Media studies launches new initiatives

Media – mass, social or material – underpin 21st-century society, making media studies a critical field for today’s university. At Cornell, the field of media studies is flourishing, with new initiatives, new hires and new courses. At the center of this energy lies the Media Studies Working Group, which includes faculty from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Architecture, Art and Planning, and Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS); Computing and Information Science; and Cornell University Library.

The Working Group coordinates monthly Media Studies Midday Colloquiums, where faculty members present recent work for discussion, as well as sponsoring interdisciplinary Graduate Student Working Groups. Its Media Studies website serves as a hub for the interdisciplinary field, connecting faculty and students to material and other resources from Cornell’s ancient plaster casts and organ and keyboard collections to its world-class library, archives and digital humanities tools.

The Media, Material Cultures & the Senses initiative, one of two projects in the Critical Inquiry into Values, Imagination and Culture (CIVIC) initiative, this year funded two hires in the field of media studies and invited another round of media studies hiring for 2018-19. Parisa Vaziri, assistant professor of comparative literature and Near Eastern studies, is the first CIVIC hire for Media Studies; Tao Leigh Goffe will begin at Cornell in July 2019 as assistant professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

In addition to the CIVIC hires, four other new hires have expertise and interest in media studies: Katherine Sender, Department of Communication, CALS; and Andrew Campana, a Presidential Postdoctorate in Asian studies; Natasha Raheja, a postdoc in visual anthropology; and Christine Balance, performing and media arts and Asian American studies, all in Arts and Sciences.

The first of the CIVIC Colabs will open in a renovated room in Uris Library, with a focus on media studies. Colabs are meant to stimulate teaching and research and be a place for collaborative intellectual exchange, with a focus on hands-on engagement.

The coming academic year will see the launch of another Media Studies Working Group initiative, the first of a two-semester foundational sequence in media studies. The first course, Thinking Media, will be taught by Roger Moseley, associate professor in music, in spring 2019, and will offer an introduction to the most influential media formats of the last three millennia, drawing on Cornell’s holdings in media and material culture. The second course, Making Media, intended as a hands-on experience, will first be offered in spring 2020. Both courses will feature guest lecturers.

Media Studies’ impact reaches beyond the Ithaca campus, encompassing Cornell Tech and the new Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity as well. Braddock was recently selected as one of two faculty fellows tasked with helping to develop the curriculum for the Milstein Program.

“There is a growing urgency to think through the ever more complex relations between media, technology and public life,” said Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English and chair of the Media Studies Working Group. “Media studies provides a context in which to do that.”

A longer version of this story appears here.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Jeff Tyson