Taught January 2014 to May 2014
CAMS 101 introduces students to the study of audio-visual media, including oral, print, photographic, cinematic, broadcast, and digital media forms and practices. Using a case study approach, we will explore the nature of audio-visual communication/representation in historical, cultural, disciplinary, and media- specific contexts, and examine different theoretical and critical perspectives on the role and power of media to influence our social values, political beliefs, identities, and behaviors. We will also consider how consumers of media representations can and do contest and unsettle their embedded messages. Our emphasis will be on developing the research and analytical tools, modes of reading, and forms of critical practice that can help us to negotiate the increasingly mediated world in which we live. We will do a lot of pondering in this course, as well as a lot of inspection of different forms of media. The CAMS program is currently a very film-centered program, and there are those who argue that digital media, to the extent that they come to us through a screen, have strong roots in film. We therefore take film as a kind of originary point in this course. Every week we will view a film—and every film that we have selected concerns itself with some aspect/form of media (social media, photography, television, sound, and so on). The course also has a make-it-yourself component: as we consider different forms of media, or different inventions or techniques, we will explore those techniques hands-on, so we can feel what a maker feels. This component reflects a central value of our Cinema and Media Studies Program: we expect all CAMS majors to know something about production, and something about the history, theory, and analysis of media.