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Graduate Courses in Communication Studies 2016-2017

Fall 2016

COMS 616 (1594) Staff-Student Colloquium (3 credits) Prof. Darin Barney, M, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

This course introduces incoming AHCS graduate students to the field of communication studies and to the expectations and requirements of the MA and PhD programs in communication studies at McGill University. The course involves a review of selected materials in the field of communication studies grounded in interdisciplinary, critical, anti-oppression, and/or interpretive perspectives. Students are expected to prepare for each seminar by completing the assigned readings and related activities, actively taking part in seminar discussions and events in the department, and completing a series of writing assignments. Attendance is mandatory. The course will be augmented by specialized seminars given by the departmental faculty in their respective fields.

Course requirements:
Seminar participation - 50%
Short papers (x10) - 50%

Seminar participation will consist of vigorous engagement in weekly discussions of assigned texts. Consistent failure to attend or participate will be penalized.

Short papers will consist of brief essays (500 words max. except where indicated).
The distribution of essays will be as follows:
- 2 essays Weeks 1 and 2
- 7 essays from Weeks 4-11 (critical responses to one or more of assigned readings; note special instructions for some weeks as indicated)
- 1 essay Week 12

COMS 630 (12473) Readings in Communications Research 1 (3 credits) Instructor’s approval required

Instructor’s approval required

COMS 646 (22499) / EAST 600 (22408) Popular Media: “Comparative Media and Critical Area Studies” (3 credits) Prof. Yuriko Furuhata, Th, 1235-1525, SH 688 room 495

This seminar aims to bridge the institutional and geopolitical distance that separates media studies from area studies through the framework of comparative media. The historicity of “comparison” as an epistemological problem haunts established humanities disciplines such as area studies, comparative literature, and anthropology, and the comparative method has gained critical attention alongside recent transnational, global, and cosmopolitan approaches to research objects. This general move away from the taken-for-granted unity of the nation-state and language, which has been the premise of area studies, coincided with an equally expansive approach to the definition of media within media studies. Scholars working in the fields of infrastructure studies, media archaeology, and media ecology have redefined the parameter of media to include a plethora of media objects – both old and new – and developed new alliances with scholars working in area studies, anthropology, environmental studies, and science and technology studies. In light of these shifting boundaries of area studies and media studies, how might we critically displace North America as default center of media studies, all the while going beyond the specialist understanding of a nation, region, or area that scholars of non-Western media often presuppose? How might we situate our own methodological, theoretical, and political stance within the emergent interdisciplinary terrain of comparative media studies?

The goal of this seminar is thus twofold: 1) students are encouraged to reflect critically on their assumed geopolitical “area” of their study and its claim to universality and/or particularity; 2) students are encouraged to compare, contrast, and synthesize different methodological and disciplinary approaches introduced in class with a keen sense of their affinities and differences.

Assignments and Evaluation
Class participation & Weekly Response Papers - 40 %
Midterm Workshop - 25 %
Research Proposal - 35 %

COMS 647 (21984) / ARTH 730 (19316) Emerging Media (3 credits) Prof. Carrie Rentschler, Th, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

Course Description: This course examines the cultural, historical and political conditions of emergent media and the social configurations generative of them. This term’s seminar focuses on a range of conceptual frameworks for understanding the social conditions in which new media and technology emerge and the forms of social and political collectivity shaped in and by them. Our goal this semester is to deepen our understandings of contemporary theory of new and emergent media and develop robust conceptual frameworks for analyzing the cultural practices, modes of sociality and configurations of power and resistance at stake in the emergence of new media systems and technologies.

The following questions will guide some of our exploration: What constitutes the conditions of media emergence? How do media historians and cultural studies scholars approach the creation of “new” media with a view toward longer genealogies of social practice (for example, around histories of slavery, colonialism and surveillance)? How are practices of self-making and social collectivity linked to the emergence of media forms and systems (such as in the quantified self movement, for example)? How are emergent social formations – as Raymond Williams might ask -- formed by and through technological and media developments (for example, in the forms of aggregate subjectivity we find in video aggregators, comment culture, and other sharing platforms)?

Our course readings have been chosen to help us better conceptualize and analyze the relationships between cultural practices, social formations, and changing media environments and tools. Each text fleshes out and deepens the critical frameworks available to us for understanding and conceptualizing what constitutes “the emergent” in social formations and technological systems, in radically contextual ways. Course readings are drawn from literature in Cultural Studies, media history, social media studies, new media studies, feminist and queer technology studies, Black studies, and surveillance studies, among others. Course texts explore key concepts in new media and digital culture as well as case studies in the cultural politics of contemporary social media, cultures of surveillance, and data systems. Most weeks’ readings are accompanied by short passages on digital keywords in the field.

Assignments:
Weekly Short Writing Assignments [ungraded but required; 15% of final grade]
Discussion Facilitation [15% of final grade]
Seminar Paper Proposal [20% of final grade]
Peer-Workshop of Draft Seminar Paper [ungraded but required; 10% of final grade]
Seminar Paper [40% of final grade]

COMS 675 (18662) / ARTH 731 (21403) Media and Urban Life / Current Problems in Art History: topic "Media and Urban Life" (3 credits) Prof. Will Straw, F, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

Coming soon.

COMS 683 (22003) Special Topics in Media and Politics: “Critical Policy Studies” (3 credits) Prof. Becky Lentz, W, 1135-1425, Ferrier 230

The subfield of policy studies referred to as “critical policy studies” challenges established accounts and norms of policy-analytic methods. Critical policy studies scholars explore alternative approaches to policy-making that pertain to democratic forms of governance, participatory practices, social justice, and general public welfare. This orientation to policy formation, policy analysis, and policy evaluation necessitates an emphasis on the interplay between qualitative and quantitative modes of inquiry. The course thus moves beyond narrow empirical approaches to pay special attention to critical, interpretive, and discursive orientations.

To apply course readings, students will select a specific policy issue involving an inequity in a policy domain of their own choosing (e.g., environment, housing, reproductive rights, health, migration, incarceration, education, media justice, racialization, immigration, sexuality, homelessness, poverty, etc.). Students will learn to write a Policy Memo arguing the benefits of a critical policy studies approach to their chosen issue area.

At minimum, by the end of the course, students should be able to:
• Demonstrate in discussion and writing an increased awareness of the value of alternative models and approaches to policy formation, analysis, and evaluation;
• Drawing on selected readings from the course, develop a convincing rationale for a critical policy perspective on a policy issue of their choosing; and
• Learn how to draft a Policy Memo from a critical policy studies perspective

Assessment:
• Participation 60%: attendance and quality of required weekly reading reflections, substantive contributions to seminar discussion, and oral presentations in seminar
• Final paper and presentation of paper (40%) that demonstrates the ability to apply a critical policy perspective to a dominant policy genre: the Policy Memo. The assignment demands synthesizing course readings into an actual policy argument, in this case, a convincing rationale (with examples from the student’s chosen policy issue area) for requiring a course in critical policy studies as part of McGill’s forthcoming new major/minor concentration in Public Policy.

COMS 692 (CRN 3404) M.A. Thesis Preparation 1 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 693 (CRN 3405) M.A. Thesis Preparation 2 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 694 (CRN 3406) M.A. Thesis Preparation 3 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 695 (CRN 3407) M.A. Thesis Preparation 4 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 702 (CRN 7097) Comprehensive Exam (0 credits)

Comprehensive examination as per departmental procedure.

COMS 703 (CRN 4271) Dissertation Proposal (0 credits)

Dissertation proposal.

COMS 730 (CRN 3408) Readings in Communication Research 2 (3 credits) Instructor’s approval required

Reading programs supervised by a member of staff; topics will be chosen to suit individual interests.

 

Winter 2017

COMS 611 (CRN 16067) / ARTH 731 (16952) History/Theory/Technology: “Materialities in Comparative Perspective” (3 credits) Prof. Jonathan Sterne, F, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

Coming soon.

COMS 627 (CRN 16781) Global Media Governance (3 credits) Prof. Marc Raboy, W, 1435-1725, Arts W-5

Coming soon.

COMS 630 (CRN 4374) Readings in Communication Research 1 (3 credits) Instructor’s approval required

Coming soon.

COMS 683 (CRN 16069) Special Topics in Media and Politics: “Infrastructure” (3 credits) Prof. Darin Barney, Th, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

Coming soon.

COMS 692 (CRN 1458) M.A. Thesis Preparation 1 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 693 (CRN 1459) M.A. Thesis Preparation 2 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 694 (CRN 1460) M.A. Thesis Preparation 3 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 695 (CRN 1461) M.A. Thesis Preparation 4 (6 credits)

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.

COMS 702 (CRN 6119) Comprehensive Exam (0 credits)

Comprehensive examination as per departmental procedure.

COMS 703 (CRN 3269) Dissertation Proposal (0 credits)

Dissertation proposal.

COMS 730 (CRN 1462) Readings in Communications Research 2 (3 credits) Instructor’s approval required

Reading programs supervised by a member of staff; topics will be chosen to suit individual interests.