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Core Courses

Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Explores theories of texts and textuality as they relate to the study of media, the arts and discourse of any kind.

Fall 2020: Jennifer Rhee
Fall 2019: David Golumbia
Fall 2018: David Golumbia
Fall 2017: David Golumbia

Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Examines the history of communication technologies in their social and cultural contexts, with an emphasis on the development of contemporary digital technology and new media. Students will explore how the interactions between communication practices and technologies are related to institutions, identity formation, cultural values, social practices and economic conditions.

Fall 2020: David Golumbia
Fall 2019: Joshua Eckhardt
Fall 2018: Richard Fine
Fall 2017: Jennifer Rhee

Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Explores the history of disciplines and media and studies the implications for scholarly and creative practice of crossing boundaries between disciplines and media.

Spring 2020: Mariam Alkazemi
Spring 2019: Mariam Alkazemi
Spring 2018: Hong Chen
Spring 2017: Hong Chen

Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Provides the opportunity to develop and expand knowledge of specific production technologies needed for e-portfolio website and to study and practice professional and/or creative skills that students are contemplating using in their doctoral work.

Spring 2020: David Golumbia
Spring 2019: Michael Hall
Spring 2018: Michael Hall
Spring 2017: Eric Garberson


MATX 690 Seminar in Media, Art and Text

Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Graduate-level research and reading centered on interdisciplinary study.

Spring 2020

Text & Context: Slavery in Cinema 
Oliver Speck
World Studies

This course surveys representations of slavery in American cinema. Well into the 1940s, Hollywood Cinema notoriously depicted slavery in a positive light: Birth of a Nation (1915) – still considered a major breakthrough in terms of storytelling – and Gone with the Wind (1939) – one of the most financially successful films ever – paved the way for renewed policies of segregation and painted a nostalgic image of the antebellum South, respectively. For years after that, Hollywood avoided the potentially painful subject altogether, and chose to concentrate on the inspiring fight for freedom by white slaves, such as the historical dramas The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), and Spartacus (1960), or the role of the white savior, such as the 1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A major turning point came in 1977 with the acclaimed television miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel. After the success of this series, films turned more and more to a realistic depiction of the brutal reality of slavery. Here, the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad is considered a milestone insofar as it fairly realistically depicts the atrocity of the so-called Middle Passage, the shipping of enslaved Africans to the New World. Still, given that white directors focusing mostly on white characters directed these films, critics have accused these films of smoothing over difficult issues of representation and serving as vehicles for redemption. More recent films (e.g. Lincoln, 2012; Django Unchained, 2012; and 12 Years a Slave, 2013) reflect on their own status as representations of a historical fact – human bondage –that in philosophical and aesthetic terms remains truly unrepresentable.

Fall 2019

Sound Seminar
Mary Caton Lingold
Department of English

This seminar offers a broad graduate-level survey of the field of sound studies. We will take a historical approach as we examine the way sound has been theorized and experienced across listening cultures and time. We will pay particular attention to audio technologies — their creation and adaptation within specific cultural contexts. While a historical arc will shape the course, thematic clusters will emphasize sound in relationship to race, gender, sexuality, disability, and other categories key to critical methods in the humanities. Assignments will be hands-on and will include audio production from field-recording to podcasting and experimental genres. Beginners and experienced sound producers and tinkerers are all welcome. Short form academic writing will also be emphasized.

Select Past Seminars

Karen Rader
Department of History; Science, Technology and Society program

This discussion-intensive graduate seminar investigates the complex representations and experiences of what STS scholars have called ‘technoculture’ and how these mediate – and in turn, are mediated by –embodiments of gender and race. We will investigate the intersection of gender and race in the history of modern Western science and technology (1850 onward), and how these intersections have shaped the development and use of particular technologies (from the household to the workplace) as well as visions of alternate framings for technoscientific presents and futures.  Readings will be draw from extensive STS scholarship (history, sociology, theory) in this area, as well as historical primary sources in the development of science and technology, including the history of industrial standardization, medical texts and practices, and computing and the internet.

Oliver Speck
Film Studies, School of World Studies

Many news outlets have remarked on a recent macabre phenomenon: terrorists now record their attacks with lightweight cameras that were initially designed and marketed for extreme sports. The affinity of extreme sports and terrorist attacks hardly needs to be pointed out: a fast-paced, dangerous, potentially deadly activity in a hostile terrain is recorded from the point of view of the participant bearing witness to the authenticity of an exhilarating experience. The exact way in which this device is deployed deserves careful analysis, as the graphic footage then finds its way into recruitment videos mostly aimed at disaffected young men and women in Europe, the United States and other developed and developing regions. This seminar will elucidate this particular challenge to our democracy by looking at the complex ideological underpinning of this narrative device, relating point-of-view-shots in video games, extreme sports and combat to a solid base of political philosophy.

Oliver Speck
Film Studies, School of World Studies

This course will explore films that treat virtual reality as an alternative consciousness (e.g. “Total Recall,” “The Matrix,” “eXistenZ”), comparing them to films that introduce a notion of the virtual as developed by Gilles Deleuze in his two cinema books and in the two books he co‐authored with Felix Guattari (“Groundhog Day,” “Run Lola Run,” “The Third Generation”). Since the virtual holds potential for political change, but should not be confused with the possible, films can help to think a “community to come,” as Giorgio Agamben conceptualizes it (“Hero,” “Miracle in Milan” and “Our Daily Bread”).

Eric Garberson
Department of Art History

This Media Art and Text topic seminar examines representations of the visual artist from the 18th century to the present. The principal question to be investigated is how the cultural constructs of creativity and artistic identity are produced and reproduced, visually and textually, across different social and institutional contexts. The course will begin with a variation on Foucault’s question, asking “what is an artist?” and reading key historical and theoretical texts on the figure of the artist. This will provide the foundation for a selective, thematic survey of representations in scholarly and literary texts (artist monographs and catalogues raisonnés, novels and short stories), fine art (painting and graphics) and popular media (advertising and film). Class format will be primarily a discussion of assigned readings, which will include secondary scholarly literature and primary sources, both textual and visual. Each student will select a topic relevant to his or her own interests for a major research project culminating in a presentation and a 20‐page paper.

Other Courses

Independent study may be supervised by graduate faculty in one of the participating units. It may not duplicate courses regularly offered. No more than twelve credits of independent study may be counted toward the degree. Additional credits may be authorized for purposes of continuous enrollment. Upon approval by the supervising faculty member, the student should submit a description of the course of study, a bibliography and the anticipated final product (a long paper, annotated bibliography, creative project, etc.) to the MATX director and the graduate programs adviser. An electronic override is issued for registration upon approval.

For the independent study application form, please contact the graduate programs adviser.

Internship opportunities are available in the Richmond area at a range of institutions including museums, libraries and galleries. Students seek out their own internships and submit to the MATX director a description of the planned internship with the approval of the external supervisor. The final grade will be assigned by the supervisor in consultation with the MATX director. A student may take one or three credits of internship in a given semester. No more than six credits of internship may be counted toward the degree.

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