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 Adaptation and Genre in Chinese Film and Media

(EALC 24505/34605)

The course explores a central aspect of Chinese contemporary culture, namely the process of transposing new and old stories from the page to the stage to the screen. In addition, the class seeks to expand the concept of adaptation to investigate how cinema appropriates and repurposes other media, and why specific intermedial genres emerge more prominently at certain historical conjunctures. The films we will watch encompass three genres: comedy, opera film, and documentary, each respectively characterized by thematic and formal engagements with television, regional theater, and screen-based news. Some of the screenings will be followed by discussions with filmmakers, in person or on Zoom. 

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 65501 Film and the Uncanny

The images and experiences offered by photography and film have, from the very beginning, been described as uncanny. Whether early photographers describing photographs as produced by nature, the sun, the objects depicted themselves, or by a machine, photography and the cinema have been understood to emerge from an "elsewhere" and not strictly from human production. Photography's defining uncanniness, it seems, took two general forms in the nineteenth century: forms of spectrality (ghostliness, shadowiness, production by occulted means) and forms of confusion between the human and the non-human. Corollary to uncertain boundaries between the human and the machine, the ghost, the object, and the animal there emerged a sustained epistemological debate about the nature and meaning of mediated sense experience: a debate about how technologically secured sense forms refer to the world they depict. This class argues that many of the most persistent instances of theoretical debate within media history are grounded in these issues. So rather than a narrowing view of film and related media, the term "uncanny" is meant to open up onto myriad questions and media, including acoustic, digital, traditional, and prosthetic forms of experience. Finally, this course embraces the belief that intuitive descriptions and accounts of media are rarely "wrong," but rather register disruptions in knowledge and practice, and grasp for new forms of thought to account for them.

2023-2024 Winter

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.

Cooper Long, Nick Rueda-Sabater, Kendra Sanders, Ashley Truehart
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

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

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

24201/34201 Cinema in Africa

(ENGL 27600/47600, GNSE 28602/48602, RDIN 27600/37600, CMLT 42900)

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)

L. Kruger
2023-2024 Spring

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

27301 Philosophy of Comedy: Classic Hollywood Film

What does comedy do to us? What is the nature of our corporeal response of laughter and how does it relate to our intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional responses? What kind of philosophical perspective does the mode of comedy provide on issues of self-knowledge, agency, identity, taste, free will, gender, race, the relation of body to mind? In this course, we will use classic Hollywood film comedies as a field for exploring these questions. From the slapstick acrobatics of Chaplin and Keaton in the silent comedies, to the madcap horseplay of the Marx Brothers and the tapdancing of the Nicholas Brothers in the musical comedies, to the spitfire exchanges on the topic of sex and love in the screwball comedies and the metatheatrical Nazi impersonations in the wartime comedies, these films of the first half of the 20th century offer a wealth of performances, narratives, and gags for philosophical investigation. The course will provide an introduction to the major comedic directors and performers of this period. We will engage closely with the formal construction of individual films as well as on the nature of comedy itself. A major theme will be the contradictory power of the film comedy, its capacity for transgression and its reliance on stereotypes, its utopian transformative potential and its entanglements with death, despair, and violence.

2023-2024 Winter

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

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 23325 Ukrainian Art, Literature and Film in the Wake of the Russian Invasion (2014-present)

(REES 23325/33325)

How does war affect art? Over the past decade, Ukrainian artists have been raising this question in their work, alongside questions about personal and collective identity, authority and authenticity, language and imperial violence, epistemic injustice and decolonization. In this course, we will examine art, literature, and film arising out of the war-triggered crises, whether political, aesthetic, ethical, or existential, focusing on the artists’ creative engagement with different kinds of documentary and source material, experiments with form, and intermodal and inter-genre dialogue. Readings may include work by Stanislav Aseyev, Yevgenia Belorusets, Artem Chekh, Andrey Kurkov, Olena Stiazhkina, Natalya Vorozhbit, and Serhiy Zhadan. We will also consider films, cartoons, and a range of audiovisual sources. Students can expect to engage with the newest cutting-edge work from Ukraine; to develop individual research projects in collaboration with their peers; and to write a final paper.

Max Rosochinsky
2023-2024 Spring

CMST 23624 The Geography of Italian Cinema

(ITAL 23624, CEGU 23624)

Italian cinema is widely known and appreciated, especially thanks to the masterpieces of Neorealism and some authors and actors capable of imposing themselves on an international scale. But Italian cinema is also made up of unforgettable places, mountains, volcanoes, rivers or trees that have taken on repeatedly the role of anonymous protagonists. Italian cinema is thus closely linked to means of transportation and all those infrastructures that have made and make possible the internal migration and viability along the Peninsula. This course rethinks the history and present of Italiancinema in relation to geography. Through the analysis of different films, the course examines the ability of filmmakers to document and, at the same time, participate in the physical, cultural, and social aspects of Italy, and how these depictions have changed over time. We will ask how Italian cinema has contributed to building a recognizable and shared image of a country characterized by profound landscape, economic and cultural differences. But we will also ask how the landscapes themselves have influenced and still influence the choices of directors and the aesthetic orientations of our gazes.

Francesco Zucconi
2023-2024 Spring

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 24617 Opera Across Media

(MUSI 25020, GNSE 25020, ITAL 25020, MAAD 13020, SIGN 26058, TAPS 26516)

Over the course of the last 120 years, opera and cinema have been sounded and seen together again and again. Where opera is commonly associated with extravagant performance and production, cinema is popularly associated with realism. Yet their encounter not only proves these assumptions wrong but produces some extraordinary third kinds--media hybrids. It also produces some extraordinary love affairs. Thomas Edison wanted a film of his to be “a grand opera,” and Federico Fellini and Woody Allen wanted opera to saturate their films. Thinking about these mutual attractions, “Opera across Media” explores different operatic and cinematic repertories as well as other media forms. Among films to be studied are Pabst’s Threepenny Opera (1931), Visconti’s Senso (1954), Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffmann (1951), Zeffirelli’s La traviata (1981), DeMille’s Carmen (1915), Losey’s Don Giovanni (1979), Bergman’s The Magic Flute (1975), and Fellini’s E la nave va (1983). No prior background in music performance, theory, or notation is needed. Students may write papers based on their own skills and interests relevant to the course. Required work includes attendance at all screenings and classes; weekly postings on Canvas about readings and viewings; attendances at a Met HD broadcast and a Lyric Opera live opera; a short “think piece” midway through the course; and a final term paper of 8-10 pages.

Martha Feldman
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 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 25945 Digital Storytelling

(ENGL 25945, MAAD 14945)

New media have changed the way that we tell and process stories. Over the last few decades, writers and designers have experimented with text, video, audio, design, animation, and interactivity in unprecedented ways, producing new types of narratives about a world transformed by computers and communications networks. These artists have explored the cultural dimensions of information culture, the creative possibilities of digital media technologies, and the parameters of human identity in the network era.

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.

2023-2024 Winter

CMST 26074/CMST 36074 The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky

(REES 26074/36074)

Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) is widely considered to be one of Soviet cinema’s great auteurs, a fiercely independent creative artist and thinker. Known for his long takes, visual imagery, intertextuality, and philosophical self-reflectiveness, Tarkovsky has profoundly shaped the evolution of modern art cinema over the past fifty years and his legacy is still very much alive in both the Slavic world and the west. In this course, we will study Tarkovsky’s major films focusing particularly on their aesthetic characteristics, spiritual and philosophical dimensions, and cultural and political context.

Sergei Shokarev
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 27006/CMST 37006 Cinema and Incarceration

With case studies that include fiction films, documentaries, and personal filmmaking by presently or formerly incarcerated filmmakers, this course examines the relationship between cinema and the carceral state. Major animating questions include: How do the fantasies of incarceration presented in fictional films emerge from and feed into societal-wide ideologies around mass incarceration? How can the relationship between cinematic technologies and surveillance society best be interrogated? Can documentary filmmaking affect radical change around issues of incarceration—and how can incarcerated people tell their own stories and represent their own lives?

2023-2024 Winter

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 27208/CMST 37208 Screenings of the Dark: Topics in Black Feminist Film Theory

(GNSE 20140/30140)

This course will address historical and contemporary arcs in the expansive field of Black feminism by centering on representations by and of Black women on screen. The central pursuit of this course will be to elevate the theories of Black feminism that exist within and outside of film studies to anticipate future ruptures in creative output and emerging epistemologies. The course will center around such topics as performance, refusal, aesthetics, transness, and girlhood.

2023-2024 Spring

CMST 27806 Algorithmic Culture

The term algorithm has existed for centuries. However as technical systems, algorithms have only more recently started to shape contemporary social relations. From PredPol to ChatGPT, algorithms have inserted themselves into human knowledge and social experience across global information systems. In doing so, they have become the new site of culture insofar as they modulate human experiences and construct normative ways of meaning-making by correlating new relations among data, optimizing outputs, and automating decisions. Through the lens of digital media studies, this class will track how algorithms have reshaped culture relations by reconfiguring received frameworks of objectivity, identity, and power. Beginning with historical and technical accounts of algorithms, we will explore their impact through key issues including: personalization, discrimination, violence, labor, infrastructure, and the environment. The course will conclude by examining how algorithms open up new paths for resistance and sovereignty. Along the way, we will engage algorithms through vectors of social identity, including race, gender, class, and sexuality.

As algorithms are a complex and multifaceted concept, our study of it will be interdisciplinary. In addition to foundational texts in digital media studies, we will engage a variety of materials from computer science, critical race studies, social sciences, queer and feminist studies, history, communications, and more.

Gary Kafer
2023-2024 Spring

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 28205 Feminist Documentary Filmmaking

(GNSE 23164, MAAD 18205)

This course examines the ways that women-identifying documentary makers have given cinematic form to feminist thought. Drawing from film and media theory and history, we will focus on the formal and narrative techniques that have been employed by filmmakers to reflect on questions pertaining to gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on the specific ways that non-fiction filmmaking expanded feminist theoretical frameworks and research methodologies. Considering topics such as cinematic realism, film spectatorship, viewing pleasure, counter-cinema, and theories of intersectionality and diaspora, we will ask questions such as: What are the stylistic devices that feminist documentary films have mobilized, and for what purposes and ends? What is documentary’s relation to the history of fiction film, particularly of Hollywood cinema? How have women documentary makers understood cinema’s role in social processes of transformation? What are the possibilities and limitations of collaborative methods, appropriation strategies, and oppositional techniques? We will watch films with a critical eye and engage closely with academic and popular writings to survey the aesthetic, social, and political genealogies operating in the history of feminist documentary production. In this discussion-based course, we will cover a variety of non-fiction film and media forms: film diaries, docu-fictions, home-movies, video essays, auto-ethnographies, ethno-fictions, collage, and found-footage films. These will be works from different historical periods and geographical contexts by filmmakers such as Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Jocelyne Saab, T. Minh-ha Trinh, Barbara Hammer, Michelle Citron, Su Friedrich, Anuradha Chandra, Lorna Simpson, Yang Ming Ming, Salomé Lamas, and Akosua Adoma Owusu.

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 28906 Contemporary Cinematic Special Effects

(MAAD 10906)

The highest-grossing films of the twenty-first century are, without exception, showcases for special effects. How did special effects become so central to mass-audience movies? What are the consequences of this shift? In this course, we will track the historical and stylistic development of contemporary effects-driven filmmaking, bridging practitioner discourse by effects industry workers with the theories of cinema and media scholars. While our screenings will primarily comprise narrative feature films, we will also explore how special effects draw upon diverse media forms and practices, including experimental cinema, installation art, amusement parks, television advertising, and, above all, digital technologies. Screenings will include Hollywood blockbusters (e.g., The Matrix [1999]), “failed” blockbusters (e.g., Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within [2001]), and effects-driven films from other national/regional cinemas (e.g., The Mermaid [China, 2016]).

2023-2024 Winter

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

CMST 28925/CMST 38925 Expanded Cinema

(ARTV 23861 / ARTV 33861)

Though often overlooked, the act of projection is at the heart of cinema (the act or process of causing a picture to appear on a surface). This studio course focuses on the creation of moving image-based work, exploring how time and space are used as materials to create form and inspire content within the contemporary film genre known as expanded cinema. The technical, historical and political aspects of the projected image will be studied in order to re-think cinema as a group and investigate how the projected image can find meaning outside the black box of theaters or the white cube of galleries. Two personal experimental video projects will lead to a third final collective video installation that will use the environment within the vicinity of UChicago’s campus to inspire the work while also become the location of the final outdoor projection event.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 10006 Contemporary Art

(ARTV 20006)

This course will consider the practice and theory of visual art in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Among the subjects that will drive our narrative will be the rise of postmodernism, pop art, the aesthetics of the social movements of the 1960s, institutional critique, the relationship between reproductive media and Feminism, the concept of spectacle, conceptual art, the appearance of a global art industry after 1989, the connections between art school and art-making, "relational aesthetics," the fate of art in the age of the Internet, the art of the post-studio moment, and what happens to art when it engages with *everything*.

M. Jackson
2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 10199 Digital Ethnography

(GLST 25199, ENST 25199, MAPS 35199, SOCI 20558/30326)

This methods course prepares students for ethnographic research in an online environment. We will discuss practical steps to put together a research project—from research design to data collection and analysis. We will cover epistemological, ethical, and practical matters in online ethnographic research, and read articles and books showcasing methods for the study of virtual worlds (both game and nongame). This is a hands-on methods course: you will be required to formulate a preliminary research question at the beginning of the course, and you will conduct a few weeks of ethnographic research in a virtual field site of your choosing. Each week you will be asked to complete short ethnographic assignments, and to produce field notes to be exchanged and discussed in class. As a final project, you will have a choice between a research proposal or a short paper based on your observations.

Caterina Fugazzola
2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 10567 Introduction to Computational Sociology

(SOCI 20567, HIPS 20567)

Advances in machine learning, high performance computing, and big data are opening exciting new ways of doing social science. This course introduces students to the burgeoning field of computational sociology, emphasizing both conceptual understanding and hands-on training. The course does not require any prior experience with coding, computer science, or statistics. The only requirement is that students have fluency in high-school mathematics (pre-calculus) and an interest in acquiring computational skills. Students will learn the basics of R and Python, and will gain practical experience with simulation modeling, computational text analysis, and neural networks. This course will pair a practical training in computational methods with a critical examination of how these technologies are being deployed in the real world and their roles in reproducing systems of power and inequality. This class is recommended for students who want a basic introduction to “data science” and who are seeking the conceptual knowledge necessary to participate in current debates over information technology in contemporary society.

A. Kozlowski
2023-2024 Winter

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 12043 The Aesthetics of Artificial Intelligence


With the emergence of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and
Midjourney, the production of computer-generated content has been made accessible to a wide range of users and use cases. Knowledge institutions are especially challenged to find adequate responses to changing notions of authorship as the mainstreaming of ‘artificial' texts, audio-visual artifacts, and code is transforming our paradigms of communication in real-time. This course offers an in-depth study of emerging human/AI co-creation practices across text, image, and sound. We will survey recent developments and advanced approaches in critical digital studies from new media theory, science and technology studies, and AI ethics to investigate the impact of AI, machine learning, and big data on cultural production, representation, and consumption. In addition to theoretical discussions, we will conduct research creation experiments aimed at documenting and evaluating emerging methods of AI augmented content creation to speculate on new discursive practices that rethink and redraw the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in the algorithmic age. Prospective students should demonstrate a substantial interest in media arts and design and its connections to digital humanities, critical theory, and pedagogy. Experience with artistic and/or engineering practice is a plus

Andre Uhl
2023-2024 Winter

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 12500 Video Games and Language

Video games are written in code. They are inscribed into a computer's memory. Critics, designers, and enthusiasts alike refer to their mechanics as "verbs," like Super Mario's JUMP or Minecraft's BUILD. Sometimes, like other kinds of media objects, video games themselves are referred to as "texts." Starting from these premises, this course will investigate why it makes sense to use this linguistic vocabulary to describe video games. We will consider what theories of language have to teach us about video games, and what video games have to teach us about language itself and the worlds it reveals to us. Readings will include philosophers of language like Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jacques Derrida, digital media scholars like McKenzie Wark and Bo Ruberg, and literary writers like Jorge Luis Borges and Clarice Lispector. This will be a reading- and writing-heavy course: class meetings will consist of discussion of readings, and assignments will generally take the form of written responses and critical essays. Video games (or recorded video game playthroughs) may be assigned alongside films, video clips, and podcasts at low or no cost to students. This class does not require any special knowledge of video games or gaming culture! An interest in the topic is all that’s needed to succeed.

P. Fiorilli
2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 13044 Generations, Gender, and Genre in Korean Fiction & TV Drama


Combining close reading and viewing with historical surveys, this seminar examines an assortment of popular literary and television dramatic texts whose production involved female writers and directors of modern or contemporary Korea. Its aim is to explore the ways in which the gendered and generational identity of the textual producers contribute to generating notable imprints within the chosen genre in question, responding to the social, cultural, and political calls that arise from their own present time. The texts include, among others, prose fictions by Na Hye-sŏk (1897-1948), Park Wan-sŏ (1931-2011), Han Kang (1970- ), and Cho Nam-joo (1978- ) and television drama series such as The Hourglass (1995; written by Song Jina), Mr. Sunshine (2018; written by Kim Eun-sook), The Red Sleeve (2021 dir. by Chŏng Chi-in; original novel by Kang Mi-kang, 2017), and My Liberation Notes (2022; written by Park Hae-yeong). No Korean proficiency is required.

K. Choi
2023-2024 Winter

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 Winter

MAAD 14207 Mindfulness: Experience and Media

(HUMA 25207, HIPS 25207, TAPS 20507, HLTH 25207)

How do we experience media (of all kinds) with (or without) awareness? Methods of mindfulness offer principles and practices of awareness focusing on mind, body, and embodied mind. Mindfulness (a flexible, moment-to-moment, non-judging awareness) is an individual experience and at the same time, practices of mindfulness can be a mode of public health intervention. Mindfulness involves social epistemologies of how we know (or don’t know) collectively, as we interact with immediate sensory experience as well as with mediated communication technologies generating various sorts of virtual realities (from books to VR). In addition to readings and discussions, this course teaches embodied practices of attention and awareness through the curriculum of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

M. Browning
2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 14510 Kawaii (Cuteness) Culture in Japan and the World


The Japanese word kawaii (commonly translated as “cute” or “adorable”) has long been a part of Japanese culture, but, originating from schoolgirl subculture of the 1970s, today’s conception of kawaiihas become ubiquitous as a cultural keyword of contemporary Japanese life. We now find kawaii in clothing, food, toys, engineering, films, music, personal appearance, behavior and mannerisms, and even in government. With the popularity of Japanese entertainment, fashion and other consumer products abroad, kawaii has also become a global cultural idiom in a process Christine Yano has called “Pink Globalization”. With the key figures of Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma as our guides, this course explores the many dimensions of kawaii culture, in Japan and globally, from beauty and aesthetics, affect and psychological dimensions, consumerism and marketing, gender, sexuality and queerness, to racism, orientalism and robot design.

N. Kommattam
2023-2024 Winter

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 14805 Religion in Anime and Japanese Pop Culture


How does Spirited Away reflect teachings of Japanese Buddhism and Shinto? Or what about Neon Genesis Evangelion? What can pop culture tell us about religion? In this course, we will consider what Japanese religions are (and are not) by looking at their representations in popular cultural forms of past and present. Sources are drawn from a range of popular cultural forms including anime and manga, but also literature, artistic performances, visual arts, and live-action movies. The course covers foundational aspects of Japanese religious life through non-traditional sources like Bleach, The Tale of Genji, and Your Name. At the end of the course, students will be able to speak to the great diversity of religious practices and viewpoints in Japan, not only its centers but also its peripheries and minorities. Meanwhile, we will consider broader questions about the complex connections between religion and popular culture. No prior knowledge of Buddhism, Shinto, or Japanese history is expected.

B. Winkleman
2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 14900 Narratives of Investigation, Games of Investigation

From Agatha Christie and Marie Rodell to Victor Shklovsky, Roger Caillois, and David Bordwell, popular authors and media critics alike have long posited the mystery story as a “game” or “puzzle,” interactive exercises in guessing that are bound by certain rules and expectations of “fair play.” Taking the implications of these authors’ and critics’ metaphors seriously, this class examines the mystery or detective story from the perspective of game design. Case studies will be drawn from literary examples going back to the birth of the detective story in the mid-19th century, through films, analog games and puzzles, and digital games, with an eye toward historical continuities. Course assignments will be a mix of analytical writing and creative projects.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 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.

2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 15150 Histories of Technology in China


According to Bruno Latour, “technology is society made durable.” In Francesca Bray’s words, “technologies are specific to a society, embodiments of its visions of the world and of its struggles over social order. [T]he most important work that technologies do is to produce people: the makers are shaped by the making, and the users shaped by the using.” This course looks at technologies in China since late imperial times and asks how technology both expressed and shaped visions of what Chinese society should be. We start with technologies of the body (how to sit on a kang, how to have healthy babies, how to become a deity, how to do a forensic investigation of a dead body), then move on to agricultural technologies and nutrition, to manufacturing (in sites ranging from the imperial palace to small paper workshops), and to communication technologies such as printing. Next, we look at Chinese worldviews and systems of classification and how they changed, partly due to growing exposure to views from Europe, Japan, and the Islamic world. In the last few weeks, we will look at the vernacular technologies of the Republican era, at Mao-era mass science and mass technology, and some of the contemporary uses of modern communication technology in China. All readings in English.

J. Eyferth
2023-2024 Winter

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 18814 Theme Park America

(MAPS 33550, CHST 28814, HIST 28814/38814)

Since the colonial era, Americans have obsessively created recreational themed spaces that manifested historical myths and memories in the built environment. This course considers the evolution, functions, and ethics of the American desire to visit the past as a form of leisure. Starting with early themed spaces such as world’s fairs, amusement parks, and cityscapes, we examine how scholars have read cultural phenomena for their radical contemporary significance. We then apply these tools to examine how Disneyland combined, redefined, and heightened its themed space antecedents and to what ends. We will learn how to decode Disneyland’s messages about race, gender, capitalism, and the American experience that are embedded within the park’s design, architecture, attractions, shows, sounds, and smells. How did such views of the past, present, and future speak to the social, political, and economic needs and wants of Cold War Americans, and why do they continue to resonate today? How should we understand themed spaces as a lens for U.S. history as experienced by contemporary Americans? By interrogating the themed space form, we will explore the nature of historical memory, the responsibilities of public history, and the ethics of constructing a recreational past. In doing so, we will learn how to take the seemingly frivolous matters of history seriously—and the dire stakes for doing so.

A. Hofmann
2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 20042 Digital Media II: Extended Reality with Unity

(DIGS 30042)

Part-two of a two-course sequence, this course teaches students how to develop extended reality (XR) environments using the Unity platform. The course emphasizes the creation of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) environments, allowing students to gain hands-on experience. Additionally, students will discuss development with their instructor and peers, assisting them in refining their skills and ideas while creating. By the end of the quarter, students will clearly understand the process of transforming ideas into final products, equipping them with the necessary tools for future XR endeavors.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 20404 From Failure to Filter: S#bversions & E/olutions in Glitch Art

[ERROR_404: Meaning Not Found. REBOOTING CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK 🔀] This course critically examines how the raw, unpredictable elements of Glitch Art–once symbols of digital rebellion–have evolved and assimilated into the mainstream. Charting vectors between avant-garde artistic movements and the commodification of cultural phenomena, we will delve into the lifecycles of radical subgenres, digital aesthetics, and their journeys from fringe to familiarity. Create projects through hands-on experimentation, leveraging artware tools, hacks, kludges, and quirky techniques developed by digital artists. Engage with the concept of 'failure' not just as a technical glitch but as a pivotal point of artistic and sociopolitical discourse. Is a glitch a glitch if it’s anticipated and expected? This course provides a space for both creating and critically analyzing digital art, challenging us to navigate and contribute to our ever-shifting and perpetually unstable digital landscape.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 20420 Painting with Light in Space

(TAPS 27420, ARTV 20944/30944)

This course explores projected imagery as a medium to paint ephemeral ideas in the real world through installation and theatrical design. Utilizing visual iconography, architectural forms, objects, and cinema, this course will explore the practical and theoretical applications of video on unorthodox objects and spaces. Using software as an instrument, students will investigate the visceral extents of images both historical and generative to create living light. The course will culminate in student presentations that illustrate and illuminate the ideas and techniques presented throughout the course.

R. Davonté Johnson
2023-2024 Spring


(ARTV 25403)

This studio course playfully explores the methods, tools, and poetics of video games as art. Develop interactive new media art, machinima, and experimental 3D environments by using (and misusing) contemporary game engines. Projects will include hypertext adventures, walking simulators, abstract platformers, and metagames. By hacking, modding, and recontextualizing existing game assets, we will challenge the rules, mechanics, and interfaces of video games. This course counts towards the Media Practice and Design requirement for the MAAD program.

2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 20624 New Forms in DJing

(MUSI 27624)

This course will briefly explore the history of the media of DJing, then to invent a new form in the lineage through practice. Conventional history including disco, broadcasting, and Youtube, to name a few, and more experimental history including underground hip-hop, musique concrete, and contemporary performance art. The course will begin with student research and presentation on such topics followed by predictions about what may come next or brainstorming ways to deconstruct existing forms, then attempting to enact those ideas.

2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 22322 Introduction to Game Design

(ENGL 22322, CMST 22322)

This course introduces students to the theories and processes underlying game design through the creation of analog projects. We will be designing for forms that include board games, tabletop games, and live-action games. No prior design experience is absolutely required though some background with game studies will enable more innovative work. This course will be project-based and collaborative in nature.

Ashlyn Sparrow
2023-2024 Winter

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 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
2023-2024 Winter

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 23804 Experimental Animation: Exploring Manual Techniques

(ARTV 23804/33804, CMST 23804)

Individually directed video shorts will be produced in this intensive studio course. Experimental and improvised approaches to animation and motion picture art will focus on analog and material techniques, with basic digital post-production also being introduced. Early and experimental cinema, puppetry, and contemporary low-tech animation will be presented as formal and technical examples.

S. Wolniak
2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 23820 The Mind as Stage: Podcasting

(TAPS 28320/38320)

Audio storytelling insinuates itself into the day-to-day unlike other narrative forms. People listen to podcasts while they do the dishes, drive to work, or walk the dog. In this hands-on course, we will learn to produce a podcast from idea to final sound mix, and explore the unique opportunities that the podcast form affords the storyteller. Students will complete several short audio exercises, and one larger podcast project. The class will be held remotely, with an emphasis on remote recording techniques and what it means to document this moment using tools of non-fiction, fiction, and oral history.

Sarah Geis
2023-2024 Winter

MAAD 23833 Oral History & Podcasting

(TAPS 28330/38330, CHST 28330)

This class explores the potential of the podcast as a form of ethical artistic and social practice. Through the lens of oral history and its associated values—including prioritizing voices that are not often heard, reciprocity, complicating narratives, and the archive—we will explore ways to tell stories of people and communities in sound. Students will develop a grounding in oral history practices and ethics, as well as the skills to produce compelling oral narratives, including audio editing, recording scenes and ambient sound, and using music. During the quarter, students will have several opportunities to practice interviewing and will design their own oral history project. This class is appropriate for students with no audio experience, as well as students who have taken TAPS 28320 The Mind as Stage: Podcasting.

Sarah Geis
2023-2024 Spring

MAAD 24270 Children and Architecture

(ARTH 24270, ARCH 24270, ARTV 20029, CHST 24270, ENST 24270)

Many who pursue architecture do so initially out of a childlike fascination with buildings, places, and worlds. Curiosity and limited understanding naturally provide children with an exploratory relationship to the built environments they traverse, and children also often show a heightened sense of wonder--heightened emotions of all kinds--as that relationship plays out. (This can be positive and formative, or scary and traumatic.) And yet, many of the adults who make choices about the worlds we inhabit think mostly of adults, and as adults, in doing so. This architecture studio course investigates the built world through a child's eyes, across different moments in history, including our own. Readings and seminar discussions will range from playgrounds to blocks, preschools to family relations, swimming pools and sandcastles to the very construction of childhood as an idea. We will explore Chicago and meet with builders of all ages, likely culminating in designing (and potentially building) a real playground space. While previous experience with architectural skills is not necessary to excel in this course, childlike curiosity is required.

Luke Joyner
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 24817 Electronic Music: Introduction to Computer Music Programming

(MUSI 26817/36817)

This course is an introduction to computer-based sound art and live electronic music performance. Our primary tool for this course will be MAX/MSP, a computer music programming language designed for composition and real-time music applications. Through this language we will explore the foundations of computer music, including digital instrument design, sequencing, live processing, sound diffusion, and various approaches to algorithmic music generation.

David Bird
2023-2024 Spring

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 24910 Short Form Digital Storytelling: Creating a Web Series

(TAPS 25910, CMST 28915)

This course examines the short form storytelling of the digital web series. Through lectures, viewings, and discussions in weekly meetings, students will determine what makes a strong web series and apply the findings to writing and polishing the pilot episode of their own web series. Students will write weekly four-to-five-page assignments building toward the creation of a five-to-six-episode series.

Patrick Wimp
2023-2024 Winter

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]

MAAD 26210 Media Art and Design Practice

(ARTV 16210)

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.

This course meets the general education requirement in the arts. This course may not double count for general education requirements and the Media Arts and Design minor. However, it is a great way for students to explore a potential interest in these areas.

2023-2024 Spring