Modern Culture and Media

The Modern Culture and Media concentration combines the study of contemporary theories of representation and cultural production with the analysis of diverse texts – visual and verbal, literary and historical, archival and imaginative – in the period broadly designated as “modern” (18th to 21st centuries). Since the appearance of modern means of textual production and reproduction (print, film, video, sound recording, digital practices, etc.), traditional artistic and literary forms have changed significantly and new forms have been developed. MCM pursues teaching and research premised on the centrality of these changes to the analysis of modern culture. We may study the modern media or the canonical texts of the humanities, but we examine all texts as elements in cultural systems that influence and organize textual production and reception at any moment in history. Our work always aims at better understanding ourselves as participants in and products of a global, mass-mediated culture.

Track I

Track I concentrators may choose to study a particular historical moment, a medium, or a mode of textual production, in combination with theoretical studies that examine the categories of cultural analysis: for example, the distinction between high and low culture. Examples of areas of interest include but are not limited to film, gender/sexuality, digital media, television, post-coloniality, the novel, modern thought, the modern arts, sound, and theories of ideology and subjectivity. Productive work in some modern medium or textual mode is encouraged for all concentrators. MCM’s approach to production recognizes the inextricable link between theory and practice, and the possibility of a fruitful complicity between them. Production, in the sense defined here, is a theoretically informed sphere or practice, one within which acknowledged forms of cultural creation are tested and extended in close complementarity with the analyses conducted elsewhere in MCM.

Track I consists of 11 courses.

1. Three core courses:

  1. MCM0110
  2. two of the following: MCM0230, MCM0240, MCM0250, MCM0260, MCM1110. No more than three courses from this list may count for concentration requirements.

2. Five additional courses, of which

  1. one must be an upper level course numbered MCM1200
  2. two must be senior seminars (MCM1500 or MCM1700)
  3. the remaining two must be at any level in MCM above MCM0260

3. Three additional courses. These courses may be in MCM or in related departments. The specific courses must be approved by an MCM concentration advisor as part of a coherent program of study.

Other Requirements:

  1. Focus Area: Of the 11 courses required for the concentration, at least 3 courses must be in a focus area approved by a concentration advisor. These courses may be MCM courses, related courses, or a combination or the two, and they must represent a concentration on some aspect of modern literature, theory, media, art or culture. Examples of possible focus areas are: mass/popular culture, gender/sexuality, language/representation/subjectivity, narrative, digital media, film, modern thought, television, the modern arts, the novel, colonialism and post-colonialism, and so on. This is not an exhaustive list. Production courses may be in the focus area but must be in addition to the minimum 3 courses.
  2. Production: Work in production is encouraged but not required for all Track I concentrators. Of the 11 courses required for concentration, as many as 3 may be in production. These may be production courses offered by MCM (film, video, digital media) or courses in creative writing, painting, photography, journalism, etc., provided they do not bring the total number of concentration courses taken outside MCM to more than 3.

Honors: Students who qualify for Honors in Track I are eligible to apply to do an Honors project or thesis. Applications will be screened by the MCM Honors Committee. (Application forms should be obtained by prospective honors students in the 7th semester. They are available in the MCM office.) If approved, a student must then register for MCM1990, a one-credit thesis course in which they complete the Honors project.

Track II

Track II concentration combines production courses with the critical study of the cultural role of practice. It aims to engage students in the analysis of theories of production elaborated within philosophical, artistic, and technological traditions, while encouraging them to produce works that interrogate these traditions.

Track II consists of 11 courses:

  1. Two core courses (chosen with the advisor to reflect the student’s production interest)
    1. MCM0110
    2. Introductory Practice Course (for example: MCM0710, MCM0730, MCM0750, VISA0100, VISA0110, VISA0120, MUSC0200, CSCI0150, LITR0110, LITR0210) or History of a Medium or Practice (for example: HIAA0010, TAPS0030, MUSC0010, or MUSC0040)
  2. One additional course from the following: MCM0230, MCM0240, MCM0250, MCM0260, MCM1110.
  3. Three courses numbered MCM1200 or MCM1500. At least one must be MCM1500.
  4. Four practice courses selected in consultation with an advisor. Courses can be in any medium or combinatory sequence of media from the following departments: Modern Culture and Media, Visual Art, Music, Literary Arts, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Computer Science, Engineering, supplemented by approved courses at Rhode Island School of Design and study abroad. (This list is not exhaustive.)
  5. One senior seminar: MCM1700 Seminars in Production or other equivalent in production.

Honors: Honors in Track II entails one additional course, generally an independent study (MCM1990 Honors Thesis Project). Enrollment in this course is approved upon acceptance of an Honors Proposal. Application forms must be submitted by prospective Honors students in the beginning of their seventh semester and are available in the MCM office. The course is taken in the student’s final semester. An Honors degree reflects not only the completion of the thesis course and project, but generally distinguished performance in the concentration.




Page last updated in February, 2012.

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