CMS.796 | Fall 2006 | Graduate

Major Media Texts


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

This subject involves intensive close study and analysis of historically significant media texts that have been considered landmarks or have sustained extensive critical and scholarly discussion.


  1. To provide sufficient exposure to various media and ways of interpreting them so that you feel comfortable analyzing, comparing, and appreciating their distinctive features (kinetic, visual, textual, and aural).
  2. To reflect in some depth upon questions of translation, adaptation, thematic analogies and functionalities across media.
  3. To explore the political, spiritual, philosophical and cultural layers in representation and performance as well as their expressive, communal and escapist functions.
  4. To recognize the importance of historical and cultural conditions in the creation and interpretation of media texts, and to consider why and how certain works remain influential across time and space.
  5. To develop a specific, shared vocabulary to help in the work of analysis.
  6. To expand your horizons of pleasure and knowledge.
  7. To pursue research and practice oral and written communication that will crystallize and convey your understanding.


This seminar will rely on lively interchange; therefore attendance and full participation are required. This means having read/viewed the assigned texts carefully and on time, having some questions and specific responses to them that you can share, and being sufficiently alert to join in an animated, probing conversation. A variety of written assignments will allow you to respond to our topics in different ways.

I will consider each of the requirements in determining your grade. If you cannot be in class or meet a deadline because of an emergency, please speak with me (in advance, if possible); otherwise, absences and late papers will adversely affect your grade.

Approximate Weighting

Class Discussions, Attendance at Events, Preparation and Active Participation 20%
Oral Presentations and Reports 20%
Comparative 10-page Essay 20%
Other Written Work 20%
Final Project, Including Presentation and Research 20%


I reserve the right to alter the weighting somewhat in exceptional circumstances; usually this works to your advantage. If written work is incomplete or attendance is infrequent, you will not pass the course.


Plagiarism - the use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement - is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution consult the style guides available in the MIT Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.

In addition to welcoming your participation in class, I encourage you to discuss your ideas and your writing with me during office hours, or at other times convenient for us both. I also encourage you to share thoughts with the group via email.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples