MCS 271 (Media and Cultural Studies)
Monday/Wednesday/Thursday 11:20-2:30 p.m. Lincoln Park Campus
The central assumption of this course is that popular
culture matters. We will be analyzing films, television shows, music videos,
and other media products that very often are treated as if they are trivial and
inconsequential at best. But these objects matter because people watch them,
find meaning in them, and make meaning from them. Over the course of the quarter
we will examine the numerous ways in which meaning can be made from media texts
and the various lenses through which we can approach the supposedly disposable
objects of popular culture.
MCS 273 (Storytelling and Style in Cinema)
See sample syllabus here
MCS 341 (Topics in Radio Studies: Talk Radio: From Shock
Jocks to Blow Hards)
MCS 342 (History of Television and Radio)
A history of radio, television, and cable that engages with elements such as programming, economics, industrial structures, audiences, government and industry policies, and social effects. The course includes viewing, analysis, and criticism of a wide variety of American programming.
MCS 364 (Monsters in Popular Culture)
Monday/Wednesday/Thursday 5:45 - 9:00 p.m. Loop Campus
In this course, students will examine monsters, spooks,
scares, and—above all—fear. Through informed viewing of television, film,
radio, literature, and graphic novels, we will explore the evolution of some of
the most well-known monsters, including vampires, zombies, and aliens, as well
as less-known varieties, like the Golem, the cyborg, and even the human being.
Screenings will be paired with discussion and class activities. The concept of
the monster itself will be interrogated, and we will explore how the monster
reflects humanity’s fears as well as its desires. This is the one class that
proves college is scary as hell.
Click here for a sample syllabus
MCS 353 (Topics in Media Studies: Bah Humbug!: Analyzing Christmas
This course will use Christmas movies and television
programs as a way to teach introductory methods in the field of media studies.
Films and shows about Christmas are typically re-watched many times over a
person’s lifetime, and even become an annual tradition in some cases. Films
like It’s a Wonderful Life and programs like A Charlie Brown Christmas are
commonly among the most re-watched media texts for most people – we watch them
more often over the course of a lifetime than most other movies and shows. In
turn, it would seem natural that we should critically analyze these media texts
that we regularly return to in the same ways that we seek to find the cultural,
aesthetic and/or political meanings inherent in popular Hollywood blockbusters
and prime-time television series. But should Christmas media texts only be
consumed emotionally rather than intellectually? Does studying these beloved
films and shows somehow rob them of their joy, or does this process have just
as many intellectual rewards as when we analyze more traditional media texts?
These are some of the questions that we will seek to answer through applying
various methodological approaches from the field of media studies to a wide
range of Christmas shows and movies.
Disclaimer #1 – This course only focuses on Christmas media texts and not those which depict other Winter holidays and religions, largely for the reason that I haven’t personally seen many Hanukkah or Kwanzaa films or programs, for instance, and I don’t feel qualified to address them.
Disclaimer #2 - This course might possibly ruin forevermore many of your favorite Christmas shows or films for you as we analyze them critically and objectively. If the notion of studying Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer through a Marxist framework, for instance, sounds like it will rob you of every ounce of Christmas spirit, you might prefer to spend more time drinking eggnog, wrapping presents and going wassailing this holiday season instead of taking this course.