MA in Media Studies

MA in Media Studies

FIX University innovative Master of Arts in Media Studies features interdisciplinary study at the intersection of media, technology and culture. The program offers opportunities for you to conduct advanced research across media and disciplines, focusing on media products, practices and reception in a technocultural environment.

Students may choose between two program options: a Thesis option and Major Research Paper option. The Thesis option is composed of five courses (one of which is a research workshop) and the research, writing, and defence of a thesis of approximately 100 pages. The Major Research Paper option is composed of nine courses (one of which is a research workshop) and the research and writing of a paper of approximately 50 pages.

Graduates of the MA program will be well prepared to pursue doctoral studies in media studies, communication or other related disciplines, or to enter the workplace in a variety of communications-related industries, in research, consulting, education, and in the communications, policy and regulatory agencies of government.

 MS 9100   Interdisciplinary Foundations of Media Theory

Course Description
This seminar approaches theory as an act; part agency, part structure. It prepares participants to theoretically inform and ground research into media industries, cultures and technologies. Seminar participants are introduced to different approaches to and critiques of theorizing along with the media and cultural theories that offer ways of understanding the hows and whys of media as a system of mediations, meanings, practices, and political economies. The works to be studied come from, critical theory, new media theories, various traditions of cultural studies, feminist studies, semiotics and post/colonial, structural and modern studies.

MS 9101   Research Methods

Course Description
This course is designed to prepare students to undertake their own independent research. Topics covered include the role of theory in research; the choice of a research problem; and the design of research projects. Students will become familiar with a range of research tools and approaches including experimental design; survey research and questionnaire design; interviewing; participant observation and ethnography; discourse analysis.

MS 9102 Second Year Media Studies Research Colloquium - Research Writing and Argumentation

Course Description
All second-year Media Studies MA students must present their first completed thesis chapter at the mandatory, non-credit, fall term Media Studies colloquium series on writing. Students undertaking the Major Research Paper option must likewise present a meaningful portion of their summer writing efforts. The course is graded PASS or FAIL. To achieve a PASS designation in MS 9102, students must:
  • Submit one chapter of their MA thesis, or one portion of their Major Research Paper 
  • Attend all colloquia  
  • Complete all readings and blog in all work assigned  
  • Regularly participate in discussions ensuing from these readings and assignments;
  • Participate in instructor-led, in-class evaluations of student chapters or portions of Major Research Papers. This exercise is meant primarily to hone students’ understanding of correct English usage, and to polish the form, style and argumentative clarity of the submission under discussion.

Students who fail to meet these requirements and do not receive a passing grade will be required to take one additional elective course during the MA program before being allowed to graduate.

MS 9410   Directed Study in Media Studies I

Course Description
Self-directed study of a topic not covered in curriculum under the supervision of a regular FIMS faculty member.

MS 9411   Directed Study in Media Studies II

Course Description
Self-directed study of a topic not covered in curriculum under the supervision of a regular FIMS faculty member.

Elective Courses

This course explores the political economy of cultural labour with a focus on creative labour in the music industry.  The course will be conducted as a seminar, with extensive discussion of readings and concepts along with presentations by students.
This course will explore the intersection of the 'self' with the capitalist mode of production.  We will explore foundational work on this intersection of the self and the commodity form in the writings of Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, and Foucault.  We will also examine theories of the self and self-performance from sociology, gender studies, and history in the work of Butler, Giddens, Taylor and Goffman.  We will then examine contemporary positions and debates about the ways in which self-construction and performance have come to constitute new forms of labour under post-Fordist capital, in, what Jason Read has called, "the micropolitics of capital."  We will trace the emergence of new venues for self-commodification, self-branding and self-promotion online, on television and in the more general hyper-spectacularized image-scape, and will explore the concomitant styles, templates and modalities of selfhood propagated by them.  Contemporary theories of these transformations come from critical marketing studies, autonomist Marxist criticism, performance studies, and cultural studies and include the work of Sternberg, Virno, Lazzarato, King, Read and Hearn.

This course addresses the notorious split within media studies between political economy and cultural studies.  It compares the positions of the founders (Raymond Williams, Theodor Adorno, Harold Innis) and also fo contemporary authorities (Lawrence Grossberg, Mark Poster, Stuart Hall, James Carey, Nicholas Garnham, Graham Murdock), drawing particularly on the medium theory of Harold Innis and the cultural materialism of Raymond Williams.

Harold Innis inaugurated a distinctive mode of Canadian thought regarding media and communication. This course compares Innis’s writings with dominant trends in American scholarship, as well as with such seminal Canadian writers as Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye, Dallas Smythe, C.B. Macpherson, Margaret Atwood, John Ralston Saul, and David Suzuki. 

Innis’s significance goes well beyond parochial (Canadian) concerns, however. Along with Theodor Adorno, Raymond Williams and others, Innis helped inaugurate political economy approaches fully integrated with studies of culture, and in this regard it is worthwhile comparing Innis’s integrated approach to such poststructuralists as Mark Poster, Jean Baudrillard, and Lawrence Grossberg. 

Main texts for the course written by the instructor. 

Media Philosophies studies books by four writers who think about media in philosophical and theoretical terms; they are: Marshall McLuhan, Friedrich Kittler, Paul Virilio, and Gianni Vattimo. Assignments are designed to prepare students for the academic and scholarly work of preparing and delivering conference papers, leading seminars, and writing publishable research papers.

What do documents do? How can we understand the materiality and agency of writing systems from clay tablets to digital documents? This course invites graduate students of both media and information studies to explore spaces mapped by such questions.

This course explores the interrelationships between copyright law, creativity, digital technologies and the music industries and asks how they affect the creation, distribution and reuse of music. The Canadian Copyright Act will be considered with an emphasis on its treatment of musical works, performances and recordings; and the contemporary copyright policy-making process will be viewed from the perspective of various stakeholders.
Cross-listed with LIS 9814 and PMC 9751)

Technology, our memory bank, has only ever grown in scope, power, and speed—why do we fear for lost sensibilities, authenticity? Trauma and memory intersect at an interpretational crisis: who knows disaster? Tracing ways technology aids, skews, and drives memory causes us to reconsider what it is to “remember forever.”

Communicating Holocaust History explores the role that Holocaust memorials and museums play in the construction of public history and national memory; survivor testimony, affect, and the relationship between “deep memory” and “common memory”; pedagogy, comparative genocide studies, and the discourse of genocide prevention; atrocity tourism and local economies; and the “comprehensibility” of the Holocaust, including the limits of representation in documentary, narrative film, and fiction genres.  

Description to follow.

This course brings psychoanalysis to bear on contemporary debates in visual studies and critical aesthetics. It is often said that ours is an increasingly visual culture. Yet psychoanalysis troubles the ideal of “visual literacy” by suggesting that the mind is active in keeping its own activity outside of conscious awareness. We will work through this observation as a set of tensions concerning the visual field: screen memories, blindness, the architecture of sensation and symptom, as well as the ways visual images gather significance and force. Course readings will include a mix of visual case studies and theories of image-work.

How does a human being come to be human? This course will approach this question from a blend of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives: political, psychical, philosophical and poetic. Our course is launched by signal developments in the field of human rights scholarship that address the invention of universal rights as an issue of cultural representation (as much as a history of political or legal struggle). For human dignity and rights to become self-evident, Lynn Hunt has proposed, “ordinary people had to have new understandings that came from new kinds of feelings.” The first half of our course therefore engages the history of the development of those “interior feelings” (Diderot’s term) which gave rise to representations of the human as possessing a unique, inalienable dignity.

In the second half, our course will take a right turn to follow Derrida’s late work on the deconstruction of traditional determinations of the human. The detour takes us to what the philosopher calls a “thinking concerning the animal,” a poetic activity which the academy traditionally deprives itself of. On one hand Derrida exposes a surprising proximity between the beast and the sovereign, figures connected by the fact that neither are subjected to the law. On the other hand, the philosopher provides his own curious answer to the question of how the human becomes human by casting himself as “the animal that therefore I am.” We will try to flesh out the significance of this conceptual turn by engaging several of Freud’s case analyses which involve animals and Kafka's The Metamorphosis. We end, therefore, with another key question: What does it mean that some of the most enlivening narrations of the human condition involve a sustained thinking concerning the animal?

“Kinda subversive, kinda hegemonic”: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has argued that this binary marks the ever narrowing limits of cultural criticism. “Ideology, Affect, Media” asks whether the practice of ideology critique within media studies has indeed been reduced to this impoverished choice, and whether the emerging field of affect studies might provide new ways of thinking the interfaces between media texts, media consumers, and the larger social fields in which they operate.

This course examines the variety of theoretical debates that have taken place at the fertile intersection of politics and aesthetics: from Hannah Arendt’s return to Kant’s “political philosophy,” to the work of the Frankfurt School and its outsider member Walter Benjamin, to Jacques Ranciére’s recent writing about art as delimiting what is visible, sayable, and ultimately, thinkable. The course will also consider specific historical case studies and the way mass-reproduced images affect the world spectator. 

Cultural industries scholars often emphasize creative workers’ heightened autonomy and proprietorship, perceiving creative or cultural work as distinct from more run-of-the-mill forms of work. This emphasis links theoretical perspectives from political-economic to “governmentalist” approaches (Banks 2007).

Taking its name from Robert Blauner’s influential 1964 study, this course will examine cultural work as participant in the social division of labor, drawing on significant approaches to work and cultural work, and foregrounding critiques of the liberal theory, legal frameworks and political-economic institutions and analyses of the cultural conceptions and social institutions that make up the ground of employment and contracting in the English-speaking world.

Readings will likely include:

  • Selections from Locke, Rousseau & Mill
  • C.B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism and essays from his Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval
  • Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation
  • Carole Pateman, Participation and Democratic Theory and recent essays on democratization and the guaranteed basic income
  • Robert Blauner, Alienation and Freedom
  • David Ellerman, Property and Contract in Economics
  • Richard Biernacki, The Fabrication of Labor
  • Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination
  • Andrew Ross, Nice Work if You Can Get It
  • Mark Banks, The Politics of Creative Work
  • David Hesmondhalgh and Sarah Baker, Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries

The early part of the semester will focus on historical and theoretical works; the middle part on contemporary analyses of creative work; the latter part on works selected by the class based on student interest.

This course addresses historical, empirical, and theoretical questions concerning the rise and consolidation of consumerism and advertising in North America, beginning in the late nineteenth century. The economic and cultural dimensions of advertising and mass consumption are explored, as is their bearing on mass media during the twentieth century. The seminar consists of weekly discussions of selected readings. Each student will give one seminar presentation (approx. 30 minutes) based primarily on assigned readings for that week. Students will also write a research essay (approx. 20 pgs for MA students; 25 pages for PhD students) on an appropriate topic to be determined upon consultation with myself. Students will also do a presentation based on their research topic.

Communication technologies are becoming ubiquitous: email, instant messaging, mobile phones, listservs, blogs, etc. How are these technologies affecting the way we communicate? What new challenges and possibilities emerge from these new forms of communication? The aim of the course is to determine current trends in the design and use of communication technologies and to critically examine how this revolution in communication affects our understanding of information and information behaviors. In this course, we will examine specific user populations, such as teenagers, the elderly, and students. We will also examine the challenges that libraries face in the advent of new forms of information dissemination and acquisition.

This course will critically examine the historical and contemporary relationship between new forms of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the idea of social, political, and economic “progress”. Readings will trace how and why digital divides have become so prominent in national and international development discourse.

Media messages are powerful and ubiquitous, both shaping and framing our understanding of the world. In this course, we will examine and implement qualitative and quantitative methods of systematically exploring media messages to answer questions such as: Are video games /really /violent? Why are we so afraid of H1N1? Are men and women represented as having different relationships to technology? In this project-based course, we will explore qualitative and quantitative approaches to analyzing media messages, including traditional content analysis and qualitative media analysis. Students will learn how to implement quantitative and qualitative content analyses of media messages included in written materials (e.g., news articles, print ads), audio/visual media (e.g., movies, TV programs, commercials, photographs), or interactive media (e.g., games, online applications). 

Examples of the various approaches to media analysis will be reviewed and discussed. Each student will then identify a specific content analysis problem and design and carry out a content analysis to explore the problem, producing a paper based on their project that is suitable for journal submission as their final assignment for the class. 

This course will focus on the role ‘new’ and ‘traditional’ information and communication technologies (ICTs) are expected to play in bridging political and socio-economic divides, and in both generating and symbolizing ‘progress’. Drawing on a range of media studies, anthropology and development literature, we will critically examine the idea of progress vis-à-vis technology in a historical and contemporary context.

Feminist scholars, researchers and teachers have paid a significant amount of attention to the importance of various media as sites for and of challenges to issues of power, class, race, gender and sexuality in culture and society, whether expressed in media cultural products, media industries or media technologies. This seminar examines a range of feminist theories, research and interpretive studies concerning print and broadcast media, film and the Internet, and, through feminist/ cyberfeminist lenses, engages questions of representation, structures of media organizations and production using various frameworks and methods, e.g., discourse and content analysis, audience and viewer reception, etc. Participants in this seminar will have the opportunity to read and critique existing research and engage in creating new understandings. (Note:  This is an elective seminar open to graduate students in Media Studies and Women’s Studies.)

This course is cross-listed with LIS 9855. Information has not one history but many. This reading intensive seminar combines outstanding and provocative works on computing, communications, business, science, and techno culture to trace the histories of information from the 1800s to the present day. It charts the origins and evolution of concepts such as information technology, information science, and the information society, putting them in historical context. Topics include telegraphy, office technology, the Cold War, hacker culture, gender, cyberspace, video games, and historical methods.

This course interrogates the concept of an 'information society' from the standpoint of critical development studies, a set of theoretical frameworks for analyzing the power dynamics of the modernist project of international development.  A major goal of the course is to expose the contradictions, tensions, and emancipatory potentials of this concept within the uneven terrain of global power dynamics.  Implicit in this exploration are issues regarding the future of the nation-state, potentially new democratic formations, and alternative critiques from the Global South.
Cross-listed with THEOCRIT 9616.

This course examines interdisciplinary approaches to the study of race, ethnicity, and popular music across different cultural locations and genres.  The course is taught as a seminar with extensive discussion of the readings along with detailed presentations about and critiques of the works read.
Cross-listed with PMC 9762

This course examines the politics of pop inside the social, political and economic contexts of contemporary globalization. Attention will be paid to the various ways that popular music helps us imagine ourselves as members of different local, regional, national and extra-national communities. Connected to this line of enquiry will be others on how competing notions of music’s social and monetary value complicate popular music’s production, distribution and reception

Self-directed study of a topic not covered in curriculum  .

Self-directed study of a topic not covered in curriculum  

Goals of the MA Media Studies Program

The Goals of the Master of Arts in Media Studies Program are to:

  1. provide graduate level education in the field of media studies, as consistent with the mission statement of FIX University;

  2. heighten students' critical thinking and analytical skills;

  3. enable students to develop skills and abilities to conduct critical research in media studies, leading to an MA thesis;

  4. assist students in attaining a broader understanding of the field of media studies;

  5. enrich the understanding and discussion of media studies by inquiring into, and forging linkages with, related disciplines;

  6. prepare students to pursue doctoral studies in media studies, communication or other related disciplines, or to enter the workplace in a variety of communication-related industries, in research, consulting or education, or in the communications, policy and regulatory agencies of government.

    Fernando Noveno University

    Department of Art & Art History
    RecStay Cultural Campus 
    Cali (v) Colombia, South America

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