Introduction to Broadcasting: Radio and television broadcasting are major parts of the U.S. economy, national identity, and contemporary culture, yet their pervasiveness is rarely matched by critical scrutiny of how media become meaningful to audiences and to American society. Drawing on an integrated approach where the textual, industrial, policy, social, and audience dimensions of broadcasting are considered, this course guides students through a survey of American broadcasting style, regulation, and content. Readings, screenings, and class discussions address the roles that American radio and television have played in constructing dominant and marginalized cultures. By examining the intersection of art and commerce in American radio and television, students analyze the ways that broadcasting content has evolved and how media industries have responded to social and regulatory change.
Creative Industries: We consume media every day, but we rarely think about the people and institutions responsible for the look and sound of what we see and hear. In its focus on the narratives through which the production cultures in different creative industries describe themselves, this course addresses not only what it means to be a director, writer, cinematographer, music supervisor, composer, and/or web/game designer, but also how occupational definitions frame creative work as well as the relationship of production cultures to fans and consumers. In addition to analyzing how film, television, music, gaming, and new media firms construct corporate cultures via narrative and rhetorical strategies, the course considers how creative industries establish business models governing content production and distribution. By analyzing media texts, the statements and activities of highly visible executives, stars, and studios, and less noticed but integral parties involved in programming, development, scheduling, and the day-to-day tasks of production, students examine the nature of media work as well as historical and contemporary contests over authorship, recognition, and compensation within creative industries.
Gender, Sexuality, and Communication: This course provides an overview of gender and queer theories of communication. Surveying a range of methods and strategies for writing cultural criticism, this course analyzes the construction of queer subjectivities, expressions of self-identification, performances of gender and sexuality, the effects of political and economic forces on queer communication, how LGBTQ populations have been constructed as audiences and users, and the politics of expressing gender and sexuality in both mainstream and non-mainstream ways. Students will examine news, documentaries, films, photographs, technologies, comics, policy documents, legal writings, activist texts, and print and new media forms of autobiographical writing. Students will explore debates regarding representation, visibility, outing, community formation, health communication, assimilation, queer space, virtual community, community organizing, and legal and political activism.
Principles of Globalization and the Media: This course looks at international media industries, products and audiences to investigate how forces behind globalization as well as transnational and translocal flows impact media styles, production norms, and usage and consumption patterns. It pays particular attention to the ways that infrastructures, distribution networks, and technologies alter the global media landscape. We will explore the logic, strategies, and struggles of media institutions around the world, examining case studies from (but not limited to) the following nations: the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, France, Nigeria, India, Australia, Lebanon, Israel, South Africa, and Kenya. Topics include global media governance, piracy, the transnational television trade, the role of state and private investment in national broadcasting systems, and mobile media design and use.
Snap, Crackle, Pop: Sound and Film: Even before sound film became the norm, sound played a critical role in the ways that film was produced, distributed, and experienced. This course examines the ways that film theorists, historians, and critics have addressed sound. We will investigate a variety of classical Hollywood cinema texts along with experimental, avant-garde, and independent films. After surveying a range of theories, concepts, and debates in film sound, we will examine the ways that popular music in film challenges traditional models of film sound, changes labor practices in Hollywood, and requires new ways of analyzing film spectatorship. At the end of the course, we will investigate what elements of film sound theory and criticism can be applied to television, new media, and gaming texts.
Contemporary Queer Directors: Beginning with a brief survey of how the status of the director has changed and how we have come to understand the director as the primary author of a film, this course examines a range of openly gay and lesbian directors who have attained substantial critical acclaim. Readings address the potential for queer authorship in both mainstream Hollywood and independent filmmaking. Students analyze films by queer directors as both aesthetic and political objects. We will pay particular attention to the work of directors such as Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant, while also examining films from Lisa Cholodenko, John Cameron Mitchell, Cheryl Dunye, and Rose Troche, among others. By examining the work of queer directors, we will ask whether queer film is a meaningful category, analyze representations of sexual identity onscreen, and make sense of new forms of authorship in film.
Principles of Media and Culture: This course examines a variety of intellectual and theoretical approaches to media criticism. It also provides a brief introduction to research methods in media and communication studies. Students examine the formal codes, styles, and conventions of media texts; the structure and operation of media systems; connections between media and history, politics, and culture; and patterns of reception and consumption among audiences and users. After a discussion of media form and style in film, television, music, comics, the Web, games, and advertising, students examine critical and theoretical approaches to media such as psychoanalysis, political economy, cultural studies, ethnography, and postcolonialism. The class ends with a discussion of how to understand and analyze the ways that audiences receive, consume, and use media. Because it seeks to emphasize media culture, this course pays particular attention to how issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, nation, and ethnicity shape media production, distribution, and consumption.
The Music Industry: This course examines changes in the structure of the music industry and the evolution of popular music forms and genres. Industrial topics include the rise and fall of various playback technologies, cultural anxieties surrounding genres such as jazz and rap, and intellectual property. This course provides an introduction to the organization and structure of the music industry through an examination of the activities and strategies of labels, publishers, performance rights organizations, startups, and subscription services. Students learn about how globalization and new technologies challenge production and distribution norms. Through course readings and listening sessions, students are introduced to debates about commerce and creativity in rock, pop, indie rock, hip hop, electronica, world, and remix music.