The Catholic University of America

Course Descriptions

Media & Communication Studies (MDIA)

To view the complete schedule of courses for
each semester, go to Cardinal Station.

MDIA 201: Intro to Media and Communication Studies

3.00 Credits

Students learn basic media literacy by developing conceptual tools to think critically about cinema, television, advertising, print journalism, the internet, etc. The course focuses on the process of reading media texts from distinct rhetorical perspectives--in terms of a text's form and in terms of its relationships to audiences, authors, and the real world--in order to explore how the mass media shape and convey meaning.

MDIA 202: Media and History

3.00 Credits

Introduces students to the history of media and to the stakes of historical inquiry. Explores media literacies in and across time. Considers the technological, social, economic, and perceptual conditions that make print, broadcast, and digital media meaningful. Students learn to think carefully about transitions and interactions among media and culture in the past in order better to understand the pace and character of change today.

MDIA 210: Italian Women Artists

3.00 Credits

This course examines the evolution of female subjectivity in 20th and 21st century Italian culture, film, and literature from Unification and Fascism to modern Democracy through the works of major female writers and filmmakers. In the first module of the course, students study how Italian women writers Sibilla Aleramo, Anna Banti, Elsa Morante, Dacia Maraini and the 1926 Nobel prize winner for literature Grazia Deledda perceive societal changes in their novels. The second part examines such changes through the lens of female filmmakers, Francesca Comencini and Alina Marazzi amongst others. Discussing and analyzing the literary and cinematic narratives of the Self, identity, relationships and sisterhood, gender and maternity, politics and family will be the core of our work. Taught in English. Satisfies literature and humanities requirements. Cross-listed with ITAL 210.

MDIA 212: Italy in Early Cinema

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 301: Media and Rhetoric

3.00 Credits

Considers the mass media in light of traditional rhetorical principles. Introduces students to classical persuasion theory; the invention of argument, character, and emotion; the function of arrangement and style; and the relevance of all of these to the study of film, television, advertising, and other forms of mass media. Same as ENG 430.

MDIA 302: Media Rhetoric and Aesthetics

4.00 Credits

Students build upon knowledge from previous courses in the Department of Media Studies by exploring how images and meaning are constructed. Emphasis is on visual literacy and production techniques. This course uses a combination of lecture, hands-on exercises and discussion to introduce students to the aesthetic principles involved in media production. Students will investigate lighting, composition, camera movement, sound and editing, with the aim of further developing critical awareness of audio/visual texts. The course will also provide a technical foundation for beginning media producers. Prerequisite: MDIA 201 or permission from Instructor

MDIA 305: The Myth of Childhood in Italian Cinema

3.00 Credits

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the important theme of childhood in Italian Cinema. In fact, this topic is very frequented by Italian film makers, as the child's point of view is present in many trends and periods of Italian cinema which often utilizes literary texts as its point of departure to develop new perspectives on childhood and Italian society in its transformations. In this course, students will be offered a unique chance of analyzing the theme of childhood in mainly two periods of Italian cinema. One, the famous period dubbed as Neo-realism, will make up the first part of the semester. We will analyze films by Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, and Roberto Rossellini. Films from postmodern cinema will constitute the second and final part of the semester. In this part of the course, we will screen films by Gianni Amelio, Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores, and Cristina Comencini. The idea behind this division is to compare and contrast these two very different cinematic expressions which originate from different periods of Italian society and its history. The result I hope to reach is a fruitful semester after which students will be familiar and comfortable with Italian film reading and related cinematic techniques, with the desire to further pursue studies in both. Taught in English. Satisfies requirements for humanities.

MDIA 306: The Italian-American Experience: A Survey

3.00 Credits

In this course students will analyze Italian migration in the United States from a cultural and literary point of view. The formation of a new identity arises from the bridging of the former culture and the new one to master. This process of formation, along with the issues raising from the condition of immigrants and the energy drawn from a new economic situation of mobility, have led Italian American artists to express themselves successfully in fiction and poetry, in film and the visual arts. These are some of the aspects that students, after a historical introduction to the phenomenon, will observe and study during the semester. Lectures are supplemented by film excerpts and guest lecturers. Same as ITAL 206

MDIA 307: The Splendor of Rome in Literature & Film

3.00 Credits

Famous twins Romulus and Remus were merely the first two artists who shaped Rome, one of the most beautiful, complex, and recounted cities in the world! The Eternal City, as it is often referred to, is the physical embodiment of a complex identity as it the point of reference for many artists and travelers who have journeyed and relentlessly tried to construct images for its beauty. During this virtual walk through Rome's (particularly modern) history, students will encounter works revealing the singular allure of the space of the city that is twice a capital. From the work of world-renown directors Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica to that of writers Alberto Moravia and Amara Lakhous, students will enjoy the dolce vita (sweet life) and the cultural import of Rome in poetry, in music, in the visual arts, and cinema. Taught in English. Same as MDIA 307. Satisfies requirements for HUM and LIT.

MDIA 308: Mafia, Politics and Society in Italian Cinema

3.00 Credits

Italian directors and scriptwriters have consistently shown a strong awareness of their country's socio-political complexities. From the Mafia to political corruption, Italian artists fearlessly engage with their society's scandals, corruption cases, and untimely and unjust deaths of their fellow citizens. Students will see and analyze films from the postwar period to the current day. Through films like Divorce Italian-Style or Gomorrah, students gain an understanding of how movies centered on social issues can be simultaneously entertaining and thought-provoking. Taught in English. Satisfies requirements for Italian Studies Minor and humanities. Same as ITAL 230.

MDIA 311: Critical Approaches to Media

3.00 Credits

This course takes up advanced questions of meaning, interpretation, and critical method. Building on the exploration of text, author, and audience in Introduction to Media Studies, this course examines issues and methods in media studies and explores key critical debates in areas such as film and television theory, semiotics, discourse analysis, performance studies, sound studies, and audience and reception studies. Topics will be drawn from a variety of stylistic traditions, genres, themes and geographic locations. Required for majors in the critical studies track. Prerequisite: MDIA 201 or Departmental permission.

MDIA 312: Media Composition

3.00 Credits

Students continue to apply critical principles learned in MDIA 401 and other core courses as they develop advanced skills in sound and video composition and produce their own sound and moving image sequences using Final Cut Pro. Later, students do a collaborative project in an atmosphere that simulates professional field and studio production. Required for majors in the production track. Prerequisite: MDIA 201 & MDIA 302 or permission from the instructor.

MDIA 317: Media and Social Change

3.00 Credits

This course considers the relationship between media and social change. Using case studies drawn from a range of periods and locations, it examines how various forms of media have played a role in raising social awareness, agitating for justice, producing and disseminating propaganda, and/or interpreting historical and current events.

MDIA 318: Media, Satire & Citizenship

3.00 Credits

The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen the growing prominence and influence of satirical media outlets such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion, and Politically Incorrect. Comic political videos have become commonplace, parodies such as those on Saturday Night Live have gone memic, and politicians obligingly take to the air on entertainment TV programs. MDIA318 examines this phenomenon in the broader historical contexts of political satire and the rhetoric of humor, addressing questions about its contemporary functions, its relation to the dominance of traditional news media and practices of partisan news and talk outlets, and controversy over whether "fake news" and 'infotainment' serve or harm democratic civic culture.

MDIA 318A: Media and Foreign Policy

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 320: Civic Media: Policy and Design

3.00 Credits

Students engage the concepts, genres, and policies of public, state, and community media approaches. In addition, the class visits prominent noncommercial media industry sites to meet curators and practitioners, including: NPR, Smithsonian, BBC, Library of Congress, and National Archives.

MDIA 321: Legal Issues in Communications

3.00 Credits

Acquaints students with American's constitutional heritage of free expression and right to privacy in the content of one's communications. In particular, course will overview U.S. Constitution and federal legislative scheme, then consider and analyze the government's involvement with, surveillance of, and control over broadcast and print media, cellular communications, computers, the Internet and emerging technologies. Primary attention to practical issues that affect media professionals, including libel, invasion of privacy, access to government information, Fourth Amendment privacy rights, the courts, and the powers of the Federal Communications Commission.

MDIA 322: Media and Crime

3.00 Credits

Course focuses on media depictions of crime and criminality, studying the role of media in constructing, explaining, glorifying, and/or condemning crime. Traverses a range of media forms and genres, including case studies from news media, Court TV and other reality formats, narrative fiction films, television series, and documentaries. Considers how digital technologies have shaped the ways that representations of crime are generated and transmitted.

MDIA 323: Fire, Comets, War: Media and Disaster

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 324: Silent Film Music

3.00 Credits

Students build upon knowledge from previous courses in Media Studies by exploring how images and meaning are constructed. Emphasis is on visual literacy and production techniques. Course uses a combination of lecture, discussion and hands-on exercises to introduce aesthetic principles involved in media production. Topics include lighting, photography, videography, sound recording and editing, with the goal of further developing critical awareness of mediated texts and providing a technical foundation for beginning media producers.

MDIA 325: Media Advocacy and Activism

3.00 Credits

MDIA 325 examines how political and cultural groups have utilized, responded to, and organized around media institutions and mediated representations in the 20th century. Students evaluate successful and unsuccessful strategies, and engage both liberal and conservative approaches. The class is premised upon a basic distinction between "advocacy" and "activism": 1) media advocacy - institutional and political system building focused on public and private media institutions, and 2) media activism - emergent responses to social, representational, and institutional messages prominently received through media circulation. Students read from a selection of conceptual, historical, and contemporary analyses, listen to presentations from guest researchers, and meet representatives from, as well as visit media advocacy and activism institutions in Washington D.C.

MDIA 326: Media and Social Justice

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 327: Media and the Middle East

3.00 Credits

This course focuses on a specific topic in Media and the Middle East, as determined by the instructor. Possible topics include Media and Politics in the Middle East, Film in the Middle East, Media and Social Change in the Middle East

MDIA 328: Clint Eastwood: Violence, Vengeance, & Redemption

3.00 Credits

Surveys the career of Clint Eastwood as actor, director and cultural icon, exploring the moral vision that evolves from his early roles as violent avengers (Dirty Harry Callahan, the Spaghetti Westerns' Man With No Name), through directorial work problematizing vengeance and violence (Unforgiven, Mystic River) and exploring atonement and forgiveness (Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino) to films that deconstruct American history and identity (Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima).

MDIA 329: Contemporary Global Cinema

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 330: Introduction to Journalism

3.00 Credits

Introduces students to research and writing techniques used by professional journalists. Explores the history of journalism and examines its impact on communities and its role within a democracy.

MDIA 333: Advanced Journalism

3.00 Credits

Developing principles and skills learned in Introduction to Journalism, students learn how to report the news, follow a beat, and develop feature writing skills, in laboratory and real-world settings. Prerequisite: MDIA 330 or equivalent experience.

MDIA 334: Media Ethics

3.00 Credits

The course focuses on issues of news media credibility, ethical judgments of journalists, and news decision making in light of overall declines in news media ratings and credibility. The course also examines coverage of current news stories, news practices and standards. Case studies and recent examples of news stories are used to explore tough issues, such as confidential sources, privacy, hidden cameras, hostage situations, and race relations.

MDIA 337: Media and the Underclass

3.00 Credits

Looks critically at how the media cover the underclass, the working poor, and poverty issues, and at the role of the media in making citizens aware of the poor. Same as POL 321.

MDIA 338: Art of the Interview

3.00 Credits

The course proceeds from the premise that anyone who asks questions is an interviewer. Specifically targeted to media studies, politics, and business students, the course demonstrates through observation, discussion, and practice that there is a philosophy and set of skills which can be learned, and which together raise ordinary conversation to the level of professional interviewing.

MDIA 340: German Weimar Culture

3.00 Credits

Interdisciplinary study of German politics, society, and culture during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). Expressionism in the arts, literature, and film; New Objectivity; Cabaret; Epic Theater; and Bauhaus will be considered in the context of Germany's failed experiment in democracy. Same as GER 240.

MDIA 352: Museum Studies

3.00 Credits

This course focuses on museum display as a form of multi-dimensional, interactive media. Readings and field trips will address the interaction of museum visitors, collections, and public space, and the class will draw upon the wealth of museum resources in the Washington area.

MDIA 353: Television and American Culture

3.00 Credits

This course introduces students to a variety of issues and methods in radio and television studies, including questions of form, content, and style (narrative, editing, sound, story arcs, genre, e.g.), as well as history and theory. Readings and discussions will address such issues as gender and domestic reception, flow and segmentation, liveness, and articulations of local and global media cultures.

MDIA 354: Media Industries

3.00 Credits

The development of digital media over the past decade has upended many traditional models of culture industries. This course examines three industries: television, film, and music that have been the locus of these developments. It explores political economy, regulation, and cultures of production. It addresses the history of media industries and theories by which we might critically examine their operation and influence on representational texts. Some issues to be considered: How do individuals 'create' within complex organizational structures? What are the relationships between industry, government, text, and audience? What are the economic models by which culture industries operate, and how are they successfully and unsuccessfully challenged? How do the perspectives of culture industries influence the representational texts that we consume on a daily basis? How might one be an ethnical media consumer and producer?

MDIA 355: TV on the Internet

3.00 Credits

no description available

MDIA 360: Popular Culture

3.00 Credits

This course will explore the relationships between popular culture forms and the social contexts in which they originate. Readings and discussions will address the establishment of cultural hierarchies; the industrialization of cultural production; changing patterns of work, leisure, and consumption; the role of race, gender, and class within popular culture; as well as the rise of mass and niche markets.

MDIA 361: History of Popular Music

3.00 Credits

This course examines the histories of American popular music, specifically, the economic, technological, and social dynamics of this cultural form. It will examine music's role in debates over "the popular," its status as an emergent cultural industry, its relationship to technologies of its production, reproduction, and distribution. Finally, particular attention will be paid to the cultural uses of music by different communities at distinct historical moments.

MDIA 366: American Humor

3.00 Credits

Interdisciplinary study of American humor through history, in various media. Diverse examples are analyzed with attention to literary models, rhetorical and aesthetic techniques, regional and ethnic traditions, and humor as a reflection of culture. Same as ENG 366.

MDIA 381: Photography in the Digital Age

3.00 Credits

This course introduces students to the transition from photo-chemical to digital photography. Students will study the development of photography in the 19th and 20th centuries as an instrument of communication, persuasion, and aesthetic expression. Topics for discussion will include the work of prominent photographers, the uses of photography, and the questions posed by digitization.

MDIA 384: Video Art

3.00 Credits

An introduction to creation of video for the world wide web, focusing on conecptualization and aesthetics. Abobe Premiere software is the primary tool. Same as ART 384.

MDIA 385: Digital Video Editing

3.00 Credits

This course introduces students to non-linear editing with Adobe Premiere Pro while exploring visual storytelling and audio-visual editing principles. Students learn about professional post-production practices by studying editing, sound mixing, basic special effects, professional workflows and media management. Students apply these techniques to several provided audio-visual projects. There is an emphasis on storytelling techniques through examining story and sequence structure in fiction and non-fiction films.

MDIA 392: Digital Media Cultures

3.00 Credits

This course explores historical cases and contemporary developments in new media practices, technologies, and theories. Students will be introduced to the key concepts and critical tools for understanding and critically engaging new media. Students actively participate in producing and examining blogs, wikis, various social networking applications, and other forms of emerging media. Whether you just want to understand more about the cultural meaning(s) of the application through which you live your Facebook life, or whether perhaps you've been following events in Iran lately and are fascinated by the roles new media have played in the election and aftermath, this course may be for you. Non-majors may enroll with department consent.

MDIA 393: Special Topics in New Media

3.00 Credits

Course focuses on a specific topic in new media studies( e.g., new media and transnational politics, new media epistemology, the mobile screen) as determined by instructor.

MDIA 395: Lincoln in Literature and Film

3.00 Credits

Originally developed as part of the 2009 bicentennial "Lincoln semester" in the School of Arts & Sciences, "Lincoln in Literature & Film" focuses imaginative engagements with Lincoln's life and image by poets, novelists, playwrights, orators, essayists, visual artists, sculptors, composers, documentarians, and filmmakers. Selected works in various media are analyzed in relation to Lincoln's biography, the history of his time, and American culture as it has evolved over the past 150 years. Students should develop critical and analytical abilities and an understanding of the imaginative uses of history.

MDIA 399: Junior Seminar in Media Studies

3.00 Credits

A research and writing seminar in the critical study of culture and media. Drawing on the conceptual foundations established in MDIA 201 and MDIA 202, students design research projects using primary and secondary sources. For junior majors only.

MDIA 403: Advanced Video Production

3.00 Credits

Allows qualified students to work as a team, under close supervision of the instructor, to produce a high-quality short video. Prerequisite: MDIA 402.

MDIA 412: Special Projects in Media Production

3.00 Credits

In this course students with some experience in media video production have the opportunity to undertake their own advanced video projects under faculty supervision. The course may focus, for example, on the production of short, social-issue documentaries, or it may ask students to address social issues by consulting for or educating off-campus "clients." Prerequisite: MDIA 402 or equivalent experience.

MDIA 417: Researching Media History: Discovering Cultural History at the Library of Congress

3.00 Credits

"Students focus on learning historical research methods, utilizing primary documents, sound materials, and digital humanities tools at the Library of Congress, toward the development of an original publication-length paper on broadcasting, film, or communications policy history. With the aid of the instructor and designated archival staff members, students craft proposals and writing samples useful for applications to film and media, communications, or cultural history graduate programs, as well as think tanks, research agencies, and content development fields."

MDIA 419: Lincoln's Eloquence

3.00 Credits

This course surveys Lincoln's accomplishment as a writer and public speaker, examining his rhetorical methods and practices from youthful attempts at poetry, to his career as a political lecturer, debater, and letter-writer, to his justly famous Presidential addresses. Students read sources that influenced Lincoln's style, undertake close readings of his speeches in their historical context, and examine the legacy of Lincoln's eloquence in American political rhetoric.

MDIA 420: American Political Rhetoric

3.00 Credits

A study of speeches that have made history in America, examining them from the standpoint of rhetorical theory and attending to their historical context. Same as ENG 520.

MDIA 424: The Rhetoric of Advertising

3.00 Credits

Examines evolving strategies of persuasion in advertising, in the context of its social history and from a variety of critical perspectives. Same as ENG 524.

MDIA 430: The Rhetoric of Propaganda

3.00 Credits

Examines propaganda as a concept and practice distinct from other forms of political, religious, and cultural persuasion. Drawing on theoretical approaches from classical arts of rhetoric to 20th-century theories of mass communication, students seeks grounds for the critical understanding of propaganda and its political and cultural functions. Same as ENG 530.

MDIA 451: Film Narrative: Hitchcock

3.00 Credits

Students view and discuss works from the entire range of Alfred Hitchcock's career. Emphasis on narrative forms, themes and motifs, technical devices. Attention to technical film vocabulary, narratology, and critical approaches to film. Same as ENG 451.

MDIA 452: Film Narrative: Stanley Kubrick

3.00 Credits

Emphasizes the concepts and vocabulary of contemporary film studies. Examines the works of Kubrick, director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lolita, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and other films. Same as ENG 452.

MDIA 453: American Film Comedy

3.00 Credits

Examines American movie comedies from the silent era to 1965, asking questions about genre (what is comedy?) and context (what do comedies have to tell us about American culture and its history?). Particular emphasis is given to silent film slapstick, the sophisticated "screwball" comedy of the 1930s, and the varieties of comedy during the 1950s and early 1960s.

MDIA 454: American Film Comedy II

3.00 Credits

Continuation of MDIA 453 (may be taken separately).

MDIA 457: Media Audiences: Reading & Reception

3.00 Credits

This course introduces student to theories of reception and to the methodological problems of studying audience response. Topics for discussion will include ethnographic approaches and histories of reading, fans and subcultures, as well as the cultural specificity of reception.

MDIA 458: Religion and Media

3.00 Credits

Examines ways in which media have addressed questions of religious practice and belief. Same as ENG 458.

MDIA 459: Non-Fiction Film & Media

3.00 Credits

When John Grierson defined the documentary as the "creative treatment of actuality," in 1926, he was thinking only of film. But the documentary mode has long been utilized across media, from the late 19th century advocacy journalism of Jacob Riis to Craig Gilbert's 1973 reality television series An American Family to the selfies that circulate on social media. In this class, we will consider the persistence and pervasiveness of the documentary mode in the past century and a half. By surveying key developments in documentary film, and its historical, theoretical, and ethical implications, we will lay the groundwork for thinking critically about non-fiction media in its current and past forms.

MDIA 464: Topics in Television Studies

3.00 Credits

The Wire has been called the best television program of all time. What makes it so? This course seeks to understand this claim through an examination of The Wire in terms of its relationship to contemporary television practices and to television scholarship on genre, authorship and serial narrative. At the same time this course will explore how The Wire's thematic structure represents issues of criminality, deindustrialization, gentrification, drug legalization, educational reform, and journalism.

MDIA 494: Independent Study in Media

3.00 Credits

Permission of instructor and Program Director required.

MDIA 495: Media Internship

3.00 Credits

Prerequisite: Permission of Program Director. Department Consent Required.

MDIA 498: Undergraduate Comprehensive Examination

0 Credits

no description available

MDIA 499: Senior Seminar: Topics in Media Studies

3.00 Credits

Formerly MDIA 501. Focuses on a key issue in media studies, chosen by the instructor. The course asks students to read intensively, to participate in discussions of the readings, and to complete independent research papers on related topics. For senior Media Studies majors only. Offered in the fall semester. Prerequisite MDIA 304 or 399.