“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
I consider the classroom in the same way that Andrew Feenberg understands technology: “a process of development suspended between different possibilities” (1991, Critical Theory of Technology, p. 14). As a teacher, researcher, and artist, I have found that the area of film and media studies offers a unique foundation to foster this site of possibility. My interest in the subjects of film and media theory, history, and production emerges from a commitment to the fundamental idea of media as the articulation of different lines of communication. That is, the very position of media as a middle point underscores the way media negotiate an understanding of the mutual constitution of otherwise divergent and potentially marginalized ideas, images, and forms.
In an effort to have my students creatively and critically engage with the myriad ways of interpreting, producing, and communicating about media, my role as an educator is to create a classroom that opens up the conditions of possibility for my students’ futures. What is important to me is developing a classroom that is supportive and collaborative where everyone can learn and propel each other beyond the classroom in meaningful ways. This has been a point of origin for each course that I teach, including:
COMM 106: Foundations of Media History, Theory, & Criticism
This course introduces the techniques and theories for critiquing media images, messages and technologies. Examining media from a critical perspective allows us to question why things are the way they are and how they came and continue to be as such. We will ask and try to conceptualize answers to difficult questions including: (1) How have media texts and practices contributed to my sense of who I am and how I think about my social world? (2) What sort of influence do various forms of media have? What is the relationship between media representations and existing social inequalities? (3) How have media images and messages changed over time and how have these changes shaped our contemporary media culture?
COMM 190: Evolution of Media
This course examines the growth, regulations, and ramifications of communication media in the United States. Over the course of the semester we will investigate several key issues in media studies including the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts in which mediated images, sounds, and texts are produced, distributed, and consumed.
COMM 192: Constructing Media Narratives
This class analyzes the fundamental elements that make a story a story and considers how these elements can be used to turn a series of events into a convincing, compelling (linear or nonlinear) narrative that has the power to transport you to another world. Perhaps the class will even change how you think and feel about the world you currently inhabit.
COMM 253: Video Production I
Through lecture, readings, discussions, workshops, and hands-on projects, this course provides an engagement with a range of principles and equipment used in film, video, and audio production. This course will allow you to gain detailed technical experience with audio/video software and video cameras for projects focusing on image composition, continuity, montage, lighting, audio capture/ editing, and fiction/nonfiction/experimental styles.
COMM 356: Advanced Cinematography
Through this course, students will utilize industry-standard techniques for both studio and field settings such as advanced camera operation, composition and framing, external lens choice and control, camera movement, exposure measurement, lighting, team management and collaboration, character blocking, continuity and complexity editing and other forms of video design. This workshop will enable students to research, analyze, interpret, and question advanced production methodologies through the process of creative problem solving and visual communication.
COMM 356: Animation
This course will help students expand their production skillset by introducing them to the fundamental terminology, concepts, and techniques of creating moving images through traditional animation and digital media practice. Through various projects including hand drawn, rotoscoping, stop-motion, and digital timeline animation, students will integrate the basic concepts such as timing, weight, and anticipation with professional video production techniques.
COMM 356: News Team
This course provides students with the opportunity to produce a newscast as an introduction to the television and multimedia newsroom environment. Through a combination of broadcast and online journalism production, the newscast will be produced entirely by the students enrolled in the course. You will be required to gather information, write, shoot, and edit stories for half-hour newscasts that the class will organize and produce.
COMM 356: Motion Graphics
This media production course introduces students to the intersection of graphic and interaction design by focusing on a range of design principles and software skills. We will refine our techniques for vector ani- mation, digital compositing, and basic interactivity by focusing on a range of applications including motion title graphics, information design and visualization, and dynamic animation. As a result, we will cover the basics of motion perception, depth and scale perception, and the principles of strong graphic design.
COMM 359: Media and Popular Culture
Popular culture is based on conditions of cultural mediation that have only become widespread in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with the rise of mass literacy and electronic broadcast media. These forms of mediation—books, newspapers, electronic, and digital media—have come about through intensely commercial processes associated with increased corporate conglomeration and for-profit communication. This course is an introduction to and survey of various methods to analyze the field of popular culture, not only as culture created “by the people” or as culture created to “manipulate” people, but as a space in which meaning and the very possibilities for understanding reality and the world are produced.
COMM 359: Network Media Practice and Mobile Culture
In what ways can we understand and critique mobile technology and the network society? From a series of critical perspectives, this course interrogates the interplay among culture, industry, technology, and the digitally-mediated network society. We approach these topics by focusing on the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into everyday life and the way that these technologies have altered personal, social, economic, and political relations.
COMM 390: Introduction to Game Theory, History, and Design
This seminar offers students an introduction to the academic study and design of games (from board and card to digital). We will examine their cultural, educational, and social functions by analyzing, playing, and reading/writing about games in a variety of socially situated contexts (from ancient to contemporary). By considering the links between theory and practice, the seminar will enable students to develop critical frameworks to initiate basic game design.
COMM 720: Media Archaeology
Media archaeology has been introduced as a way to investigate new media cultures through insights from past new media, often with an emphasis on the neglected, the unorthodox, and the non-obvious apparatuses, practices, and inventions. These historical excavations encourage sifting through layers of early practices and imaginations to recover material traces of the past to generate an intermedial research methodology. The goal of this graduate course is to outline an introduction to the necessary skills and resources to produce rigorous research on older media forms leading to more expansive examinations of “new” media cultures.
COMM 790: Technology
In the twenty-first century, the question concerning technology has a special urgency. Few of us communicate today without the aid of some kind of machine or technique. The goal of this graduate course is to outline an introduction to the expansive ways in which the discipline of Communication Studies approaches the concept of technology. Part of the aim is to explode what we mean by “technology” and “communication.” This class includes an exposure to the utilization of word, image, and sound archives, and a critical approach to unpacking the philosophy of technology — what does it mean to live in a fabricated world?