Introduction to Media Theory

Course Details
Course: 
FILM 120
Instructor: 
Yiman Wang
Quarter: 
Winter
Academic Year: 
2017-18

Course Description: 

Who produces film and media theories, when, where, and why? What might film and media theory look like if we take a global perspective to study its construction by practitioners and critics alike in different geopolitical areas (including but not confined to Euro-America) where media works are produced, consumed and mobilized? How might we reexamine the Western film and media canon (such as Sergei Eisenstein’s montage, André Bazin’s film ontology and Christian Metz’s semiotics) if we focus on tracing their translation, transformations and parallels outside Euro-America? And conversely, in what ways could our de-Euro-American-centric perspective enable an understanding of film and media theory that attends to its inherent border-crossing and dialogic configuration? 

Guided by these questions, this class introduces students to some selected “usual suspects” in Euro-American film and media theoretical discourses, and further broadens the horizon to engage with theoretical writings generated in Asia and Latin America. Students are expected to not only gain knowledge of individual discourses, but also to learn to unpack the intricate dialogic relationship between these discourses across geopolitical borders and increasingly, across media formats. The goal is to place theory in specific technological, historical and socio-political contexts so as to challenge the universalizing tendency in theory study. 

Screenings will accompany the readings to showcase how theoretical discourses both stem from media practices and also come to reshape such practices. Students are expected to do weekly short writings and a set of cumulative research essays.