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 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.

 

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 111: Media History (4 units)

This lecture course covers the modern global history of media forms, with a focus on interactions between new media technologies and emerging modern power structures.  We will examine how and why historical agents responded to, made use of, and tried to regulate new information technologies such as the printing press, the telephone, the radio, the camera, the television, and the internet.  Lectures will consider the impact of specific media on the historical development of colonial empires, nationalist revolutions, ideological movements, and the modern global economy.   Special attention will be paid to the ways emerging media forms affected perceptions of politics, society, and culture.  This course is offered during the FALL semester only.

 

MEDIAST 112: Media Theories and Processes (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 113: Media and Democracy (4 units)

The rapid and global emergence of new media has transformed the dynamics of technology and political participation – hence new bodies of scholarship that study the implications of the ever-evolving relations of media and democracy. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the role/potential/pitfalls/power of media for civic engagement, advocacy, policy change, and state-public interaction. The course engages with literature in the fields of: communication, media studies, cultural anthropology, global studies, sociology, history, and philosophy. Democracy is here considered an ongoing effort rather than a stable reality. Therefore, this course studies media and American democracy while also familiarizing students with theories of media’s roles in processes/pursuits of democratization across the globe. The course begins with theoretical grounding in debates concerning public spheres, structure vs. agency, and the First Amendment. It also focuses on publics and mediated political participation and how these dynamics of structures, publics, and media platforms have specific implications for the workings of a (digital) democracy.   This course is offered during the SPRING semester only.

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 (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: The History and Development of Online News (Fall 2018) (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.

 

 MEDIAST 190: Special Topics: Global Media and Justice Movements (Fall 2018) (4 units)

The proliferation of the Internet and digital media platforms have transformed what it means to organize and conduct (local and global) activism today. This course begins by studying #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and news and social media coverage of the recent immigrant detentions. Especially since participants in the 2011/12 Arab Uprisings used social media to communicate, organize, and topple dictatorships during the Arab Spring, scholars and activists have looked to emerging media platforms to understand organizing and social change in our world. The proliferation of cell phones, social media, and other digital platforms have transformed how we learn about our world, dream of changing it, and how social movements organize themselves. This course weaves together theories of dissent and social change with case studies of recent movements to explore how they manifest on, merge, and often become reconstructed by their expression on various media platforms. Some of the key questions we will explore include: How are recent social justice movements connected to larger global structural changes? How have new technologies changed the nature of social organizing and participation? What can we learn from the critiques of technology proliferation and its impact on human relationships and awareness? How can we leverage existing media platforms to involve ourselves in our chosen pursuits for social justice?

 

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.