Spring 2022

Coming to Terms: Media

Listed in: English, as ENGL-284  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-216


Pooja G. Rangan (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: weekly film/media viewing, reading, and responses; 3-4 analytical writing assignments; independent research (with optional collaborative research); participation in class discussion Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2023