Graduate Courses in Communication Studies 2017-2018

Fall 2017

COMS 601 (24541) The Problem of Communication (3 credits) Prof. Darin Barney, M, 1135-1425, Ferrier 230

“Communication is not anything like a transportation of experiences, such as opinions and wishes, from the interior of one subject into the interior of another.”
- Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (1927)

Communication is fraught. To be fraught is to carry threat or promise. The word derives from the Middle English verb fraught, for ‘to load with cargo’ which, in turn, derives from the Middle Dutch vrecht, for freight. Communication carries freight: a threat and a promise, a problem and a solution. This course will examine the problem/solution of communication as it has been treated in the tradition of western social and political thought, and also in challenges to this tradition. We will try to unpack the freight with which communication has been loaded, by close reading and discussion of selected primary texts.

Course requirements:
Seminar participation - 20%
Seminar presentation - 20%
Short papers (x6) - 60%

COMS 616 (CRN 1594) Staff-Student Colloquium (3 credits) Prof. Will Straw, T, 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.

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

Instructor’s approval required

COMS 633 (23979) / WMST 601 (6739) Feminist Media Studies (3 credits) Prof. Jennifer Burman, W, 1435-1725, Arts W-220

Course description coming soon.

COMS 639 (22499) / ARTH 723 (24619) / EAST 515 (24010) Interpretive Methods in Media (3 credits) Prof. Thomas Lamarre, T, Th, 1435-1555, Ferrier 230

Objectives:
This course introduces a number of theoretical approaches to the study of nonwestern histories, cultures, institutions, etc. There are two primary objectives: to prepare students to read and analyze contemporary scholarly theory and practice; and to examine the goals and histories of various disciplines in constructing their object of study. The aim is not merely to present some of the critical impasses of various disciplinary approaches, but more importantly to discuss alternatives.

Methodology: We will discuss the reading or readings indicated in the schedule on that date, with an emphasis on analyzing these texts in terms of their aims/hypotheses, assumptions/conclusions, and modes of analysis. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the readings. The readings are organized around a certain problematic. At the end of each unit, a response on that unit will be due, as marked on the schedule. In general, the response will comprise five pages: one page of critical summary for each of four different readings from that unit (which will be announced), with a fifth page presenting a more general response. There will be, in total, four of these five-page responses. Students are encouraged to use the fifth page to relate the readings to a specific research project, such that, in the course the term, student can develop a critical perspective for that project. Students are welcome to write a short paper based on that project instead of the fourth response paper.

Evaluation:
20% - Participation
80% - 4 responses, 20%

COMS 646 (CRN 22499) / EAST 560 (CRN 22142) Popular Media (3 credits) Prof. Yuriko Furuhata, M, 1435-1725, Arts W-220

The course takes as a point of departure the recent “environmental turn” in Media Studies. Coming on the heels of an interdisciplinary push to expand the scope of media beyond the canonical forms of mass media and social media, this turn towards the environment has prompted scholars to think about the atmosphere, climate, ambience, technical milieus, habitats, built environments, and other territorial enclosures in relation to technological media. The literal and metaphorical concerns over the environment is also growing among Area Studies scholars, who have developed so-called “media ecological” approaches to the study of interlocking systems and convergences across social, economic, institutional, and infrastructural dimensions of media production, circulation, and consumption. The course builds on this current situation in Media Studies and Area Studies in order to broaden the notion of “environment” and map out key historical moments, methodological challenges, and theoretical issues that bridge these two fields.

Instead of interpreting the relationship between media and environment in the contemporary sense of environmental sustainability, energy consumption, and digital rubbish, this course therefore uses the framework of media environment to rethink the relation between media and milieu/environment in an expanded context. Our task is to think “media” beyond canonical forms such as radio, cinema, television, and the Internet by exploring a wide range of material objects, technics, technology, and “cultural techniques,” and their socio-historical articulations with a given milieu. This expanded approach to media also allows us to revisit and raise questions about a wide range of topics such as the ubiquity of screens in urban space, the regulatory and disciplinary functions of media, or the continuing material impact of colonial telecommunication infrastructures in the present. Since the questions of the environment, milieu, and territory are inseparable from the legacies of imperialism and colonialism that are indispensable for the studies of Asia, we will also look at biological and anthropological conceptions of “animal,” “human,” “race,” “species,” and “genus” that appear alongside discourses on environments.

Questions to consider during this course are: How might we then use this environmental turn in media studies to rethink and revisit the histories of media, technics, and technology in and through East Asia? How might this expanded approach to media and environment resonate with, resist, or rewrite earlier methodological and theoretical concerns that bridge Area Studies and Media Studies?

Assignments and Evaluation 
1/Attendance - 10 % 
2/Participation & Weekly Response Papers - 20 %
3/ Midterm Synthesis Paper : due November 1 - 20
4/ Object Lesson: due November 6 - 10%
5/ Final Paper: due December 14 - 40 %

COMS 683 (CRN 22003) Special Topics in Media and Politics: “Queer Theory and the Politics of Death” (3 credits) Prof. Bobby Benedicto, F, 1135-1425, Arts W-220

Special Topics in Media and Politics: “Queer Theory and the Politics of Death”
In this seminar, we will examine the various ways queer theory has addressed and complicated questions surrounding the politics and aesthetics of death. We will explore questions such as: How has queer sexuality been linked to psychoanalytic and philosophical conceptions of the “death drive”? How and why have nonnormative or anti-normative sexualities interwoven understandings of eroticism with morbidity, self-annihilation, and violence? In what ways are non-normative genders and sexualities shaped by the regulation, management, and imagination of life and death? How is queer thinking about death troubled by the actual death of queer subjects, particularly those whose lives, under racist and colonial regimes, are always under threat? In addressing these questions, we will draw on interventions in queer theory that problematize death through an engagement with psychoanalytic and philosophical discourses, as well as with recent interventions in critical race theory, affect theory, and theories of temporality.

Course Seminar
Participation 20%
Requirements Seminar Facilitation 20%
Final Essay Proposal 20%
Final Essay 40%

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 2018

COMS 608 (CRN 17226) Sound Studies (3 credits) Prof. Jonathan Sterne, M, 1435-1725, Arts W-5

Course description coming soon.

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

Course description coming soon.

COMS 637 (CRN 17860) / ARTH 724 (17859) / EAST 527 (17794) Historiography of Communications (3 credits) Prof. Thomas Lamarre, M, 1135-1425, Leacock 15

Course description coming soon.

COMS 675 (CRN 17227) Media and Urban Life (3 credits) Prof. Will Straw, W, 1135-1425, Arts W-220 

Course description coming soon.

COMS 681 (CRN 18139) Special Topics: Media and Culture (3 credits) Prof. Jenny Burman, T, 1435-1525, Arts W-5

Course description 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.