22800 3D Modeling and Sculpting for Videogames

In this class, students will learn how to create high resolution 3D model concepts for the production of video games. High resolution sculpting is an integral part of today’s 3D production pipelines. This course aims to focus on this stage of the production pipeline, and its role in creating high quality games. While this class will focus on creating assets for video games, digital sculpting skills can be applied to a variety of other industries, such as architecture, fashion and jewelry, to name a few.

Tim Nicholson

MAAD 24410 Transmedia Puzzle Design & Performance

(TAPS 24410/34410)

This course will introduce students to the burgeoning field of immersive puzzle design. Students will develop, implement and playtest puzzles that are suited for a range of experiences: from the tabletop to the immersive, from online puzzle hunts to broad-scoped alternate reality games (ARG). Students in this course will work directly with master puzzler, Sandor Wiesz, the commissioner of The Mystery League.

Sandor Weisz

CMST 34605 Arts of Adaptation in Socialist China

(EALC 34605)

The course explores a central aspect of Chinese socialist culture from the 1940s to present day, namely the process of transposing new and old stories from the page to the stage to the screen. Select case studies and readings on diverse facets of Chinese socialist culture will be combined with theoretical readings on the concept of adaptation.

Paola Iovene
2023-2024 Winter

CMST 39000 Experimental Cinema and Speculative Approaches to the Archive and Media Histories

Recent years have seen the flourishing of work by experimental filmmakers that imaginatively engages with absences in the historical record, especially around the visual history of African Americans. How might scholarship adapt methodologies from these creative practices? How can scholarly methods, in turn, inform art making (as the formation of another kind of history)? Engaging theory and practice, this course investigates these questions through—and against—African American media history’s precarious archival condition.

Allyson Nadia Field, Christopher Harris
2023-2024 Spring

CMST 40000 Methods and Issues in Cinema Studies

(ARTH 39900, ENGL 48000, MAPH 33000)

This course offers an introduction to ways of reading, writing on, and teaching film. The focus of discussion will range from methods of close analysis and basic concepts of film form, technique and style; through industrial/critical categories of genre and authorship (studios, stars, directors); through aspects of the cinema as a social institution, psycho-sexual apparatus and cultural practice; to the relationship between filmic texts and the historical horizon of production and reception. Films discussed will include works by Griffith, Lang, Hitchcock, Deren, Godard.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 40001 Methods and Issues in Media Studies

This class will introduce a toolkit for thinking about and researching media, mediation, and new media cultures. We will begin with questions of technology. These will include the tension between technological determinism and the social construction of technology, as well as methods for investigating the historical evolution of media technologies. To explore how power operates within and through media, we will engage concepts and theoretical frameworks including algorithmic bias, transmedia, fan studies, platform studies, and media infrastructures. Students will develop critical and aesthetic perspectives on digital media, with special attention to games, participatory media, and code.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 67812 The Archive of Absence: Theories and Methodologies of Evidence

In this graduate seminar we will investigate theories and historiographic methodologies of approaching problems of evidence in film history, with a particular focus on approaches to nonextant film, film fragments, unidentified film, and other “mysteries” of film history. Some of these problems are about gaps: how has film history grappled with the absence and instability of the film artifact? Others, especially in a newly digital world, involve abundance: how can film history and historiography navigate the polyvalences of meaning brought about by an ever-expanding archive? This course will combine theoretical readings, analyses of case studies, and students’ own research. Topics to be covered include the use of extrafilmic evidence and primary paracinematic evidence, fiction and speculative approaches to history, theories of evidence, and archival theories and practices. We’ll also focus on the possibilities and limits of various historiographic methodologies, touching on the use of oral history, biographic research, and official and unofficial discourses. Cases will be drawn from the silent era to contemporary cinema, and from a range of film practices including avant-garde, Classical Hollywood, African American, European art cinema, and others.

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 67820 The Image in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

This course will examine closely the recent dramatic advantages in the fields of image analysis and generation in a broad range of contexts: from the lab to their everyday use in social media and government surveillance. Students will be given the opportunity to sharpen their understanding of the possibilities and limits of machine learning by testing contemporary algorithms against datasets of their own design. This course seeks to close the critical and cultural distance between industrial advances in image understanding, the scientific discourses behind this field, and conceptions and uses of the image traditionally available to the humanities.

2023-2024 Spring

10100 Introduction to Film

(ARTV 20300, ENGL 10800)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. We will consider film as an art form, medium, and industry, and cover all the major film types: silent, classical, and contemporary narrative cinema, art cinema, animation, documentary, and experimental film. We will study the cinematic techniques: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and learn how filmmakers design their works.

2023-2024 Spring

10100 Introduction to Film

(ARTV 20300, ENGL 10800)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. Along with questions of film technique and style, students will examine the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Films discussed will include works by Dorothy Arzner, Vera Chytilová, Julie Dash, Alfred Hitchcock, Barry Jenkins, Wanuri Kahiu, Akira Kurosawa, and Agnès Varda.

2023-2024 Winter

10325 Setting Sound Standards: Music, Media, and Censorship in South Asia

(MUSI 23322, TAPS 20215, SALC 25325)

This course aims to introduce students to various musical and performance traditions in South Asia and their evolution within regimes of institutional, legal and media censorship. The course aims to understand how media environments and cultures of censorship are in some ways fundamental to shaping performance cultures in South Asia in the twentieth century. How do traditions of musical performance entrenched in the politics of caste, communalism, religion, sexuality and gender interact with regimes of censorship and new media? How do the latter remake and unmake said traditions? Be it the mid-century ban on film music by All India Radio to reflect the aspirations of a newly-emerging nation or the appropriation and urbanization of ‘folk’ musical practices within the recording studios in Nepal by upper-caste, upper-class male performers- censorship and media infrastructures have been integral to the current ontologies of diverse musical genres in South Asia. Through the analysis of a variety of primary and secondary texts on performance and musical aesthetics, media and music ethnographies, reception and production histories as well as critical listening/viewing exercises, this course seeks to complicate mainstream Euro-American narratives that tend to posit media-modernities as global and uniform. We will seek to understand how South Asian musical cultures and sound practices enter into a creative interplay with musical discourses and media-materialities emerging in the West.

Ronit Ghosh
2023-2024 Autumn

14109 Machine Learning at the Archive

In “An Archival Impulse,” Hal Foster describes the archive as “found yet constructed, factual yet fictive, public yet private." This is a hybrid seminar / workshop course that brings together making, researching and collecting with the goal of expanding the discourse around archives to address machine learning. Foster's set of tangled binaries provide a foundation on which to build a formal and critical inquiry into the procedural, technological and institutional pressures involved in working with machine learning, particularly as an individual researcher or artist. Topics include: How do the datasets used for machine learning correspond to or differ from traditional physical archives? How does the speculative discourse around the potential for artificial intelligence inform data collection and usage? How has the archive's problematic history of informing and feeding on various "-isms" translated to the digital age and how do we respond to that situation? How can art be used to investigate or interfere with all of the above? [Theory]

Cameron Mankin
2023-2024 Autumn

14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

2023-2024 Winter

14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

2023-2024 Spring

14613 God of Manga: Osamu Tezuka's "Phoenix," Buddhism, and Post-WWII Manga and Anime

How can the Buddhist axiom "All Life is Sacred" describe a universe that contains the atrocities of WWII? Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy and father of modern Japanese animation, wrestled with this problem over decades in his science fiction epic Phoenix (Hi no Tori), celebrated as the philosophical masterpiece of modern manga. Through a close reading of Phoenix and related texts, this course explores the challenges genocide and other atrocities pose to traditional forms of ethics, and how we understand the human species and our role in nature. The course will also examine the flowering of manga after WWII, how manga authors bypassed censorship to help people understand the war and its causes, and the role manga and anime have played in Japan's global contributions to politics, science, medicine, technology, techno-utopianism, environmentalism, ethics, theories of war and peace, global popular culture, and contemporary Buddhism. Readings will be mainly manga, and the final paper will have a creative option including the possibility of creating graphic work. [Theory]

Ada Palmer
2023-2024 Autumn

14945 Digital Storytelling

This course investigates the ways that new media have changed contemporary society and the cultural narratives that shape it. We will explore narrative theory through a number of digital or digitally-inflected forms, including cyberpunk fictions, text adventure games, interactive dramas, videogames, virtual worlds, transmedia novels, location-based fictions, and alternate reality games. Our critical study will concern issues such as nonlinear narrative, network aesthetics, and videogame mechanics. Throughout the quarter, our analysis of computational fictions will be haunted by gender, class, race, and other ghosts in the machine. [Theory]

Ian Jones
2023-2024 Winter

15500 Beginning Screenwriting

(TAPS 15500, MAAD 25500, CRWR 27102)

This course introduces the basic elements of a literate screenplay, including format, exposition, characterization, dialog, voice-over, adaptation, and the vagaries of the three-act structure. Weekly meetings include a brief lecture period, screenings of scenes from selected films, extended discussion, and assorted readings of class assignments. Because this is primarily a writing class, students write a four- to five-page weekly assignment related to the script topic of the week.

Patrick Wimp
2023-2024 Autumn

20900 Computers for Learning

(CMSC 20900)

Over time, technology has occupied an increasing role in education, with mixed results. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were created to bring education to those without access to universities, yet most of the students who succeed in them are those who are already successful in the current educational model. This course focuses on one intersection of technology and learning: computer games. This course covers education theory, psychology (e.g., motivation, engagement), and game design so that students can design and build an educational learning application. Labs focus on developing expertise in technology, and readings supplement lecture discussions on the human components of education.

Diana Franklin
2023-2024 Autumn

21650 Irish Literature and Film

(ENGL 18250)

Major works of poetry, fiction, drama, and film. In literature, the course ranges from Jonathan Swift and Maria Edgeworth to Seamus Heaney and Anna Burns, and, in cinema, from silent film to Neil Jordan and Lenny Abramson. Literature and cinema are intertwined through all the weeks of the quarter in various connections (including Hitchcock's adaptation of O'Casey's JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK).

2023-2024 Autumn

23631 Internet Art I

This studio course examines the Internet as an artistic medium (computers, networks, and code), as an environment (media ecology), and as "the masterpiece of human civilization" (à la Virginia Heffernan). Our focus will be on producing creative contributions to this collaborative space by learning the core coding languages of the web, HTML, and CSS. While we will occasionally be discussing the contributions of self-identified artists (from the movement of the 1990s, for example), we will generally be taking a broader cultural view, exploring the histories, philosophies, and practices of various online cultural niches. We will learn how hackers use the command line to break into networks and how the open source community uses special tools that facilitate large-scale collaborations. We'll learn about AI praised by singularity evangelists in the "age of spiritual machines," as well as the digital rights activists who protest against the algorithms of surveillance capitalism. Throughout this journey, we will be learning the craft of the Internet, and in particular browsers and the web. We will be borrowing techniques from demoscenesters, meme-makers, cyberpunks, and web designers as we learn to produce work with the web's generalized media format (HTML and CSS), as well as how to distribute that work online (deploying web sites). This course counts towards the Media Practice and Design requirement for the MAAD program.

2023-2024 Autumn

23801 Video

(ARTH 23801/33801)

This is a production course geared towards short experimental works and video within a studio art context.

Scott Wolniak
2023-2024 Autumn

24201/34201 Cinema in Africa

(ENGL 27600 / 48601; CMLT 22900 / 42900; CRES 24201 / 34201; GNSE 28602/48602)

This course examines Africa in film as well as films produced in Africa. It places cinema in Sub Saharan Africa in its social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts ranging from neocolonial to postcolonial, Western to Southern Africa, documentary to fiction, art cinema to TV, and includes films that reflect on the impact of global trends in Africa and local responses, as well as changing racial and gender identifications. We will begin with La Noire de... (1966), by the “father” of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene, contrasted w/ a South African film, African Jim (1960) that more closely resembles African American musical film, and anti-colonial and anti-apartheid films from Lionel Rogosin’s Come Back Africa (1959) to Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga, Sembene’s Camp de Thiaroye (1984), and Jean Marie Teno’s Afrique, Je te Plumerai (1995). The rest of the course will examine 20th and 21st century films such as I am a not a Witch and The wound (both 2017), which show tensions between urban and rural, traditional and modern life, and the implications of these tensions for women and men, Western and Southern Africa, in fiction, documentary and fiction film. (20th/21st)

Loren Kruger
2023-2024 Winter

24618 Electronic Music I: Composing with Sound

(MUSI 26618/36618)

Electronic Music I presents an open environment for creativity and expression through composition in the electronic music studio. The course provides students with a background in the fundamentals of sound and acoustics, covers the theory and practice of digital signal processing for audio, and introduces the recording studio as a powerful compositional tool. The course culminates in a concert of original student works presented in multi-channel surround sound. Enrollment gives students access to the Electronic Music Studio in the Department of Music. No prior knowledge of electronic music is necessary. [Practice]

Kari Watson
2023-2024 Autumn

25300 Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction

(CMSC 20300)

An introduction to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), with an emphasis in understanding, designing and programming user-facing software and hardware systems. This class covers the core concepts of HCI: affordances, mental models, selection techniques (pointing, touch, menus, text entry, widgets, etc), conducting user studies (psychophysics, basic statistics, etc), rapid prototyping (3D printing, etc), and the fundamentals of 3D interfaces (optics for VR, AR, etc). We compliment the lectures with weekly programming assignments and two larger projects, in which we build/program/test user-facing interactive systems.

Pedro Lopes, Ken Nakagaki
2023-2024 Autumn

28600/48600 History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960

(ARTH 28600, ARTH 38600, ARTV 20003, CMLT 22500, CMLT 32500, ENGL 29600, ENGL 48900, MAAD 18600, MAPH 33700, REES 25005, REES 45005)

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

2023-2024 Winter

28910 Planetary Media

Various theoretical approaches to conceptualizing the planetary, from critical theory to science, and examples from both fiction and nonfiction, technical and aesthetic media, including climate models, video games, and film. Bridges science studies, cultural studies, & media theory. Ends with a group planetary world building assignment.

2023-2024 Autumn

28921/38921 Introduction to 16mm Filmmaking

(MAAD 23808, ARTV 23808/33808)

The goal of this intensive laboratory course is to give its students a working knowledge of film production using the 16mm gauge. The course will emphasize how students can use 16mm technology towards successful cinematography and image design (for use in both analog and digital postproduction scenarios) and how to develop their ideas towards constructing meaning through moving pictures. Through a series of group exercises, students will put their hands-on equipment and solve technical and aesthetic problems, learning to operate and care for the 16mm Bolex film camera; prime lenses; Sekonic light meter; Sachtler tripod; and Arri light kit and accessories. For a final project, students will plan and produce footage for an individual or small group short film. The first half the course will be highly structured, with demonstrations, in-class shoots, and lectures. As the semester continues, class time will open up to more of a workshop format to address the specific concerns and issues that arise in the production of the final projects. This course is made possible by the Charles Roven Fund for Cinema and Media Studies.

Students will need written permission to enroll in the course. To bid for entry into the class, please email with your name, major and year -- and please list any other media production or photography experience. Enrollment priority will be given to graduate and undergraduate CMS students, beginning with seniors, then to DoVA graduates and undergraduates, then to students in other departments.

2023-2024 Winter

29202 Advanced Seminar – Spring

Open only to upper-year students who have declared a major in Cinema and Media Studies, the ‘Advanced Seminar’ functions as a capstone course. It will allow students the opportunity to explore in more depth key disciplinary and methodological questions related to the study of cinema and media. Particular topics will be determined by the individual faculty instructor, and will vary from the Autumn to Spring Quarters and from instructor to instructor.

2023-2024 Spring

29400 Media Arts and Design Capstone Colloquium

In this capstone colloquium, students will prepare a portfolio of digital media artworks and/or historical and theoretical writing that reflects their interests. This course is required for students completing a minor in Media Arts and Design and must be completed no later than Winter Quarter of the fourth year. The course will meet weekly throughout the quarter.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 10100 Introduction to Film

(ARTV 20300, ENGL 10800)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. We will consider film as an art form, medium, and industry, and cover all the major film types: silent, classical, and contemporary narrative cinema, art cinema, animation, documentary, and experimental film. We will study the cinematic techniques: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and learn how filmmakers design their works. 

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

CMST 14578 Media Technologies

This class is only offered through the Study Abroad Program in Paris.

This course offers tools for understanding and theorizing media by attending to technology. Students will learn to think about the materiality of media, asking how media technologies—such as television, the mp3 format, or a mobile phone app—influence the contents or meanings they transmit, as well as the ways in which discourses and practices shape the nature of media and its technical infrastructures. What forms have culture and knowledge taken as the emergence of new media has reconfigured lived experience, social life, and power relations? We will consider the ways in which technology extends beyond the realm of machinery—how practices, regulations, beliefs and environments become part of the systematic deployment of media from content moderation to the cooling of servers. Examples of media discussed in class will include student-curated collections of social media content, videogames and television by French creators, and even infrastructural systems, including a failed project to create an automated train system in Paris.

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 14580 Special Topics: Uncanny

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 20333 Participatory Culture in Japan

(EALC 20033)

What do we mean when we talk about participatory culture in Japan? This course will explore this question through the lenses of film, television, and fan studies, focusing on the participatory nature of each medium. Material will build on itself both thematically and chronologically throughout the quarter, and include readings that explore participatory/fan culture in both Japan-specific and broader global contexts. Students will be introduced to multiple theories and reading practices for each media form, and encouraged to reflect on their own consumption habits.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 20602 Queer/Trans/Media

This seminar stages a sustained dialogue between theories of queer, trans, and media, exploring how each of these disciplines animate and challenge one another. This course explores the possibilities of an expanded understanding of queerness, following queer scholar Eve Sedgwick's claim that “work around ‘queer’ spins the term outward along dimensions that can’t be subsumed under gender and sexuality at all.” More recently, queer scholars like David Eng have read “queerness as a critical methodology based not on content but rather on form and style” while trans scholars like Toby Beauchamp similarly engage “the transgender of transgender studies as a mode of critique” and “not as a predetermined category into which identities or bodies are slotted.” What might it mean to consider “queer” and “trans” not as a field with a delimited object of study (sexuality or gender), but as an analytic, a methodology, a critical sensibility, a conceptual strategy, a reading practice, a politics, an aesthetic, etc. Throughout the course, we explore often-unconventional pairings of media objects and scholarly readings to work through these challenging questions. Ultimately, this course is designed to help students read for the similarities within the aesthetic forms of film/media and queer/trans theories to understand their force of expression.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 21003 Early Black Film and its Afterlives

In an oft-cited statistic, the Library of Congress has estimated that over 70% of the films produced between 1912 and 1929, are now lost forever. The outcomes for black film during this period are even more stark. This course takes on the challenge of narrating a history dominated by absence, pairing careful historiographic methods with creative and speculative approaches to construct the life and afterlife of early black filmmaking. In this class, we will explore the historical development of black film and black film performance throughout the silent era and its boundaries, from the earliest fragments to the beginnings of the sound era. We will explore key figures such as Oscar Micheaux, Richard E. Norman, and William D. Foster, as well as key performers like Paul Robeson, Bert Williams, Evelyn Preer and Josephine Baker. In addition to watching and engaging with the films themselves, we will explore the contexts of their production, the theatrical and musical traditions that informed them, and material life of the celluloid that carries them. We will also attend to the films now “lost forever.” What can we know about a film we cannot watch, and how? We will consider partial film material, news reporting and other ephemera in an attempt to peer into the space left behind in the absence of a surviving film print. Lastly, we will study the citation, sampling, remixing, and reimagining of this material from this era in contemporary work.

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 21501 Feminist Film Histories

(GNSE 23153)

This course explores global film histories by surveying the contributions of women directors and screenwriters, actresses, and movie workers from the silent era to the 1990s. It also addresses historiographical questions about women’s erasure, feminist recovery, and the archive. Films discussed will include works by Chantal Akerman, Dorothy Arzner, Jacqueline Audry, Maya Deren, Alice Guy Blaché, Sarah Maldoror, Esfir Shub, Kinuyo Tanaka, and Mai Zetterling.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 23930/CMST 33930 Documentary Production I

(MAAD 23930)

Documentary Video Production focuses on the making of independent documentary video. Examples of various modes of documentary production will be screened and discussed. Issues embedded in the genre, such as the ethics, the politics of representation, and the shifting lines between “the real” and “fiction” will be explored. Story development, pre-production strategies, and production techniques will be our focus, in particular—research, relationships, the camera, interviews and sound recording, shooting in available light, working in crews, and post-production editing. Students will work in crews and be expected to purchase a portable hard drive. A five- minute string-out/rough-cut will be screened at the end of the quarter. Students are strongly encouraged to take CMST 23931 Documentary Production II to complete their work.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 23931/CMST 33931 Documentary Production II

(ARTV 23931, ARTV 33931, CHST 23931, CMST 33931, HMRT 25107, HMRT 35107, MAAD 23931)

Documentary Production II focuses on the shaping and crafting of a non-fiction video. Enrollment will be limited to those students who have taken CMST 23930 Documentary Production I. The class will discuss issues of ethics, power, and representation in this most philosophical and problematic of genres. Students will be expected to write a treatment outline detailing their project and learn about granting agencies and budgeting. Production techniques will concentrate on the language of handheld camera versus tripod, interview methodologies, microphone placement including working with wireless systems and mixers, and lighting for the interview. Post-production will cover editing techniques including color correction and audio sweetening, how to prepare for exhibition, and distribution strategies.

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 24910/CMST 34915 Insect Media

(EALC 34910, CDIN 34910)

How have insects affected ways of knowing and relating to the world?

This course opens a dialogue between insects and Japanese audiovisual cultures, including fiction, poetry, visual art, manga, anime, and film. We aim to address the important and profound challenge that recent trends in animal studies, environmental humanities, and eco-criticism pose to received ways of studying human cultures and societies. The challenge lies in offering alternatives to the entrenched reliance on a nature-culture divide, which gives culture explanatory preference over nature. In the case of Japan and insects, for instance, there exists a fairly significant body of scholarship on how Japanese people respond to, interact with, and represent insects, and yet priority is generally given to culture, and Japan is treated monolithically. To offer alternatives to this monolithic culturalism, in this course we will (a) open dialogue between culture accounts of insects and scientific accounts and (b) explore different forms of media offering different milieus where human animals and more-than-human insects come into relation without assuming the ascendency of one over the other.

Thomas Lamarre, Chelsea Foxwell
2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 25507 Gender, Race, and Horror

(GNSE 20132)

This course will contend with the ways that horror as a film genre constructs and deconstructs notions of gender and race in society. We will attend to texts across decades and subgenres that will illustrate how gender and race are made and regulated through notions of confusion, fear, and repulsion. By attending to these universal human feelings, students will learn how emotions are evoked through the construction of the text, its portrayal of the disruption of gender norms and its construction of racial boundaries. Students will learn the necessary vocabulary and methodologies to be able to critically analyze (audio)visual texts. In order to do this, students will be guided through how to construct argumentative critical papers through proper utilization of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. By the end of the course, students will be well versed in cinematographic terms such that they will be able to critically analyze texts to understand the impact of perspective, interpretation, and judgment. This course is meant to help students navigate and make sense of an increasingly scary world by learning to appreciate fear as a necessary human expression. Finally, and most importantly, students will be able to engage with the age-old notion of terror to be able lead a more ethical and intellectually richer life.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 25620/CMST 35620 Japanese Animation: The Making of a Global Media

(EALC 25620/25620, MAAD 15620, SIGN 26070)

This course offers an introduction to Japanese animation, from its origins in the 1910s to its emergence as global culture in the 1990s. The goal is not only to provide insight into Japanese animation within the context of Japan but also to consider those factors that have transformed it into a global cultural form with a diverse, worldwide fanbase. As such, the course approaches Japanese animation from three distinct perspectives on Japanese animation, which are designed to introduce students to three important methodological approaches to contemporary media — film studies, media studies, and fan studies or cultural studies. As we look at Japanese animation in light of these different conceptual frameworks, we will also consider how its transnational dissemination and ‘Asianization’ challenge some of our basic assumptions about global culture, which have been shaped primarily through the lens of Americanization.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 26505/CMST 36505 Straight-line Sensibilities: A Hidden History of 20th Century Art

(ARTH 26501/36501, MAAD 26501)

The proliferation of straight lines in 20th Century art and architecture is generally associated with rational and universalist procedures and perspectives, and closely associated with the rise of industrial society. This course will look at straight lines in modern art from a very different perspective. We will study a hidden genealogy of straight lines that all seem to evoke the vagaries of sensory realities and capacities and that are aesthetic through and through. These type of straight lines are all, in their various ways, related to the close interaction between bodies and media technologies - one of the major themes in modern art. The question, of course, is how and why straight lines comes to express this relationship. To look at this question, we will study artworks and ideas that extend from the mid 19th-century to 21st century art and that includes a wide range of media and expressions, including architecture, painting, drawing, film, video and computer art.

Ina Blom
2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 27021/CMST 67021 Performance Captured

(MAAD 20721)

Technologies that turn human action, appearance and performance into data for storage, transformation and redisplay have a long history inside and outside of moving image arts. This class will look at the opportunities, aesthetics and politics of these approaches running through contemporary special effects, traditional and experimental animation, dance on camera and live performance at a moment when boundaries between these categories have become especially porous.

One in-person seminar weekly + one in-person screening weekly

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 27817/37817 Sonic the Hedgehog

(MAAD 17817, MAPH 37817)

In this course, we will use a single franchise – Sonic the Hedgehog – as an access point to study media history, aesthetics, social and cultural practice, and the relationships between games, film, and other artforms. Originally released in 1991 for Sega’s Genesis console, the Sonic series has spawned over three decades of games, cartoons, manga, novels, films, music, board games, action figures, fan art, cosplay, and merchandizing. Both the volume and the variety of these texts allow the Sonic corpus to be a focal point for questions with broader stakes for the study of games and media in general. Some of the questions we will be considering in this course include:

What has been the relationship between particular videogame characters and franchises and the business practices and strategies of entertainment industries? What form does stardom take in the world of digital games, and is it an appropriate concept to apply to a mascot like Sonic? How have established game franchises responded to major technological and aesthetic shifts in the medium? How might we understand the concept and practice of adaptation as applied to the digital games, and what does it reveal about the medium specificity of and the relationship between games, film, comics, novels, and other forms? What can a game franchise that has taken a wide variety of generic forms (platforming, racing, fighting, and pinball, to name just a few) tell us about how genre works as concept and system in digital games?

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 27867/CMST 37867 1990s Videogame History

(MAPH 34516, MAAD 25416)

This course will trace developments in the videogame medium and videogame cultures in the final decade of the 20th century, discuss the unique possibilities and difficulties arising from the study of recent history, and put these discussions into practice through research-based assignments. Questions that will guide our study include: what was the relationship between technological innovations and stylistic changes in the videogame medium? How did the entry of new corporate and creative players into the business affect industrial structures and strategies? What do we make of "freedom," "realism," and other concepts that dominated videogame press coverage - and how were they connected to broader cultural discourses? How did understandings of what it meant to play videogames, and the types of experiences that videogames could offer, change over the course of the decade? What was the relationship between developments in the videogame medium and other media - from film and fiction to virtual reality and the Internet? How has this decade been remembered, conceptualized, preserved, and repackaged in subsequent decades?


2023-2024 Winter

CMST 27920/CMST 37920 Virtual Reality Production

(ARTV 27920/37920, MAAD 24920)

Focusing on experimental moving-image approaches at a crucial moment in the emerging medium of virtual reality, this course will explore and interrogate each stage of production for VR. By hacking their way around the barriers and conventions of current software and hardware to create new optical experiences, students will design, construct, and deploy new ways of capturing the world with cameras and develop new strategies and interactive logics for placing images into virtual spaces. Underpinning these explorations will be a careful discussion, dissection, and reconstruction of techniques found in the emerging VR "canon" that spans new modes of journalism and documentary, computer games, and narrative "VR cinema."

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 28010 Sound / Image Mapping

(ARTV 27922, MAAD 20810)

This class will examine the history and production of “hard” sound-image relationships through the lens of computational form. Through studying the range of digital and mechanical tools that have sought to couple the senses — from 19th century color organs and dreams of synesthesia, through music videos and contemporary new media installations, to recent advances in “machine listening” — students will complete a series of critical essays and sketches leading towards a final project using custom software developed in and for the class.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 28500/CMST 48500 History of International Cinema I: Silent Era

(ARTH 28500, ARTH 38500, ARTV 20002, CMLT 22400, CMLT 32400, ENGL 29300, ENGL 48700, MAAD 18500, MAPH 33600)

This course provides a survey of the history of cinema from its emergence in the mid-1890s to the transition to sound in the late 1920s. We will examine the cinema as a set of aesthetic, social, technological, national, cultural, and industrial practices as they were exercised and developed during this 30-year span. Especially important for our examination will be the exchange of film techniques, practices, and cultures in an international context. We will also pursue questions related to the historiography of the cinema, and examine early attempts to theorize and account for the cinema as an artistic and social phenomenon.

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 28700/CMST 38700 History of International Cinema, Part III: 1960 to Present

(MAAD 18700)

This course will continue the study of cinema around the world from the 1960s to the 2000s. The continued development of film style and form over this period — one of seismic changes in audio-visual aesthetics — will be one of the primary themes of the course. Additionally, lectures and discussions will wrestle with the rise of global film cultures, technological innovations and their effects on style (such as post-magnetic sound, and visual effects techniques), major international directors and the solidification of auteurism as both a commercial and aesthetic imperative, the increasing internationalization of Hollywood, and post-1970s genre reorientation elevating horror, science-fiction, and other genres to the highest levels of mainstream respectability, critical appraisal, and/or commercial success. Screenings are mandatory and include work by filmmakers including Pedro Almodovar, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, Claire Denis, Federico Fellini, Hollis Frampton, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Djibril Diop Mambety, Cristian Mungiu, and more, in addition to a selection of music videos.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 28730 Television in an Age of Change

(MAAD 15630)

As streaming options proliferate, we think of television today as a medium in a moment of upheaval; but, since its beginnings, television has always been in flux. This course will provide an introductory overview of television theory and U.S. television history. We will watch and analyze a range of programming and explore ongoing shifts in television's relationship to audiences, technology, and other media forms in an effort to answer—and complicate—the question, "What is television?"

2023-2024 Autumn

CMST 28922/CMST 38922 Intermediate 16mm Filmmaking

This course will allow students to continue working on projects begun in the Intro to 16mm Production course (or developing a new small-scale project), in addition to developing skills with the following: sophisticated approaches to cinematography (comparative and reflective light metering, color negative exposure); varying workflows for post-production editing (analog and digital); and sound recording and design. Students will meet as a group for lectures, technical demonstrations and a shooting workshop. Course meeting time will also be set aside for individual conferences with the instructor to address project development and completion. Students should expect to budget between 120.00-500.00 for their filmstock and processing costs, depending on the project. This course is made possible by the Charles Roven Fund for Cinema and Media Studies. Instructor permission required.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 11314 Fluxus and the Question of Media

(CMST 27804/37804, ARTH 31314)

The course investigates the international Fluxus network of the 1960's and 70's from a media perspective. Often identified with the concept of "intermedia" launched in a 1966 text by artist, writer and publisher Dick Higgins, Fluxus artists seemed at pain to distinguish their work from the multimedia or gesamtkunstwerk approaches of the Happening artists, seeking instead to formulate a mode of working between or even beyond media. Underpinned by a desire to pass beyond the work of art itself, this was a complex position that had profound implications for their approaches to technologies and practices such as film, video, computing, sound/music, theatre, poetry and image-making. We will try to map the various facets of this position, with particular emphasis on its relation to another key Fluxus concept: the work as event.

Ina Blom
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 12422 Hearing Popular Music

(MUSI 25422)

For decades, popular music has been the soundtrack to many Americans’ lives. This class explores the structure, function, and impact of a range of vernacular musics from the 20th and 21st centuries. Our approach to popular music will be by turns historical, analytical, and sociological. Students will learn about formal designs of pop songs, from verse-chorus to much more elaborate structures, along with antecedents in the Great American Songbook tradition. Students will learn to analyze the harmonic and melodic conventions in various genres, and also spend significant time with groove analysis and design. Finally, the class will interrogate the sociological relevance of vernacular musics, weaving in discussions of relevant social issues from radio play to popularity, and from subcultural appeal to racial identity. This class is open to anyone who listens carefully and with passion, and who wants to grow their ability to write about music. Experience as a practitioner of any type of music and/or a passing knowledge of music theory will be helpful, but it is not necessary to read notated music for this course.

Jennifer Iverson
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 13517 Introduction to Critical Spatial Media: Visualizing Urban, Environmental, and Planetary Change

(CEGU 23517, ARCH 23517, ARTV 20665, DIGS 23517, ENST 23517)


This course introduces critical theories and techniques for visualizing interconnected transformations of urban, environmental, and planetary systems amidst the pressures of climate change, urbanization, and global economies of capitalism. Weekly lectures will introduce major themes and theoretical debates, paired with hands-on lab tutorials exploring a selection of methods in conventional and experimental geographic visualization. Thematically, the course will be organized around critical interpretations of the Anthropocene, a concept designating the epoch in which anthropogenic activities are recognized as the dominant force of planetary climatic and ecological change. We will present these interpretations through modules structured around different conceptual paradigms and alternative epochal designations (e.g. the Urbanocene, the Capitalocene, the Plantationocene). Through weekly lab exercises and a final, synthetic project, the course will move from critically analyzing prevalent theoretical frameworks, geospatial data, and associated visualization techniques to creatively visualizing critical alternatives. Students will learn how to construct visual narratives through a variety of spatial media (e.g. maps, diagrams, visual timelines), scales (e.g. bodies, neighborhoods, landscapes, the planetary), and techniques/platforms (e.g. GIS, web mapping, basic programming language tools, and vector/raster visualization programs).

Alexander Arroyo, Grga Basic
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 14723 Divas, Idols, Material Girls: Gender and Sexuality in Music Videos

(MUSI 27423, GNSE 20135)

The stark black and white of Madonna’s “Vogue” and the pinks and sparkles of “Material Girl.” The explosive surprise releases of Beyoncé's BEYONCÉ and Lemonade visual albums. The lavish cinematic spectacle of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and the fanbait intertextuality of SM Entertainment’s Aespa. Since MTV’s advent in 1981, hit music videos have made a number of pop songs inextricable from iconic imagery and choreography; ubiquitous digital devices and the rise of platforms like YouTube and TikTok have only increased pop music’s audiovisuality.

Looking at and listening to female pop icons raises fraught questions of agency, representation, race, sexuality/sexualization, bodies, commodification, and capital. In this course, students will gain a vocabulary for talking about both the audio and visual parameters of music video, and they will use this vocabulary to engage with critical frameworks for examining meaning, circulation, and reception in contemporary music videos.

Assignments across the course will allow students to experiment with a range of writing and media genres, including critical close readings, micro-reception histories, thinkpieces, podcast episodes, and video essays.

Paula Harper
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 16001 Censorship in East Asia: The Case of Colonial Korea

(EALC 23001, EALC 43000, CRES 23001, RDIN 23001)

This course examines the operation and consequences of censorship in the Japanese Empire, with focus on its effects in colonial Korea. It begins with two basic premises: first, both the Japanese colonial authorities’ measures of repression and the Korean responses to them can be understood as noticeably more staunch and sophisticated when compared to any other region of the Empire; and second, the censorship practices in Korea offer a case that is in itself an effective point of comparison to better understand other censorship operations in general and the impact of these operations across different regions. With a view to probing an inter- and intra-relationship between censorship practices among a variety of imperial/colonial regions, this course studies the institutions related to censorship, the human agents involved in censorship--both external and internal--and texts and translations that were produced in and outside of Korea, and were subject to censorship. Overall, the course stresses the importance of establishing a comparative understanding of the functions of censorship, and on the basis of this comparative thinking we will strive to conceptualize the characteristics of Japanese colonial censorship in Korea.

Kyeong-hee Choi
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 22506 Online Algorithmic Music

In this course, students will learn how to use JavaScript and web-based technologies to create algorithmic musical compositions and experimental web-based instruments. Through the use of the WebAudio API and JavaScript libraries like tone.js, students will learn how to programmatically generate and manipulate sound, creating interactive and generative audio works that can be shared online. Along the way, the class will also survey works by artists working in this field and will feature a visiting artist who will walk students through their own practice. Themes of generative art, randomness and chance, originality and machine creativity, and the cultural implications of influential musical algorithms will also be explored. This class is an intermediate level programming course. A beginner to intermediate level understanding of core programming concepts (ideally in JavaScript) is required. While a background in music can certainly be beneficial, it is not required for success in this course.

2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 23632 Internet Art II

Though the web was originally conceived as an online space for sharing hyperlinked documents, the modern Web browser has evolved into a creative coding playground capable of producing all manner of networked art and generative compositions. In this course we'll learn JavaScript, the Web's defacto programming language. Throughout the quarter we'll produce text-based, visual and musical algorithmic compositions. We will be experimenting with various different Web APIs for creating generative and interactive Internet art including HTML5 video, Canvas (2D/3D animations) and Web Audio. We'll learn how to produce work that responds to various input sources (trackpad/mouse, touchscreen, keyboard, cameras, microphones) and how to fetch and incorporate data from external APIs elsewhere on the Internet. [Practice]

2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 23645 Body and the Digital

As digital technology advances, the separation between IRL and URL blurs.  Participants enrolled in this course will explore techniques that will help them create thought-provoking work, strengthen their ability to give critique, and build an understanding of how the corporeal interacts with the digital.  Throughout this course, students will offer and receive constructive feedback during instructor-led critiques on peers' works. By the end of this course, students will feel comfortable utilizing different processes of development to create digital artwork. [Practice]

2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 24415 Games & Performance

(TAPS 24415/34415, CHST 24415)

This experimental course explores the emerging genre of “immersive performance,” “alternate reality,” and “transmedia” gaming. For all of their novelty, these games build on the narrative strategies of novels, the performative role-playing of theater, the branching techniques of electronic literature, the procedural qualities of video games, and the team dynamics of sports. Throughout the quarter, we will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of immersive games, while working in labs with three Chicago-area companies, The House Theater, Mystery League, and Humans vs. Zombies.

Heidi Coleman
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 24820 Video Game Music Production and Sound Design

(MUSI 24820)

The advent of video game soundtrack releases and live game music concerts substantiate the importance of music and sound in games, not just as accompaniments but as essential aspects of the gaming experience. This production course surveys the history of sound effects, music, and design in games beginning with the bleeps and bloops of the 1970s and concluding with the ambient, nonlinear soundscape of many contemporary games. Following the timeline media theorist Karen Collins presents in her documentary Beep, this course will explore electronic sound technologies including virtual analog synthesis, frequency modulation, bit reduction, General MIDI, and sample-based production. Each student will compose a game soundtrack demo for their final project. This course welcomes students who are both new to and experienced in sound production; the complexity of each assignment can be adjusted based on experience.

Takashi Shallow
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 25201 Art & Machine Intelligence

(ARTV 22501/32501)

Artists have long used autonomous processes to aid in the creation of their work. From 18th century parlor games to contemporary visual culture, creators have applied stochastic methods, automation, and simulation to generate music, text, and imagery. In the last five years, as machine learning has matured into broadly applicable artificial intelligence, artists have turned towards neural networks as a new frontier for creative practice. This studio course will explore the history and uses of autonomous creative tools and focus, more specifically, on leading edge artistic applications of AI. Students will receive exposure to a breadth of methods in this domain and produce multiple projects engaged with these topics. Software development experience is not required, though it may be useful.

Jason Salavon
2023-2024 Autumn

MAAD 26210 Media Arts and Design Practice

(ARTV 26210)

This studio-based course explores the practice, conventions, and boundaries of contemporary media art and design. This can encompass areas as diverse as interactive installation, app design, and the Internet meme. Through projects and critical discussion, students engage with the problems and opportunities of digitally driven content creation. Fundamental elements of digital production are introduced, including basic properties of image, video, and the global network. Further topics as varied as--though not limited to--web production, digital fabrication, interfaces, the glitch, and gaming may be considered. Sections will vary based on the instructor's fields of expertise. [Practice]