MCC-UE 1200 - Senior Media Seminar

Open only to seniors in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication or by permission of the instructor. A culminating course integrating models of interpretation derived from the liberal arts with the analytical tools developed in media, culture, and communication coursework. Reflects current research interests within the department and encourages students to explore emerging issues in the field, including media and globalization, professional ethics, and the interaction between audiences and texts.

Winter 2017

MCC-UE 1200-001 / Topic: Masculinity in Film
Instructor: Brett Gary, MTWR 12:00 pm - 3:50 pm

In the 20th century Hollywood’s studio films were undoubtedly the most powerful medium for producing shared understandings about American mythologies – especially myths of American innocence, ideas of American progress, with so much of that national story featuring narratives of undaunted American manhood. This course will examine the early incarnations of these myths, via Hollywood, and then explore how, in post-WWII feature films, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the protagonists of our films, from heroic and courageous men, to damaged, unsteady, and ill-equipped men.   We will explore how these changing depictions of American manhood might correspond with the puncturing of the myths of national innocence, a fragmenting of the narrative of shared national purpose, declining expectations, and how differences along class, ethnic, racial, and regional lines have contributed to additional fragmentation of ideas about and models of masculinity.  

Asked slightly differently, is there a crisis of manhood in American life, and if so, what are the social, cultural, and historical factors resulting in these “crises” of masculinity and national mythologies?  And how are these transformations expressed in Hollywood film over the past half a century? To explore this topic, we will consider the work of historians, sociologists, film critics, media studies scholars, anthropologists, journalists, and others, along with studying numerous Hollywood feature films as our primary evidence. 

Spring 2017

MCC-UE 1200-001 / Topic: The Office
Instructor: Ben Kafka, Wednesdays 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Almost all of us have, or will soon have, office jobs. Where did offices come from? Why are they set up the way they are? What can they tell us about class, gender, and race relations? What can they tell us about interpersonal relations (office romance, office gossip, etc.)? Why have they exerted such fascination in literature, film, and television? 

MCC-UE 1200-002 / Topic:  Normal Media
Instructor: Kevin Gotkin, Tuesdays 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm

What does it mean to act or be normal? In what ways do media determine how we imagine normalcy? In this course we will consider media as a broad category, including a range of technologies, objects, texts, and even collective feelings. We will discover normalcy as a fragile and curiously inconspicuous concept, exploring its development in the U.S. since the mid-19th century. We will consider the role of media in, for example, gay and lesbian activists’ campaign to depathologize homosexuality or how the charity telethon genre presented ideas of dis/ability to enormous audiences in the latter half of the 20th century. As we tour these topics and others, students will select their own cases and build an extensive capstone research project around a particular media artifact. In progressive exercises, students will select their objects, review appropriate literature, design a method, and in the end produce a long-form research portfolio that examines an object’s capacity to enforce or dismantle ideas about “the normal.” Primary readings will include works by Langon Winner, Donna Haraway, Paul Preciado, Joseph Dumit, and Steven Epstein.

MCC-UE 1200-003 / Topic:  Islam and Media
Instructor: Isra Ali,
 Mondays 9:30 am – 12:00 pm

Today, conversations about Islam and media tend to center on the role of new media in revolutionary uprisings in Middle Eastern states, and in the recruitment of sympathizers to the causes of Islamic terrorist organizations. This course, will consider these contexts, but also provide a broader look at Islam and media, including analyses of: the historical and contemporary uses of traditional and new forms of media in Muslim societies, the role of media in Islamic practices, and the history of knowledge production about Muslims and Islam, and the uses and circulation of that knowledge. We will consider how everyday Muslims in the contemporary era are utilizing media to articulate Muslim identity, and how the broader attention economies that have emerged through new media are creating a genre of young women Muslim lifestyle and fashion bloggers, who are incorporating religious belief and practice into their output.  Broadly speaking, we will consider the relationship between Islam and Media from a number of perspectives, in order to better understand and interrogate our common understandings of both Islam and Media, and their impact in the world. 

MCC-UE 1200-004 / Topic:  Television Industries of Latin America
Instructor: Juan Piñon, Mondays, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

While today the new media landscape of digital convergence has opened a growing number of windows of video delivery, still broadcasting television in Latin America and for U.S. Hispanics are the most important source for information and entertainment for the Latina/os across the hemisphere. The grow and vitality of the Spanish and Portuguese language television industries have been recognized in the literature by the growing presence of Latin American programming in the world television market place.  Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and the USA Hispanic production from Miami have become key center of television production for audiences around the region and for the global market. However, the formation and characteristics of these different Latin American television industries have followed different paths based on the specific factors such as: the size and structure of their markets, the socio-political environment in which they growth, the specific national media policy that shaped them, and the relation with others kind of national media that give them particular chances of visibility at national or regional levels. While censorship or control over news and information in television have been historically key to maintain the status quo for the different Latin American States and their political and entrepreneurial classes across the region, fictional programming arose as an space in which the unspoken would be talked through the different dynamics on fictional storytelling, particularly telenovelas. In this seminar we will look at historical socio-economic and political roots for the surge and formation of the different television industries across the region to make sense of their particular programming characteristics. But also we will assess the contemporary media and television landscape and the presence of USA Hispanic and Latin American television flows at regional and global levels.  

MCC-UE 1200-005 / Topic:  Practice-Based Environmental Media 
Instructor: Jamie Bianco, Wednesdays 11:00 am – 1:30 pm

Practice-Based Environmental Media: Studying and Documenting Environmental Toxicity On-Site in NYC.This hands-on and on-location course will allow students the opportunity to work with audio-visual media to document, research and study several of NYC’s environmentally polluted zones, including but not limited to Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal and Dead Horse Bay. Students will elect an environmental site of their own to research, study and document as a culminating project, producing research and documentation, a collection of photography and a 10-15 minute video. No previous media experience or student-owned equipment is necessary as practices will be taught in class and equipment provided by the MCC MediaLab. Students will be required to travel nearly every week (even in the colder months) to our research sites, located across the 5 boroughs of the City. Please contact Prof. Bianco in advance if you have questions at

MCC-UE 1200-006 / Topic: Science, Technology, & Cinema
Instructor: Jeremy Blatter, Tuesdays, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm

From nineteenth-century experiments in chronophotography to twenty-first century debates about the fate of film in the digital age, this course will examine the history of cinema through the lens of Science and Technology Studies. Questions we will consider include: What role has cinematography played in scientific research? How have technological innovations impacted film production and aesthetics? How has science and technology been represented in popular film and what do these cinematic representations reveal about society and culture at different historical junctures? How has scientific thought, especially psychology and psychoanalysis, influenced film theory and criticism and vice versa? In what ways has scientific and filmic discourse shaped conceptions of race, gender and sexuality?