Media Studies Course Descriptions

MEDIAST 10: Introduction to Media Studies (4 units)

The objective of this class is to enhance students' knowledge of media's industrial and cultural functions by introducing them to key perspectives and methods of study that stress a) how media systems have and continue to develop in the United States and across the globe as well as b) how we use and make meaning with media as part of our everyday lived experiences. To consider media's social, economic, political, and cultural impact, the course will investigate a number of ways of understanding its production, form, reception, and influence, being careful to recognize how these approaches relate to each other and to a wide array of diverse case studies in television, film, recorded music, print, video games, and online. This course is offered during the FALL semester only.

MEDIAST N10: Introduction to Media Studies (4 units)

The objective of this class is to enhance students' knowledge of media's industrial and cultural functions by introducing them to key perspectives and methods of study that stress a) how media systems have and continue to develop in the United States and across the globe as well as b) how we use and make meaning with media as part of our everyday lived experiences. To consider media's social, economic, political, and cultural impact, the course will investigate a number of ways of understanding its production, form, reception, and influence, being careful to recognize how these approaches relate to each other and to a wide array of diverse case studies in television, film, recorded music, print, video games, and online. This course is offered during the Summer term only.

MEDIAST 101: Visual Communication (4 units)

This course aims to promote a critical understanding of visual culture from a critical theory perspective. It is designed to foster a critical understanding of media images, inviting students to question and critique the many and multiple messages at work within visual culture. It is organized around the different cultural and social theoretical approaches used to analyze visual images and explain the role of visual media in today's society. This course is offered during the SPRING semester only.

MEDIAST 102: Effects of Mass Media (4 units)

This course examines the often contentious history of communication theory concerning media effects. At issue among scholars working within different research traditions are core disagreements about what should be studied (institutions, texts, audiences, technologies), how it should be studied, and even what constitutes an “effect.” Empirical and critical/cultural research and theory are examined with an emphasis on the social, political, and historical contexts surrounding them. This course is offered during the FALL semester only.

MEDIAST 103 or C103: Understanding Journalism (4 units)

In this course, students learn why sound journalism is so important to a healthy, working democracy. Journalism is rapidly changing. The class will give a context to those changes and provide an overview of comtemporary journalistic institutions. Students will examine how news is made, who decides what news is, who makes it, who profits by it, and what rules guide how reporters and editors work. Central issues affecting journalism, such as bias and professionalism, will be discussed. The class is not specifically intended for future journalists, but students will learn why pursuing a career in journalism can be so fulfilling and thrilling, as well as becoming better consumers of the news. When offered as Media Studies C103, it is also listed as Journalism C141. This course is offered during the SPRING semester only.

MEDIAST 104A: Freedom of Speech and the Press (3 units)

This course examines the history and contemporary meaning of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and the press. This freedom has never been absolute. Government has always imposed restrictions, asserting the need to serve competing societal values (like national security, protecting individual privacy, etc.) After an introduction to features of the American legal system that govern the resolution of First Amendment issues, with significant focus on the United States Supreme Court, we will consider the most important free speech battles in history and in 21st Century America. This course is offered during the SPRING semester only.

MEDIAST 104B: The History of Journalism (3 units)

The history of journalism is a broad subject--far broader than can comprehensively be covered in a single course. So necessarily, this course takes an idiosyncratic approach. This course examines how news has been defined, discovered, and communicated from its early modern origins to the present. It will also focus on particular areas of journalism. The class will take a critical look at how wars get reported on, including the current war in Iraq. The class will examine the role of journalists in the rise of the Cold War more than half a century ago. It will also examine the importance of media barons, by studying two highly readable biographies, one of William Randolph Hearst, the other of Katherine Graham. And finally, the class will look at the role journalists played in unseating President Nixon. This course is offered during the FALL semester only.

INFO 103: History of Information (3 units) -- Formerly listed as Media Studies C104C on our course list.

According to conventional wisdom, the “information age” began just a few decades ago and promptly superseded everything that went before it. But the issues we are wrestling with now—questions about piracy, privacy, trust, “information overload,” and the replacement of old media by new—all have their roots in the informational cultures of earlier periods. In this class we will take a long view of the development of these cultures and technologies, from the earliest cave painting and writing systems to the advent of print, photography and the telegraph to the emergence of the computer and Internet and the world of Twitter, Pinterest and beyond. In every instance, we will be be focused on the chicken-and-egg questions of technological determinism: how do technological developments affect society and vice-versa? Beginning spring 2017, the seats in this course offered by Information are shared four ways with Cognitive Science, Information, History and Media Studies.

 

MEDIAST C104C: History of Information (3 units) - NOT OFFERED IN SP17. See course above.

According to conventional wisdom, the “information age” began just a few decades ago and promptly superseded everything that went before it. But the issues we are wrestling with now—questions about piracy, privacy, trust, “information overload,” and the replacement of old media by new—all have their roots in the informational cultures of earlier periods. In this class we will take a long view of the development of these cultures and technologies, from the earliest cave painting and writing systems to the advent of print, photography and the telegraph to the emergence of the computer and Internet and the world of Twitter, Pinterest and beyond. In every instance, we will be be focused on the chicken-and-egg questions of technological determinism: how do technological developments affect society and vice-versa? This course was last listed as Media Studies C104C in spring 2016. It was offered by the School of Information. It was cross-listed four ways: Cognitive Science C103, Information C103, History C192 and Media Studies C104C. It is a Media Studies 104 course substitute.

MEDIAST 104D: Privacy in the Digital Age (3 units)

This course examines issues of privacy in contemporary society, with an emphasis on how privacy is affected by technological change. After an introduction to features of the American legal system and the theoretical underpinnings of privacy law, we will consider privacy in the context of law enforcement and national security investigations; government records and databases; commercial enterprises; and the freedoms of speech and press.

MEDIAST 130: Research Methods in Media Studies (4 units)

This course is intended to familiarize students with some of the primary quantitative and qualitative research methods used to study media texts and audiences. In addition to reading and critiquing prior research employing various methodologies, students will gain practical hands-on experience using these methods in sample research projects. This course is offered during the FALL semester only.

 

MEDIAST 140: Media and Politics: Journalism and Social Movements (Fall 2016) (4 units)

This course will examine the intersection of journalism and social movements, exploring the ways in which investigative journalism has helped foster social movements and political action–which are subsequently covered by mainstream journalism. We will be using food reporting as a special focus throughout the semester. The course will examine historical precedents (beginning with the Pure Foods Movement of the 1870s and the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle [1906], both of which are credited with helping create the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act), before turning to contemporary case studies arising from concerns about food safety, food labeling, food sovereignty/access, and nutrition/health. The course will explore journalism across various media platforms: print, broadcast, digital, and documentary films. This semester-specific course description applies to fall 2016 only. In fall 2016, this course may be used as a Media Studies 104 equivalent OR elective for the major.

MEDIAST 140: Media and Politics (4 units)

This course explores the intersection of media and social change through the lenses of law, history, ethics and aesthetics. The course will focus not only on mass media representations of political change, but also "bottom-up" (or as we like to say at Berkeley, "counter-hegemonic") representations through, e.g., political posters; graffiti; music; photography; investigative and citizen journalism; and movement tracts. We will look at everything from the muckraking journalism of the 19th century; to 1960's civil rights photographs; to slave songs, gospel, punk and hip hop; to the Tweets of Arab Spring and the livestreams of Occupy; and more.

MEDIAST 160: International Media (4 units)

This course offers an introduction to international communication and globalization theory, examines media industries abroad (focusing on one or more of the following: film, television, music, news, magazines, advertising, and/or new media), and explores content produced within those industries through specific case studies.  Possible topics include alternatives to Hollywood film (Bollywood and Nollywood), television format sales and programming, the globalization of popular cultures (e.g., Korean Wave and Swedish music), diasporic communities, and global networks and fandoms. This course is offered during the SPRING semester only.

MEDIAST 165: Internet and Culture (4 units)

This class uses the approaches of media studies and cultural studies to critically consider how historical and emerging new media technologies as well as the behaviors and forms of cultural production associated with them influence and are themselves influenced by our everyday practices and lived experiences. It focuses particularly on concerns of identity, community, access, citizenship, industry, and regulation as these relate to social networking, collective endeavor, and public speech.

MEDIAST 170: Cultural History of Advertising (Spring 2016) (4 units)

This course examines the place and impact of advertising in the rise of consumer culture within the United States from the late 19th century to present. The course explores the functions and purposes of advertising and employs rhetorical/visual analysis and semiotic theory to analyze advertising themes and images from different historical periods. This course is offered during the SPRING semester only. Special note: In spring 2016 and 2017, this course may be used as a Media Studies 104 equivalent OR elective for the major.

MEDIAST 180: Television Studies (4 units)

This course examinines contemporary approaches to the study of television, investigating televison's social, political, commercial, and cultural dimensions. Readings and assignments require students to apply critical perspectives to television programming and to the analysis of individual television texts.

MEDIAST 190: Special Topics: How Watergate Changed Journalism Forever (Spring 2017) (3 units)

 

The late 1960s and early 1970s were an unusually tumultuous time in this country. The press played a transformative role in this period, and the Washington Post’s coverage of what became known as the Watergate scandal, is considered by many to be the finest moment of the press in the past half century. This course will examine the role of the Post, and its two young reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and place their work in historical context. Contemporary reporting owes much to Watergate, and we will trace these links. Back then, the press and President Richard Nixon had a particularly uncomfortable relationship, an echo of the current dynamic in Washington. We will delve deeply into recent history to uncover lessons for today. This semester-specific course description applies to spring 2017 only. In spring 2017, this course may be used as a Media Studies 103 equivalent OR elective for the major.


MEDIAST 190: Special Topics: The History and Development of Online News (Fall 2016 and Fall 2017) (4 units)

These days, the phrase “online news” is almost redundant; of course all news is online. But it wasn’t always so, and this course will examine how we got to where we are. We’ll go back to the earliest experiments with news delivered via dedicated terminals such as France’s Minitel, the Prestel system in the U.K. and the U.S. Viewtron project. From there, we’ll look at the impact of the personal computer’s growth and the rise of proprietary dial-up online services like The Source, CompuServe and AOL. The open, Wild West nature of the early Web brought new possibilities but also the beginning of debates about credibility, free vs. paid content and competitive challenges that continue to this day. We’ll focus on key figures in technology and journalism who shaped the new medium, and trace how its growth undermined traditional economic models even as it enabled the rise of new ones, continuing through today’s world of mobile apps, aggregators and social media. This semester-specific course description applies to fall 2016 and fall 2017 only. In fall 2016 and fall 2017, this course may be used as a Media Studies 104 equivalent OR elective for the major.