Film and Media Theory
20 001 | CCN: 21844
Damon R. Young
Date and Time: M, W 9:30am - 10:59am
This course introduces students to theories and methods in the scholarly study of audiovisual media, including photography, television, film, video, and digital media. Throughout the semester, we will focus on questions of medium “specificity,” asking: what are the technological and aesthetic features that define different media and their various modes of address and representation? We will consider how different media reorganize time and space, and how they construct their audiences or spectators, producing different kinds of “publics.” We will analyze the ways media texts produce ideological effects, focusing on questions of racial and sexual difference, national identity, capitalism and power. The course is organized around the close reading of major works of 20th century media and cultural theory by writers including Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, André Bazin, Stuart Hall, Laura Mulvey, and Wendy Chun. One of the aims of the course is to learn how to appreciate, rather than being intimidated by, the challenge of reading complex theoretical material. Works of cultural theory ask us to go outside the comfort zone of the immediately intelligible, asking how what seems “obvious” and “natural” comes to appear that way. A weekly screening will help us flesh out the ideas covered in the course using concrete examples.