Graduate Program in Media Studies
Master of Arts in Media Studies
Media Studies at Pratt is an intensive 30-credit three semester theory and practice M.A shaped in relation to Pratt’s art/design/architecture environment and to the lively social space and theoretical scene of Brooklyn and New York City. Classes in media theory and media practice are small, following seminar and workshop formats, and all classes are taught by professors on Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus.
The program seeks highly motivated students interested in working at the intersection of traditional humanities scholarship and experimental practice. If you are not sure whether you want to be a theorist or a maker, here you can choose not to choose. We offer an exciting and challenging opportunity for students to confront the most pressing issues of our time (e.g., questions around social justice, sustainability, race, sexuality, nationalism, militarizatism, economy and celebrity) through a hybrid approach to scholarship, art and media practice, and media politics.
The graduate degree offers freedom and flexibility to design your own program of study. Whether your final destination is a PhD program or a professional career in the arts, media or communication, the MA in Media Studies at Pratt will train you to think and make critically. Tackling topics from Global South Cinema to the “selfie,” small classes and passionate teachers provide focused one-on-one mentorship so that students may clearly articulate and achieve their goals.
The curriculum emphasizes studies of media, in their various forms, including film, video, television, radio, writing, smart phones and other computerized forms of media convergence. Alongside their theoretical investigations, students are also encouraged to become media makers. Guided by our diverse and exceptional faculty, students study the logics and processes of media, and they explore cultural technologies of expression, representation and manipulation. Students learn to analyze a variety of media forms (cinema, photography, audio-phonic and social media), along with the aesthetic, social, economic and political contexts in which these media operate. They also work on textual analysis, interpretation and semiotics and gain expertise in media history and theory.
The course sequence includes core requirements (Mediologies I and II): a two-semester theory intensive introduction to the history of media studies. There is also a two-semester sequence (Encounters I and II) that is a salon style course in which students attend scholarly, artistic, and media events in New York City and discuss them with one another and a faculty member. Additionally, students take “Digital Bootcamp” which gives them some fundamentals of media production. Students also take a combination of elective seminars and practice-based courses offered by the media studies faculty. Depending upon their individual interests, students may also petition to take additional courses from various other graduate programs at Pratt Institute that can be credited towards their degree. In the final semester students take a thesis course and produce a written thesis or media project equivalent.
Each year in late April, the Media Studies Program hosts a conference, Mediologies, which includes presentations of work and works-in-progress by students, faculty, and guest presenters. Seminar courses being offered in the spring enable students to develop papers and projects specifically for presentation at Mediologies.
DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER SERIES
Students receive additional educational opportunities through the Aesthetics and Politics Lecture Series organized through the Media Studies Program. In the past speakers have included Lisa Nakamura, McKenzie Wark, Alexander Galloway, Vicente Rafael, Angela Davis, Neferti Tadiar, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Gina Dent, Sheila Coronel, Saidiya Hartman, Khavn de la Cruz, and many others.
Application for Admission
Applications for admission to the Master of Arts are due January 5 for first consideration for the following fall; the program accepts fall entrants only. However, applications will be considered until the program is closed, and generous scholarships are awarded to eligible students who complete by April 1. Applicants should have a B.A., B.S. or B.F.A. from an accredited institution. Candidates submit (1) a statement of purpose in which they describe their interest in the program; (2) 10–20 pages of relevant writing sample(s), with emphasis on analytical writing; (3) transcripts of undergraduate coursework; and (4) two letters of recommendation. All applicants follow the standard admission process for graduate programs at Pratt: see http://www.pratt.edu/apply.
Jonathan Beller (Professor) is one of the foremost theorists of the visual turn and the attention economy. He works on the history of cinema and the way in which the screen-image has altered all aspects of social life. These alterations range from the lived experiences of gender, sexuality and race, to the socio-economic reorganization of peoples, governments and the environment. His research and pedagogy is undertaken with a commitment to those struggling for social justice in what he calls “the world-media system.” Books and edited volumes include The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle; Acquiring Eyes: Philippine Visuality, Nationalist Struggle and the World-Media System; and Feminist Media Theory (a special issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online). His current book projects are entitled The Rain of Images and Computational Capital. Beller also serves on the Editorial Collective of the internationally recognized journal Social Text, and is the current director of The Graduate Program in Media Studies. He teaches Mediologies I and a variety of electives.
Stephanie Boluk (Assistant Professor) pursues research located at the intersection of game studies, media archeology, and the digital humanities. From the “audiogames” invented by blind (and blindfolded) players to perspectival shifts in the spatial logic of first-person shooters and from the history of Super Mario modifications to the virtual currency and player-based production in competitive e-sports, Boluk’s forthcoming book Metagames explores alternative histories of play. See http://stephanieboluk.com for more information.
(Visiting Professor) Allen Feldman’s internationally praised ethnographies engage the embodied political subject as a media skin shaped by a politics of light/nonlight. He is concerned with the affective fabric of mediatic life, nonlife and post-life as a politics of design. His forthcoming book Archives of the Insensible interfaces the aesthetics, technicity and mediatics of power, war and resistance through the concept of the photopolitical.
Mendi Obadike (Assistant Professor) is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose work concerns the intersection of sound and language. She has published four books–Armor and Flesh (2004), Phonotype (2012), Four Electric Ghosts (2014), and Big House / Disclosure (2014)–and released three albums–The Sour Thunder: An Internet Opera (2004), Crosstalk: American Speech Music (2008), and Big House / Disclosure (2014). Her conceptual media artworks have been exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Whitney Museum, Yale University, Electronic Arts Intermix, and the New York African Film Festival, among other institutions. Her awards include a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, a postdoctoral fellowship in Race and Ethnicity at Princeton University, and a residency at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. She earned a BA in English from Spelman College and a PhD in Literature from Duke University.
Ethan Spigland (Professor) is an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, visual artist, critic, and curator. He has written and directed numerous films including The Archive, which is currently in postproduction. He completed two short films in collaboration with renowned architect Steven Holl. One of these, Luminosity Porosity, formed part of an installation at the Gallery Ma in Tokyo, Japan. His ongoing project, Elevator Moods, was featured in the Sundance Film Festival and South By Southwest, and won the prestigious Webby Award in the Broadband Category. His short film, The Strange Case of Balthazar Hyppolite, won the Gold Medal in the Student Academy Awards, among other honors. He collaborated with Malcolm McLaren on numerous short films, and on the video installation, Shallow, which opened at the I-20 Gallery in New York and was featured in Art Basel. He writes regularly on film and media for The Brooklyn Rail.
Ethan received an MFA from the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and a Maitrîse in Philosophy from the University of Paris VIII under the supervision of Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Francois Lyotard. Recent classes offered include: Japanese New Wave Cinema, Walter Benjamin and Media, The Films of Jean-Luc Godard, Deleuze, Art and Media, and The Situationists: Adventures in Psychogeography.
Christopher Vitale (Associate Professor) teaches the intersection of philosophy, film, and media. His primary research project, Networkologies, links together the study of networks in a wide variety of fields, including artificial intelligence, cutting-edge 'soft'-computation, neuroscience, complex systems science, economics, social and political networking, and beyond. An avid blogger on topics ranging from networks to philosophy, sexuality, and politics, Chris posts his work on his website, http://networkologies.wordpress.com. Courses include Contemporary Experimental Narrative Cinema, Theories of Networks, Deleuze and Cinema, Bodies/Boundaries/Power, Psychoanalytic Film Theory, Modernism/Postmodernism.