Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2023

  • Film and Media Theory

    20 001 | CCN: 20867

    Emily West

    Location: Dwinelle 188

    Date and Time: M, W 12:30pm - 1:59pm

    4 Units

    “Theorizing, as a form of experimenting, is about being in touch. What keeps theories alive and lively is being responsible and responsive to the world’s patternings and murmurings. Doing theory requires being open to the world’s aliveness, allowing oneself to be lured by curiosity, surprise, and wonder. Theories are not mere metaphysical pronouncements on the world from some presumed position of exteriority. Theories are living and breathing reconfigurings of the world.”
    Karen Barad, “On Touching – The Inhuman That Therefore I Am”

    This course focuses on texts that theorize what it is to be human in a highly technologically-mediated world: how systems of power encoded in our language(s) and conceptual systems constitute us as subjects and locate us at the intersection of our identity categories; how mediums, in their basic structures and formal conventions, work to position us as spectators – and how we can push back through our own critical practices. Course films and other media texts will give us examples of how these ideas work, how we can apply them, and how we study film and other media in this department.

    In other words, this course introduces analytical and theoretical methods in the study of film and other media including photography, television, video, print, and digital media. It will provide you with a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies and related disciplines. Throughout the semester, we will analyze the key technological/material, formal, and aesthetic features of different media and the modes of address and representation that define them. We will consider how different media organize time and space, and how they construct their audiences or spectators, producing different kinds of “publics.” Throughout, we will discuss the ideological effects of various media, focusing on questions of racial and sexual difference, national identity, capitalism and power. The course is organized around the reading of major works of 20th and 21st century media and cultural theory; as these texts provide us with new theoretical tools, film and television screenings will provide objects of analysis to which to apply them: concrete examples through which we will learn to understand what we are reading and how we can apply it to our own experience, new texts, and our own artistic production.