Spring 2018 Course Offerings


HMS 540S 06 – Public Media Studies

Instructor: Minh-Ha Pham
M 9–11:50 AM
3 credits

This course examines the relationship between “media,” “publics,” and “counterpublics.”  The first half of the course will be devoted to reading and discussing texts on the relationship between media and the production of the public sphere—who is included and excluded in media publics? How have those excluded from mainstream media publics hacked or hijacked media to create counterpublics?  In the second half of the course, students will be engaged in a public media studies project of their choosing. These projects should embody the spirit of engaged scholarship by using media (tools and theories) in the service of the public good. 

HMS 540S 02 – Future Worlds and Other Science Fictions

Instructor: Jayna Brown                                                                                
M 2–4:50 PM
3 credits

In this class students will explore science fiction, art, music, film, and video that envision other worlds and ways of being. Some of the works we consider are wild bio-technological fantasies. Others are dystopian critiques, as they imagine worlds destroyed by the impact of humans on the planet. Others contemplate humanity itself: the possibilities of biological life, human "nature," and subjectivity. All of these speculative aesthetic practices and philosophies profoundly disrupt notions of space, time, and matter. They create future and other dimensional worlds and forms of existence that reach outside our current paradigms of knowledge. 

HMS 650B 01 – Mediologies II

Instructor: Minh-Ha Pham & Mendi Obadike                                             
T 9–11:50 AM
3 credits

This graduate-level course focuses on the mutually constitutive relationship between media technologies and society as it is mediated by culture. We will consider how cultural factors like race, power, and inequality shape and constrain the relationship between media and society. We often hear that the Internet has transformed society but which Internet and whose society? Media technologies, like social spaces, are never just one thing. The Internet is a complex set of relationships between and among people, technologies, corporations, governments, and non-governmental agents and agencies that are themselves riven with unequal forms of power in terms of access, representation, and participation. This course considers the historical and contemporary cultural contexts and dynamics of the relationship between media and society.

HMS 590S 04 – Critical Listening Strategies

Instructor: Mendi Obadike                                                                             
T 2–4:50 PM
3 credits

Narratives of representation are almost always dominated by vision, but sound holds, reflects, and delivers meaningful information about culture, power, and ideology. In some moments it echoes the information given to us by images—the information translates across media. In other cases, however, sonic information speaks in a fundamentally different way—it tells us about other subjects, or it tells us information that contradicts what vision describes. What do we have to gain when we sharpen our critical tools for interpreting the work of sound or recognizing the cultural values inherent in sonic communication?

Critical Listening Strategies Answers that question with a necessarily interdisciplinary approach. The course will function as an introduction to the field of Sound Studies. We will familiarize ourselves with critical listening strategies offered by sound theorists and sound artists. Our thematic foci are Black sound(s), auditory blackness, and listening to race. Students will learn and develop new practices of listening critically, writing about sound, and reading sonic representations.

HMS 640S 01 – Politics of the Gaze: From Surveillance to Sousveillance  

Instructor: Allen Feldman                                                                                
T 5–7 PM
3 credits

Deleuze proposes: “the seeing subject is himself a space within visibility, a function derived from visibility.” He describes the paradox of subjective seeing as sousveillance-- looking from below-- that is entangled within a web of surveillance—being seen from above. Surveillance is the right to inspect held by institutions-- the law, police and related powers. Sousveillance enacts and generates visual resistance and politicizing visual testimony through mobile media that inspect human rights violations. Sousveillance as inspection from below  can also  immerse the viewer in reality tv and celebrity culture.  The two scopic regimes now watch each other- they are each a voyeur of the other as a culture that fuses spectacle and inspection. The Society of the Spectacle that arose 50 years ago has become the Society of the Inspectacle. Surveillance and sousveillance both pose the gesture of looking itself as a visible act that alters what is seen. Resisting the right to see and to be seen is the right to opacity-- the right not to be seen-- protecting privacy and secrecy. To visualize these acts of seeing and unseeing we will discuss readings and screen films, Internet video, and art that mobilize and inspect surveillance, sousveillance and opacity. 

HMS 390S – Rebel Music

Instructor: Jayna Brown                                                                                   
W  5–7:50 PM
3 credits 

Music is a medium through which artists and audiences have historically voiced critical defiance of systems and societies, and played an elemental part of inciting civil disobedience. Its meaning is intimately intertwined with performance and audience participation. This class focuses on popular forms of ‘rebel music,’ as Bob Marley called it, including jazz, blues, ska, dub, punk, reggae and rap. We will listen, dance, and view documentaries, asking the questions: how does music form communities? What does listening mean? How does location (club/headphones) shape the music’s affective register? What happens when a musical form hits the market? Can it still be the sound of resistance? Open to graduate and undergraduate students. 

HMS 540S 05 – Serious Games: Experimental Approaches to Media Production

Instructor: Ethan Spigland                                                                      
W 5–7:50 PM
3 credits

This is a production class in screenwriting and film. The emphasis is on game-playing and experimental approaches to storytelling. In his seminal work, Homo Ludens, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga explored the profound affinity between art, culture and games. In this course, games and experiments will be employed to inspire students' creativity and develop strategies/machines for generating narratives in film and various media. A key aspect of the class will be the use of rules and constraints in creating works of media. Some of these games and techniques have been adapted from such avant-garde movements as Dada, Surrealism, the OuLiPo Group, the Beats, the Situationists, and more recently, Dogma ‘95. They include: free association, the game of the exquisite corpse, the story-generating puns of Raymond Roussel, Georges Perec's use of the lipogram, and William Burrough's notion of the cut-up, among others. These procedures will be brought up to date by applying them to audiovisual media rather than to literature or the fine arts. Lectures and supporting texts will provide a historical context for such techniques. However, the emphasis will be on hands-on experimentation. Students will work individually and in groups and complete a short film by the end of the term. Basic experience in digital video and video editing is recommended but not required. 

HMS 631S 02 – Feminist Film and Film/Media Theory

Instructor: Jon Beller                                                                                  
TH 9–11:50 AM
3 credits

 This course explores a variety of films alongside 1) some of the classic works of Western feminist film theory, 2) transnational and contemporary feminist writing on film, video, digital media and geo-politics, and 3) feminist media theory and critical race media theory. It opens with an exploration of some of the claims made by Feminism emerging in the U.S. and Europe during 1970s and 1980s regarding the foreclosure of representation for women in both linguistic discourse and cinematic narrative and then broadens its scope to contextualize and critique that moment and explore issues of race, gender and sexuality (sometimes configured as intersectionality) as mediated by cinema in a contemporary and transnational context. Films include a selection from mainstream Hollywood, auteur cinema, specifically feminist film and video, and non-Western/Third World cinema. 

HMS 640S 02 – Media Studies Studio Workshop

Instructors: Jayna Brown and Ethan Spigland                                       
TH 2–4:50 PM
3 credits

First year Master’s students in Media Studies will be introduced to, and encouraged to explore, a number of different methodologies and practices. Through a self-directed project, they will learn to research, identify, create, and use archives, discern what skills and techniques they need to develop, and practice articulating and manifesting their own particular theoretical and artistic approaches. Guest speakers will bring their expertise and explain their own diverse approaches to research. The term will culminate in an event where students will share their work.

HMS 549B 02 – Encounters 2

Instructor: Jon Beller                                                                                          
TH 5–7:50 PM
1 credit

Encounters 2 is a continuation of Encounters 1, a salon style course designed to provide students with exposure to media studies, required for first year GPMS students. Students and professor convene approximately eight times during the semester to attend lectures/events/ performances relevant to their degree program, sometimes on campus and sometimes off, and then two or three additional times to discuss. The course is to be taken for credit in the first year but second-year students are also encouraged to attend the public talks offered by invited guests