Media Studies 190JT: Fall 2022
Senior Seminar in Media Studies

Time/Location: T/R, 1:15pm-2:30pm, West Hall Q116
Please note: this web site is ONLY for section 01 of MS190JT, for general information on the course, go to the Sakai site.

Instructor: Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Phone: x74319

Office + Hours:
• Scott Hall 213 (Office hours will be on Zoom or outdoors)
• Tuesday 4:00pm-5:00pm
• Thursday 3:00pm-4:00pm
• Wednesday by appt.
• Use to make an appt.

Course Description
This team-taught seminar, to be taken during senior year, constitutes the senior exercise required to graduate with the IMS major. It prepares students with the skills and knowledge to continue their media studies practice and research post-graduation. Students will attend both large group meetings as well as smaller section meetings focused on one of the three tracks (film/video, critical studies, and digital/electronic) and on the students' chosen medium and topic. Instructor: M-Y Ma

Course Goals and Statement of Student Learning Outcome
The Media Studies Senior Seminar functions as the culminating course of your studies in the field and is required of all majors. It aims to bring together insights gleaned from your various paths through and engagements with media studies in order to develop a cohesive vision of the field. We strongly discourage Capstone projects or papers that do not directly emerge from your training.  For example, we do not teach production classes in traditional narrative, therefore we discourage traditional narrative films, videos, and screenplays as Capstone projects.

By the end of this course, students are expected:  

  • To be able to conduct advanced level independent research/production in their chosen specialty area, culminating in an individual final paper or project;
  • To demonstrate their understanding of the overall field of media studies—its major debates, schools of thought, methodologies, and approaches to the study and production of media;
  • To be able to articulate in both written and oral presentations how their paper or project contributes to larger developments within the field of media studies; 
  • To be able to critically evaluate their own and each other’s work in both group and individual settings, across the three tracks of the media studies major (film/video, critical studies, digital/electronic);
  • To practice media production and writing as a process that involves drafting, getting feedback from viewers/readers, and revising. 


Course Requirements

Capstone Project / Paper (50% of class grade)
As the Capstone of the Media Studies major, each student will undertake a semester-long independent project or paper that synthesizes what you have learned during the major. A non-written (i.e. media) project must be accompanied by a project paper that is written in two parts (history/theory and production/reflection) and comprises 10% of the project grade. The requirements for the Capstone project are format dependent as follows:

  1. Critical Studies: a 20-25 page seminar paper that makes a reasoned, well-supported analytical argument in which you appropriately use theoretical/conceptual/historical material to make original insights about the media object or phenomenon of your choice.
  2. Digital/Electronic: an original, complete web-based or digital media project. 
  3. Film/Video: an original, complete film or video project of no more than 3-5 minutes in length.
  4. Gallery/Installation: an original complete artwork that is installed in the gallery or in a site-specific place on campus.

The Capstone should synthesize what you have learned in the course of the major. Be thoughtful about your choice of subject and format.  Your Capstone should reflect and demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have acquired in the Media Studies classes you have taken thus far.  It should be a culmination of your Media Studies career at the 5Cs.

Please note that in order to choose the film/video or digital/electronic options, you must have completed two production courses, at least one of which should be in the intermediate or advanced level, in the medium in which you intend to work. For a Critical Studies paper, you should choose an area or topic which you have taken classes in (i.e. a paper about Instagram should be informed by courses taken in digital media studies and social media)

Project Papers: A non-written project must be accompanied by a 10 to 15-page paper that elaborates on how your project addresses and resolves a question, topic, or other concerns that represents the culmination of your work as a media studies major. The paper will be done as two 5-7 page papers that are handed in at specific due dates throughout the semester.  Paper guidelines:

  1. Paper 1: delineates the conceptual basis of your project – why this format and subject matter?  What are the media or other theories you set-out to engage through your project?  Who are your influences (film and videomakers, visual and performance artists, writers, etc.)? Make a strong argument about why this subject and format is compelling to you as a Capstone for your media studies major. How does your project contribute to the field as a whole, and also to the sub-field or genre you have chosen to work in. This paper should demonstrate your existing knowledge of the medium and genre of your Capstone, as well as the existing histories and debates about this area in media studies.
  2. Paper 2: discusses the process through which you will realize your project – what is your production schedule and how have you planned to execute your project?  What are the media and techniques you will utilize?  In short, what is your methodology in realizing this project? At the end of your production, reflect on your experience working on this project – did it turn out as you expected?  If not, what are some of the surprises and challenges, and how did you adapt to or modify your project in response to them?  What did you learn in the process of creating this project? Relate your process discussion back to the conceptual/subject discussion in the first paper. Your reflection can be your paper's conclusion.




Abstract / Proposal (5% of class grade)
In preparation for completing this, you will develop an abstract (for CS papers) or proposal (for media projects) due Week 3. (750-1000 words, typed)

Your abstract should contain the following information:

  • CONTACT INFO: Your name and email
  • SUBJECT: What is the subject of your research? Give your reader a concise description and some background knowledge on the topic. Also discuss why it is an important contribution, both to you personally, as well as to the field of media studies and other disciplines.
  • LITERATURE REVIEW: A summary of existing scholarship on your research subject. What has been written about this topic? What are the main theories and methodologies that have informed discourses on this subject. What are the major debates? This is where you demonstrate your existing knowledge about your chosen subject.
  • METHODOLOGY: Based on what you know about your research subject, how will you approach your research trajectory this semester? What are the texts, media objects, and other sources you will consult or study? What methods and theories inform your research, and how does your work contribute or challenge the existing scholarship on this subject? Outline a work plan and writing schedule. Include a preliminary bibliography of at least 5 sources. You are expected to present multiple drafts and other works-in-progress for this paper.

Your media project proposal should contain the following information:

  • CONTACT INFO: Your name and email
  • SUBJECT: What is your project about? Give your reader a concise description and some background knowledge on the topic. Also discuss why it is an important contribution to the medium and its histories. You should reference important contributions other media-makers have made to your chosen medium, as well as media and other scholar's existing discourses on it.
  • PROJECT FORMAT: What will your short project look and sound like? Is it web or screen-based, an installation, an object, digital photography, etc.? Does it fit into an established genre such as, artist games, animation, documentary, narrative, experimental, or a hybrid? How does form and content interact in your project?
  • METHODOLOGY: How will you go about completing your project? What Intermediate or Advanced production or theory courses have you taken? What are your primary sources and conceptual tools for research? What experience and resources (financial, technical, artistic, etc.) do you have and what will you need to execute your ideas? A timeline can be useful in describing your process. Please explain the relationship between your final project and your studies.

All abstracts and proposals must be uploaded as MS Word (with ".doc" or ".docx" suffix) documents to your Sakai/Drop Box by 5pm on Friday, September 16th. It is your responsibility to ensure that Seminar Professors receive your proposals by this deadline.


Pitch (10% of class grade)
You will develop and present a 3 minute pitch (slide deck: PowerPoint, Google, etc.) based on your abstract /proposal. Each student will have 5 minutes, including questions and comments, to present. Presentations can include images, slides, other media, (e.g. sound recordings) quotes, examples of works that you are studying, referencing, or ones that have inspired you. Your pitch will be presented to the entire class in Week 4 (September 20th and 22nd).

Work-In-Progress Review (15% of class grade)
You will present 5 minutes of your Work-in-Progress (WIP) in Week 10 and 11. Each student will have 7-8 minutes, including questions and comments, to present. Presentations should include works-in-progress, slides, theoretical framings, drafts, and any other material that would best represent your progress. 

Peer Review (10% of class grade)
You will be broken up into peer groups early in the semester. These groups will work together on in-class exercises and do peer review of each other’s work throughout the semester. As a sign of respect to the other members of your peer group, please keep to deadlines and come to class prepared each week. Feedback is an essential part of developing your skills as a writer/maker. When reviewing your colleague’s work please be constructive and specific.

Peer reviews are due a week after the pitches and works-in-progress presentations.
Each peer group can choose one of the following formats for their peer review.

  1. Group review : Each group will organize a discussion group outside of regular class meeting time, in which each group member will receive verbal feedback on their work-in-progress. These groups must:
    • Address in detail the WIPs of all of its members
    • Have the participation and contribution by all members of the peer group
    • Be attended by the professor, who will observe the discussion
    • Be held within a reasonable and substantial (e.g. the equivalent of a class period) time frame.

  2. Written review: Each group is responsible for generating a written peer review of individual members' works-in-progress. Each individual review should be a paragraph to 1 page long. Bullet points are fine. They should be typed, and must contain the following information:
    • Name and e-mail of group member who are the reviewers
    • Name of group members whose project or paper are reviewed
    • Organized by project/paper, each review should consider the intention, methodology, and progress of the project/paper at hand.  Comments should focus on specific feedback, suggestions, and constructive criticism.
    • Written peer reviews should be compiled into one document per peer group, and submitted to me plus to all group members reviewed.


We strongly advise that you submit evidence of your ongoing work at least twice during the semester to your seminar professor, and receive feedback in individual meetings. We also advise you meet outside of class with at least one professor from media studies or another discipline relevant to your Capstone for feedback on your works-in-progress.


ALL final CS papers and media project papers are DUE on Friday, December 9th in your Sakai/Drop Box (and for SC students by email to your second reader)
NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED. Please note that works for the gallery exhibition and screening will have earlier deadlines corresponding to these events. Since it is 50% of your grade, if we do not receive your Capstone project or paper on time, you will fail.


Participation and Attendance (10% of class grade)
Your weekly attendance and active participation is central to the class’ success and to your success in the class, as is your thoughtful engagement with the work of your peers.  Documented medical or family emergencies will be excused, and you have two “free passes” for when you need a personal day. All other absences will negatively impact your total grade percentage by one point.  Please note, this attendance policy is separate from absences related to Covid-19 isolation/quarantine protocols, which are outlined below.

All assignments must be handed in on time and turning in assignments late will be detrimental to your grade at a rate of 1 letter grade per week.  You must turn in a term project to pass the class.  Exceptions will be made and extensions given only for medical or family emergencies (provided you can offer documentation). 

Laptop computers with an internet connection and appropriate software, sometimes smart phones and other mobile digital devices can be used in class only for class-related activities (e.g. taking notes or relevant web searches). I ask students to agree to these conditions for class: no recording of audio, photo, or video unless pre-approved by instructor; no emails, texting, messaging, checking your social media accounts and other non-class related activities on your device. These and other diversions are not acceptable during class time, and will lower your grade.

We may study sexually explicit, political, and otherwise challenging material in this course. These are not included for shock value, but are legitimate investigations of controversial subject matters in media. You are certainly encouraged to explore difficult and complex subject matters in your work, and you should be prepared to consider these issues intellectually and emotionally. Our class is a safe space in which students can express their beliefs and opinions. You always have a voice, but please be respectful of others as well. Abusive language and behavior are not tolerated. Open-mindedness is encouraged!


Grading and Other Policies

Your final grade will be based on the following
Abstract or project proposal 5%
Pitch 10%
Work-in-progress review 15%
Capstone paper / project 50%
Peer review 10%
Class participation* 10%

I try my best to make my grading criteria as clear as possible, and you are welcome to come and discuss your grades and your class performance with me. However, I only consider legitimate concerns, and be aware that your grade is as likely to go down as it is to go up after I reassess your assignment. I do not tolerate haggling, bribing, threats, and any other pointless arguments. I consider all aspects of your performance before I assign a grade, please respect my assessment as I respect your efforts.

Academic Integrity
You are responsible for reading and adhering to the colleges’ policies regarding academic dishonesty and plagiarism. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, you should direct them to the professor. All assignments should include proper citations. The documentation guidelines are posted on Sakai under Resources->Guides->Citation Guide for your reference. 
The Pitzer College Student Handbook
The Scripps College Student Handbook

Academic Accommodations
To request academic accommodations based on learning differences, chronic illness, or other needs,  please contact your home college’s Office of Academic Support Services:

The Writing Centers

COVID-19 Policies
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be an evolving one. Our goal will be to keep each other safe, and accommodations will be put in place to support this. These may include individual meetings with the professor, course notes, recorded sessions, or temporary pivot to online instruction, as appropriate. If you learn that you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, or if you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, please let your professor know. If you test positive, you will not be allowed to attend class. If you are required to isolate/quarantine, accommodations will be provided. Absences related to Covid-19 protocols do not count towards the course absence policy. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any needs related to the Covid-19 procedures or concerns about classroom safety.
The Covid-19 policies are subject to modification throughout the semester based on current protocols.  Students are required to follow all current protocols for the class and all class related activities. The links to the campus Covid protocols are as follows:






Course Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction
Tuesday 8.30: Benson Auditorium, Pitzer campus
__ • Course structure
__ • Syllabus
__ • Class policy/structure (for all sections)
__ • Info session with IMS staff
__ • Please come with your IMS Capstone Project/Paper Form filled out
Thursday 9.1: Section 1 Introduction, Project Proposal, Funding Structure Overview WST Q116
__ • Section 01 introduction
__ • Class policy / structure (for section 01)
__ • Student projects introduction (pair your introduction with one source: essay, book, media example, etc.)__
__ • Writing a good proposal
__ • Examples of successful proposals (all on Sakai/Resources/Week 2)
____ 1. Capstone proposals by former students
____ 2. Media projects: 2 grant proposals by Prof. Tran
____ 3. Book proposal, essay and panel abstracts by Prof. Ma


Week 2: Project Conception
Tuesday 9.6: Proposal writing and Project conception WST Q116
__ • Funding (cont.)
__ • Writing a good proposal
__ • Examples of successful proposals (all on Sakai/Resources/Week 2)
____ 1. Capstone proposals by former students
____ 2. Media projects: 2 grant proposals by Prof. Tran
____ 3. Book proposal, essay and panel abstracts by Prof. Ma
• Funding:
__________ Off campus funding sources (non-profit)
__________ On campus funding sources for projects and events
• Other resources - spaces, etc.
__ • (cont.) Student projects introduction (pair your introduction with one source: essay, book, media example, etc.)
Thursday 9.8: Project conception (cont.) WST Q116
__ • Preproduction
Project organization and planning
__ • Presentation and archive of past senior projects


Week 3: Individual Meetings, Production Workshop 1, Fall Project/Paper Proposals Due
Tuesday 9.13
__ Individual meetings - IMS Courtyard
__ Production Workshop with Eddie Gonzalez: New equipment and lighting workshop - Space TBA
__ Peer Group Meeting: Students meet with their assigned peer groups to plan pitch presentation and feedback format. - Q116
Thursday 9.15
__ Individual meetings - IMS Courtyard
__ Research and Thesis Workshop with Kendra Macomber, Research Services Librarian - Hannold Library, Mudd 3 South Classroom
__ Peer Group Meeting: Students meet with their assigned peer groups to plan pitch presentation and feedback format. - Q116

Friday, 9.16 all abstract / proposals DUE at 5pm (Please upload your proposals to your Sakai/Drop Box as MS Word documents - with .doc or .docx suffix - by 5pm)

Week 4: Pitches (Sections 1 & 2 Combined)
Tuesday 9.20 and Thursday 9.22 both days meet 12:50PM-2:30PM, Benson Auditorium, Pitzer Campus (Tuesday) & Humanities Auditorium, Scripps Campus (Thursday)
__ • 5 mins. for each presentation, including Q&A
Upload your pitch presentations (PPT slides, media clips, images, etc.) Sakai/Drop Box for your pitch presentation


Week 5: Peer Groups, Reading Selection & Peer Reviews Due
Tuesday 9.27 and Thursday 9.29 - Q116
• Peer group meetings to discuss peer reviews and reading selection

Friday, 9.30, 5pm DUE: all pitch peer reviews and peer group reading selections
Upload readings (PDFs) to your Sakai/Drop Box
__ • Each peer group email me ONE compiled document containing all of your pitch peer reviews (MS Word documents only - with .doc or .docx suffix)


Week 6: Production Workshop 2, Peer Group Meetings (with Professor), Paper Drafts Due
Tuesday 10.4
__ Production Workshop with Eddie Gonzalez: sound for film, video, installation - Q116
__ • Peer group 1: Sports Q116 or IMS Courtyard

Thursday 10.6
__ • Peer group 2: Online Spaces & Communities Q116 or IMS Courtyard

Friday, 10.7, 5pm DUE: first drafts of CS (introduction with thesis statement, and outline of your paper) and media project Paper 1 (conceptual basis, theory and history) upload paper drafts (MS Word documents - with .doc or .docx suffix) to your Sakai/Drop Box

Week 7: Gallery Workshop 1, Peer Group Meetings (with Professor)
Tuesday 10.11
__ Gallery Workshop with Matt Pagoaga - Kallick Family Gallery
__ • Peer group 3: Sound Q116 or IMS Courtyard
Thursday 10.13
__ • Peer group 4: History & Communities Q116 or IMS Courtyard

Friday, 10.14, 5pm - peer review of media project papers and second draft of CS papers (6-10 pages) DUE - upload reviewed drafts (use "track changes" in MS Word documents) to your Sakai/Drop Box



Week 8: Fall Break, Peer Group Meetings (with Professor)
Tuesday 10.18: Fall Break - No Class Meeting
Thursday 10.20:
__ • Peer group 5: Documentation & Performance Q116 or IMS Courtyard



Week 9: Individual Meetings
Tuesday 10.25
__ • Individual meetings WIP preparation - IMS Courtyard
Thursday 10.27
__ • Individual meetings WIP preparation - IMS Courtyard

Friday, 10.28, 5pm - peer review of second draft of CS papers DUE



Week 10: Work-In-Progress Presentations
Tuesday 11.1 12:50PM-2:30PM, Benson Auditorium, Pitzer Campus
Thursday 11.3 12:50PM-2:30PM, Humanities Auditorium, Scripps Campus
__ • Present work-in-progress and other visual material (PowerPoint, flowchart, images/footage, web site or installation mock-up) to IMS faculty. Be ready for discussion and feedback


Week 11: Work-In-Progress Presentation, Peer Group Meeting
Tuesday 11.8 12:50PM-2:30PM, Benson Auditorium, Pitzer Campus
__ • Present work-in-progress and other visual material (PowerPoint, flowchart, images/footage, web site or installation mock-up) to IMS faculty. Be ready for discussion and feedback

Thursday 11.10
__ • Peer group meetings Q116 or IMS Courtyard

Friday, 11.11, 5pm DUE: third drafts of CS paper (18-25 pages) and media project paper 2 (process and reflection - you can write or revise the reflection after you have completed the project Week 14-15)
upload paper drafts (MS Word documents - with .doc or .docx suffix) to your Sakai/Drop Box


Week 12: Peer Groups and Individual Meetings, Work-in-Progress Peer Review Due
Tuesday 11.15
__ Peer group or individual meetings Q116 or IMS Courtyard
Thursday 11.17
__ • CS Peer review meeting (1:45PM-2:30PM) with section 02 in Lang 214, Scripps Campus
__ • Peer group or individual meetings in IMS Courtyard

Friday, 11.18, 5pm WIP peer reviews due
__ • Each peer group email me ONE compiled document containing all of your pitch peer reviews (MS Word documents only - with .doc or .docx suffix)
__ • All group reviews should be done by this date




Week 13: Individual Meetings, Thanksgiving
Tuesday 11.22
Color Correction Workshop with Eddie Gonzalez - TBA
__ Gallery Workshop (prep for installation deadline next week) with Matt Pagoaga - Kallick Family Gallery
__ • peer reviews of media project paper 2 due - upload reviewed drafts (use "track changes" in MS Word documents) to your Sakai/Drop Box
Thursday 11.24 Thanksgiving Holiday - No Class Meeting


Week 14: Individual Meetings, Gallery Projects Due, Course Evaluations
Tuesday 11.29:
__ • Individual meetings - IMS Courtyard or editing room/gallery. Or we can also scheduled a group crit in which students present their works-in-progress for discussion and feedback this week if students prefer that to the individual meetings option.
__ Gallery Workshop (installation prep) with Matt Pagoaga - Kallick Family Gallery
Thursday 12.1:
__ • Course evaluation discussion
__ • Individual Meetings
__• All Projects for gallery exhibition due, drop off 9AM-12PM, Kallick Family Gallery



Week 15: Last Week of Classes, IMS Graduate Presentation/Conversation, All Projects Due, Senior Screening and Presentations, Final Draft of All Papers Due
Monday 12.5: All Projects for screening due

Tuesday 12.6: WST Q116 Presentation/Conversation with IMS graduate

Thursday 12.8: Senior Screening and Presentations (Attendance Mandatory!)
Tentative Schedule

11:00AM-12:15PM: Critical Studies / Digital/Electronic Panel 1 Benson Auditorium
12:15PM-1:00PM: Lunch served Benson Lobby / Mounds
1:00PM-2:15PM: Critical Studies / Digital/Electronic Panel 2 Benson Auditorium
2;30PM-4:30PM: Film/Video Screenings, Benson Auditorium
5:00PM-7:00PM: Dinner / Gallery Opening Kallick Family Gallery, IMS Courtyard

Friday, 12.9, Noon: final drafts of CS and Media Project Papers due upload to your Sakai/Drop Box (MS Word documents only - with .doc or .docx suffix)


<Back to Course Listing

Back to top