Past Courses

Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio

Sasha Costanza-Chock

Project-based studio focusing on collaborative design of civic media provides a service-learning opportunity for students interested in working with community organizations. Multidisciplinary teams create civic media projects based on real-world community needs. Covers co-design methods and best practices to include the user community in iterative stages of project ideation, design, implementation, testing, and evaluation.

Communicating with Web-Based Media
Ed Barrett

Analysis, design, implementation, and testing of various forms of digital communication based on group collaboration. Students are encouraged to think about the Web and other new digital interactive media not just in terms of technology but also broader issues such as language (verbal and visual), design, information architecture, communication and community.

Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion
B.D. Colen

Designed to increase students’ understanding of, appreciation for, and ability to do documentary photography and photojournalism. Each three-hour class is divided between a discussion of issues and readings, and a group critique of students’ projects. Students must have their own photographic equipment and be responsible for processing and printing: either by student or commercial lab. Students must show basic proficiency with their equipment. Readings include Susan Sontag, Robert Coles, Ken Light, Eugene Richards, and others.

Documenting Science through Video and New Media
Christine Walley and Chris Boebel

Advanced exploration of documentary film theory and production that offers a social scientific perspective on documentaries about science, engineering, and related fields. Student work focuses on final digital video projects. Discussion and readings tailored to the questions and issues raised by specific student projects; labs focus on the technical skills required to complete more advanced work.

The Future of Imaging
Ramesh Raskar and Gordon Wetzstein

This course surveys the landscape of imaging techniques and learn how to conduct research in imaging. With more than a billion people with networked, mobile cameras in their hands, we are seeing a rapid evolution in activities based on visual exchange. People’s daily activities are increasingly based on pervasive recording and eager consumption of images and video. In this seminar course, we will look at the technical as well the social aspects of this rapidly evolving camera culture.

Gender and Media Studies
Kim Surkan

Examines representations of race, gender, and sexual identity in the media. Considers issues of authorship, spectatorship, and the ways in which various media (film, television, print journalism, advertising) enable, facilitate, and challenge these social constructions in society. Studies the impact of new media and digital media through analysis of gendered and racialized language and embodiment online in blogs and vlogs, avatars, and in the construction of cyberidentities. Provides introduction to feminist approaches to media studies by drawing from work in feminist film theory, cultural studies, gender and politics, and cyberfeminism.

Innovation in Documentary: Technologies and Techniques
William Uricchio

Discusses emerging technologies and techniques available to media-makers (e.g., location-based technologies, transmedia storytelling, crowdsourcing, and interactivity) and their implications for film and television documentary. Studies the development of these tools and considers the many new directions in which they may take the genre. Includes screenings, meetings with documentary makers, and an experimental component in which students can explore new approaches to documentary production. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory & Practice
Nick Montfort

Techniques of creating narratives that take advantage of the flexibility of form offered by the computer. Study of the structural properties of book-based narratives that experiment with digression, multiple points of view, disruptions of time and of storyline. Analysis of the structure and evaluation of the literary qualities of computer-based narratives including hypertexts, adventure games, and classic artificial intelligence programs like Eliza. With this base, students use authoring systems to model a variety of narrative techniques and to create their own fictions. Knowledge of programming helpful but not necessary.

Making Documentary: Audio, Video, and More
Tom Levenson

Focuses on the technical demands of long-form storytelling in sound and picture. Students build practical writing and production skills through a series of assignments: still photo-text works, audio-only documentaries, short video projects (4-6 minutes), and a semester-long, team-produced video science documentary (12-15 minutes). Readings, screenings and written work hone students’ analytical capacity. Students taking the graduate version complete additional assignments. Students from the Graduate Program in Science Writing center their work on topics in science, technology, engineering, and/or medicine.

Phantasmal Media: Theory and Practice
D. Fox Harrell

Engages students in theory and practice of using computational techniques for developing expressive digital media works. Surveys approaches to understanding human imaginative processes, such as constructing concepts, metaphors, and narratives, and applies them to producing and understanding socially, culturally, and critically meaningful works in digital media. Readings engage a variety of theoretical perspectives from cognitive linguistics, literary and cultural theory, semiotics, digital media arts, and computer science. Students produce interactive narratives, games, and related forms of software art. Some programming and/or interactive web scripting experience (e.g., Flash, Javascript) is desirable. Students taking the graduate version complete a project requiring more in-depth theoretical engagement.

Science on Screen
Hanna Rose Shell

Examines the linked histories of science and cinema starting from 1895. Introduces themes from the fields of STS and media studies. Mandatory weekly screening sessions alternate among feature-length films, series of short films and direct engagement with technologies of filmic production, screening and visual analysis. Some screening materials available for out-of-class viewing. Assignments include short papers, a collaborative media project, midterm and final. Evaluation includes attendance at screenings and participation in collaborative assignments and classroom discussion. Limited to 40.

Short Attention Span Documentary
Vivek Bald

Focuses on the production of short (1- to 5-minute) digital video documentaries: a form of non-fiction filmmaking that has proliferated in recent years due to the ubiquity of palm-sized and mobile phone cameras and the rise of web-based platforms, such as YouTube. Students shoot, edit, workshop and revise a series of short videos meant to engage audiences in a topic, introduce them to new ideas, and/or persuade them. Screenings and discussions cover key principles of documentary film – narrative, style, pace, point of view, argument, character development – examining how they function and change in short format. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

The Social Documentary: Analysis and Production
Vivek Bald

An introduction to the history of the social documentary from the 1960s through the 1980s. Explores how social upheaval and the shift to smaller, more portable film cameras, and ultimately hand-held video, converged to bring about an upsurge of socially engaged documentary film production. Students screen and analyze a series of key films from the period and work in groups to produce their own short documentary using digital video and computer-based editing.

Transmedia Storytelling: Modern Science Fiction
Shariann Lewitt

Explores transmedia storytelling by investigating how science fiction stories are told across different media, such as the short story, the screenplay, moving image, and games. Students read and write critical essays and collaborate to produce their own work of science fiction in a roundtable workshop environment. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

The Visual Story: Graphic Novel, Type to Tablet
James Paradis and William Uricchio

Focuses on the interactions between graphic stories and media technologies from the rotary press of the late 19th century to contemporary touch screens, exploring the changing relations among narrative expression, reader experience and media form. Working with examples from Pulitzer’s Yellow Kid and McKay’s Little Nemo, through the classic comics (from DC superheroes to EC horror) and graphic novels, to interactive and non-linear texts (Cognitos Operation Ajax), examines such elements as graphic design, interface, and form as well as the circulation and economies of these various media-based texts. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

Topics and Methods in 21st-Century Journalism
Seth Mnookin

Gives a broad understanding of what it means to produce journalism today. Evaluates the limitations and strengths of specific types of media, ranging from New York Times stories to Twitter feeds. Provides students with tools to effectively communicate their own work and research to non-specialist audiences. Students submit assignments via an online portal, which mimics the style and substance of an online news source. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

Future of News and Participatory Media
Ethan Zuckerman

Studies the news as an engineering challenge in light of recent, rapid, and ongoing changes to the way news is delivered and spread. Considers how we discover what events are taking place in different parts of the world and how we explain the importance of these events to readers or viewers, as well as how readers of a story respond to events. Explores the systems journalists and others have used to report and share the news. Focuses on developing one’s own tools and methods to address these challenges through weekly reporting assignments and a final project in which students build tools for journalists (professional and otherwise) to use.