Media and Communication Studies
Professor Edwards, Associate Professors Fleeger, Goodman (Chair), Nadler, Woodstock; Assistant Professors Leppert, Taussig; Lecturer Murphy.
Based in the liberal arts, our program focuses on the creation, criticism, and impact of communication in our global society. This program emphasizes the role of media as it intersects with technological and social change and the centrality of communication to identity, social order, and democratic processes.
Drawing upon social scientific and humanistic traditions, students in Media & Communication Studies explore the breadth of the field—from oral and written language, to television, film and digital media. Students may opt to concentrate in one or more of the following areas: (1) journalism, (2) digital media studies, (3) communication and culture, and/or (4) screen studies. The major provides students with experience in media-making, qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as critical thinking, speaking and writing competencies, which together are vital to professional success and to full membership in our participatory democracy. Students in this major are prepared for graduate study or employment in journalism, law, media industries, public policy and politics, public relations and advertising, as well as corporate communications and human resources.
Majors are encouraged to study abroad and to complete an internship as part of their department and college requirements. Only one internship may count toward the MCS major. The College’s proximity to Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest media market, offers our students a range of internship opportunities in print, broadcast, cable, film, advertising, public relations and digital media.
Majors are expected to participate actively in and to assume leadership roles with campus organizations associated with the field of communication. These include The Grizzly, the campus newspaper both print and online; WVOU, the campus online radio station; and BearVision, the campus YouTube network.
Requirements for Majors
A major in Media and Communication Studies consists of 40 semester hours of credit, including: MCS-201, 205, and 292W; one course selected from MCS-207–290; two courses selected from MCS-300–375; one capstone senior seminar selected from MCS-460W, 462W, 463W, or 464W, or completion of an Honors project in 492W; and at least three additional MCS elective courses. Any two Film Studies (FS) courses may count toward the MCS major. Students who wish to focus on screen studies may request permission from the Chair to count additional FS classes toward the major.
Majors are strongly encouraged to complete an internship (MCS-381 or 382); however, only one internship may count toward the MCS major. Up to four credits from MCS-001–016 may count towards the major. Students are encouraged to take STAT-140Q or 141Q to fulfill the college mathematics and “Q” requirement. Media and Communication Studies majors can fulfill the college oral presentation and capstone requirements by taking one of the following: MCS-460W, 462W, 463W, 464W, or 492W.
Requirements for Minors
A minor in media and communication studies consists of 20 credit hours including MCS-205, two MCS courses between 300–375 and two electives, one of which may be a Film Studies course.
Four MCS Areas of Concentration Within the Major
These four areas of concentration are a guide for students who want to pursue a specific area within the communication field in greater depth based on interest and/or future plans. Students are not required to select concentrations and may fulfill the requirements for the major taking the core requirements and courses from any of the four areas.
Courses in this concentration provide students with a foundation in both the theoretical and practical aspects of journalism. Specifically, students develop skills that cross media platforms, and are encouraged to be conscientious and responsible media producers and citizens. Students interested in journalism are strongly recommended to include MCS-207 and a journalism-related internship in their course of study.
MCS-207, 208, MCS/ART-209, MCS-210, 212, 254, 315, 330, 360, 363, 366
2. Digital Media Studies
Courses in this concentration critically explore the interaction among emerging media technologies’ content, production, diffusion, and consumption across cultures. Whether analyzing social media friend networks, race/class/gender digital divides on the Internet, the impact of television’s move to streaming video, or producing and disseminating news and fiction online, students are challenged to ethically and thoughtfully produce content on these platforms while critically analyzing their social, economic, and political impact on audiences.
MCS-208, 220, 225, 318, 321, 348, 355, 366
3. Communication and Culture
Courses in this concentration explore how communication produces, affirms and transforms culture and expresses the core values of our society. Students examine a broad range of human activities and practices, from how families communicate to advertising and political debates in order to understand how communication can be used to exercise power, to develop and affirm identities, and foster connections with others. Research approaches such as ethnography, discourse and textual analysis, and phenomenology provide a means to understand multiple perspectives on communication.
MCS/ART-209; MCS-307, 340, 348, 330, 350, 358, 462W
4. Screen Studies
Courses in this concentration are designed to help students achieve a critical and historical understanding of film, television and other visual media, as well as gain experience in media production. Students will examine how visual, audio and narrative elements produce meaning, and the relationship between visual studies and culture.
MCS-225; MCS/GWMS-319; MCS-321, 360, 363; FS-101, 235, 250, 251,?252, 253, 305
MCS-001–008. Journalism Practicum
A learning experience in which students assume primary responsibility for editorial positions related to the publication of the print and online versions of The Grizzly. Prerequisites: MCS-207 or permission of the instructor. Graded S/U. One semester hour.
MCS-009–016. Media Practicum
A learning experience in which students assume primary responsibility for an applied media project. Student project proposals must be approved by the instructor. Prerequisites: any of the following: MCS-209, 210, 220 or 225 or permission of the instructor. Graded S/U. One semester hour.
MCS-201. Public Speaking: Speech and Criticism in a Democratic Society
Students construct, deliver, and critique speeches about significant public issues of the day. The course includes an introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism, as well as an introduction to the fundamentals of speech preparation and presentation. Four hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-205. Media and Society
This course explores the role and influence of media in shaping social norms, political decision making, and individual beliefs and practices. In addition to a consideration of historical developments, the course engages contemporary issues such as corporate conglomeration, globalization, media convergence, digital culture, audiences as producers and receivers, and consumer culture. Three hours per week. Four hours per week (SS).
MCS-207. Introduction to Journalism
This course introduces students to the principles of journalism, including: information gathering, writing, editing and presentation of news under deadline. Students also explore issues related to libel, visual literacy, and changing audience demographics through the critical analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of various media outlets. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-208. Journalistic Storytelling in the 21st Century
In this course, students will consider how the digital era has brought upheaval to the world of journalism, including changes to the ways journalists report, tell stories, and relate to audiences. In the second half of the semester, students will create multimedia content that meets the challenges and takes advantage of the opportunities of digital media. Prerequisite: MCS-207 or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS/ART-209. Documentary Photography
This course introduces students to the concepts of visual documentation, social documentary style, photojournalism and ethics in photography as well as an historical perspective on the works of visual social documentarians. Students are required to conduct field work collecting digital still images to create visual narratives on a range of issues. Students enrolled in this course will need access to a digital camera to complete assignments. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (A.)
MCS-210. Television Studio Production
An overview of the principles and techniques of studio television production. Emphasis is placed on translation of ideas into a visual format, program conceptualization, preproduction planning, script writing, critical analysis of the visual image, group work and peer review of programs. Three hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-220. Introduction to New Media
This course explores relationships between social change and emerging media while offering students a chance to create their own digital media projects. Students will learn how to construct and analyze digital media and interactive web-based content. Projects may include the production of podcasts, websites, idea maps, blogs, and other new media forms. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-225. Digital Filmmaking
Introduces students to all stages of digital video production. Students will learn how to conceptualize, write, and develop a script, design a storyboard and visual treatment, and shoot and edit a digital short film. There will also be weekly readings, viewings, and discussions focused on the history and language of film. Four hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS/IDS-256. Decoding Science
This course teaches students the art of critically reading primary research articles and translating them into news articles, policy papers and advocacy pieces for non-science audiences. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-275. Topics in Media Production
This course will focus on specific media production areas not covered in other production courses in the MCS department. Three hours per week Four semester hours. (May be designated A. depending on topic)
MCS-292W. Communication Theory and Research
This writing-intensive course introduces students to a range of theories and research methods in the field of communication and media studies. Students will workshop and conduct research using a variety of methods used in the discipline. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-307. Conflict and Communication
Taking a communication perspective, this course examines the nature of conflict in American society and offers alternatives to unilateral power based strategies of conflict resolution. Students are introduced to theories about the nature and kinds of conflict, as well as differing models for managing conflicts. They learn to map and analyze real life conflict situations in interpersonal, inter-group, and organization contexts and work with skills and models for conflict resolution. Three hours per week Four semester hours. (SS.)
MCS-315. Media Ethics
This course addresses ethical issues across media platforms in news, entertainment, public relations and advertising. Students think through ethical challenges such as the use of anonymous sources in journalism, editing images in advertising and crisis management. Students will conduct case study analyses of ethical dilemmas in the media. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, O.)
MCS-318. Facebook Nation
This course explores the innovation and rise of social media in our personal, social, political and economic relationships. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS)
MCS/GWSS-319. Sex, Race and Comedy
Students will learn to critically analyze the subversive power of comedy in exploring issues of race, gender, sexual orientation and class in American media. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS, DN.)
MCS-321. Sci Fi and Fantasy Film
This course explores the cultural myths about race, gender and technology found in science fiction television and film and what they say about our past, present, and future. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H)
MCS-327. Remix Culture
From musical mash-ups to video parodies, disputes about authorship, remixes, and copyright have become increasingly prominent in our digital media landscape. This course takes a humanistic approach to explore questions about originality and derivation in art and cultural production and the place of copyright and intellectual property in laying the groundwork for creative culture. We will examine ideas about and legal approaches to authorship and intellectual property from historical and philosophical perspectives; we will also look closely at contemporary controversies regarding piracy, file-sharing, culture jamming, sample-based art, and equally controversial efforts on the part of policymakers and corporations to limit or curtail these practices. We will not only discuss remix and the digital tools that are enabling a profusion of new expressive forms, but students will use some of these very tools to create media projects that analyze and comment upon contemporary debates. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-330. Freedom of Expression
This course examines the theoretical and historical underpinnings of how we think about freedom of expression and its importance to societies organized around the idea of democracy. The course will contrast two intellectual approaches to the role of expression in Western society: the classical liberal and the romantic. We will explore the historical development of these ideas, analyze how they were applied in landmark cases, as well as challenge ourselves to apply these systems of logic to contemporary speech controversies. We engage current concerns such as corporate power, digital media, and free speech on campus. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, O.)
MCS-335. Media, Activism, and Social Change
This course will explore how social movement activists have sought to engage popular media to promote social change as well as to change media structures themselves. What kind of tactics and strategies have different movements developed to influence corporate media? What strategies have they developed for creating alternative media and public forums? What insights can activists, social critics, and media theorists offer about media’s role in promoting and resisting social transformation? While we will focus mostly on media savvy U.S.-based social movements that began since the 1960s, we will also discuss the global influences and alliances of these U.S. movements. Some of the movements we will examine include: the civil rights and Black liberation movements; anti-war movements; feminist movements; LGBTQ rights,ACT-UP; the evangelical New Right; Occupy Wall Street; BlackLives Matter. There is no prerequisite for this course. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)
MCS/GWSS-340. Gender, Ethnicity and Communication
This course explores theories and research on gender, ethnicity and communication, with a particular focus on African American culture. Students will use two research methods to study the relationship between gender, ethnicity and communication: a discourse analysis and an autoethnography. The reading, writing, and discussions in the course will encourage students to cultivate more reflective communicative practice. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (DN., SS)
MCS/GWSS-342. Difficult Dialogues
This course explores dialogue as a means of promoting understanding among individuals and groups and its potential to foster collaboration and problem solving in relationships and in the community. To do this, we will read about and discuss a range of topics and issues related to politics and various aspects of identity (e.g., gender, class, race, religion). We will consider the purpose of engaging in dialogue about these topics, especially on college campuses, as we reflect back on discussions in the Common Intellectual Experience and the first core question: “What should matter to me?” We will examine theoretical approaches to dialogue and various positions on the ideal nature of such conversations, as well as approaches to facilitate and participate in them. Students will reflect on the final core question: “What will I do?” as they analyze their own and others’ communicative behavior in these discussions and through the facilitation of a public dialogue about a divisive/controversial issue on campus that is designed to achieve specific goals. This course fulfills the Core Capstone requirement. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (CCAP)
MCS-344. Childhood and Media
This class explores how the meaning and value of childhood is negotiated in screen media. The course takes a chronological approach, beginning with literature and portraiture before moving to cinema, television, and gaming.?It is?divided into units on such topics as the invention of childhood, the work of childhood, and media regulation so that students will interrogate how children are represented, taught, and entertained from the 17th-21st?centuries. In written papers and presentations?students?will grapple with the many conflicts and controversies that plague the history of children on screens. Four hours per?week. Four semester hours. (H.)
MCS-345. Voice in Media
This course considers the relationship between the voice and identity in order to examine how voices are interpreted in a variety of cultural contexts. We will examine voices floating on the airwaves of talk radio, belting from stages of televised singing competitions, occupying the soundtracks of the cinema, coughing in the lecture hall, pranking with the telephone, soaring at a football game, and soothing the nerves through a podcast late at night. Students will produce projects that engage with questions of vocal representation, creating media texts that demonstrate standard modes of constructing the mediated voice and suggest routes for destabilizing these rules. We will also analyze and write about voices, our own and those of others, situated in the present and beyond the grave. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)
MCS-348. Global Media
An examination of media within the global community. National media systems are analyzed within the context of the cultural, political and economic environments in which they developed and now operate. Technological advances in communication systems will be explored as the forces behind the recent growth of a global media system. Students will examine the role of transnational media ownership, globalization of culture especially in non-western nations and the vital role of new media technology in the rise of international terrorist organizations. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (GN.)
MCS-350. Intercultural Communication
An examination of face-to-face communication between people of different cultural backgrounds. Case studies are analyzed to identify differences in expectations, practices, and interpretations. Topics include cross-cultural comparisons of conversational style, power relations, language, and perception in educational, organizational, and social settings. This course may be a particular interest to students preparing to study abroad as well as those planning to work in international business, education, and politics. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (D, GN)
MCS-351. Hollywood Stardom and Celebrity Culture
This course will examine the role of stars in the history of Hollywood film. We will investigate how film studios went from not publicly naming their performers, to tightly controlling their stars’ images and carefully promoting them to moviegoers, to relying on stars to sell movies and thus negotiating hefty paychecks and profit-sharing deals through talent managers. In addition to considering how stars function within the film industry, we will also study celebrity culture more broadly. Why do we care about celebrities, what do they mean to us, and why do so many people despise celebrities who are “famous for being famous”? While our primary focus will be on film stars, we will also consider music and television as star-making platforms. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)
MCS-352. Teen Film and Television
This course studies the development and proliferation of films and television programs?about and marketed toward American teenagers.?We will trace teen film and television’s origins and their reformulations through U.S. film and television history, while studying teen film and television’s generic conventions and their relation to other genres such as the musical, the gangster film, and the soap opera.?The course will examine Hollywood’s representations of and attempts to appeal to the American teenager, paying special attention to issues of delinquency and rebellion, burgeoning sexuality, the social politics of high school, and nostalgia.?We will also consider teen film and television’s intersections with subcultures, popular music, and consumer culture. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)
MCS-354. Sex, Gender and the 1980s
The 1980s are often remembered as a socially conservative decade, characterized by the immense popularity of Ronald Reagan and a cultural obsession with traditional “family values.” This course will interrogate this popular memory, examining the ways conflicting ideas about gender and sexuality were constructed and expressed in the films, television, and popular music of the 1980s. Through studying phenomena such as “hard body” films (e.g. the Rocky series), MTV, the increasing visibility of LGBT issues, representations of “career women,” family sitcoms, and the AIDS crisis, we will gain a more nuanced understanding of the decade’s gender and sexual politics. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)
MCS-355. Technology and Culture
This class focuses on the dynamics between communication technologies and culture and asks three questions: How are communication technologies revolutionary? How are they continuities of traditional media in terms of content, audiences, advertising, and corporate ownership? Do cultural changes determine advancements in communication technologies or do changes in communication technologies determine cultural changes? Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)
MCS-358. Persuasion: Critical studies in Advertising and Propaganda
Every day, each of us is the targets of countless media messages meant to persuade us and change our behavior. This course explores the workings of media persuasion with a special focus on advertising, political campaigning, and propaganda. We will examine the modern historical development of these forms and explore critical theories attempting to understand their social significance, while building skills for analyzing and decoding advertising and propaganda messages in various guises. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H)
MCS-360. News Analysis
A critical exploration of news culture. Students work with quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore issues related (but not limited) to race, gender, class, and nationality in the production and consumption of American news. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)
MCS-363. Audience Studies
A qualitative and quantitative examination of the “audience” construct in historical and new media contexts. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)
MCS-366. Digital Democracy
This class explores uses of new communication technology in political and social organizing, with particular attention to subgroups within the US population and how issues of race, class, and gender interact with the opportunities and constraints of our digital democracy. The class emphasizes the theoretical and historical role of democracy in US society, and more specifically, of the role of media in fostering and/or inhibiting democratic participation. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.((May be designated H, DN or GN depending on topic)
MCS-375. Special Topics in Media and Communication Studies
This course will focus on a specific topic at an advanced theoretical or critical level within media and communication studies not covered in the other courses in the curriculum. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.(H) Offered during U.S. presidential elections years only
An off-campus work experience under the supervision of a faculty adviser and an on-site supervisor. Includes periodic meetings with the faculty adviser and completion of a work log and a final poster presentation. Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: major or minor in MCS, three courses completed in the department, and approval of a faculty internship adviser. Three semester hours. (XLP.)
An off-campus work experience under the supervision of a faculty adviser and an on-site supervisor. Includes periodic meetings with the faculty adviser and completion of a work log and a final poster presentation. Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 160 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: major or minor in MCS, three courses completed in the department, and approval of a faculty internship adviser. Four semester hours. (XLP.)
MCS-391. Research in Media and Communication Studies
Independent research under the supervision of a faculty adviser. A final product and an oral presentation to the department on a specific topic in media and communication studies is required. Prerequisites: eight credits of course work (MCS-300-375) in media and communication studies, demonstrated competence in the specific area of a study, a written project proposal, and permission of a department faculty member who will serve as project adviser. Offered in the fall semester. Four semester hours (XLP.)
MCS-392. Research in Media and Communication Studies
Content, prerequisites, and requirements are the same as MCS-391. Offered in spring semester. Four semester hours. (XLP.)
MCS-411. Projects in Media and Communication Studies
Advanced individual work in media production. Prerequisites: eight credits of course work in media and communication studies between MCS 207-290, demonstrated competence in the specific area of production, a written project proposal, and permission of a department faculty member who will serve as project adviser. Four semester hours. (XLP.)
MCS-412. Projects in Media and Communication Studies
Content, prerequisites, and requirements are the same as MCS-411. Four semester hours (XLP.)
MCS-460W. Seminar in Media Criticism
Students study the theories and practices of media criticism, applying them to historical or contemporary texts, such as popular music, films, news reportage, and fictional television. Students engage in research and writing and make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-462W. Seminar in Communication and Culture
Students work with ethnographic methods as a means to explore the communicative patterns and processes of groups, organizations, and institutions. Students will conduct fieldwork, analyze data, and write a research paper as well as make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS 201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-463W. Seminar in Audience Analysis
Students work with survey methodologies to explore relationships between audiences and media use. Students conduct original research, complete a research paper and make an oral presentation of their final recommendations. Prerequisites:?MCS-201, 205, 292W, and one 300-level MCS course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-464W. Seminar in Media Analysis
Using quantitative and qualitative research methods, students analyze messages embedded in the entertainment, persuasive and information media. Focus is on the content and effects of television, film, recordings, and the internet. Students complete a research paper and make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
MCS-491. Research/Independent Work
This course is open to candidates for departmental honors with the permission of the instructor and the departmental chair. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS 292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Four semester hours. (XLP.)
MCS-492W. Research/Independent Work
A continuation of MCS-491. Prerequisite: MCS-491. Four semester hours. (XLP.)