HWS is among the first liberal arts colleges in the country to offer a major in media studies. From its inception in 1996, the focus of the Media and Society Program has been to foster a critical analysis of the media's pervasive influence on society and the individual.
The program's two fundamental goals include: to engage students in the critical analysis of the influence of the mass media on society, from both the sociopolitical and cultural/artistic perspectives; and to stimulate students to use their creative imaginations through self-expression in writing, videography, and editing the visual and plastic arts.
Media and Society majors are required to choose a concentration from one of four core areas: techniques of performance and creativity, use of imagine technologies, critical analysis or media theory, or cultural history of the fine arts or mass media.
The program offers a interdisciplinary major, a B.A., and minor.
If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Media and Society or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.
Requirements for the Major (B.A.)
interdisciplinary, 12 courses, plus language competency
Megan Colburn '13 studies for her senior
seminar on the “Films of Spielberg” with
Professor Les Friedman.
The Media and Society Program offers an interdisciplinary major and minor. Media and Society majors explore three core areas before deciding on a concentration. All majors are required to take at least one production course in the creative arts. Majors are required to complete cognate courses in American history or social consciousness and social or political theory. The major culminates with a required Senior Seminar. All courses to be counted for the major must be taken for a letter grade. To remain in good standing as a MDSC major, all courses must be completed with a C- or better. The internship is an elective which may be counted as part of any concentration.
The complete list of requirements for the major is:
• MDSC 100 (Introduction to Media and Society);
• MDSC 400 (Senior Seminar);
• In addition to MDSC 100 and 400, students must take at least four other MDSC classes (or approved equivalents).
• One course in each of three core competencies (a course used to fulfill a core competency cannot be used to fulfill the concentration requirements);
• Five courses to comprise a concentration
• Two cognate courses. A cognate course is one that supports the study in the major, but is not a course in the mass media or the arts. One cognate course must be in American history and social consciousness (listed below). The second cognate course must be a social or political theory course (listed below).
Media and Society majors are also required to complete one college-level course in a foreign language. Students who have studied a foreign language in secondary school may have met this requirement; students for whom English is a second language may have met this requirement; students with a certified statement from a counselor or physician that a learning disability prevents them from learning a foreign language may petition for a waiver. Students should consult with their adviser about this requirement.
Requirements for the Minor
interdisciplinary, 6 courses (three of which must be MDSC classes or the equivalent)
MDSC 100; one course in the study of the cultural history of the fine arts or mass media; one course in critical analysis or media theory. Three additional courses drawn from approved electives, one of which must be in the creative arts if not already included. Minors are not required to develop a concentration in a specific area of Media and Society. All courses to be counted for the minor must be taken for a letter grade.
Courses taken Credit/No Credit are not accepted for the major or minor, with the exception of MDSC 499.
Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with an understanding of the way the media influences society and the individual.
Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Media and Society a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
ENG 308 Screenwriting
Study the script development process - from brainstorming, to the beat sheet, the creation of a scene, and the first act. Once you've mastered the screenplay, enroll in MDSC 305, Film Editing, and learn basic editing techniques for narrative and documentary film as well as film sequences to learn various editing styles and techniques.
MDSC 315 Intro to Social Documentary
Examine visual social documentary's influence on the representation of immigrants' conditions in major cities during the early 20th century and on rural Americans' lives during the Great Depression. Learn how documentaries are used to forward social change and influence social policy. Then, apply your knowledge as you focus on modern topics of social concern in PHIL 150, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues: Justice and Equality.
MDSC 400 Films of Spielberg
Explore the work of Steven Spielberg from his earliest movies to his latest creations. Students will examine his visual sensibility and the major themes that haunt his work. After studying the works of Spielberg, enroll in PHIL 230, Aesthetics, and find answers to questions such as: What is the nature of artistic creativity? What role should critics play? Is there truth in art?