Media and Society


Linda Robertson

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.

For more information, visit the Media and Society FAQ webpage.


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.

Click for the 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.

Download the form for the Major.

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.

Download the form for the Minor.


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.

MDSC 203 History of Television


Take an in-depth look at television history, from TV's theoretical beginnings to its current incarnation as a turbulent mirror for "reality." Examine television texts and criticism of the medium as entertainment, and as a contested force in social and cultural practices. Then, apply your knowledge as you focus on modern topics of social concern in PHIL 150, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues: Justice and Equality.

MDSC 308 Cinematic Effects


Delve into special effects and motion graphics using industry-standard compositing software, and learn basic compositing techniques, such as green screen, rotoscoping and matchmoving, within the context of the history and art of visual effects. Once you've mastered cinematic effects, enroll in MDSC 305, Film Editing, and learn basic editing techniques for narrative and documentary film as well as film sequences.

MDSC 313 Global Cinema


Investigate contemporary global cinema and its intersections with various national cinemas, including the cinemas of the U.S., Italy, India, China, Mexico, Japan, Senegal, Iran, Peru, and Canada, among others, while considering the impact of international film festivals, trade policies, immigration, transnational stardom, piracy, translation, and censorship. Next, 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?

MDSC 130 Intro to Global Animation


What is animation? How can we discuss animation as a visual medium and as a cultural expression? How can we understand the global circulation of contemporary animation industry? To answer these questions, we will explore the production, distribution, and consumption of animation as a global phenomenon. Through various case studies, we will consider how local, national, regional, and transnational perspectives contribute to the historical trajectory of animation at a global scale. We will also consider the role of new technologies in the development of animation not only in films but also in other medium such as video games; and the function of animation in political spaces.



Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

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