Film and Media Cultures
20 | CCN: 28205
What can we learn about culture and society through the various media with which we interact on a daily basis? This course introduces students to theories and methods in the scholarly study of media, including print media, photography, film, television, video, and digital media. With Roland Barthes as our guide, we will become modern cultural “mythologists.” We will also tackle questions of medium specificity: what are the material, formal, and aesthetic features that define different media and their various modes of address and representation? How, for example, does photography differ from painting, not just in the process of its production and circulation, but in how it constructs its audience and produces different kinds of publics? We will pay special attention to how media texts produce ideological effects, thinking through power relations and their connection to race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and so on. We will read various theoretical texts spanning the last century, from early responses to silent film to current debates on the death of cinema, the rise and/or demise of television, and the ubiquity of digital media.
The course will include readings from Walter Benjamin, Andre Bazin, Laura Mulvey, bell hooks, Mary Ann Doane, and Wendy Chun. One of the aims of the course is to learn how to appreciate the challenge of reading complex theoretical material. A weekly film screening will provide concrete case studies with which to ground our ideas and discussions.