Introduction to Media Studies is designed for students who have grown up in a rapidly changing global multimedia environment and want to become more literate and critical consumers and producers of culture. Through an interdisciplinary comparative and historical lens, the course defines “media” broadly as including oral, print, theatrical, photographic, broadcast, cinematic, and digital cultural forms and practices. The course looks at the nature of mediated communication, the functions of media, the history of transformations in media and the institutions that help define media’s place in society.
Over the course of the semester we explore different theoretical perspectives on the role and power of media in society in influencing our social values, political beliefs, identities and behaviors. Students also have the opportunity to analyze specific media texts (such as films and television shows) and explore the meaning of the changes that occur when a particular narrative is adapted into different media forms. We look at the ways in which the politics of class, gender and race influence both the production and reception of media. To represent different perspectives on media, several guest speakers also present lectures. Through the readings, lectures, and discussions as well as their own writing and oral presentations, students have multiple opportunities to engage with critical debates in the field as well as explore the role of media in their own lives.