Media Studies (MEDA)
Director: Professor John F. Schott
Emeritus Professor: Vern D. Bailey
Professor: John F. Schott
Assistant Professor: Carol Donelan
Adjunct Instructor: Paul Hager
Visiting Instructor: Thomas W. Pope
The Media Studies Program serves as a center for those interested in the formal study of film, video, television and the internet. Course work is of three related kinds: 1) study of past and present connections between film, video, television and other artsphotography, music, theater, dance and painting, 2) study of both narrative and non-fiction film and video and their relation to other disciplineshistory, sociology, psychology, American Studies, etc., and 3) production classes to provide the essential "hands-on" experience for understanding and creating video and multimedia.
Media Studies Courses
MEDA 110. Introduction to Media Studies An introduction to film, television, and digital media from multiple perspectives: formal, cultural, and theoretical. How do films tell their stories? How do they reflect some of the historical and cultural issues of their time, including gender and race? What are the formal and cultural significances of television and digital media? How are we constructed differently, as spectators, in relation to various media? These questions will be addressed by studying a variety of texts, including Hollywood, avant-garde, and documentary film, TV sitcoms and soap operas, and the world wide web. Discussion will focus on applying critical concepts to screenings and clips. 6 credits cr., AL, FallC. Donelan
MEDA 111. Introduction to Video Production Offered regularly throughout the year, this class introduces students to the central ideas, esthetics and tools of video production. Students will learn to shoot and edit with the most recent digital cameras and editors. In addition to completing short exercises, everyone in the class will complete a short video project. 3 credits cr., ND, Fall,Winter,SpringStaff
MEDA 112. Screenwriting In this introduction to writing for the screen, students will work on both full-length motion picture scripts and short 10-20 minute projects suitable for production in the Fiction Production class. All projects will be critiqued by the class and judged on professional standards, with analysis which is exacting, rigorous and encouraging. Guest screenwriter Thomas Pope is the author of The Lords of Discipline, Bad Boys and F/X. 6 credits cr., AL, WinterT. Pope
MEDA 114. Film History and Criticism From the Edison primitives to the contemporary Hollywood blockbusters, we survey the evolution of the film form and style in the U.S. and abroad, paying particular attention to eras dominated by German Expressionism, Russian Formalism, French New Wave and the omnipresence of Hollywood. Historical examples and current strategies of film criticism provide a second, coordinate part of the course. 6 credits cr., HU, WinterC. Donelan
MEDA 115. Music and the Media Refer to MUSC 115 for description. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringR. Rodman
MEDA 122. Video Production for Community Television Explore how local communities are using cable television to reaffirm civic and cultural identity in an age of homogenizing mass media. This course offers a rich experience in "service learning" as students make video projects for broadcast on Northfield's own community cable station. Prerequisite: Media Studies 111 and consent of the instructor. 6 credits cr., ND, WinterP. Hager
MEDA 135. History of American Film An introduction to the American cinema from the silent era to the present. We will explore the history of classical Hollywood cinema as a unique economic, industrial, aesthetic and cultural institution. Topics addressed will include the experience of movie-going, the nature of Hollywood story-telling, and the roles played by the studio system, the star system, and film genre in the creation of a body of work that functions both as entertainment and as an influential mediator of American experience, identity, and culture. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringC. Donelan
MEDA 204. Media and American Politics: Special Election Edition Cross-listed with POSC 204. Our analysis of media influences on politics will draw from three fields of study: political psychology, political behavior and participation, and public opinion. This year we will focus on media and politics by following the role of media in election 2000. 6 credits cr., SS, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 210. Project Conception and Development Workshop This is a class for students who wish to plan a complex multimedia project, media-oriented comps, fiction script or other ambitious work requiring substantial conceptualization and development. Students expecting to take Fiction or Documentary production later in the year are encouraged to develop projects for those classes here. Students will work with faculty on project development techniques, conceptualization, research and planning, and will discuss and critique their work with others in the workshop. Small groups expecting to work together are encouraged to join. 3 credits cr., S/CR/NC, ND, FallJ. Schott
MEDA 219. Radio Narrative National Public Radio's This American Life reminds us just how vital "old school' forms like radio can be. Here we introduce students to the conceptual issues and all-digital production techniques of radio narrative. The class welcomes students interested both in personal narratives and academic nonfiction works, including those that originate from within the perspectives of their own field of study—for example, an oral history for sociology/anthropology, or documentary analysis of an issue in social policy and ecology. (Students wishing to join the class in teams of two or three to complete a special project should check first with Professor Schott.) 6 credits cr., AL, WinterStaff
MEDA 220. Nonfiction Video Production An introduction to the basic techniques and theoretical issues of non-fiction video production. In addition to completing a variety of skill-building exercises, students will complete a substantial work of documentary video. Prerequisite: Media Studies 111. 6 credits cr., AL, Fall,WinterJ. Schott
MEDA 221. Fiction Video Production An introduction to the basic techniques and creative issues of fiction video making. Students will complete several skill-building exercises, write or adapt a short script, learn how to run a low-budget set, and produce a short fiction video. Prerequisite: Media Studies 111 or permission of the instructor. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringJ. Schott
MEDA 222. History of Photography Cross-listed with ARTH 222. This course covers nineteenth and twentieth century photography from its origins to the present. It will consider formal innovations in the medium, the role of photography in society, and the place of photography in the fine arts. Prerequisite: any one term of Art History. 6 credits cr., AL,RAD, WinterB. Jarman
MEDA 224. Film's Narrative Strategies Unlike the novelist, who must create passions with printed words, a filmmaker uses lighting, color, camera angles, unanticipated editing, sound design, music, special effects, and known actors to shape audience responses. This course will provide a brief, intensive study of the variety of narrative techniques used in classical and modern films including Citizen Kane, Persona, Magnolia, Groundhog Day. 3 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 227. Open the Box: Studies in Television A course devoted to the exploration of the form and style of U.S. television, the conventions and social meanings of various television genres, and the history and methods of audience research. In addition to analyzing closely individual television programs from the past and present, we will engage in researching the television audiences to which we belong. 6 credits cr., HU, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 228. Rethinking the Fifties Through Film, Television and Photography Disguised in a poodle skirt and Elvis wig, Fifties America remains a nostalgic caricature for many students. This course offers a revisionary social history of this complex decade by examining a broad range of visual media. We'll consider key issues like the rise of consumer culture, the policing of gender, the "invention" of teens, Cold War paranoia, the rise of suburbia, the explosion of popular culture, television's "living room lectures," and smell-o-vision. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 229. Outsiders Cinema: Fiction Film This course considers fiction films produced in conscious (if not militant) opposition to Hollywood, films driven by esthetic, moral or expressive commitments rather than the bottom line. In addition to doing close readings of fifteen or so films, we will consider the cultural, esthetic, economic and biographical circumstances that inform each work. The course will emphasize films that have been considered landmarks in post-war independent fictionwith an emphasis on projects of the last ten yearsfrom Cassevete's Husbands (1970) to Tarentino's Pulp Fiction (1995). 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 231. Japanese Cinema Cross-listed with JAPN 231. This course examines the extraordinary achievement of Japanese cinema, from the classic films of Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kurosawa to the pop cinema of Kitano and the phenomenon of anime. The films will be studied for their aesthetic, cultural, historical and auteur contexts. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship of the film to traditional arts, culture and society. This course is conducted in English and all the course materials are in English translation or in English subtitles. 6 credits cr., AL,RAD, SpringN. Tomonari
MEDA 232. Cinema at the Edge: The Idea of the Avant-Garde This class traces the development of avant-garde film, video and multi-media from Salvadore Dali's surrealist cinema in the '20's to contemporary virtual reality on the internet. Along with examining key paradigms of experimentalism (art cinema, video art, hypermedia, etc.), we will consider theoretically how the avant-garde defines itself at differing moments in history. The class will feature an extended "field trip" into Beat culture of the 1950's, where we will look at beat cinema in the context of poetry, music and the visual arts. 6 credits cr., AL, Spring
MEDA 233. Italian Neorealism and Its Legacy An introduction to the key films and theories of Italian neorealism. We will begin by looking closely at the traditional neorealist films of Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti in relation to the theories of Bazin and Zavattini. We will then turn our attention to films by Fellini, Pasolini, and Antonioni, among others, that question or problematize traditional neorealism, from films situated on the boundaries of the tradition, to films said to constitute a break with the tradition, to films that reconsider the tradition from contemporary perspectives. We will conclude the course by considering the impact of neorealism in an international context. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 234. Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream After Americans grasped the enormity of the Depression and World War II, the glossy fantasies of 30s cinema seemed hollow indeed. During the 40s, the movies, our true national pastime, took a nosedive into pessimism. The result? A collection of exceptional films chocked full of tough guys and bad women lurking in the shadows of nasty urban landscapes. This course applies the tools of formal criticism, intellectual history, and feminist theory to films like Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, and Kiss Me Deadly. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 237. Chinese Cinema Cross-listed with CHIN 240. This course introduces students to a sampling of films made in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and examines the cinematic representation of Greater China considering both local contexts and global connections. This course will analyze the visual-aural spectacles and their aesthetic merits against a backdrop of materials that deal with political assertions, ideological underpinnings, historical conditions, social transformations, and cultural practices as represented in these non-Western visual texts. The course is conducted in English and all the course materials are in English translation or in English subtitles. No prerequisites. 6 credits cr., AL,RAD, WinterP. Fu
MEDA 238. Border Crossings: Postmodern Perspectives on French and German Cinema Cross-listed with GERM 220,FREN 238,FRST 220. In this course, we will explore the responses of French and German filmmakers to the challenges facing Europe as it redefined itself throughout the twentieth century. Taking Foucault's and Derrida's theories about the center and the margin as a starting point, we will examine such issues as national identity, marginalization, shifting gender roles and technological change. Filmmakers to be discussed will be Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Renoir, Agnes Varda, Fritz Lang, Rainer W. Fassbinder and Helma Sanders-Brahms. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringS. Leonhard, D. Strand
MEDA 242. Women and World Cinema Cross-listed with CHIN 242,WGST 242. . We will screen, read, and analyze cinematic representations of women and society in Western and non-Western conditions and contexts. The course will serve as a multicultural investigation of the varied relationship between women and cinema, using films produced in North America, Europe, and Asia. This course is a comparative study of the aesthetic modes, filmic techniques, cultural realities, and ideological underpinnings related to women's body, mind, and power as illustrated on the screenscape. All the course materials are in English translation. No prerequisites. 6 credits cr., AL,RAD, FallP. Fu
MEDA 244. Representing Reality: Nonfiction Film and Video Theorists suggest that as we increasingly become a "screen culture," visual forms of nonfiction-photography, film/TV, video and multimedia-are dominant sources of cultural and political definitions. This class reviews the evolution of documentary film and video (with some attention to photography) from Nanook of the North (the first documentary) to Fox TV news. In the modern period we look at emerging forms and issues including Rodney King and the status of visual evidence, mocumentary and docudrama, Fifties "mental hygiene" films, and the emerging genre of online documentary. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 247. African Cinema: In Search of Identity and Self Definition Cross-listed with AFAM 247,FRST 248,FREN 248. This course will introduce students (who are not expected to have an extensive knowledge of African history and culture) to films that engage the socio-political issues central to an emerging African cultural identity. The course will focus on work by African filmmakers such as Souleymane Cissé (whose The Brightness won the Prix du Jury at Cannes in 1987), but it will also touch on the cinemas of the diasporaparticularly in the Caribbean. In contrast, we will also consider colonial and post-colonial "definitions" of Africa from Hollywood in the '30s (where "the natives" are the ones with the spears) to France in the '70s (Jean-Jacques Arnaud's Oscar-winning Black and White in Color Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 250. Designing Complex Web Sites This course focuses on the multiple skills required to conceive, organize and design a complex web site. Emphasis is on detailed conceptualization, information architecture, usability, information design, graphic design and user testing. Students will be asked to present their work as Photoshop mock-ups rather than actually execute the site in HTML. Contemporary web and information design projects are done by teams of individuals with special skills who design the site in detail before turning it over to specialists for coding: this class involves the crucial "front end" skills driving web design today. 6 credits cr., AL, WinterJ. Schott
MEDA 252. History of New Media While an earlier generation of theorists argued that each art should remain autonomous and "true to its means," our contemporary obsession is with combining and transforming the arts into new technological forms we call, somewhat uncomfortably, multimedia or new media. This course offers a broad historical and conceptual overview of the path from Wagner's vision of the "total work of art" to virtual reality. We will examine key moments in the evolution of art and technologyindividual works, manifestos, movements, artists and technologies – that have been decisive, including stereo photography, poly-cinema, Futurist and Constructivist theater, the conceptual evolution of the computer, the "art and science" movement, Happenings, "live" TV, digital effects, "net.art" (internet as art), and virtual reality. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringJ. Schott
MEDA 255. Russian Cinema: History and Theory Refer to RUSS 255 for description. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 257. Lorca, Buñuel, and Dalí: Poetry, Film, and Painting in Spain Cross-listed with SPAN 256. Lorca. Buñuel, and Dalí attended the same college in Madrid. It was the 1920's and the young were truly young and almost everything was possible. Soon Lorca became Dalí's secret lover and muse, inspiring many of his early paintings and launching his career in the artistic circles of Barcelona and Madrid. At the same time, Dalí collaborated with Buñuel in two landmarks of experimental cinema The Andalusian Dog (Lorca?) and The Golden Age. This course will examine the friendship between the three artists and their place in the history of twentieth-century poetry, film, and art. Prerequisite: Spanish 205 or above. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringH. Huergo
MEDA 260. Cyberculture: Studies in Digital Culture and the Internet The explosive growth of the internet is creating the most far-reaching communications revolution of modern life. Media Studies takes up where computer Science leaves off: by considering the cultural rather than the technological implications of the Internet. We will examine a range of theoretical perspectives from Marshall McLuhan to "cyborg theory," and topics like changing notions of community, identity and artistic expression. 6 credits cr., AL, WinterJ. Schott
MEDA 261. Spanish Cinema Cross-listed with SPAN 250. This course will study Spanish film from 1950's to the present. Through the study of the social and political processes involved in the conception of time and memory we will discuss the work of internationally recognized filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel, Luis García Berlanga, Mario Camus, Carlos Saura, Victor Erice and Pedro Almodóvar. Prerequisites: Spanish 204 or proficiency. 6 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 262. Advanced Editing Techniques A five-week course introducing students to new ideas and techniques for creating visual narratives using the advanced resources of Final Cut Pro and selected graphics and digital effects software. Prerequisite: Media Studies 111. 3 credits cr., AL, FallP. Hager
MEDA 263. Authoring New Media New digital media are changing the way we produce and distribute art and information. We'll combine critical perspectives with hands-on production with particular focus on multi-media for the web and DVD authoring. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. 3 credits cr., ND, SpringP. Hager
MEDA 280. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick Stanley Kubrick is an auteur critic's dream: he writes, shoots, directs, edits, and often handles his own publicity. From the apocalpytic satire of Dr. Strangelove, to the epic vision of 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the dystopian nightmare of A Clockwork Orange, his films are probably as close to personal works of art as any in the commercial cinema. In this course, we evaluate Kubrick's authorship by closely analyzing each of his films against a backdrop of economics, technology, and history 3 credits cr., AL, WinterC. Donelan
MEDA 281. The Cinema of Martin Scorsese Martin Scorsese is undeniably one of the most accomplished and successful filmmakers of our time. From the urban violence and psychosis of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, to the romanticism of The Age of Innocence, the drama of Raging Bull, and the supremely provocative Last Temptation of Christ, he has not compromised his vision. In this course, our approach is to identify the meanings and consistencies in his films while attending to the various production practices that differently inflect his authorial discourse – from student filmmaking to exploitation cinema, independent production and major studio finance and distribution. 3 credits cr., AL, WinterC. Donelan
MEDA 282. Hitchcock: The Classic Films The name, even the mere profile of Alfred Hitchcock, suggest films of suspense beyond our expectations. Even more surprising, is the range and influence of his narrative formulations. He may be the screen's greatest rhetorician, the director most capable of tailoring the film image to the viewer's response. We will test this idea through a selective retrospective of eight of his more thematically-profound films. 3 credits cr., AL, Not offered in 2002-2003.
MEDA 283. Capra and Wilder: Sweet and Sour Both Capra and Wilder were immigrants to the U.S., but each had a distinctive vision of the American character and society. We will search out contrasts and overlaps in a list of films that will include: Some Like it Hot, It Happened One Night, The Apartment, It's a Wonderful Life, Ace in the Hole, Meet John Doe, Double Indemnity, Lost Weekend. Prerequisite: An introductory film course. 6 credits cr., AL, SpringV. Bailey
MEDA 362. Narrative Theory Cross-listed with ENGL 362. "Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories?" asks Hayden White (historiographer). To try to answer that question, we will read contemporary narrative theory and analyze various literary texts and films. This course fulfills the advanced seminar requirement. Prerequisite: English 200. 6 credits cr., AL, WinterS. Jaret McKinstry
MEDA 395. Media Theory and Analysis An advanced overview of film theory and criticism, emphasizing the realist and formalist traditions in classical film theory, the ontology of the photograph, cinematic, and digital image, issues of authorship and genre, and trends in contemporary film theory influenced by linguistics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, queer theory, and the advent of digital technology. Class time will be spent chiefly in the discussion and debate of a body of common readings and screenings. Senior Media Studies concentrators or permission of the instructor. 6 credits cr., AL, FallC. Donelan