Course Descriptions

Media and Cultural Studies

MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies

This course introduces students to the intellectual roots and contemporary applications of cultural studies, including critical media studies, focusing on the theoretical bases for analyses of power and meaning in production, texts, and reception. It includes primary readings in anti-racist, feminist, modern, postmodern, and queer cultural and social theory, and compares them to traditional approaches to the humanities. Designed as preparation for intermediate and advanced work grounded in cultural studies, the course is writing intensive, with special emphasis on developing skills in critical thinking and scholarly argumentation and documentation. Completion of or enrollment in MCST 110 is the prerequisite for majoring in media and cultural studies.

Frequency: Every semester.

MCST 114 - News Reporting and Writing

This class gives an introduction to the many media platforms that are vital to contemporary journalism, and provides a strong foundation in news writing and reporting. It is taught by a veteran editor and writer, who is a Macalester graduate and currently a digital editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune ( startribune.com ). Campus and Twin Cities communities are used as students plan, develop, report and write stories individually and in groups. Cookies are usually served in class.  

MCST 126 - Local News Media Institutions

In this course students analyze the social, cultural, economic, political, and regulatory factors shaping the nature of US communications media, and then investigate how this affects local media organizations and their role in recognizing, serving and facilitating (or not) local populations, communities, interaction, identity, and civic engagement. Considering the history and practices of American journalism, and the current shifts in media technology and economics, the class examines the degree to which media function to provide effective access to news and information, foster diversity of content, encourage civic engagement, and serve the interest of citizens and diverse communities in a democratic society. Individual student projects for the course begin by identifying particular geographic, ethnic, or cultural neighborhoods and communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and proceed to explore the degree to which these communities are recognized, defined, or served by various media institutions and journalism practice. Students explore various attempts to revitalize local communication, news delivery and civic discourse through experiments in community media, citizen journalism, community-based news aggregation, media arts, community service and other media innovations and reforms across neighborhood, ethnic, immigrant, gender, sexuality, and other public issues and community participation.

Frequency: Every year.

MCST 128 - Film Analysis/Visual Culture

This course introduces the aesthetics of film as well as selected issues in contemporary film studies. Its aesthetic approach isolates the features that constitute film as a distinct art form: narrative or non-narrative structure, staging, cinematography, editing, and sound. Topics in contemporary film studies that might be considered include one or more of the following: cultural studies and film, industrial organization and globalization, representations of gender and race, and theories of authorship, horror, and spectatorship. Several papers, a test covering basic film terms, and a short video project emphasizing abstract form are required. Suitable for first year students.

Frequency: Every semester.

MCST 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

MCST 202 - Global Media Industries

Global media collectively have tremendous influence in how many see and comprehend the world and therefore on the information and beliefs upon which they feel or act. While media are central to the continued production of a sense of "the world" at large or the "global" scale, media industries are situated geographically, culturally and institutionally. Even if they promise worldwide coverage or are multinational companies, there is much to be gained from studying how media are produced and distributed differently according to specific social, political, economic and historical conditions. This course considers media industries around the world with a focus on the relationships between the labor and infrastructures behind representations in a broad range of media (television, radio, cinema, news, telecommunications, internet).

Cross-Listed as

 INTL 202

MCST 234 - New Media Theories/Practices

In the last couple of decades we have seen the invention and popularization of a wide assortment of digital technologies and with them, a wide variety of new media forms. The internet (which includes a collection of media forms, from web pages and peer-to-peer software to social media and video sharing sites), massively multiplayer online video games, ubiquitous computing, software, mobile phones - together, many argue, these and other forms of new media are reshaping how we live, create, work and even, what it means to be human. In this class we'll examine a cross-section of contemporary humanistic research that has sought to understand the impact(s) of new media through a comparison to earlier, pre-digital media. In addition, we will engage in hands-on workshops, where we will use and learn some of the tools, software, and websites that our texts consider.

Frequency: Every year.

MCST 247 - Documentary Film and Video

This course explores the history and theory of documentary practices in film and video: the epistemological issues and critical debates surrounding documentary attempts to depict and/or comment on -reality,- the implications of cinematic technique and style for documentary representation and function, and the place of documentary representation in social, political and cultural discourses about nation, race, gender, sexuality, and class. The course integrates critical readings on documentary history and theory and viewings and discussions of relevant documentary films and videos.

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s)

MCST 128 recommended

MCST 248 - History of Film 1893-1941

This course provides an overview of the history of film up through the release of Citizen Kane , examining aesthetic, industrial, social, and theoretical topics in a variety of national and cultural contexts. Discussions, lectures, and screenings emphasize commercial and avant-garde styles and their determinants. What is the style now referred to as the ``classical Hollywood cinema?- Why did it materialize? What alternatives were there? The course explores issues of racism and gender as well as connections between the history of film and the modernization of European and U.S. culture. Several papers are required.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

MCST 128 recommended, sophomore status or permission of instructor

MCST 249 - History of Film Since 1941

This course provides an overview of the history of film from the early 1940s, examining aesthetic, industrial, social, and theoretical topics in a variety of national and cultural contexts. Discussions, lectures, and screenings emphasize international commercial and alternative styles and their determinants. Why and how did alternative styles develop against and within the Hollywood system? The course explores issues of racism and gender as well as connections between the history of film and postwar transformations, with particular attention to the effects on filmmaking of the Cold War in the United States and of post colonial struggles in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Several papers are required. Students who have completed MCST 248 - History of Film 1893-1941 will be encouraged to engage in independent research.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

MCST 256 - Mass Culture Under Communism

Revolution to the fall of communism. For each period in Soviet history, changes in the production and consumption of culture will be considered with specific examples to be discussed. Topics dealt with in the course include the role of mass media in society, popular participation in "totalitarian" societies, culture as a political tool. Popular films, newspapers and magazines, songs, radio and TV programs, etc., will serve to analyze the policies that inspired them and the popular reactions (both loyal and dissenting) they evoked. Taught in English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

 RUSS 256

MCST 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

MCST 315 - Gender, Sexuality and Film

This course explores a variety of critical approaches to the representation of gender and sexuality in film and video, including psychoanalytic feminist film theory and criticism, queer theory, narrative analysis, genre, visual culture, and cultural studies of gender and sexuality in relation to race, nation, and class. How have social constructs about gender and sexuality been promulgated and/or contested in film and video within mainstream and avant-garde contexts of cultural production? How have these constructs functioned to uphold and/or challenge other forms of social stratification or privilege? And, how might the woman's body in particular—both as a sight to behold and a site of looking—offer different ways of thinking representational possibility? In asking these questions, the course considers a wide range of issues, including the gaze, the body, media technologies, spectatorship, identity and identification, realism, mythology, and pornography. Written work emphasizes the close analysis of film texts. 

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

Prerequisites: sophomore standing; MCST 128 , Film Analysis and Visual Culture, or a course in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; or permission of the instructor.

Cross-Listed as

WGSS 320

MCST 331 - Racial Formation, Culture and U.S. History

This interdisciplinary course will employ the methodologies of cultural and media studies within an historical framework to ask: What roles did "race" (the presence of diverse races; the relationships among those groups of people; the construction and representation of racial identities; the linking of material privileges and power to racial locations) play in the development of the United States? How have relationships of class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality been linked to "race"? How has "race" been a site of struggle between groups? How is the present a product of historical experiences? Our coursework will rely on reading historical studies, theory, cultural analysis, and memoirs, and on viewing and analyzing cultural performances and films. This course is designed for students with experience in history, cultural studies, African American studies and/or American studies.

Frequency: Alternate years.

MCST 334 - Cultural Studies and the Media

An overview of contemporary approaches to media as culture, a determining as well as determined sphere in which people make sense of the world, particularly in terms of ethnicity, gender, identity, and social inequality. Students develop tools for analyzing media texts and accounts of audience responses derived from the international field of cultural studies and from the social theory on which it draws. Analysis emphasizes specificity of media texts, including advertisements, films, news reports, and television shows. Experience in cooperative discussion, research, and publication.  

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s)

 MCST 110 or permission of instructor

Cross-Listed as

AMST 334

MCST 337 - Dead White Men

Today we often hear people dismiss the Western (mostly European) philosophical tradition as a bunch of "dead white men." In other words, the argument goes, these thinkers harbored such passe notions as universal truths, a universal subject, and an individual in total control of itself and endowed with a pure reason unadulterated by rhetoric, imagination, fiction, and politics. Why should we bother with "dead white men" now that we understand that truth depends on historical context, that the self is decentered by the unconscious, that identity is constituted by gender, race, class, and other cultural factors, that truth is linked to power, and that ideology is omnipresent? Unfortunately, this all-too-familiar attitude overlooks its own faulty presupposition: it presumes a clear-cut break between philosophical tradition and contemporary thought, as if contemporary thought had no tradition out of which it emerged and could, therefore, merely discard what preceded it. Hence the popularity of phrases like "philosophy is dead." It is all the more ironic to see this attitude prevail in the West at the very moment that multiculturalism has become our cause celebre : all cultural traditions are supposed to be "respected," except the West's own tradition. (Perhaps as a new way for the West to reinstate surreptitiously its superiority as the sole culture with no tradition?) This course pursues a close reading of texts by various "dead white men" as the unconscious (i.e., repressed and, for that matter, all the more powerful) undercurrent of contemporary thought. Assigned texts will include: Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Marx, as well as texts by twentieth-century thinkers that stress the dependence of contemporary thought on philosophy. No pre-knowledge required; all readings in English. With different reading lists this course may be taken more than once for credit.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

GERM 337

MCST 354 - Blackness in the Media

This course examines mainstream and alternative systems of African American representation in the media from the 1820s to the 1960s, including race records, race movies, the Black press, Black video, and Black appeal radio. It also examines the way Blackness is constructed in the media today, including the role of new media (such as cable and the Internet); new corporate formations (such as FOX, UPN, and BET), and new forms of representation (such as representations that reject the Black-White binary).

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s)

AMST 110 or MCST 110 or permission of instructor

Cross-Listed as

AMST 354

MCST 355 - Advanced Journalism: Electronic

Writing and production of news, feature, and documentary stories for radio, television, and news media. The course stresses effective script writing and the development of a strong sense of journalistic ethics in an electronic environment. Emphasis is placed on frequent visits with practicing journalists and policy makers, on-site visits to electronic newsrooms, and field news assignments on campus and throughout the Twin Cities. Students will produce video, audio, and Internet stories. The course also examines the changing role of the media and the impact of electronic media and broadcast journalists on politics, government, education, and the legal system. Taught by a 20-year veteran print and broadcast journalist and former U.S. Senate press secretary.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

MCST 114 - News Reporting and Writing or permission of instructor.

MCST 357 - Advanced Journalism: Print

In-depth reporting and writing of news, feature, and opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines. This course stresses effective writing and editing and the development of a strong sense of journalistic ethics. Emphasis is placed on field reporting on campus and throughout the community, on-site visits to newspaper newsrooms, and frequent discussions with practicing journalists, writers, and policy makers. Students will examine the changing role of print media and the impact of media and journalists on culture, politics, government, education, the legal system, and the community. Taught by a 20-year veteran print and broadcast journalist and former U.S. Senate press secretary.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

MCST 114 - News Reporting and Writing or permission of instructor.

MCST 376 - Critical Social Theory and the Media

Studies of the contributions critical social theory has made to research oriented toward democratic communication. Class discussion evaluates the social uses of theories and probes assumptions and values embedded within them. A research paper allows each student to examine one theory or theoretical issue in detail.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

 MCST 110 or permission of instructor

MCST 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

MCST 488 - Advanced Topics Seminar

In the capstone seminar, students working on an independent project in line with the theme of the seminar share their scholarship, integrating what they have learned in the major, emphasizing knowledge gained in their focus area, as well as presenting their work at a concluding mini-conference. The capstone experience involves close analysis of cultural artifacts that examine at a higher level issues first raised in the introductory course. The department plans to offer two seminars every year, at least one in media studies, enabling students to select the seminar most relevant to their intellectual development. In exceptional cases, students with sufficient preparation may take the seminar prior to their senior year. Students may take more than one HMCS senior seminar as long as content varies. Recent seminar topics have included: Image/Text: Metaphor, Myth and Power; Advanced Film Analysis; Advanced Studies in War and Media; Postmodernism, Identity and the Media; Whiteness and the Media; Advanced Queer Media.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

MCST 110 - Texts and Power: Foundations of Media and Cultural Studies or permission of instructor. MCST 128 - Film Analysis/Visual Culture recommended for film studies seminars. Non-majors are welcome if they have taken MCST 110 or a comparable course.

MCST 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

MCST 601 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study for advanced students on a subject not available through regular catalog offerings.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 602 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study for advanced students on a subject not available through regular catalog offerings.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 603 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study for advanced students on a subject not available through regular catalog offerings.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 604 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study for advanced students on a subject not available through regular catalog offerings.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 611 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study and the production of original work.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor.

MCST 612 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study and the production of original work.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor.

MCST 613 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study and the production of original work.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor.

MCST 614 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study and the production of original work.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor.

MCST 621 - Internship

The department offers a variety of internships in educational, business, and governmental institutions. Internships sponsored by department faculty are available only to juniors and seniors who have made substantial progress toward the major or have completed a media studies minor or the equivalent and must be grounded in previous coursework. Normally, internships are graded pass/fail. Exceptions to this policy permitting a letter grade may be made at the discretion of the individual faculty member sponsoring the internship. Internships may be of variable credit as determined by the instructor, and up to four credits may be applied to the department major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Internship Office.

MCST 622 - Internship

The department offers a variety of internships in educational, business, and governmental institutions. Internships sponsored by department faculty are available only to juniors and seniors who have made substantial progress toward the major or have completed a media studies minor or the equivalent and must be grounded in previous coursework. Normally, internships are graded pass/fail. Exceptions to this policy permitting a letter grade may be made at the discretion of the individual faculty member sponsoring the internship. Internships may be of variable credit as determined by the instructor, and up to four credits may be applied to the department major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Internship Office.

MCST 623 - Internship

The department offers a variety of internships in educational, business, and governmental institutions. Internships sponsored by department faculty are available only to juniors and seniors who have made substantial progress toward the major or have completed a media studies minor or the equivalent and must be grounded in previous coursework. Normally, internships are graded pass/fail. Exceptions to this policy permitting a letter grade may be made at the discretion of the individual faculty member sponsoring the internship. Internships may be of variable credit as determined by the instructor, and up to four credits may be applied to the department major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Internship Office.

MCST 624 - Internship

The department offers a variety of internships in educational, business, and governmental institutions. Internships sponsored by department faculty are available only to juniors and seniors who have made substantial progress toward the major or have completed a media studies minor or the equivalent and must be grounded in previous coursework. Normally, internships are graded pass/fail. Exceptions to this policy permitting a letter grade may be made at the discretion of the individual faculty member sponsoring the internship. Internships may be of variable credit as determined by the instructor, and up to four credits may be applied to the department major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

MCST 631 - Preceptorship

Work in assisting a faculty member on a varied range of activities involved in the planning and teaching of a course. Duties usually include course attendance, library research, test correction, conducting group study sessions, and tutoring individual students. Normally available only to juniors and seniors who have taken the course they will precept.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Academic Programs.

MCST 632 - Preceptorship

Work in assisting a faculty member on a varied range of activities involved in the planning and teaching of a course. Duties usually include course attendance, library research, test correction, conducting group study sessions, and tutoring individual students. Normally available only to juniors and seniors who have taken the course they will precept.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Academic Programs.

MCST 633 - Preceptorship

Work in assisting a faculty member on a varied range of activities involved in the planning and teaching of a course. Duties usually include course attendance, library research, test correction, conducting group study sessions, and tutoring individual students. Normally available only to juniors and seniors who have taken the course they will precept.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor; work with Academic Programs.

MCST 634 - Preceptorship

Work in assisting a faculty member on a varied range of activities involved in the planning and teaching of a course. Duties usually include course attendance, library research, test correction, conducting group study sessions, and tutoring individual students. Normally available only to juniors and seniors who have taken the course they will precept.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

MCST 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

MCST 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.