Navigating Media in Institutional History (MS4109.01)

Maia Nichols

In this 4000-level course, students will develop an understanding of the ways in which visual media functions on the practices of archives that document the history of institutions including asylums, hospitals and schools. We will engage with archival sources through interdisciplinary approaches to media studies, drawing on visual culture studies, art history, and material culture studies. We will mobilize collections, photographs, commercials, print journalism, propaganda, television shows, films, radio shows, blogs, and objects, to better understand how visual and audiovisual media inform a historical understanding of institutional practices. Our focus will be primarily on North Africa and the colonial archive. Students will create independent research projects from a context within the scope of the course.

Visual and haptic media bear the marks of multiple agents simultaneously. As we analyze histories of patient internment, this course understands media as central to the negotiation of power in the colonial institution. Beyond a focus on what media does or doesn’t show or represent, we will consider the affective and inter-relational dimensions of sources. Collective agents that inhabit multiple temporalities and corporealities simultaneously exist within an institutional context and before and after their activation in a record. In emphasizing the social body, making, and bonds between human and non-humans within the institutional landscape, this course offers ways to map decolonization and conceptualize alliances with matter and media as communicable and deeply political.

Learning Outcomes:
-Students will develop an understanding of media studies in relation to archival practices, including working with photographs, commercials, print journalism, propaganda, television shows, films, radio shows, blogs, and other sources.
-Understanding of methods to engage with sources and interdisciplinary approaches to media studies, drawing on visual culture, art history and material culture studies
-Development of individual presentation skills through the preparation and presentation of final projects to the class
-Improve critical thinking and writing skills through written assignments throughout the semester and engagement with peers in discussion on a weekly basis
-Create a final project by combining the analysis of critical texts and independent research according to one’s own interest and sources, that build on and include selections from the readings listed in the syllabus
-Develop of reading, writing and critical thinking skills throughout the semester with regular opportunities for the improvement and feedback leading into and culminating in a final project that can be used as a writing sample or starting point for future project

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Previous coursework in media studies or permission of the instructor. Please email a brief paragraph describing your interest and relevant prior experience (such as courses in psychology, area studies, social sciences, or relevant internships) to
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 10:30AM - 12:20PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Media Studies , Updates