Spring 2017 Courses


Courses are open to enrolled MIT students. Non-degree candidates may be able to enroll as special students. For more information, visit the MIT Office of Graduate Admissions and Courses Catalog.

CMS.100 Introduction to Media Studies
Offers an overview of the social, cultural, political, and economic impact of mediated communication on modern culture. Combines critical discussions with experiments working with different media. Media covered include radio, television, film, the printed word, and digital technologies. Topics include the nature and function of media, core media institutions, and media in transition. Enrollment limited.

J. Picker, E. Schiappa

CMS.301 Introduction to Game Design Methods
Provides an introduction to the process of designing games and playful experiences. Familiarizes students with concepts, methods, techniques and tools used in the design of a wide variety of games. Focuses on aspects of the process such as rapid prototyping, play testing, and design iteration using a player-centered approach. Students work in project groups where they engage with a series of confined exercises, practice communicating design ideas, and discuss their own and others work in a constructive manner. No prior programming experience required. Limited to 15.

M. Jakobsson, S. Verrilli

CMS.308 The Visual Story: Graphic Novel, Type to Tablet

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.

J. Paradis

CMS.333[J] Production of Educational Videos: Skills for Communicating Academic and Professional Content

Develops communication and media skills through the production of educational videos. Students conceive, plan, script, shoot and edit video content to teach elements of MIT’s curriculum. Each student creates a series of short videos that concisely explains and contextualizes specific problems of importance to disciplines at MIT, especially physics, math, chemistry, biology, or the humanities. The resulting videos present these problems through compelling use of illustrations, demonstrations, animations, and commentary, all from the student’s perspective. Empowers students specifically to communicate their MIT expertise to communities of learners and generally to reach broad audiences with quality, accessible online content. Limited to 12; preference to students in ESG.

D. Custer, G. Ramsay

CMS.335[J] Short Attention Span Documentary

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. Limited to 16.

V. Bald

CMS.356[J] / CMS 888 Advertising and Media: Comparative Perspectives

Compares modern and contemporary advertising culture in China, the US, and other emerging markets. First half focuses on branding in the old media environment; second half introduces the changing practice of advertising in the new media environment. Topics include branding and positioning, media planning, social media campaigns, cause marketing 2.0, social TV, and mobility marketing. Required lab work includes interactive sessions in branding a team product for the US (or a European country) and China markets. Taught in English and requires no knowledge of Chinese. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

J. Wang

CMS.361 / CMS 861 Networked Social Movements: Media and Mobilization

Provides an overview of social movement studies as a body of theoretical and empirical work, with an emphasis on understanding the relationship between social movements and the media. Explores multiple methods of social movement investigation, including textual and media analysis, surveys, interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and co-research. Covers recent innovations in social movement theory, as well as new data sources and tools for research and analysis. Includes short papers, a literature review, and a final research project. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 16.

S. Costanza-Chock

CMS.362 / CMS 862 Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio

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. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 16.

S. Costanza-Chock

CMS.407 Media and Methods: Sound

Explores the ways in which humans experience the realm of sound and how perceptions and technologies of sound emerge from cultural, economic, and historical worlds. Examines how environmental, linguistic, and musical sounds are construed cross-culturally. Describes the rise of telephony, architectural acoustics, and sound recording, and the globalized travel of these technologies. Addresses questions of ownership, property, authorship, and copyright in the age of digital file sharing. Particular focus on how the sound/noise boundary is imagined, created and modeled across diverse sociocultural and scientific contexts. Auditory examples–sound art, environmental recordings, music–will be provided and invited. Instruction and practice in written and oral communication provided. Limited to 20.

J. Picker

CMS.590[J] / CMS.863[J] Design and Development of Games for Learning

Immerses students in the process of building and testing their own digital and board games in order to better understand how we learn from games. Explores the design and use of games in the classroom in addition to research and development issues associated with computer-based (desktop and handheld) and non-computer-based media. In developing their own games, students examine what and how people learn from them (including field testing of products), as well as how games can be implemented in educational settings. All levels of computer experience welcome. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

E. Klopfer

CMS.609[J] /CMS.846 The Word Made Digital

Video games, digital art and literature, online texts, and source code are analyzed in the contexts of history, culture, and computing platforms. Approaches from poetics and computer science are used to understand the non-narrative digital uses of text. Students undertake critical writing and creative computer projects to encounter digital writing through practice. This involves reading and modifying computer programs; therefore previous programming experience, although not required, will be helpful. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 18.

N. Montfort

CMS.611[J] Creating Video Games

Introduces students to the complexities of working in small, multidisciplinary teams to develop video games. Covers creative design and production methods, stressing design iteration and regular testing across all aspects of game development (design, visual arts, music, fiction, and programming). Assumes a familiarity with current video games, and the ability to discuss games critically. Previous experience in audio design, visual arts, or project management recommended. Limited to 24.

P. Tan, S. Verrilli, R. Eberhardt

CMS.614[J] / CMS 867 Network Cultures

Focuses on the social and cultural aspects of networked life through internet-related technologies (including computers, mobile devices, entertainment technologies, and emerging media forms). Theories and readings focus on the cultural, social, economic, and political aspects of internet use and design. Topics include online communication and communities, social media, gender and race in network spaces, activism and hacking, networked publics, remix culture and intellectual property. Students taking the graduate version complete additional readings and assignments.

T. L. Taylor

CMS.619[J] Gender and Media Studies

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.

K. Surkan

CMS.627 / CMS.827 Imagination, Computation, and Expression Studio

Aims to help students invent and analyze new forms of computer-based art, gaming, social media, interactive narrative, and related technologies. Students participate in a range of new and ongoing projects that are designed to hone skills in research, development, design, and evaluation. Topics vary from year to year; examples include cognitive science and artificial intelligence-based approaches to the arts; social aspects of game design; computing for social empowerment; and game character, avatar, and online profile design. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

D. Fox Harrell

CMS.631 / CMS.831 Data Storytelling Studio

Explores visualization methodologies to conceive and represent systems and data, e.g., financial, media, economic, political, etc. Covers basic methods for research, cleaning, and analysis of datasets. Introduces creative methods of data presentation and storytelling. Considers the emotional, aesthetic, ethical, and practical effects of different presentation methods as well as how to develop metrics for assessing impact. Work centers on readings, visualization exercises, and a final project. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

R. Bhargava

CMS.633 / CMS 833 Digital Humanities: Topics, Techniques, and Technologies

Examines theory and practice of using computational methods in the emerging field of digital humanities. Develops an understanding of key digital humanities concepts such as data representation, digital archives, information visualization, and user interaction through the study of contemporary research in conjunction with working on real-world projects for scholarly, educational, and public needs. Students create prototypes, write design papers, and conduct user studies. Some programming and design experience is helpful but not required. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

K. Fendt

CMS.634 / CMS 834 Designing Interactions

Explores the future of mobile interactions and pervasive computing, taking into consideration design, technological, social and business aspects. Discusses theoretical works on human-computer interaction, mobile media and interaction design, and covers research and design methods. Students work in multidisciplinary teams and participate in user-centric design projects aimed to study, imagine and prototype concepts illustrating the future of mobile applications and ubiquitous computing. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Repeatable for credit with permission of instructor. Limited to 12.

F. Casalegno, T. Nagakura

CMS.701 / CMS 901 Current Debates in Media

Addresses important, current debates in media with in-depth discussion of popular perceptions and policy implications. Students use multiple perspectives to analyze texts emanating from these debates, and present their findings through discussions and reports. Explores emerging topics (e.g., piracy and IP regimes, net neutrality, media effects, social media and social change, and changing literacies) across media forms and from various historical, transcultural, and methodological perspectives. Examines the framing of these issues, their ethical and policy implications, and strategies for repositioning the debate. Instruction and practice in written and oral communication provided. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

L. Parks

CMS.791 Media Theories and Methods II

An advanced introduction to core theoretical and methodological issues in comparative media studies. Topics covered typically include globalization, propaganda and persuasion, social and political effects of media change, political economy and the institutional analysis of media ownership, online communities, privacy and intellectual property, and the role of news and information within democratic cultures.

H. Hendershot

CMS.808 The Visual Story: Graphic Novel, Type to Tablet

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 Pulitzers Yellow Kid and McKays Little Nemo, through the classic comics (from DC superheroes to EC horror) and graphic novels to interactive and non-linear texts (Cognitos Operation Ajax), the course examines such elements as graphic design, interface and form as well as the circulation and economies of these various media-based texts.

J. Paradis

CMS.830 Studies in Film

Intensive study of films from particular periods, genres, or directors. Instruction and practice in oral and written communication provided. Previous topics include Global Horror Film, Film Remixes, Film Narrative, and Heroic Cinema. Students taking graduate version complete different assignments. Limited to 12.

Spring: E. Brinkema

CMS.840 Literature and Film

Investigates relationships between the two media, including film adaptations as well as works linked by genre, topic, and style. Explores how artworks challenge and cross cultural, political, and aesthetic boundaries. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

K. Surkan

CMS.842 Playful and Social Interaction Design Exploration

Explores the role of technology in relation to playful and social interaction. Deepens understanding of the potential and limitations of iterative design and rapid prototyping used as research methods. Familiarizes students with the theoretical foundations of interaction design and explorative design research, as well as practice methods applied to working with physical and digital design materials.

M. Jakobsson

CMS.845 Interactive Narrative

Provides a workshop environment for understanding interactive narrative (print and digital) through critical writing, narrative theory, and creative practice. Covers important multisequential books, hypertexts, and interactive fictions. Students write critically, and give presentations, about specific works; write a short multisequential fiction; and develop a digital narrative system, which involves significant writing and either programming or the structuring of text. Programming ability helpful. Graduate students complete additional assignments.

N. Montfort

CMS.871 Media in Cultural Context

Seminar uses case studies to examine specific media or media configurations and the larger social, cultural, economic, political, or technological contexts within which they operate. Organized around recurring themes in media history, as well as specific genres, movements, media, or historical moments. Previously taught topics include Gendered Genres: Horror and Maternal Melodramas; Comics, Cartoons, and Graphic Storytelling; and Exploring Children’s Culture. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Approved for credit in Women’s and Gender Studies when content meets the requirements for subjects in that program. Limited to 12.

Staff

CMS.925 Film Music

Surveys styles and dramatic functions of music for silent films of the 1910s-20s, and music in sound films from the 1930s to the present. Close attention given to landmark scores by American and European composers, including Korngold, Steiner, Rozsa, Prokofiev, Copland, Herrmann, Rota, Morricone, and Williams. Subsidiary topics include new trends in contemporary film-scoring, pop scores, the impact of electronics, and specialized genres (e.g., animation). Students taking the graduate version complete different assignments. Some background in the study of film and/or music is expected.

M. Marks

CMS.935 Documentary Photography and Photojournalism: Still Images of a World in Motion

B. D. Colen

CMS.951 Workshop II

A continuation of Workshop I. Provides an opportunity for direct project development experience and emphasizes intellectual growth as well as the acquisition of technical skills. Students attend regular meetings to present and critique their work and discuss its implications.

V. Bald

CMS.990 Colloquium in Comparative Media

Exposes students to the perspectives of scholars, activists, mediamakers, policymakers, and industry leaders on cutting edge issues in media. Registered CMS graduate students only.