includes more than just the genre of animation films. We will start with an introduction into the tradition of the notion of 'livelihood' and the concept of the soul (e.g. anima): How is the spectator animated by film? Further we will proceed to texts that are discussing anthropological meanings of animation in the sense of animism. The main focus will then be on the discussion of general concepts of film as medium of animation per se and on different procedures of animating of and in film. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 2310C. Eisenstein and Political Modernism.
Eisenstein's theories and films are a formative moment in cinema and media history, bringing together the ambitions of politicized film and modernist aesthetics. From the first, they were invoked by a range of radical theorists and filmmakers all the way from Brecht and Benjamin to Metz and Deleuze, as well as a variety of filmmaking practices such as militant documentary, third cinema and Godard. In this seminar, we will intensively study Eisenstein's theories, filmic practices and shifting historical contexts, from the heady days of the politically and aesthetically avant-garde 1920s, through the transformations of his theories in the 1930s and 1940s (many only available posthumously) and of his later film projects (several unfinished). We will also trace out some filiations and rereadings of Eisenstein within the history of politically conversant modernist film practices and theories. Permission required for undergraduates only; undergraduates seeking permission must attend the first class session.
MCM 2310D. The Idea of a Medium.
What is a "medium" (a term we often seem to take for granted)? An examination of issues of medium specificity, intermediality, convergence, formalism and the idea of a "post-medium era," in relation to the media of print, photography, film, television, and digital media. We will also investigate the role of the museum and alternative screening or exhibition spaces as well as "virtual space" in delineating reception of the media. Enrollment limited to 20. Primarily for MCM graduate students; other qualified graduate students and MCM seniors must obtain permission after the first class. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 2310E. TV Space and Time.
Explores television's temporal and spatial construction, considering how television demarcates time (regulating it through flow and segmentation, articulating work and leisure times, marking familial and national events, encouraging rhythms of reception) and space (mapping public and private space, defining a "global media culture" through local viewings, representing and enacting travel and exchange, creating imaginary geographies and communities). Enrollment limited to 20. Preferences given to graduate students. All others seek permission from the instructor. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the screening.
MCM 2310G. Cultural Studies and the Problem of Form.
This course examines the emergence and contemporary practice of "cultural studies" with a focus on concepts of form. We will consider cultural studies critiques of disciplines, canons, and the aesthetic; the politics of form; theories of reading and spectatorship; "popular" and "mass" forms; and competing definitions of culture as form arising in fields from visual and media studies to postcoloniality and queer theory. Readings from Williams, Hall, Mulvey, Althusser, Spivak, Deleuze, Hartman, Agamben, Sedgwick, Galloway. Instructor permission required. All students seeking permission must attend first class.
MCM 2310H. Television Realities.
How does television bring "real" events to us? How do we define or know what's "real"? What kinds of "realities" exist on television, and how do they operate (in relationship to one another, to TV fantasy, to social structures, and to our everyday lives)? This course will consider not only some specific "reality genres" (news, catastrophe coverage, "live" and "historical" programs, "surveillance programming," documentary and docudrama, talk and game shows, reality series and "docu-soaps") but the representational modes that define the reality of commercial television as a whole. This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2310I. At the Limits: Media Representation of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust has been described as unimaginable, at the limits of representation. Yet there have been numerous attempts to imagine and represent it, across media (film, television, graphic novels), genres (documentary, melodrama, comedy, fantasy), and modalities (through history and memory, "high" and "low" culture, fiction and nonfiction, reporting and marketing). Considering such attempts to represent the unrepresentable and mediate the immediacy of trauma, this course will explore media texts and theoretical/philosophical reflections on the Holocaust. Enrollment limited to 12. This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2330. Critical Genres.
Introduces graduate students to specific aspects of the history, methods, and arguments of the academic interdiscipline known as "cultural studies." In a workshop forum, we discuss the conventions governing academic genres and consider the evidence, argumentation, rhetoric, and the construction of expertise.
MCM 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.
|Fall||MCM2450||S01||15505||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
MCM 2500A. Film and Modernity.
An examination of films and film movements from 1895 through the 1930s in relation to the rise of modernity, modernization, and modernism. We will analyze the films through the lenses of theories of technology, temporality, the avant-garde, and the emergence of mass culture. Readings in Gunning, Bergson, Simmel, Kracauer, Benjamin, Jameson, Hansen, and others.
MCM 2500C. Media Archaeology.
Provides an intellectual history of "Media Archaeology," focusing on contributions by the "Sophienstraße" departments of Humboldt University in Berlin and on the importance of Marshall McLuhan and Michel Foucault, amongst others, to its development. Readings in Friedrich Kittler, Wolfgang Erst, Cornelia Vismann. Permission required for undergraduates only.
MCM 2500D. Archaeologies of the Projected Image.
Analysis of the history and theory of projected images from the magic lantern to IMAX. We will examine theories of scale, architecture, and perspective in order to consider the changing size of moving images, from the flip book to the cinema screen to the cell phone. We will also consider theories of mass culture, aesthetic technologies, the sublime, and public art. Readings in Jonathan Crary, Siegfried Kracauer, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, Jean-François Lyotard, Friedrich Kittler, Laurent Mannoni, Erkki Huhtamo, and others. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students. Permission required for undergraduates only.
MCM 2500E. Temporality in/and the Cinema.
An examination of the cinema's historical and theoretical position as a mode of representing time. Is time recorded or produced by film? How can we analyze duration in the cinema? What is the cinema's relation to the archive and to modernity? We will read work by Bergson, Freud, Marey, Kracauer, Benjamin, Deleuze, and others. Films by Lumière, Griffith, Snow, Tsai Ming-Liang, Hitchcock, and others. Enrollment limited to 20. This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2510A. Art Cinema as Transnational Textual Strategy.
In the 1960s, Antonioni, Bergman, Buñuel, Fassbinder, Fellini, Godard, Resnais, etc. achieved international,global, prominence by bending mainstream narrative cinema conventions in the name of original national and artistic subjectivities. But such "art cinema" has pervaded film history, from the 1920s (e.g. German Expressionism) to the present (e.g. New Iranian Cinema). Investigation of art cinema's textual strategies, conceptual underpinnings, and historical functions. Enrollment limited to 20.
MCM 2510B. Cinema, State Violence and the Global.
Theoretical and political conceptions of state violence and global violence, posed against the history of cinema as representational apparatus, textuality and institution. Attention to the establishment of film as a global medium through World War I, and current work around textual norms and strategies for configuring violence, "global media culture," etc. Readings from sociopolitical theorists (e.g. Weber, Benjamin, Schmitt, Arendt, Fanon, Agamben, Foucault, Hardt and Negri) and cinema/media scholars (e.g. Virillio, Prince, L. Williams, Oppenheimer, Koch, etc.). This course is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor's permission.
MCM 2510C. The Adventures of Dignity.
What is the ideological function of "dignity" as it is invoked in human rights discourses? What concepts of humankind and what fantasies of wholeness are assumed and reiterated? Readings include histories of human rights, treatises on dignity from Kant to Foucault, Elaine Scarry, and other theorists. Enrollment limited to 20. This class is for Graduates only. Upperclass undergraduates require instructor permission.
MCM 2510F. The Racial Lives of Affect (ENGL 2761F).
Interested students must register for ENGL 2761F.
MCM 2510I. Italian Thought: Inside and Out (HMAN 2400U).
Interested students must register for HMAN 2400U.
MCM 2510K. Media Regionalism: Between Empires and Territories.
This graduate seminar sets out to rethink media theory and history from the perspective of regionalism, and to confront the dominant model of a distributive, deterritorialized media unfolding with a regional approach that is tethered to particular territories, milieus, geo-environments, and ecological surroundings. What happens when the presumed geography and topology of media formation, as a distributed global network, is called into question? What might the regional models developed within area studies and postcolonial theories have to contribute to media studies? The purpose is to explore multitudes of theories and methods that help us reconsider “where” and “what” media is.
MCM 2980. Independent Reading and Research in Modern Culture and Media.
Individual reading and research for doctoral candidates. Not open to undergraduates. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
Time dedicated to the project should fall within the recommended range for independent studies (13-20 hours per week).
MCM 2990. Thesis Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the residency requirement and are continuing research on a full time basis.
|Fall||MCM2990||S01||15506||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media
Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Anthony G. Cokes
Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Joan K. Copjec
Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Bonnie H. Honig
Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science
Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Professor Emeritus of Modern Culture and Media; Professor Emeritus of Visual Art
Ellen Frances Rooney
Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence, Professor of English and Modern Culture and Media
Professor Emeritus of Modern Culture and Media
John Michael Silverman
Professor Emeritus of Modern Culture and Media
Professor Emerita of Modern Culture and Media
Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media
Lecturer in Modern Culture and Media
David K. Udris
Lecturer in Modern Culture and Media
Modern Culture and Media
Modern Culture and Media (MCM) is an interdisciplinary concentration that explores the ties between media and broader cultural and social formations. We stress creative thinking and critical production: comparative analysis and theoretical reflection, as well as work that integrates practice and theory. We thus bring together aspects of modern culture that are normally separated by departmental structures such as film and media studies, fine art, literature, literary arts and philosophy. This concentration offers the student a range of possible specializations. A student might decide to focus on the critical study and production of a certain type or combination of media (print, photography, sound recording, cinema, video, television, and digital media); or they might focus on certain cultural, theoretical and/or social formations (for example, gender/sexuality in post-Cold war television, postcolonial theory and film, the changing form of the novel, theories of subjectivity and ideology, video games and theories of representation). These paths are united by a commitment to critical thinking/practice: rather than reproducing conventions, MCM concentrators learn how conventions emerge, what work they do, and explore ways to change them.
Track I concentrators may choose to study a particular historical moment, a medium, or a mode of textual production, in combination with theoretical studies that examine the categories of cultural analysis: for example, the distinction between high and low culture. Examples of areas of interest include but are not limited to film, gender/sexuality, digital media, television, post-coloniality, the novel, modern thought, the modern arts, sound, and theories of ideology and subjectivity. Productive work in some modern medium or textual mode is encouraged for all concentrators. MCM’s approach to production recognizes the inextricable link between theory and practice, and the possibility of a fruitful complicity between them. Production, in the sense defined here, is a theoretically informed sphere or practice, one within which acknowledged forms of cultural creation are tested and extended in close complementarity with the analyses conducted elsewhere in MCM.
Track I consists of 11 courses.
|MCM 0150||Text/Media/Culture: Theories of Modern Culture and Media||1|
|Select two of the following: 1||2|
|Print Cultures: Textuality and the History of Books|
|Visuality and Visual Theories|
|Cinematic Coding and Narrativity|
|The Theory of the Sign|
One must be an upper level course from the MCM 1200 series
Two must be senior seminars from the MCM 1500 or MCM 1700 series
Two must be at any level in MCM above MCM 0260
|Three additional courses. These courses must be in MCM or in related departments. 2||3|
No more than three courses from this list may count for concentration requirements.
The specific courses must be approved by an MCM concentration advisor as part of a coherent program of study.
- Focus Area: Of the 11 courses required for the concentration, at least 3 courses must be in a focus area approved by a concentration advisor. These courses may be MCM courses, related courses, or a combination of the two, and they must represent a focus on some aspect of modern literature, theory, media, art or culture. Examples of possible focus areas are: mass/popular culture, gender/sexuality, language/representation/subjectivity, narrative, digital media, film, modern thought, television, the modern arts, the novel, colonialism and post-colonialism. This is not an exhaustive list. Production courses may be in the focus area but must be in addition to the minimum 3 courses.
- Production: Work in production is encouraged but not required for Track I concentrators. Of the 11 courses required for concentration, as many as 3 may be in production. These may be production courses offered by MCM (film, video, digital media) or courses in creative writing, painting, photography, journalism, etc., provided they do not bring the total number of concentration courses taken outside MCM to more than 3.
The honors program in MCM is designed for students who wish to integrate their skills in a special project. Students who qualify for Honors in Track I are eligible to apply to do an Honors project or thesis. Students should submit a letter of intent in their 6th semester, and a formal proposal by the first day of their 7th semester. Applications will be screened by the MCM Honors Committee. (Application forms are available in the MCM office.) If approved, a student must then register for MCM 1980 (taken in the 7th semester), a one-credit course which can count towards their Focus Area requirements, and MCM 1990 (taken in the 8th semester), a one-credit thesis course in which they complete the Honors project/thesis.
Track II concentration combines production courses with the critical study of the cultural role of practice. It aims to engage students in the analysis of theories of production elaborated within philosophical, artistic, and technological traditions, while encouraging them to produce works that interrogate these traditions.
Track II consists of 11 courses:
|Two core courses:|
|MCM 0150||Text/Media/Culture: Theories of Modern Culture and Media||1|
|Select one MCM Introductory Practice course (MCM0700 series). Introductory practice courses in other disciplines may fulfill this requirement and should be selected in consultation with the concentration advisor. Possible disciplines include Literary Arts, Music, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Visual Art.||1|
|Introduction to the Production Image|
|Introduction to Filmic Practice: Time and Form|
|Introduction to Video Production: Critical Strategies and Histories|
|Art in Digital Culture|
|One additional course from the following:||1|
|Print Cultures: Textuality and the History of Books|
|Visuality and Visual Theories|
|Cinematic Coding and Narrativity|
|The Theory of the Sign|
|Three additional courses from the MCM 1200 or MCM 1500 series 1||3|
|Four practice courses selected in consultation with an advisor. 2||4|
|One Senior Seminar from the MCM 1700 series or other equivalent in production||1|
At least one must be from the MCM 1500 series.
Courses can be in any medium or combinatory sequence of media from the following departments: Modern Culture and Media, Visual Art, Music, Literary Arts, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Computer Science, Engineering, supplemented by approved courses at Rhode Island School of Design and study abroad. This list is not exhaustive.
The honors program in MCM is designed for students who wish to integrate their skills in a special project. Students who qualify for Honors in Track II are eligible to apply to do an Honors project or thesis. Students should submit a letter of intent in their 6th semester, and a formal proposal by the first day of their 7th semester. Applications will be screened by the MCM Honors Committee. (Application forms are available in the MCM office.) If approved, a student must then register for MCM 1980 (taken in the 7th semester), a one-credit course which can count towards their Focus Area requirements, and MCM 1990 (taken in the 8th semester), a one-credit thesis course in which they complete the Honors project/thesis.
Modern Culture and Media
The department of Modern Culture and Media offers a graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. There is no terminal Master’s program, but students who enter the doctoral program only with an undergraduate degree may earn an A.M. en route to the Ph.D.
For more information on admission and program requirements, please visit the following website: