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Graduate Courses in Communication Studies 2020-2021

Fall 2020

COMS 608 (CRN 18335) (3 credits)
Sound Studies
Prof. Jonathan Sterne (with Prof. Emily Dolan at Brown)
Friday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM

What is an instrument?  Today, in a variety of fields, the definitions of instrument and instrumentality are transforming.  While retaining its older connotations of delegation, means to ends, and tool-use, the terms instrument—and instrumental—now also imply bigger, messier complexes of technologies, bodies and rationalities.  In some places, like the dashboards in cars, once-separate instruments collapse into systems. In others, like operating rooms, music studios, in machine learning scenarios, datasets, and financial markets, they proliferate wildly. In this seminar, we will think transversally, across categories and contexts, to consider the form and meaning of musical instruments, technical instruments, and ideas of instrumentality.

Syllabus (pdf)

 


COMS 616 (CRN 1594) (3 credits)
Staff-Student Colloquium 1: Professional Seminar in Communication Studies
Prof. Jenny Burman
Wednesday, 11:35 PM-2:25 PM

This seminar introduces incoming Communication Studies graduate students to core theoretical and methodological issues animating the field of communication studies, practical strategies for writing, and the specific orientations and research interests of faculty teaching within the AHCS program at McGill. The first half of the course will concentrate on the practicalities of graduate school, work life and writing, especially grant writing. It will be followed by a series of guest presentations by AHCS departmental faculty and will introduce students to a series of methods and themes around the archive, materiality, the gift, liberalism/neoliberalism and postcolonialism that cut across various fields, periods, and orientations.


COMS 630 (CRN 12473) (3 credits)
Readings in Communications Research 1

Advisor's approval required.


COMS 646 (CRN 27670) (3 credits)
Popular Media
Prof. Yuriko Furuhata
Thursday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM

From invisible networks of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals that connect our smartphones, speakers, and laptops to satellites and local data centers to the ecological footprint and environmental toxicity of producing, shipping, and disposing consumer electronics, what we call “media” are deeply entangled with our “environments” (both natural and technological). Drawing on methods and approaches of media archaeology, environmental media studies, and critical area studies, the course approaches the nexus between media and the environment through the following three thematic foci: 1) atmosphere and ambience; 2) infrastructure and architecture; 3) ecology and geology. We will explore both established and emerging methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of mediated environments that are central to the interdisciplinary field of Asian Media Studies. The questions this seminar will address include the following: How might we think historically and site-specifically about universalizing claims about “media” in relation to the geopolitical “area” called Asia? How does paying attention to the ambient, atmospheric, elemental, and ecological dimensions of our everyday media practice change the way we define media? How do media organize our perception of time and space? How do we account for the historical and ongoing violence (e.g. colonialism, imperialism, warfare, climate crisis) that have shaped and continue to affect the proliferation of media infrastructures which are supposed make our life more comfortable and convenient? How might we decolonize knowledge production within and through Asian Media Studies?

Syllabus (pdf) 


COMS 683 (CRN 22003) (3 credits)
Special Topics in Media and Politics: Infrastructure
Prof. Darin Barney
Monday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM

The Falkirk Wheel. Glasgow, Scotland.
Among the conditions of possibility of communication are the availabilities and affordances of infrastructure. This seminar will investigate the recent (re)turn of attention to infrastructure in the field of communication and media studies, in the context of similar turns in related fields of anthropology, geography, sociology, architecture and environmental studies. What counts as infrastructure, and what are the limits of this category? How is power materialized, mediated and contested as, by and through infrastructure? What role does infrastructure play in the configuration of urban, rural, local, national, colonial and imperial imaginations, economies and geographies? Drawing on an emergent, interdisciplinary literature, this seminar will explore theoretical and empirical studies of the social, political and environmental dimensions of infrastructure across the terrains of communication, transportation, cities, colonialism/imperialism, resource extraction, logistics, energy, labour, environment and resistance. 


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

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


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

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


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

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


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

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


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

Comprehensive examination as per departmental procedure.


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

Dissertation proposal.


COMS 730 (CRN 3408) (3 credits)
Readings in Communication Research 2

Supervisor's approval required.
 


Winter 2021

COMS 500 (CRN 15845) (3 credits)
Special Topics in Communications Studies 1
Monday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Prof. Bobby Benedicto
Arts W-220

The scope of queer theory has expanded dramatically since its emergence in the early 1990s. While queer studies scholars continue to offer robust critiques of heteronormativity, those critiques have also been complicated by ongoing engagements with broader debates across the theoretical humanities. This advanced seminar will examine recent shifts in queer studies, focusing especially on conceptual developments arising from renewed interest in psychoanalytic accounts of sex and sexuality, as well as interventions in critical race theory, Black studies, animal studies, and science studies. We will explore questions such as: How does queer theory contribute to post- and anit-humanist theories of the subject? What connections can be drawn across accounts of “negativity” in queer, trans*, and Black studies? How and why have these interrelated fields centered ontological questions or concerns surrounding the nature of being and non-being? In asking such questions, this seminar emphasizes the importance of theory in queer theory and draws attention to the various challenges it poses to queer politics as we have come to know it.


COMS 501 (CRN 20124) (3 credits)
Special Topics in Communications Studies 2: New Perspectives on the Politics of Digital Media, Older Perspectives on Politics and Technology

Thursday, 11:35 PM-2:25 PM
Prof. Gabriella Coleman
Arts W-220

This class will pair recent books on digital media with complementary theoretical pieces on politics and/or technology. The book selection will expose students to cutting edge research by critical internet and digital media scholars who address issues of labor, visual culture, journalism, algorithms, race, class, activism, feminism while the theoretical texts will expose students to classical texts around questions of labor, publics, and technology.

Pairing these texts together will allow students to familiarize themselves with but also critically rethink theoretical paradigms and arguments around technology and politics vis-a-vis empirically grounded studies and ethnographies covering a range of issues about the use and abuse of technology during contemporary times.

Among other text, book authors we will be reading include Sarah Roberts, Alessandra Renzi, Zeynep Gursel, Alex Dent, and Alissa Richardson and theoretical texts will include pieces by Sarah Harding, Raymond Williams, Langdon Winner, Wendy Brown, Michael Warner, Nancy Fraser, and Hannah Arendt.


COMS 630 (CRN 15847) (3 credits)
Readings in Communications Research 1

Supervisor’s approval required.


COMS 647 (CRN 20125) (3 credits)
Emerging Media
Prof. Carrie Rentschler
Monday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
Ferrier 230

This course aims to deepen our conceptual understandings of emergent media and internet culture, and to develop robust critical frameworks for analyzing the cultural practices, modes of sociality and configurations of power and resistance at stake in media systems and technologies. Course readings will be drawn from scholarship in Cultural Studies, media history, social media studies, new media and internet studies, feminist and queer technology studies, Black studies, and surveillance studies, among others.  Course texts explore key concepts and objects of study in new media and digital culture – such as big data, technological affordances, platforms and platform governance, algorithmic culture and algorithmic oppression, aggregate subjectivity, networked misogyny, content moderation, digital labour, and online activism, among others -- as well as case studies in the cultural politics of contemporary social media, cultures of surveillance, and data systems.


COMS 675 (CRN 15849) (3 credits)
Media and Urban Life
Prof. Will Straw
Tuesday, 2:35 PM - 5:25 PM
Ferrier 230

This course deals with a variety of ways in which we might think about the relationship of cities to media, art and culture. Cities “contain” media, of course, but the relationship between the two goes beyond this. Cities are themselves media-like in the ways in which they process information, structure cultural expression and give material form to social history and memory. Likewise, as spaces marked by rhythms of activity and experience, forms of interconnection and exchange, cities are fundamentally “cultural” in ways that go beyond those activities we normally designate as “culture.”

 


COMS 692 (CRN 15850) (6 credits)
M.A. Thesis Preparation 1

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


COMS 693 (CRN 15851) (6 credits)
M.A. Thesis Preparation 2

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


COMS 694 (CRN 15852) (6 credits)
M.A. Thesis Preparation 3

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


COMS 695 (CRN 15853) (6 credits)
M.A. Thesis Preparation 4

Preparatory work towards the Master's thesis.


COMS 702 (CRN 1586) (0 credits)
Comprehensive Exam

Comprehensive examination as per departmental procedure.


COMS 703 (CRN 1613) (0 credits)
Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation proposal.


COMS 730 (CRN 15854) (3 credits)
Readings in Communications Research 2

Supervisor's approval required.


 

 
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