Spring/Summer 2018 Course Detail
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MCS 502: Media and Cultural Studies
This course will provide an in-depth exploration of how filmmakers create various types of meaning through film form and style. Methods of analysis will include semiotics (the analysis of signs and symbols that produce meaning), genre studies, and celebrity studies. We will pay specific attention to how meaning emerges from in-vogue or director-specific stylistic choices (for example, Spike Lee's dolly shot, bullet time post-Matrix, and the popularity of still photography in film of the late 1960s) and new technologies that emerge at various times (for example, special effects that allow for the production of different images, and advances in control over layered sound that change aural impact).
MCS 520: Topics in Media Studies: Health and Media
Information concerning health, fitness, illness, and treatment options surrounds us. Medical breakthroughs and health risks reach us daily through media reports. The stories we receive via websites, social media, magazines, dramatic portrayals in popular films and television, pharmaceutical commercials, and the conversations we have with others about these varieties of media impact how we care for our physical, mental, & emotional well-being. Students will identify how patients and professional caregivers are characterized in mediated depictions, recognize the roles media play in communicating information about health, and engage in discussion about the ethics of popular media on the health of individuals.
MCS 521: Topics in Film Studies: Brand Recognition: Authorship in Cinema
Auteur Theory represents one of the longest running debates in film studies. With the large numbers of people involved in making a movie, should one person really be credited as the “author” of the film? Traditionally, the director has been deemed the auteur, but cases have also been made for the screenwriter, the producer, and even the studio system itself. Is authorship a question of how much control a particular individual has over the actual making a movie, or is it better thought of as a way critically to group specific films which share demonstrable thematic, stylistic, and narrative patterns? While the auteur theory originally gained prominence in postwar France as a way to both analyze and validate popular American movies, the idea has increasingly gained traction in Hollywood itself, where powerful individuals have a great deal of power over which films they make and how they make them. And increasingly, authorship has become another form of branding which allows studios to sell movies to the public. This course will provide an overview of some of the major debates over the years regarding whether one person should, or should not, be considered the author of a movie. It will also be a historical survey of some of the major filmmakers past and present—everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Christopher Nolan, from Billy Wilder to Kathryn Bigelow, from Spike Lee to Paul Thomas Anderson. The grade will be based on short writing assignments, a research essay, discussion leader roles, and participation. The textbook will be Barry Keith Grant’s anthology, Auteurs and Authorship.
MCS 522: Topics in Cinema/Media History: The Sexual Revolution: Hollywood in the 1960s
The late 1960s are often described as a time of "Sexual Revolution" in America, with loosening standards and attitudes about sex and sexual practices. But was this period as "liberated" as it has appeared to be? Who was liberated by these new attitudes, and from what? How do attitudes about sexuality in the 1960s compare to our attitudes now? This course uses the study of American cultural history to examine perspectives of sexuality in the 1960s, and it focuses upon the films that Hollywood produced to represent this "new" sexuality. In the process, the course examines shifting definitions of gender and sexuality with which American culture was contending during this revolutionary time.
MCS 575: Digital Media Ethics
This course provides students with the necessary background to investigate legal and ethical issues in digital technology and culture. Additionally, students practice digital literacy as an application of these ethical issues. This class offers topics including, but not limited to copyright, authorship, attribution, civics, vernacular creativity, Free Speech, filesharing, piracy, libel, access, participation, modes of control, net neutrality, etc., in order for students will come away with a sense of the ethical issues within today's culture. PREREQUISITE(S): Status as a College of Communication Graduate Student or CDM Digital Communication and Media Arts student or department consent is a prerequisite to this class.
MCS 522: Topics in Cinema/Media History: History of Disney
This course will focus on the many ups and downs over the decades of Disney's slow aesthetic, economic, and cultural growth, providing a foundation for better understanding the company today. In addition to analyzing particular Disney texts (some well-known and many not well-known), special emphasis will be paid to the many facets of the studio's first critical and commercial success in the 1930s, its struggles with bankruptcy throughout the 1940s, and its hugely successful re-branding as a prominent component of a new post-war leisure culture in the 1950s and 1960s. Extensive attention will also be paid to the company's considerable revival and expansion under the "Team Disney" leadership of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as some reflection on the recent investment in once-competing brands such as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
MCS 521: Topics in Cinema Studies: Film Noir
In the 1940s and 1950s, Hollywood produced a cycle of dark, strange films that eventually solidified into one of its most well remembered genres: film noir. The hallmarks of film noir are famous: the clipped dialogue and the labyrinthine plots, the dark cities and the rainy nights, the smoky bars and the cramped apartments, the crooked detective and the femme fatale. Yet these traits did more than contribute a bleak, hard-boiled mood to the Hollywood thriller; they also spoke to a society caught in the throes of overwhelming change. Film noir expressed cultural anxieties about urbanization, crime, and gender, and it grappled with philosophical questions of evil, trauma, and free will. In this course we will explore the rise of film noir, its origins in Hollywood, its resonances with post-WWII American culture, and its legacy in the decades since. While we will spend most of our time on the canonical film noir cycle of the 1940s and 1950s, we will also discuss the neo-noir of the 1970s, as well as some aftershocks in contemporary cinema and popular culture.