Media & Communication
Majors will complete a minimum of nine courses including the following:
COM 201 Media & Society
COM 231 Documentary Research
COM 301 Media Theory & Methods
Six electives within the major, including at least one course from each of the three distribution areas: Discovery, Structure, Practice. (201, 231, and 301 do not count towards the distribution requirement in the major. They should normally be taken in sequential semesters, with 201 and 301 completed by the end of the sophomore year). At least three electives must be numbered 300 or above.
Beginning with the Class of 2016, all majors must fulfill the Media and Communication CUE requirement (culminating undergraduate experience). There are several pathways to fulfilling the CUE and students may choose from the following:
COM 467 CUE: Advanced Video Production
COM 470 CUE: Media & Communication Senior Seminar
COM 490 CUE: Digital Media Design Lab
COM 965 CUE: Communication Practicum
Introductory courses emphasizing the breadth of the field of media and communication. They provide an overview of different sub-specializations within the field.
These courses use media and communication theories and methodologies to provide in-depth exploration of significant media and communication institutions, traditions or cultural forms.
These courses provide students with opportunities to become producers, not merely consumers of print, video, and audio information. Each course gives students in-depth opportunities to put theory into practice in research, writing, or electronic production.
COM 201. Media and Society
Examines influences of mass media on participatory democracy and its cultural forms and the history, production, representation, and consumption of media in society. Introduces students to social science approaches to the study of communication phenomena, including the logic of inquiry, standards of evidence, and grounds for making claims about communicative behaviors. Topics may include social media, images and effects, corporate media culture, organizational structures of journalism, emergence of consumer culture, the Internet and digital media environments, and audience identification and interpretation of media.
Meets general academic requirement SL (B) .
COM 231. Documentary Research Explores the American tradition of social documentary, focusing on milestone projects including the work of James Agee and Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, William Carlos Williams, and Robert Coles. Oral, visual, and textual modes of production are examined. Special focus is given to new digital forms of representation and their impact on production, distribution, and consumption. Framing this investigation are the ethical issues that emerge when rendering and representing individuals’ lives. Students are introduced to the fundamental skills of investigative research, interviewing, gathering and interpreting information, and using print and electronic archives. Students research and produce their own multi-media documentary projects.
Prerequisite: COM 201 Media & Society.
Meets general academic requirement W.
COM 301. Media Theory & Methods Explores classic and contemporary media theories and research methodologies, including the historical and philosophical foundations of paradigm formation in media research, the social and institutional contexts that led to the emergence of the communication discipline, and current controversies within the field. This course builds upon principles and concepts introduced in Media & Society.
Prerequisites: COM 201 Media & Society and COM 231 Documentary Research
208. Communication in the Global Community
Provides a comparative analysis of the principles guiding the organization, development, and operations of media systems in different political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. Considers the global expansion of mass media and the increasing connections of world citizens in a "global community." Compares the production, distribution, reception, and effects of mass mediated messages in countries around the world. Topics explored include media systems and their social and political contexts, media and revolution, global media intersections with local audiences, and politics of international news and entertainment flows.
212. New Information Technologies
Explores the prospects and problems that surround the introduction and diffusion of new technologies in society. Students consider the social, political, economic, and cultural implications of information technologies on personal privacy, identity, social relationships, information access, and global citizenship. Thematic focus varies from semester to semester with case studies drawn from cyberspace, the Internet and social media, electronic communities, virtual realities, and computers and productivity in the workplace.
218. Media & War
This course looks at the contested relationship between media and government in both historical and contemporary contexts. Students explore the representation of war in American news and entertainment media, taking an historical view of popular narratives around military interventions from conventional wars to the twenty-first century war on terror. Students will develop an understanding of the historical relationship between American foreign policy, popular history, media and the press. Among the questions to be explored are the public’s right to know, reporters’ access to information, and government censorship.
220, 221 . Free Culture
This course explores current debates surrounding free culture, specifically, 1) the history and development of notions of copyright in the nineteenth century and “intellectual property” in the twentieth century, 2) processes of media convergence and digitalization in today’s media, 3) the development of the free, open source software (FOSS) movement in the late 1970s and the challenge to proprietary software found in the Linux operation system, 4) digital distribution of music, the Napster debate, and remix culture in the music industry, 5) Wikimedia and the new power of “crowdsourcing” in knowledge labor, 6) Net neutrality, and 7) the philosophy and development of the digital commons, enshrined in the Creative Commons license and the legal implications of such licenses for artists, musicians, audiences, and citizens. Students will use an open source computer OS (Linux) and free software tools to contribute to a class digital project on a topic related to the free culture movement.
Meets general academic requirement SL (B) (and W when offered as 221).
225. Journalistic Traditions
Introduces students to the great traditions of interpretive, documentary, and advocacy journalism and photojournalism. Includes analysis of exemplary works in the tradition, and provides some opportunities to develop skills through individual projects.
240. Introduction to Film Analysis
Introduces different strategies and different approaches for analyzing film and video texts including: formal, narrative, semiotic, psychoanalytic, social/cultural, and feminist. Students will develop an understanding of the grammar, vocabulary, and conventions of film and video production, and the factors that shape viewers' reception.
Meets general academic requirement AR.
242. Twentieth Century Media: Film, Radio &Television
Analyzes the historical development of radio, film, and television genres, technologies, and formats and considers the cultural, economic, political, and social climates in which they evolved.
Meets general academic requirement HU.
251. Fundamentals of Visual Communication
Introduces basic concepts of time-based visual media (film, video, digital) with an emphasis on the perception, operation, and experience of moving images, kinesics, and the structure and aesthetics of cinematic language. Students will learn how to work with cameras, audio-recording equipment, and post-production facilities and equipment.
210. Media: Legal & Constitutional Issues
Introduces the philosophy, history, development, and current interpretations of U.S. media law; explores constitutional rights, laws, precedents, and public concerns which guide U.S. media, the public, the courts, regulatory agencies, and policymakers. Prerequisite: Com 201 Media & Society.
244, 245. Media & Social Movements
This class will examine the interrelationship between mass media and twentieth century social movements in the United States. How have actors within social movements used mass media to raise awareness, mobilize, and/or demand redress? How have various mass media portrayed those movements, actors, and events? Using an historical approach, we will explore how context–technological change, political, social, and economic climates–deeply influence how mass media and social movements interact. Primary attention will be given to social movements during the age of the Cold War (1945-1990), including the Civil Rights/Black Power, the New Left, the New Right, Feminist, and Gay Rights Movements. Students will be challenged to consider local examples of present-day social change advocacy in relation to media use and representation. Meets general academic requirement HU (and W when offered as 245).
312. Media Industries
Considers the forces (legal, political, economic, historical, and cultural) that shape what we watch on television, read in books, or hear on the radio. Explores a wide range of print and electronic media industries as well as developing media like the Internet. Economic and critical analysis is used to examine both the institutional forces and individual decisions that ultimately shape the content and format of mass media messages. Selected topics include media conglomeration, target marketing, media integration and digital television, and globalization of media markets.
314. Audience Analysis
Examines the concept of audiences from a variety of qualitative and quantitative research perspectives: as “victims,” users, subcultures, and market commodities. Television ratings, public opinion polls, and other strategies for measuring audience feedback are analyzed and assessed.
316. Propaganda & Promotional Cultures
Examines the historical development, social roles, communicative techniques, and media of propaganda. Thematic emphasis varies from semester to semester with case studies drawn from wartime propaganda, political campaigns, advertising, and public relations.
Meets general academic requirement SL (B).
344. Documentary Film & Social Justice
Examines documentary and other non-fiction based modes of film, video, and digital media production and the assumptions these forms make about truth and authenticity and how they shape our understandings of the world. Both historical and contemporary forms will be considered.
Meets general academic requirement AR (A).
346. Exploratory Cinema
Examines the origin and growth of "avant-garde" cinema. Traces the history of film and video art from the early 1920s to the present focusing on its structural evolution, thematic shifts, coexistence with commercial cinema, and its impact on contemporary media.
Meets general academic requirement AR or HU (A or H).
370. Popular Culture & Communication
Traces the development of popular forms with emphasis on the ways that social class has structured access, use, and creation of cultural artifacts. Topics explored may include advertising, leisure, and entertainment.
Prerequisite: Com 201 Media & Society.
372, 373. Race & Representation
Explores the social construction of the concept of race and barriers to communication erected by prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization of minority voices. Examines topics in multicultural, cross-cultural, and interpersonal communication as well as analysis of documents, personal narratives, and media images. Primary emphasis is placed upon African-American experience in the U.S.
Meets general academic requirement DE (D) (and W when offered as 373).
374. Gender, Communication & Culture
This course explores how culture establishes, maintains, and cultivates gender through forms of communication, social movements, and institutional structures, particularly commercialized media. Students will examine how youth and adults are socialized to think, talk, and make sense in American culture; the implications of these differences for the construction of gendered identities (e.g., masculinity, femininity, transsexuality), communication, and relationships; and the construction of gender in media, including digital and print advertising, television programs, the Internet, books, magazines, video games, and the cinema.
Prerequisite: COM 201 Media & Society
378, 379. Sport, Culture & Media
Explores the cultural artifacts, historical developments, and related systems of power that comprise sport media. Students observe, document, and analyze mediated sport and its prominence in our cultural environment. Includes analysis of the conventions of sports journalism (electronic and print) and transformations in those arenas. Emphasizes writing.
Prerequisite: Com 201 Media & Society.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 379.
440. Film Theory & Criticism
Investigates the principal theories of film, considering the film text as a mode of communication, as an art form, and as an ideological practice. Explores how film and video control the production of pleasure and meaning during reception. Students view a variety of films representative of specific cultural and historical contexts and are introduced to relevant theories and their application.
Prerequisite: COM 240 Introduction to Film Analysis or permission of instructor.
442. Children & Communication
This course investigates the meanings of media in children’s lives. The course adopts a cultural historical approach to understanding the role of media in children’s cognitive, social, and moral development. Looking at children’s interactions with media artifacts, it considers how childhood is constituted by the languages and images of media and situates these interactions within the broader political economic context constructing the child consumer. Children’s media studied include television programs, video and computer games, films, books, toys, and the Internet.
470. CUE: Media & Communication Senior Seminar
Each year this course will have a different thematic focus which will allow honors and non-honors seniors to engage with faculty and visiting lecturers in challenging dialogues and research experiences, culminating in the production and presentation of an original research project or creative work based on the seminar theme. Provides students with extensive opportunities to work closely with faculty mentors in developing their research project and creative work.
Prerequisite: Enrollment limited to majors during the senior year.
216. Communication & Public Relations
Explores public relations from a critical perspective with emphasis on communication theory and research into public relations practices. Topics include the origins and development of public relations, its role in society, principles of public relations theory and practice, and the ethical issues raised by various philosophies and practices of public relations.
Prerequisite: Com 201 Media & Society.
321, 322. Writing for the Media
Provides intensive writing experiences in a variety of formats. Introduces students to the different conventions of writing for print media, radio, and television. Class structure, assignments, and timed writing exercises are designed to simulate a working media environment.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 322.
334. Health Communication
Examines interpersonal as well as mediated dimensions of health communication, including theories and case studies that address issues in physician and patient communication; gender, race, and cultural constitutents in health comunication; social marketing techniques for the production, distribution, and assessment of health-care information; the design and implementation of public health campaigns; and the use of communication technologies in the production of health communications.
336, 337. Environmental Communication
Explores theories, models, and strategies for production and assessment of environmental communications. Examines environmental media and campaigns, and provides students with skills to identify and solve problems in environmental communications and in the production of environmental media. Emphasizes writing.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 377.
338. Organizational Communication
Explores theories, models, and strategies for internal and external communication within organizations. The constituents, constraints, values, practices, and media of organizational cultures are investigated from historical, cross-cultural, and contemporary practices. Primary emphasis is on the corporate experience in the United States.
351. Video Production
Refines an understanding of video/television concepts and operations through the application of advanced production techniques. Provides hands-on experience beginning with the development of a professional project, treatment, script, and storyboard. Focusing on production tools and skills, class workshops and outside exercises that facilitate becoming comfortable with camera and editing equipment and with the overall production process. Conceiving, coordinating, shooting, and editing the project, production teams will encounter real-time pressure and problem-solving situations.
Prerequisite: COM 251 Fundamentals of Visual Communication.
361. Radio Production
Introduces the tools, techniques, and principles of radio production. Students develop awareness of sound, the ability to structure information on the radio, and the capacity to sustain attention and build an audio documentary. Students will plan, produce, and evaluate audio projects in a variety of modes including news, documentary, dramatic, and commercial.
Focuses on emerging electronic interactive media. Through explorations of cyberspace, virtual reality, and electronic multimedia applications such as video game playing, the class examines the conceptual dimension of interactive media and its production. Each student will conceive and design an interactive project in a digital environment.
Prerequisite: Com 231 Documentary Research or permission of instructor.
367. Studio Workshop in Television & Film
Beginning with a survey of the promise and demands, historical, economic, and political circumstances surrounding community television, this course broadens students’ exposure to television formats beyond mainstream commercial media. The course examines the history and innovation of community television in the United States and globally. It provides students an opportunity to explore how to channel ideas into practice by expanding students’ established skills (research, writing, scripting, producing, directing, multi- camera and audio strategies, staging and lighting, post-production). Toward that goal, the course engages students in the production of a regular series of documentary, narrative, and experimental television and film projects that will be realized during a multi-week intensive studio experience. Multimedia and interdisciplinary projects involving theatre, art, dance, and music will be welcome.
Prerequisites: COM 231 Documentary Research and/or COM 251 Fundamentals of Visual Communication recommended
376, 377. Youth Media
This course introduces students to the theory, practice, and impact of youth media programs in local and international contexts. Students will also use media production to participate in fieldwork activities that contribute to HYPE, a media/youth development program housed in the department of Media and Communication at Muhlenberg College. Class projects will document and explore the possibilities of media making to promote young people's 21st century skills of digital communication and critical literacy, and their participation as agents of community change.
Prerequisites: COM 201 Media & Society and COM 231 Documentary Research Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 377.
431. Documentary Field Work
Develops advanced skills in documentary inquiry and practice. Provides tools and opportunities for developing skills in interviewing for archival, journalistic (print and electronic), social scientific, and administrative purposes. Course is organized around the design and development of individual or group documentary projects in selected media. Completed project(s) will be exhibited in some campus or public forum, e.g. submitted to campus newspaper, aired on campus radio or television, or displayed on the department website.
Prerequisites: Com 231 Documentary Research or permission of instructor.
467. CUE: Advanced Video Production
Students explore the convergence of video and digital media while studying the problems of constructing narrative and documentary texts within emerging experimental formats. Through their research-production projects, students learn to work with more advanced visual and organizational concepts and tools. Legal and ethical issues involved in media production are considered. Students present ongoing work and final projects in either an online or broadcast venue.
Prerequisites: Com 351 VIdeo Production or Com 365 Hypermedia.
490. CUE: Digital Media Design Lab
Students plan, develop, produce, and present CUE productions (whether video, web-based, digital storytelling, audio, animation, documentary, print, or multimedia) in a collaborative workshop setting. Students planning to enroll in this course prepare a project proposal to be approved by a CUE faculty advisor late in the junior year. Students design and develop a website, blog, e-book, or e-portfolio to present themselves as graduates prepared for positions in media related fields or students prepared for advanced graduate study in the discipline. They build their websites/e-portfolios to include representative work – writing, research, media artifacts – as well as representations of learning in the context of co-curricular activities (community service, student organizations, etc.), internship profiles, and study abroad reflections.
Prerequisite: Enrollment limited to majors during the senior year.
960. Communication Internship
Designed to provide both an educational experience and an opportunity to work with professionals in practical preparation for a career, the internship includes a significant academic (written and/or production) component. Under faculty supervision, students will serve as interns with newspapers, television and radio stations, advertising agencies, public relations firms, publishers, health, environmental, sports, and human and public service organizations. Students must have completed the sophomore year. Does not count toward the nine courses required by the major.
Prerequisite: COM 231 Documentary Research and instructor permission.
965. CUE: Communication Practicum
A graded internship experience open to graduating seniors. Fulfills the CUE requirement for the major.
Prerequisite: COM 231 and instructor permission, enrollment limited to majors in the senior year.