Understand complex human communication processes

Communication and media are central features of our lives. From navigating relationships, to crafting professions, to engaging in local and global issues, we are always using communication and media. Recent years have seen the proliferation of media forms, technologies and industries. Indeed, there has never been a better time to study communication and media. No matter what kind of work you do or what kind of life you live, understanding communication and media processes is fundamental to your health and wealth.


The Communication and Media Studies Program at Franklin focuses upon four key threads in communication and media studies:

  • Media forms, practices, technologies and industries
  • Empirical and critical media and communication research (with an emphasis on emerging and social media)
  • Media uses and effects (individual, relational, cultural, and social)
  • The relationship between media and global processes.

The major in Communication and Media Studies is particularly suited to students who are interested in pursuing media professions as well as for those who are interested in better understanding the role of communication and media in creating and maintaining well-functioning interpersonal relationships, organizations, and societies.

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Communication and Media Studies

Communication and media are central features of our lives. Whether navigating relationships, crafting professions, or engaging in local and global issues, knowledge and skills related to communication and media are fundamental. Given the contemporary proliferation of media forms, technologies, industries and controversies, there has never been a better time to study communication and media. No matter what kind of work you do or what kind of life you live, understanding communication and media processes is fundamental to your health and wealth.

The Communication and Media Studies Program at Franklin focuses upon four key threads in communication and media studies: (1) Media forms, practices, technologies and industries, (2) empirical and critical media and communication research (with an emphasis on emerging and social media), (3) media uses and effects (individual, relational, cultural, and social) and (4) the relationship between media/communication and global processes. The major in Communication and Media Studies is particularly suited to students who are interested in pursuing media professions as well as for those who are interested in better understanding the role of communication and media in creating and maintaining well-functioning relationships, networks organizations, and societies.

Major Requirements (39 Credits)

Required Courses (18 credits)
COM 105 Introduction to Communication and Media Studies

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts and theories of communication and media studies as they apply to the ever-increasing intercultural interactions of a contemporary world. In particular, students will learn the basics of intercultural/international communication processes, gaining a foundation for developing intercultural communication competence.

COM 201 Fundamentals of Media Studies and Criticism

Media pervades our social and private lives. We make it and in turn it makes us. This course offers an introduction to media studies, a field which seeks to understand and use media in complex and intentional ways. The course explores media as content, as an industry and as a social force. In this way, media is understood as both as an artifact (constituted by many parts) and as a set of complex processes (including production, distribution, regulation and consumption). Students will learn key vocabularies and concepts in and approaches to media studies that will help them to define, describe, and critique media artifacts and processes in a variety of written and spoken formats. In addition to equipping students with the skills to understand and critique media, this course encourages and provides students with the building blocks to produce media content. Students who successfully complete this course will be prepared to take advanced courses in media studies.

COM 203 Communication Research Methods

This course introduces students to quantitative and qualitative research methods as they apply to communication and media studies. Students will acquire skill in examining various communication and media issues by conducting an original research project.

COM 204 Media Ecology

This course explores media from the lens of ecology, using ecological concepts and thinking to both explore media as ecosystemic and reflect upon media production and consumption in terms of sustainability. Ecology is evoked because it is one of the most useful and expressive contemporary discourses to help articulate both the dynamic interrelations and interactions that characterize all forms of community as well as the ethical and political implications of their maintenance, management and/or disruption. The ultimate goal of this course is to put media in its place; situating prominent media forms within their unique cultural, historical, and geographical places and putting media in its appropriate place in our own lives and communities.

COM 301 Globalization and Media

This course examines media in the context of globalization. Most broadly, students will explore what constitutes globalization, how globalization has been facilitated and articulated by media, how media have been shaped by the processes of globalization, and perhaps most significantly, the social implications of these complex and varied processes on politics, international relations, advocacy and cultural flows. In order to map this terrain, students will survey the major theories that constitute this dynamic area of study.

COM 350 Mediated Relationships

This course examines the impact of emerging communication technologies on human communication. By critically examining current theories and research in the field, students will analyze present and future of technologically-mediated relationships as these pervade their everyday life.

Capstone Requirement (3 credits)

One of the following:

COM 497 Senior Research Seminar in Communication and Media Studies

This seminar provides students with a capstone experience in synthesizing their theoretical and methodological knowledge in the form of a high-quality research paper. Some of the major areas of research and theories in the field of communication and media studies will be reviewed and discussed in class as students work on their own research project. At the end of the semester, students will present their final research paper to an audience of students and professors. Students will also be encouraged to submit their paper to an appropriate conference venue around the world. (Prerequisite: Senior status)

COM 498 Internship in Communication and Media Studies

This course provides students with a capstone experience in applying to professional contexts key approaches and theories of communication and media studies. The internship site can be private, public or non-profit organizations anywhere in the world. Throughout the internship period, students should ensure close in-company supervision. At the end of the internship, students will prepare a detailed report analyzing their experience and present it formally to an audience of students and professors. Both written report and presentation will be critically assessed.

Major Electives (12 credits)

Four of the following, two of which must be at or above the 300-level:

COM 202 Fundamentals of Interpersonal Communication

This course introduces students to theories, concepts, and research in the study of interpersonal communication. From a scholarly perspective, students will gain a fundamental knowledge of how interpersonal communication processes work. In addition, students will develop skill in analyzing the interpersonal communication that surrounds them in their everyday life. (COM 105 recommended)

COM 225T Technologized Bodies: Mobile ICTs in the City

Mobile information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become an essential part of our everyday social interactions. It was more than a decade ago that researchers started to look into the way the mobile phone penetrates both public and private domains including the body. As mobile ICTs continue to evolve, their impact on our everyday communication requires constant examination. This course takes a city as a site to explore the way human bodies are technologized with mobile ICTs. It will discuss how people see and document their everyday life of the city with mobile ICTs as well as how they are seen with mobile ICTs in the city (e.g., enhanced capacity of the ''natural'' human body such as eyes and brain). In light of the recent development of wearable technologies and sociable robotics, the course will also explore the role that such emerging technologies play now and in the near future. Both seminal and recent work on mobile ICTs, fashion, social robotics, and emotions will provide the theoretical base for the course. Field observations during the academic travel period will be a primary methodological approach to explore relevant issues of the technologized body in the city

COM 230T Communication, Fashion, and the Formation of Taste (Italy)

The sense of taste, whether it refers to the metaphorical sense of taste (aesthetic discrimination) or the literal sense of taste (gustatory taste), is a fundamental part of human experiences. This Academic Travel course examines various ways that communication processes shape our sense of taste in the contemporary society. It will explore topics such as the taste for food, clothing and accessories, music, and other cultural activities applying key theories and concepts of communication, fashion, and taste. Ultimately, the course seeks to develop an understanding of how interpersonal, intercultural, and mediated communication in our everyday life plays a critical role in the formation of individual taste as well as collective taste. In order to achieve this objective, field observations and site visits will be planned during the Academic Travel period.

COM 295 Media Consumption, Fashion, and Identity

This course examines how people, particularly young people, consume media technologies and their contents in contemporary media-saturated life. Employing essential readings on media consumption, fashion, and identity as the theoretical backbone, students will engage in active site-based research project throughout the course. By offering an opportunity to undertake a field study in Milan, the course seeks to develop in-depth theoretical knowledge of the intersections of media consumption, fashion, and identity, as well as to cultivate critical reflection of students’ own consumption of media technologies. (Additional fee: 250 chf for transportation and related activities in Milan)

COM 302 Intercultural Communication: Theory, Research, and Practice

This course examines intercultural communication theories and research in order to gain a deeper understanding of critical issues we encounter in intercultural interactions. It seeks not only to develop a sophisticated level of intercultural communication competence but also to cultivate the skills of putting the knowledge into practice (e.g., conducting intercultural communication workshops, publishing articles that raise cultural awareness of a target audience, and so on).

COM 310 Issues in Journalism

This course uses key topics, themes and trends in journalism to explore the foundations and functions of the press, learn techniques of gathering and writing news, discuss the shifting terrain of journalism, and reflect upon the status and functions of journalism in different cultural contexts. As a writing-intensive course, this course is designed to help students produce high quality written work through a process of drafting, workshopping and editing. Written work may include journalistic reviews, letters to the editor, pitches to the editor and interviews.

COM 326 Digital Communication: Theory and Strategy

Digital communication is fundamental in today's businesses and, indeed, all organizational contexts. This course explores key dimensions of digital communication, namely what makes digital communication a unique form of communication and how communication practitioners and business professionals can more effectively use this medium. In addition to exploring important theories as they concern digital communication, design, and business strategies, students in this class will learn how to: - Plan and develop effective strategies for digital communication - Manage all aspects related to online projects (business models, management, costs, resources, etc.) - Take advantage of the Social Media revolution - Design the user experience (interaction design). In addition to learning basic theories and practices, students will make practical use of knowledge by working in teams in which they will both conceptualize and implement effective and professional projects.

COM 330 The Digital Innovation and Media Strategies for a New Consumer Culture

Digital communication has been fundamental in today’s organizational, cultural, and consuming areas. With the continuous technological development, we have been witnessing the surge of digital innovations in recent years. This course examines key dimensions of digital innovations in the current consumer culture such as Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Geographical Referencing System, Review & Ratings algorithm, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, BOT and chatbot. The course explores not only the new brand and media strategies of companies but also self-branding strategies of operators, influencers and users/consumers with a special attention to the creative dimension of consumption experience. In this process, the differences between cross-media communication and trans-media storytelling will be discussed as these two strategies help organizations manage relationships between brand, product and consumers by the means of emerging media. Ultimately, students will develop a greater understanding of media strategies using digital innovations that can be applied in the professional context. (This course also applies as an elective in the Fashion Studies major.)

COM 347 Organizational Communication

This course examines the dynamic process of organizational communication. Situating communication as an essential part of ''organizing'' in our everyday life, it seeks to understand how we can participate in the creation and recreation of effective organizations. Students will learn key issues of organizational communication research such as communication channels, networks, organizational climate, interpersonal relationships within organizations, and organizational cultures. They will also learn how to apply the theoretical/conceptual knowledge to their present and future organizational life through case studies and communication audits.

COM 352 Environmental Discourses

This course examines the distinct modes of representation that have come to color how we think and act upon the natural world. Given the increasing importance of the environment in local, national, and global politics, this course is invested in helping students understand the significance of language in creating, defining, mitigating, and negotiating environmental issues and controversies. During the course of the semester, students will investigate (1) the socio-cultural history of environmental discourse, (2) the dominant discursive constructions of the environment, (3) the implications of these on, and the status of, contemporary environmental politics and advocacy, and (4) the importance of studying environmental discourse from a cross-cultural perspective. In order to explore the ideologies and attitudes at the heart of varying environmental discourses, students will analyze texts from various disciplines and spheres (e.g. political, scientific, activist, and popular), genres (e.g. films, books, newspaper articles, image events, policy briefs, and speeches) and rhetorical strategies (e.g. metaphors, tropes, and ideographs).

COM 370 Topics in Communication and Media Studies
COM 497 Senior Research Seminar in Communication and Media Studies

This seminar provides students with a capstone experience in synthesizing their theoretical and methodological knowledge in the form of a high-quality research paper. Some of the major areas of research and theories in the field of communication and media studies will be reviewed and discussed in class as students work on their own research project. At the end of the semester, students will present their final research paper to an audience of students and professors. Students will also be encouraged to submit their paper to an appropriate conference venue around the world. (Prerequisite: Senior status)

COM 498 Internship in Communication and Media Studies

This course provides students with a capstone experience in applying to professional contexts key approaches and theories of communication and media studies. The internship site can be private, public or non-profit organizations anywhere in the world. Throughout the internship period, students should ensure close in-company supervision. At the end of the internship, students will prepare a detailed report analyzing their experience and present it formally to an audience of students and professors. Both written report and presentation will be critically assessed.

Interdisciplinary Electives (6 credits)

Two of the following:

COM XXX Any additional COM course
AHT 213 Art and Ideas: Exploring Vision

The course departs from the question of whether vision is simply what the external world imprints on our retina or if it is a cultural construct? Is it purely physiological or can we speak of a history or histories of the eye? How do culture, science, and ethnicity influence what we see and how se see it? Keeping these questions in mind the course studies aspects of vision (perception, reception, revelation, blindness) - both from an empirical and from an historical point of view. Besides practical exercises related to the seeing eye, the course examines the discovery of perspective in the Renaissance, the invention of the Baroque theater, gender and gaze in modernity, and optical instruments of the Enlightenment as precursors for modern photography and film.

AHT 216 Introduction to the History of Photography

This course offers an introduction to the history of photography from its inception in the early 19th century to the present day. It considers the specific historical development of the photographic medium through the evolution of both its technical possibilities during the period and the range of its applications. The course will question past and present readings of photographs, while reflecting on the peculiar modes of representation implied by the use of the daguerreotype, the calotype and the negative-positive photographic process, the commercialization of photographic equipment in the early 20th century, the introduction of the Kodacolour film in 1942, and the changes in the late 20th century with the introduction of the digital camera. It will consider a set of different objects favored by the medium, such as the landscape, the city, the portrait, the body, taking into account the historical socio-political contexts in which these various photographic practices developed. It will consider the history of genres within photography: documentary photography, photography as fine art, photography in advertising and media, fashion photography, as well as its archival and historical documentation. Finally, the course will emphasize the question of the impact and influence of photography on other artistic mediums, such as painting and literature, as well as on the modern and contemporary experience of the world.

AHT 338 The City and Its Representation in the 20th Century

This course looks at the representation of the modern and postmodern city in the 20th century through a range of mediums, including the visual arts, poetry, literature, cinema and architecture. It aims to consider how artistic production has reflected the changing nature of urban environments, as well as contributed to shaping contemporary perceptions and experiences of the city over the course of the century. It examines both the historical construction of socio-political and economic urban textures, and the manner though which these have found themselves incorporated and translated into aesthetic propositions.

AHT 361 The Visual Culture of Disaster

The destruction of Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the plague, the Sack of Rome, Hiroshima, and 9/11 are some examples with which The Visual Culture of Disaster will examine the impact of natural and man-made catastrophes on the visual world. How have painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, and filmmakers come to terms with these disasters? Did the devastation have a tabula rasa effect, meaning in what manner did it destroy an existing and produce a new visual culture? In addition to the historical perspective, the course will place a focus on the contemporary world. It will investigate how real-time media, such as television, has influenced the visual culture of disaster; and it will probe how art can contribute to the prevention of disaster by looking at the iconographies and aesthetics of sustainable energies - sun, wind, and water - and to what extent they have been incorporated in contemporary architecture, art, and film.

AHT 362 Visual Semiotics: Signs and Symbols in Art, Architecture, Film, and Fashion

The course will investigate the different types of sign languages that we find in the visual arts. It will study and discuss theories of semiotics and then investigate how each medium sets up its own method of visual communication through signs and symbols. What kinds of patterns of messages do we find in paintings? Do buildings have their own code of communication other than being functional containers? What kinds of messages does a film convey beyond its action? Do the clothes we wear make a statement? In addition to the theoretical aspect, the course will also contain an empirical and a studio component where students will conduct research on a particular topic, which they will then present in a visual medium of their choice.

BUS 236T Marketing for Movies

This course will expose students to the challenges of creating a market for artistic products, in particular for movies. Marketing movies requires a deep understanding of the needs consumers are trying to satisfy when deciding to consume an experience. At the same time, dealing with artists and managers of artistic institutions requires a solid understanding of their mindset and the intrinsic motivations for creating artistic pieces. There is thus a constant trade off between market orientation and product orientation. This course will focus in particular on understanding the specifics of creative production and aligning it with the right audience. Students will learn how to create a marketing plan for such an endeavor. The travel component will explore two cities in Italy, Rome and Bologna, so as to take advantage of the Rome Film Festival and the Cineteca (in Bologna).

BUS 256 Marketing Research Methods

This course introduces students to the most common qualitative and quantitative techniques for conducting marketing research with an emphasis on their application. The definition of marketing research problems, the set-up of research plans, and the subsequent data collection and analysis are illustrated and applied by means of real world projects. Students are required to implement, in groups, the skills covered in class, and to prepare a final research report to discuss and present in class.

BUS 274 Brand Management

The course focuses on how to build and manage a brand, based on the concept of Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE). The goal of the course is to expose students to the challenges that today brands face both from competitors' but also from consumers' points of view and to make students aware and to experience the potential tools companies can use to manage brands today.

BUS 285 Integrated Marketing Communications

This course exposes students to an integrated, global approach of two-way communication with consumers, customers and suppliers, and other stakeholders of companies and organizations. Students explore the communications process that is essential in contemporary global business cultures. Media options are explored for a range of target audiences. Discussions on the use of advertising, public relations, sales promotions, internet promotion, direct marketing and other techniques will be included. It takes a contemporary approach to the field of integrated marketing communications, highlighting how recent changes and rapid changes in the family, business environment, technology and the world in general are forcing communications specialists and advertisers to make major changes in the way they reach their markets. The course will draw on knowledge in fields such as psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as media studies and communications.

BUS 308 Advanced Marketing Research and Data Analysis

This course focuses on new developments and trends in research methodology. The class, building on BUS 256, covers the creation of effective data analysis techniques such as cluster and conjoint analysis, ANOVA and MANOVA for quantitative research and content analysis and data coding for qualitative research. Software usage (SPSS, STATA and NVIVO) is also required in the course.

BUS 361 International Marketing

Companies today confront an increasing array of choices: markets, locations for value adding activities and modes of crossing borders. Therefore, understanding the international dimensions of marketing becomes fundamental. Tools for assessing competitiveness in international business at the level of the industry, location, and firm are presented together with instruments for identifying opportunities for a company in a dynamic global environment.

BUS 383 Digital Marketing and Web Analytics

This course focuses on how Internet technology and its pervasiveness shapes the most common business and marketing practices today. This course outlines the impact of the digital revolution and how it has transformed decision-making processes in marketing including the development of relationships with clients, delivering the customer experience, the implementation of a communication campaign, and the evaluation of channel performances. Through discussion of cases and lectures, the course will provide students with the tools to interpret and forecast the ever-shifting digital environment for companies.

BUS 385 Consumer Behavior in International Marketing

This course focuses on the understanding of the consumer as fundamental to marketing efforts. The course includes observational research in the community where students develop a greater understanding of consumers' consumption and decision-making behavior. Areas of focus include the consumer decision making process, research techniques, learning and motivation, segmentation and targeting, the impact of lifestyle and values, the role of society and culture in consumption, and ethical issues in consumer relationships.

BUS 410 Organizational Behavior and Leadership

This course studies the internal environment of firms and organizations, namely how to organize and manage people in order to implement strategic plans effectively. Topics include: organizational structures and change, human resources, leadership, group dynamics and teamwork, motivation, and multicultural management. Special attention will be given to the study of leadership, which plays a critical role in increasingly complex and multicultural organizations. The readings and class discussions include both theoretical concepts, case studies and practical exercises.(This writing-intensive course counts towards the Academic Writing requirement.) (Junior status recommended)

CLCS 200 Gender and Sexuality in a Global Context

This course presents an interdisciplinary introduction to key concepts in gender studies. Focusing on the way in which gender operates in different cultural domains, this class investigates the manner in which race, culture, ethnicity, and class intersect with gender. (This writing-intensive course counts towards the Academic Writing requirements).

CLCS 220 Inventing the Past: The Uses of Memory in a Changing World

The construction of memory is one of the fundamental processes by which the workings of culture can be studied. Every country, every culture and every community has a specific memory culture that finds expression in a congruence of texts: of literature and film, of law and politics, of memorial rituals, and historiography. The aim of this course is to enable students to recognize different forms of the construction, representation and archiving of memory; to analyze processes of individual and collective identity formation through memory; and to understand the power differentials operant in the negotiations and performance of a national memory.

CLCS 225 Music and Popular Culture from the 1950s to the 1990s

This course covers popular music genres, generally defined as music produced for commercial purposes and transmitted through mass media to a wide audience, and their relationship with popular culture. Drawing on sociology, media studies and cultural studies, it will examine the cultural significance of popular music genres such as rock’n’roll, punk, heavy metal, hip hop, rap, techno, industrial etc., with reference to issues such as space, ethnicity, class and gender. It will further explore how and to what end the creation, circulation and consumption of popular music tend to be shaped by record companies and corporate business styles. Finally, reflecting upon how popular music is, in many ways, a direct reflection of its times, it will show how it is mediated by historical, geographical, political, economical and technological factors.

CLCS 230 Science / Fiction: Envisioning the Possible

Science fiction narratives may be defined as speculative fictions, ideal allegorical vehicles eliciting theoretical reflection on the state of contemporary culture and society and motivating social reform. As such, the main objective of this course is to consider several major contemporary socio-cultural issues through the unique lens provided by writers and filmmakers of the science-fiction tradition. The issues, allowing for variances from year to year, will include questions regarding gender and Otherness, the hypothesized deterioration of a human-world bond, modern apocalyptic anxieties, genetic engineering, intersections of ideology and communication technologies. Authors and filmmakers may include: Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guinn, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, William Gibson; Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Andrew Niccol, Jean-Luc Godard, Lana and Andy Wachowski

CLCS 241 Forbidden Acts: Queer Studies and Performance

In this course, queer solo performance and theater are playfully considered ''forbidden acts'' because they commonly enact a special kind of transgression. These acts give voice to and, at once, subvert a wide range of political identities conventionally defined by race, ethnicity, HIV status, class, gender, and sexual practice. Often autobiographical at their point of departure, queer performance and theater seem intent on troubling the comfort of community even as they invest in it. This rich, albeit problematic, ambivalence stems from the fact that the term queer, itself, connotes primarily a locus of refusal, an unbinding and destabilizing term of defiance, of provocation via polysemy. As such, queer performance and theater seek to open up new vistas of multiple, shifting, polymorphous identities. What political implications might these queer texts dramatize? What may be the ramifications of instilling the notion of personal identity with collective utopian aspirations? How would the students enrolled in this class spin the term queer to encompass their own sense of individual difference and empower their own vision of creative defiance? In attempting to respond to these questions, students taking this course will be invited to share their own forbidden acts: to approach theoretical refection through performative exercises, to merge the analytical realm with the autobiographical monologue, to test the limits (if there are any) between theatrical play and ideological engagement.

CLCS 242 Representations of Poverty in Literature

This course looks at poverty as it is portrayed in contemporary literature, film, television, painting, music and street magazines. Students will explore how these representations compare to economic and social indices such as income, Living Standards Measurement surveys, welfare statistics, poverty indexes and poverty determinants. For these latter determinants the class will take Switzerland, a country in which the extremes of poverty and riches are quite subtle, as our case study. The overall goals of this course are 1) to compare different forms of representation and to recognize and be able to distinguish among the many faces and facets of poverty in a wealthy nation and 2) to critically explore the ideologies underlying mainstream representations of ''the poor'' or ''the marginalized'' and to ask how effective such representations are in triggering social change.

CLCS 243 The Cultural Politics of Sports

This course looks at sports as a cultural, social and political phenomenon and explores some of the major concepts pertinent to the cultural studies discipline through the lens of sports such as nationalism, social class, race/ethnicity, gender, celebrity culture and its fans, ethics, and concepts of power. Students will also consider the very ideas of 'sportsmanship,' 'playing the game' and the global 'mega-events' that many professional sports competitions have become. This course will involve reading theoretical essays related to sports, class discussion of the readings, regular reading responses, and presentations. Students will be encouraged to pursue their own research interests based on a particular sport, major sports event (Olympics, European Soccer Championship, World Series) or sports infrastructure (Little-League, college sports, sports clubs) and to reflect culturally on an activity that cuts across many disciplines (e.g. business, communications, ethics, health) as well as one that they themselves may be passionately involved in, either as actors and/or as spectators.

CLCS 254 Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures and Theories

This course is designed as an introduction to the field of postcolonial studies. Readings will familiarise students with a diversity of ''world literature'' and grant an understanding of key debates in postcolonial studies. As postcolonialism is not a unified field of study, the course engages with different theoretical understandings of the term and queries what it even means to be ''postcolonial.'' When exactly does the postcolonial begin? What are the implications of using such a broad umbrella term to designate writings from around the world? Students will explore depictions of the colonial encounter and decolonisation, question the links between colonialism and globalisation, and examine constructions of East and West, Global North and Global South. Central to the course will be the themes of: power and violence; economics and class; land and nation; authenticity and development; gender and sexuality; history and memory; the politics of literature; and the politics of print culture. Students will read a diverse and broad historical selection of texts from a variety of geographical locations including, India, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica. Literary texts will be paired with theoretical readings from such critics as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ann McLintock, Benita Parry, Franz Fanon, and Edward Said. Although the main focus of study is literature, the course will adopt an interdisciplinary approach, understanding literary works as products of cultural, historical, social, and political circumstances. Throughout the course, students will explore how colonial power has shaped—and continues to shape—the world in which we live.

CLCS 300 Masculinities in Literature and Film

This course offers an overview of different masculinities as they have been represented in literature and film for the past couple decades. Students will first explore the recent developments in masculinity studies, particularly focusing on masculinity along intersectional lines. They will reflect upon the intricate ways of defining, theorizing and conceptualizing masculinity in an age that Zygmunt Bauman has defined as liquid. They will read novels such as Tomboy by French writer Nina Bouraoui, Salvation Army by Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa and watch films such as Death Proof by American film director Quentin Tarentino, Facing Mirrors by Iranian film director Negar Azarbayjani, Boys Don't Cry by American film director Kimberly Peirce.

CLCS 320 Culture, Class, Cuisine: Questions of Taste

Food carries social, symbolic, and political-economic meaning that differs across cultures, and hence cuisine represents a focal point for studying divergent cultural practices. In that sense, this class examines the sociological, anthropological, literary, and cultural dimensions of food. The class will explore people's relationship to food with regard to the environment, gender roles, and social hierarchy, from French haute cuisine to the fast food phenomenon.

CLCS 330 The Politics of Mobility: Exile and Immigration

Beginning with the post-colonial theory of Edward Said, this class will examine the ideas of exile and immigration in a colonial and post-colonial context. This course will explore exile vs. expatriatism, language and power, movement across cultures, narrative agency and authority, and voices in the new immigrant narrative. By approaching the topic from a comparative perspective, students will be exposed to a polyphony of voices and the variety of experiences associated with exile and the construction of identity. Students will examine, in particular, contemporary fiction as a window to the context of this experience.

CLCS 340 Fashion and Visual Culture

The focus of postmodernity on surface phenomena and diversity, its concern with the personal, the subjective and with identity have worked to make fashion a field of studies that has gained importance in the last 15 years. Aiming at getting past the age-old belief in the essential frivolity of fashion, this course examines how fashion draws upon recurrent instabilities of men and women (masculinity vs femininity, youth vs elderliness, domesticity vs worldliness, inclusion vs exclusion etc...) to thrive and express its creativity, how its ever constant shifting nature results in the notions of gender, ethnicity and class status to be ever more fluid, how it has been redefining the body and its image, in particular with the advent of the supermodel in the eighties, and last but not least, how it relates to and signifies within so many aspects of our daily life and environment, whether it be space (work vs domesticity, urban vs non-urban), photography (static vs dynamic), music (alternative vs pop) and sexuality.

CLCS 350 Culture and Human Rights

''Human Rights'' has become a key selling point for organizations, political parties and social movements. And yet what is actually meant by the term often remains vague, and it is difficult to take the critical stance necessary to judge its significance. In this class we interrogate the term with a series of questions: what counts as ''human'' in the discourses surrounding Human Rights? What sorts of rights do individuals in fact have simply by virtue of being human? Do all humans have the same rights? Who gets to decide this? How has the definition changed over the last 200 years? To what extent is the term gendered, determined by class and racialized? And finally: how do different national settings change how we think about and act on ideas of Human Rights? This course will examine these questions by tracing ideas surrounding Human Rights in treatises, literary texts, films, debates and case studies from the Enlightenment to the present. Against the backdrop of foundational texts such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, declarations by the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People's Rights, the Geneva convention and the United Nations Human Rights Commission students will consider literary and filmic works that grapple critically with the terms they lay out. Students will also consider how NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch translate the political rhetoric to apply their own interpretations of Human Rights to their field work.

CLCS 360 Critical Race Studies in a Global Context

In this course, the class will work to create a more critical understanding of what race is, what race does, and how contemporary racial meanings are constructed and disseminated. In order to do so, students will explore Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical theories of race in several contexts. CRT refers to a theory that emerged among legal educators in the US in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last twenty years, a growing number of scholars in fields such as cultural studies, gender studies, history, media studies, politics, postcolonial studies and sociology have integrated and developed the work done by critical race theorists. This course will focus in particular on this interdisciplinary approach to critical race studies. The practice of race will be examined as well as the policies and institutions that shape race in a global context in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Finally, students will consider the intersection of race and other social hierarchies, including gender, sexuality and social class.

CLCS 371 Law and Culture

This course aims to investigate law's place in culture and culture's place in law. This focus proceeds from the realization that law does not function in a vacuum but exerts a powerful influence on all manner of cultural practice and production, even as its own operation is influenced in turn by various forms of culture. Given this increasing porosity and interpermeability of Law and different forms of culture, the focus of this course is on the mutual influence between law and other discursive practices, such as literature, TV sit-coms and film. In studying a number of prominent legal cases such as Brown v the Board of Education, we will explore the following questions: What are the mechanisms by which popular representations and cultural practices find their way into legal processes and decisions? How does law in turn bleed into and influence cultural processes? Does law act as a buffer against societal assumptions about, and constructions of, gender, age, ability, sexuality and ethnicity, or does it re-enforce and re-inscribe existing social norms?

ECN 355 Political Economy: Theories and Issues

This course is designed to introduce students to the foundations of political economy. Political economy is the study of the economic system from a critical, historical and interdisciplinary perspective to provide a greater understanding of our current economic system. In this course, students will learn about different theories in political economy and how these theories help us understand the transformation of a pre capitalist system to the current capitalist system. Some of the approaches that students will be introduced to are Institutional, Marxian, Sraffian, Post-Keynesian and Austrian. This course will also draw from these various theories and examine their implications for different issues that arise from the current social and economic formation. Some of the issues that will be considered in this course are social and economic inequality, gender inequality, issues concerning the ecology, power relations and conflict in modern society, political economy of poverty and uneven development.

ENV 200 Understanding Environmental Issues

This case study based course serves as the bridge experience for students completing their introductory course requirements for the ESS major or the ENV minor and who are now moving into the upper-level courses (However it is open to all interested students meeting the prerequisite). Through detailed examination of several case studies at the local, regional, and global levels, students synthesize material from introductory level courses to explore the interdisciplinary nature of today’s environmental issues. They examine what different disciplines offer to our understanding of and attempt to solve these issues.

ENV 220 Ecocritical Approaches to Literature

This interdisciplinary, writing-intensive course will introduce students to environmental literary criticism, more commonly known since the 1990s as ''ecocriticism.'' As a theoretical approach to literature, eco-criticism provides a secondary lens through which to analyze primary sources; an eco-critical approach focuses on how these primary sources have ''constructed'' our relationship to the natural world through writing and narrative. In applying eco-critical theory to a selection of primary fiction, students will examine some of the major environmental themes found in literature, among others: land use, speciesism, climate change, environmental apocalypse, and the post-human. Students will explore these themes using some of the basic critical tools and methodologies of ecocriticism, not only to explore how authors write about the environment, but also to examine how the environment itself is constructed through aesthetic discourse. Students should leave the course with improved critical environmental literacy skills that will enable interdisciplinary reflection about our interactions with the natural environment.

FRE 374 Introduction to French Cinema

The course examines French films from Jean Vigo's Zero de conduite (1933) to Robert Bresson's Un condamne a mort s'est echappe (1956). It explores the art of cinematography while considering the aesthetics, historical, political, sociological, and psychoanalytical frames within which each movie was realized. It furthermore provides students with analytical tools to enable them to develop their own personal approach when viewing, discussing, and writing about a film.

FRE 376 French Cinema: The New Wave

The French New Wave was a major turning-point in the history of French Cinema. It gave birth to a new way of approaching cinematography as a whole. This course centers on New Wave film directors Chabrol, Truffaut, Resnais, Godard and Varda, and examine closely their cinematographic creed, theoretical preoccupations, similarities and differences. Movies will be partially watched outside of class.

GER 373 German Film as Medium of Culture

This course examines important issues in the cultural life of Germany through the medium of film, to which the German contribution has been foundational and continuously innovative. Texts are included to provide background, context or a look at parallel literary expression.

GER 376 Screening Swissness: An Introduction to Swiss-German Film

This course will trace the development of Swiss-German film over the last several decades paying close attention to motives such as gender, the tension between city/countryside, ideas of Swiss identity, depictions of foreigners, and Swissness. Swiss-German film made its entry on the international stage in the thirties, with films that reacted to the threat of war and critically reflected on the notion of the Geistige Landesverteidigung, or the spiritual resistance, a concept, which should become a rallying call during World War Two. The fifties and sixties with the so-called Gotthelf Filme, in which Jeremias Gotthelf's novels and stories were brought to the big screen in beautiful black and white renditions that fuelled the national imaginary with more soothing notions of what it meant to be Swiss followed the earlier critical stances. A host of related Heimatfilme-films in which the nineteenth century Heile Welt depictions of Gotthelf were transposed into the 20th century with little regard for changing political landscape. The seventies and eighties then saw rather more reflected takes on what it meant to be Swiss: films, like for instance Rolf Lyssy's Die Schweizermacher, that explored the arduous process of procuring a Swiss passport, and is thought of today as a break-through in Swiss film history. Today, we look back on three decades of Swiss film since Die Schweizermacher as a site avid and often provocative cultural criticism that has turned the idea of Swissness upside down even as its relentless search for a Swiss identity speaks the language of enduring Heimweh. This class is a split-level class, and will be taught in German with some attention to the peculiarities of Swiss dialects. Film screenings will take place regularly on a weekday evening and must be attended in addition to the regular classes.

HIS 325 Human Rights in History

The idea of universal, inalienable rights has become one of the most influential concepts in modern history. Human Rights have become an inspiration to oppressed groups and individuals around the globe, a rallying cry for a global civil society, and also a controversial source of legitimation for political and military interventions. The course asks about the reasons for the stellar rise of the concept of Human Rights from ''nonsense on stilts'' (Jeremy Bentham) to such a powerful driving force in contemporary politics. Also, it asks whether Human Rights are the result of a specifically European or Western or Christian legacy. Students in this course will discuss some key thinkers from the Enlightenment to the present within their historical contexts, and analyze not only the philosophical and theoretical framework for Human Rights as a factor in history, but also have a closer look into the consequences of Human Rights influenced politics in general.

IS 280T Italian Cinema on Location: Projections of the Eternal City in Italian Film and Cultural Studies

This course provides an introduction to classic cinematic portrayals of the city of Rome and its inhabitants, with an emphasis on 20th-century authors and filmmakers. Landmark films, such as Roberto Rossellini's ''Open City'' and Federico Fellini's ''La Dolce Vita'' will be contextualized both historically and thematically. Subsequently, students will begin crafting their own short film design; to be pitched in the form of a multi-media presentation prior to travel. Filming and production will follow in Rome, under the guidance and supervision of the professor. During the final weeks of the semester, class time will be devoted to close the discussion of contemporary readings from Italian Cultural Studies and, parallel to this, editing and completion of the student's semester-long short film project. Students enrolling in this course should have basic knowledge of how to create and edit short films using their own digital video devices. Students should be familiar with the program Final Cut (or similar editing program).

ITA 353 Italian Theater Workshop

This course introduces the advanced Italian student to a wide array of Italian writers, cultural theorists, and filmmakers through the cultivation of performance skills, exercises in improvisation, acting games, textual analysis, peer critiques, and group discussion. Conceived as a student-centered workshop, the main objective of the course is to experiment creatively, and across literary genres, with the task of making Italian culture come alive on stage. The pronunciation and fluency of the advanced Italian language student is expected to benefit greatly from the memorization, dramatization, and rehearsal of Italian-language scenes and monologues. Creative writing assignments, requiring different methods of stage adaptation, will invite students to ''play with'' the Italian language as they ''play out'' their interpretations in the form of weekly performances. Students who sign up for this course need not have prior theater experience, but must be motivated to collaborate in a dynamic workshop setting and willing to interact both creatively and intellectually with a wide variety of texts ranging from the essays of Umberto Eco to the screenplays of Federico Fellini to the poetry of Eugenio Montale and Alda Merini.

ITA 374 Italian Cinema

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major accomplishments of Italian cinema from ''neorealism'' through the ''commedia all'italiana'' to the present. Emphasis is placed on film as an artistic, aesthetic and theoretical medium for an exploration and interpretation of issues related to contemporary life. Some of Italy's major film directors will be considered, such as Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, the Taviani brothers, Scola. Particular attention is dedicated to the films of Fellini.

PSY 201 Social Psychology

Introduction to major theories and research findings of social psychology in order to provide an understanding of the roles of cognitive and motivational processes in social behavior. The focus of this course is on how people's behavior, feelings and thoughts are influenced through social environment.

PSY 202 Developmental Psychology

This course surveys the major areas of developmental psychology - the science of individual human development. The overall aim is to introduce students to the fundamental questions, ideas and approaches in the psychology of development. The course emphasizes an understanding of the methods, terms, theories and findings in the field, traces human development across the entire lifespan, and explores the basic developmental theories including the biological influences on development, behavior and learning. To complete the study of human development, the course presents a multi-cultural perspective, examining the diversity of human adaptations to change across the lifespan, by cultures around the world.

PSY 203 Theories of Personality

The course addresses itself to a comprehensive in-depth study of the following question: What is personality? The major theories of personality which are prominent and important today in the field of psychology are considered individually in detail, chronologically and comparatively. These include the classical psycho-analytical theory of Freud, Jungian theory, existential/phenomenological theories, cognitive theories and behavior psychology.

PSY 210 Cognitive Psychology

This course provides an in-depth exploration of human cognition, focusing on both classic and current issues. In this class, students will discuss how cognitive psychologists build theories (or models) of mental processes, and how these models are used to understand and predict behavior. Topics to be covered include (but may not be limited to): history of cognitive psychology, research methods in cognitive psychology, attention, perception, memory, language, and reasoning. In addition to these subjects, we will examine the research on social cognition, motivation, and emotions.

PSY 220 Multicultural Psychology

This course is intended to introduce and familiarize students with the concept of multicultural psychology. The entire field of psychology from a perspective that is mindful of the diversity in today’s society will be considered. Students will explore the ways in which psychology is socially constructed and will pay particular attention to the following factors as they influence human development: oppression, language, acculturation, economic concerns, racism and prejudice, socio-political factors, child-rearing practices, religious practices, family structure and dynamics, and cultural values and attitudes.

PSY 310 Organizational Psychology

This course will provide an in-depth exploration of the key concepts, theories, and research methods in Organizational Psychology. Organizations are complex networks of social relationships between individuals, within groups, and between groups. In this course, students will examine individual, interpersonal, group and cultural behaviors in organizations. Topics to be covered include: group decision-making and communication styles; managing group processes and team design; leadership and power strategies within groups; performance management and work teams; and networking and negotiation within and across groups and organizations.

PSY 315 Environmental Psychology

This course introduces a relatively new field of study in psychology that focuses on the interaction between the environment and human beings, examining how the physical features of the environment impact cognition, behavior, and well-being, and how human actions in turn produce immediate and long-term consequences on the environment. In this course, the environment is broadly defined to include not only our physical surroundings (both natural and built) but also the larger, socio-cultural and political milieu in which people live. This course will borrow ideas and information from a variety of other areas and disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, biology, geography, urban planning, public policy, and other areas. Topics to be covered include: dysfunctional and restorative environments, the effects of environmental stressors, the nature and use of personal space, environmental risk perception, psychological impact of ecological crises, values and attitudes towards nature, and conservation psychology.

STA 200 Computer Graphics in Advertising

An introductory course to graphic design software and to the principles and practices of advertising graphics. Once the basics have been learned, the course covers the following aspects of graphic design: the psychology of advertising, the brief from the client and the working relationship between client and designer, font styles and typographic design, the company logo, letterhead, business cards etc., house-styling, company reports, brochures, flyers, book covers, color printing and printing processes. The course requires that initial design concepts be taken from the early stages through to finished art-work, i.e. the quality of finish required for presentation to the client.(This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies)

STA 209 The Video Essay: From Conception to Projection

This is a hands-on course designed to explore key aspects of an exciting contemporary film genre known as The Video Essay: a branch of experimental cinema which stems from the contributions of avant-garde filmmakers such as Man Ray, Jean-Luc Godard, Nam June Paik, and Bill Viola. Video Art, like its celluloid counterpart in experimental film, emphasizes the artistic potential of the film medium, as opposed to cinema's more common function as an object of consumption for entertainment value. As the etymology of the name implies, the video essay is an expression of how and what we see when we try to make visual sense of the world. The key aspects of videomaking to be studied in this course have been divided into four learning modules. Each module corresponds to one week in the four- week summer program, each week being dedicated to one of the questions noted above. These learning modules are: 1) Conceptualizing the Image; 2) Capturing the Image; 3) Contextualizing the Image; and 4) Projecting the Image. Students will be evaluated on a portfolio comprised of four completed video essays, with accompanying statements of artistic intent, and one conclusive paper which will be presented orally to the class. Students enrolled in this class must have their own digital video recording device.

STA 279 The Video Essay and Photography on Location in Europe

Aimed at beginning and intermediate students, this digital-based media course (photography, sound and video) is designed to reveal key aspects of the production of the video essay through excursions in the Ticino region, studio work and critical discussions based on readings and screenings. The video essay is an expression of how and what we see when we try to make visual sense of the world-- a genre of experience. Through projects using photography, sound and video, students will explore this dynamic genre and how it can be used to express place and their relationship to it, with the goal of producing a personal portfolio of creative work. Students enrolled in this class must have their own digital video recording device, which can range from a smart phone to a digital camera or video camera. The course carries a nominal fee of 100 CHF or USD 100 for art supplies and travel expenses.

STA 300 Computer Graphics in Advertising, Advanced

This course is fundamentally a follow-on from STA 200, Computer Graphics in Advertising. Throughout the semester, students are expected to complete a broad variety of projects, individually and in form of group work, and bring them to a finished state. Possible areas of concentration may include digital branding, interaction design, digital formats, innovative design, campaign design and corporate promotion. (This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies).


Adjunct Professor, Communication and Media Studies

Ph.D. University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 9
Phone: +41 91 986 36 57
Email: nbarile@fus.edu

Nello Barile

Chair of the Academic Division of Communication, History and Politics
Associate Professor, Political Science

Ph.D. University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
M.A. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 16 
Phone: +41 91 985 22 63
Email: bbucher@fus.edu

Bernd Bucher

Assistant Professor, Media and Communication Studies

Ph.D. School of Media and Communication, The University of Leeds, The United Kingdom
M.Sc. in Communication Sciences, Major in Media Management, USI Universita’ della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland
B.A. Faculty of Education Sciences, Universita di Torino, Italy

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 10
Phone: +41 91 986 36 56
Email: amartinisi@fus.edu

Alessandro Martinisi

Professor, Communication and Media Studies

Ph.D. Rutgers University, USA
M.A. Wake Forest University, USA
B.A. Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 9
Phone: +41 91 986 36 57
Email: ssugiyama@fus.edu

Satomi Sugiyama

CHAT - Communication and Media Studies