Media Studies 192JT: Spring 2020
Senior Paper / Project in Media Studies

Time/Location: M/W, 2:45pm-4:00pm,West Hall Q120

Instructor: Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Phone: x74319

Office + Hours:
• Scott Hall 213
• Monday / Wednesday 4:00pm-5:00pm
• Tuesday / Thursday by appt.

Course Description
This course is the continuation of MS190JT, in which you are expected to work on and further develop your Capstone paper or project through a more independent structure. The course structure is designed to provide senior majors with a structure and guidance, feedback and critique on their works-in-progress from the IMS faculty as well as their peers, access to technical staff and resources in the IMS Production Center as well as other relevant resources on and off campus. This spring semester course meets the senior Capstone requirement for Media Studies majors who have self-selected complete a year-long Capstone paper or project, and have met the performance requirements on their Fall Capstone papers or projects done in MS190JT. Prerequisites: MS190JT and Media Studies faculty approval of Spring Project proposal. Instructor: M-Y Ma


Updated Course Organization and Policies
The following are changes made to accommodate our new remote learning format. See the end of the syllabus for updates on course schedule.
All class and individual meetings (including crits) will take place on Zoom (meeting ID: 773-331-5933)
Class meetings will take place on Mondays and Wednesday 2:45pm-4:00pm PST. Some accommodations can be made, within reason, for differing locations and time zones.

Works-in-progress (WIP) crits will take place via Zoom:

  • WIP papers or projects (including documentation or links) will be posted on Sakai (100MB limit on documents posted) and Box (with links on Sakai) a week before the scheduled live crit.
  • Student may attach a short (200 words max.) statement to their WIP in lieu of the introduction we do in live crits.
  • Faculty and other students will read and view WIP prior to the live crit., which will be focused on discussion and feedback.
  • Crits will be recorded on Zoom and archived on Sakai or Box (with link on Sakai)
  • Instructor will summarize comments and discussion in writing, assign grades, and send feedback to individual students after the crit.
Peer groups and peer review format will be the same as outlined before.
The Senior Presentations will most likely be online, and should be launched during the last week of classes (May 4-8) I am working with the IMS staff on the format, submission and launch processes - more details to follow!

Course Goals and Statement of Student Learning Outcome
The Media Studies Capstone classes (MS190JT and MS192JT) function as the year-long culmination of your studies in the field. 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

Participation and Attendance (10%):
Course activities include work-in-progress presentations in front of the IMS faculty, in-class critiques, peer review, written assignments, and exhibition preparation. You are expected to attend each class on time, prepared, and alert. You are expected to know how a working critique functions and to fully engage in critiques during class with questions and comments for your classmates as well as be prepared to defend your choices in your work and pose questions for your viewers. Since participation is a vital aspect of the class, you are expected to come prepared and contribute to class discussions.

Two absences are permitted without impacting your final grade, while each additional absence will discount your total grade percentage by one (1) point.


Please turn off all phones and mobile digital devices during class. Laptops can only be used for taking notes and for relevant web searches; no emailing, texting, and other activities unrelated to this class. These and other diversions are not acceptable during class time, and will lower your grade. 

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Crits (20%):
Two WIP Crits with IMS faculty during weeks 5 and 10+11.

You will submit evidence of your ongoing work (which will vary depending on your track) twice during the semester in critiques with the IMS core faculty.  I also strongly advise that you meet outside of class with myself and other IMS faculty you are working with for feedback on your works-in-progress.

Term Project or Paper (50%):

The Spring Project or Paper should expand upon as well as deepen your Fall Capstone’s subject or theme. Be thoughtful about your choice of focus and format. Your Spring Project or Paper should reflect and demonstrate the advanced knowledge and skills that are fitting as a culmination of your Media Studies career at the Claremont College, and fitting for a potential honors project or paper (Note: not all of the Claremont Colleges offer honors or its equivalent, please consult with your home college's Media Studies faculty advisor for more information.) Honors policy by college.

Critical Studies: a seminar paper, 40-50 pages, 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.

Drafts (10%)
Students writing critical studies papers will hand in at least two drafts: each due one week before the two crits for your committee members and peer reviewer (see course schedule for dates) Each draft will count as 5% of your class grade (10% total).

  • Draft 1: Revised version of your Fall Paper, plus 10-15 pages of new material
  • Draft 2: At least 20 pages of new material, or a complete first draft of your Spring Paper

Additional prompts for your drafts:

  1. You have the choice of turning in the numbers pages of a draft specified above (with the understanding that you will not have reached some sections of the body and the conclusion) or of turning in a short version that can be filled out for the final version.
  2. Tone: academic journal style
  3. Overall concerns: please check to see that your paper includes the following:
    • A revised thesis statement or question that reflects the work you are doing this semester.
    • An original argument that structures the paper.
    • Topic background: a clear explanation of the topic and its context, if not already covered in your Fall Paper, or if new topic/context are introduced in the expanded version.
    • Theory background: please situate your expanded topic and new argument in the context of previous work in the area as well as your Fall paper.
    • Evidence: as you did in your Fall Paper, consider what will count as the evidence that you are drawing upon in your Spring Paper.
    • Conclusion
  4. Remember these are drafts, you can still have questions you are working on or areas that need to be further developed. Please identify these as part of your working draft, to be discussed with your committee, peer reviewers, as well as with the IMS core faculty at your crit.
  5. Style concerns: Please use APA, MLA, or Chicago style

Film/Video: an original, complete film or video project 10-15 minutes in length. A case would need to be made to the instructor (and potentially the IMS core faculty) if your project needs to be longer than 15 minutes. Remember: a longer project is not necessarily a better project. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one semester.

Digital/Electronic: an original, complete digital media project - web, installation, performance, animation, or another approved presentation format. To be installed in the Kallick Family Gallery or other presentation spaces, on the web, or at a site-specific location. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one semester.

Paper (10%)
A year-long media project must be accompanied by a 5-7 page paper that elaborates on how your Spring Project continues and expands on your Fall Project. Your paper should contain the following elements:

  1. An introductory paragraph with a clearly identifiable thesis statement and summary of support arguments - explain how your Spring Project is a continuation of your Fall Capstone Project.
  2. Discussion of your topic/content/conceptual basis - Did you further develop your ideas, position, methodology, as well as formal language and structure for your project? How has your Fall Project influenced and connect to your Spring Project?
  3. Discussion of your process and methodology - discusses the process through which you will realize your Spring 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?
  4. A reflection of 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? To be written at the completion of your project.
  5. Proper citation - footnotes, end notes, bibliography, and/or film/videography, when relevant. I recommend you use APA, MLA or Chicago style for this paper.

Peer Review (10%):
Peer review groups of 2-3 students are formed after the revision of Spring Project proposals and Spring Paper abstracts, due Week 3, and each group is organized according to the areas of interest and subject matter in students’ proposals.  Peer review groups are an additional resource for feedback on student work that facilitates interaction across the three tracks of the IMS major. In addition, you are also encourage to self-organize in additional peer-support and crit groups based on common format, media, or interest.

Projects:  Each group is responsible for generating a written peer review of individual members’ work for each WIP crit.  Peer reviews are due a week following the crits. Peer reviews for WIP 1 are due Week 6, and for WIP 2 are due Week 12.

Papers: Each group is responsible for generating a written peer review of individual members' papers. These are due a week after the due date of the draft for the papers.

Drafts: Each peer reviewer is responsible for generating a written peer review for a critical studies student's draft and oral presentation. Peer reviews for draft 1 are due Week 6, and for draft 2 are due Week 12.

Reports 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.
  • Peer reviews for project WIP should be compiled into one document per peer group, and submitted to me plus all group members reviewed.
  • Peer review for the papers can be incorporated into the electronic file (MS Word only) of the paper you are reviewing. The "track changes" function in MS Word can be useful here.
  • Peer reviews for research papers should include a copy of the marked-up paper (MS Word "track changes" format) and a written response in the same format as your Fall peer critique

FINAL PAPER or PROJECTS are DUE on Thursday, May 7. All other class assignments (paper, reports, etc.) are DUE at 5PM on Wednesday, May 6.
Since your paper or project is 50% of your grade, if I do not receive your work on time, you will fail.

Grading and Other Policies:
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!

Academic Accommodations:
A student’s home campus is responsible for establishing and providing accommodations. You must contact your home institution to establish accommodations. Below is a list of coordinators: 

CMC - Julia Easley,
Harvey Mudd – Deborah Kahn,
Pitzer- Gabriella Tempestoso,
Pomona - Jan Collins-Eaglin,
Scripps - Academic Resources and Services (ARS) at

Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty in any form -- including the representation of someone else's work as your own, the destruction or malicious alteration of the work of others, the re-use of work prepared for another course, and so on -- will be subject to the most severe penalties permitted under your school's student code.

Extra Credit
Students are encouraged to attend screenings, conferences, lectures, exhibitions and  web events related to this course. Write a two-page (typed and double-spaced) report of the event or activity. Incorporate the event's relevance to  the class as well as your personal responses to it. Proof of attendance  is required (keep your ticket stubs, programs, etc.) Students are allowed  two extra credit papers. Announcements for events of interest to this  class are done in the first 5 mins. of each class.

* 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.





Course Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction, Individual Meetings
Wednesday 1.22
__ • Course structure
__ • Syllabus
__ • Class policy/structure
__ • Tech review with Production Center staff
__ • Student present their Spring Project ideas

Assignment: Revise Your Spring Project / Paper Proposal
The finalized proposal for your Spring Capstone Project or Paper should be 2-3 pages, typed, and should contain the following information:

  • Project Title: working title is fine
  • Contact Information: Your name and email
  • Subject: What is your project or paper about? Give your reader a concise description and some background knowledge on the topic. Discuss how it connects to your Fall Paper or Project, and why it is an important contribution to the field of Media Studies.
  • Project Format: (for students doing media projects) What will your 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?
  • Thesis or Main Question: (for students writing papers) What is the main question(s) you will investigate? Do you have a preliminary thesis and supporting arguments? What sorts of new insights do you hope to provide? Please make it clear how this topic and approach fit within the ambit of a critical studies project. What are the main things you will need to learn/find out?
  • Methodology: How will you go about completing your project? 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? For students doing media projects, a time line can be useful in describing your process.
  • Sources / Bibliography: Critical studies track students should include a preliminary annotated bibliography of the key sources you will consult. Please include a list of at least five sources with full citation. Film/video and digital/electronic track students should include 2-3 scholarly and/or creative sources as example and/or support for your argument.
Due date: Monday 2.3, 5PM



Week 2: Project Conception, Individual Meetings, Possible Writing Workshop
Monday 1.27
__ • Individual meetings - WST Q123

Wednesday 1.29
__ Individual meetings - WST Q123


Week 3: Work-in-Progress (WIP) Practice Presentation, Spring Project Proposals Due
Monday 2.3
__ • No class meeting: work on your proposals
__ • Individual meetings possible
__ Spring Project proposals due at 5pm (Please email your proposals to me as MS Word documents - with .doc or .docx suffix - by 5pm)

Wednesday 2.5
__ • Individual meetings possible


Week 4: WIP Practice Presentation, Peer Groups Formed, CS Paper Draft 1 Due
Monday 2.10
__ • WIP practice presentation group 1
__ __ __ • Come to class prepared for 15 mins. presentation based on your revised Spring Project Proposal. The actual WIP presentations will be 20 mins. per student.
__ __ __ • Suggested structure: 5 mins. oral presentation - PPT recommended; 3-5 mins. visual material - footage, images, installation diagram, web site mock-up, excerpt or documentation of your Fall Project, review of the main arguments in your Fall Paper; 5 mins. feedback and discussion
__ __ __ • Prepare a 1-page statement summarizing your project or paper (recommended, since not all faculty are familiar with your Fall Paper or Project)
__ • Peer Group Meeting: Students meet with their assigned peer groups, introduce their projects and plan WIP presentation and feedback format.

Wednesday 2.12
__ • WIP practice presentation group 2
__ Draft 1 of CS papers due - email a copy to instructor and peer reviewers by 5PM.



Week 5: WIP Crit #1
Wednesday, 2.19, 3:00PM-6:00PM, Q120

No regular class meeting on Monday. Individual meetings possible.
__ • Work-in-progress crit with IMS faculty (20 mins. per student)
• Present revised handouts, production schedule, scripts, visual material (powerpoint, flowchart, footage, rough cut) and abstract (for CS students) to IMS faculty. Be ready for presentation and discussion

Crit Schedule

3:00PM Amber Burkhart
3:20PM Eric Culhane
3:40PM Henry Dolin
4:00PM Will Dry
4:20PM Ben Hafetz
4:40PM Jacob Leibowitz
5:00PM Rebecca Liu
5:20PM Priya Prabhakar
5:40PM Dylan Siegel


Week 6: Workshop and/or Field Trip, Reading/Discussion Group, Individual Meetings, WIP Peer Review Due
Monday 2.24
__ • Workshop
__ • Individual meetings possible Q123

Wednesday 2.26
__ • Individual meetings possible Q123
__ WIP peer reviews due - email compiled peer reviews of each peer group to me
by 5PM.

*We will try to schedule Seth for initial gallery/installation consultations either this week or next


Week 7: Workshop and/or Field Trip, Reading/Discussion Group, Individual Meetings
Monday 3.2
__ • Individual meetings possible Q123

Wednesday 3.4
__ • Individual meetings possible Q123



Week 8: WIP Practice Presentation, Draft of CS Paper Due
Monday 3.9
__ • WIP practice presentation group 1
__ __ __ • Come to class prepared for 15 mins. presentation of your project-in-progress. The actual WIP presentations will be 30 mins. per student this time.
__ __ __ • Suggested structure: 10 mins. presentation of work-in-progress (excerpt), 5 mins. feedback and discussion
__ __ __ •Revise your 1-page statement based on development in the project and the feedback you received thus far

Wednesday 3.11
__ • WIP practice presentation group 2 __
__ Draft 2 of CS papers due - email a copy to instructor and peer reviewers by 5PM.



Week 9: Spring Break - No Class Meeting

Week 10: Class cancelled this week due to COVID-19 policy

Updated Course Schedule:

Week 11: Individual Meetings
Monday 3.30
__ • Class meeting to go over revised syllabus, course policy, and schedule on Zoom
__ Individual meetings

Wednesday 4.1
__ • Individual meetings on Zoom


Week 12: Individual Meetings
__ • Individual meetings possible on Monday 4.6 and Wednesday 4.8 on Zoom.



Week 13: WIP Crit #2
Monday 4.13, 3:00PM-5:00PM, PST
No regular class meeting.
__ • Work-in-progress crit with IMS faculty (30 mins. per student)
• Present rough cut, installation diagram, images, web site mock-up, etc. (as complete versions of your project as possible - the more complete versions of your project you present, the more comprehensive your feedback will be!) You may attach a short introduction/statement and questions to frame your work-in-progress (200 words max.) for the IMS faculty.

Crit Schedule

3:00PM Eric Culhane
3:30PM Dylan Siegel
4:00PM Ben Hafetz
4:30PM Priya Prabhakar

Wednesday 4.15, 3:00PM-5:00PM, PST
No regular class meeting.
__ • Work-in-progress crit with IMS faculty (30 mins. per student)
• Present rough cut, installation diagram, images, web site mock-up, etc. (as complete versions of your project as possible - the more complete versions of your project you present, the more comprehensive your feedback will be!) You may attach a short introduction/statement and questions to frame your work-in-progress (200 words max.) for the IMS faculty.

Crit Schedule

3:00PM Will Dry
3:30PM Amber Burkhart
4:00PM Rebecca Liu
4:30PM Jacob Leibowitz

Paper (F/V/D/E first draft) drafts due, email to me and your peer reviewer by the end of this week.


Week 14: WIP and F/V/D/E Paper Peer Reviews Due, Individual Meetings, Media and Writing Consultations
__ • Individual meetings via Zoom.
__ • Individual consultation via Zoom on media projects and writing TBC
WIP peer reviews due - email compiled peer reviews of each peer group to me by the end of the week.
__ Paper (F/V/D/E peer reviews) due - email a copy to me and to the student whose draft you reviewed by the end of the week d to the student whose draft you reviewed by the end of the week

Week 15-16: Last Two Weeks of Classes, Individual Meetings, Media and Writing Consultations, Finalize Senior Presentation, All Projects and Papers Due, Course Evaluations

Week 15
__ • Individual meetings via Zoom.
__ • Individual consultation via Zoom on media projects and writing TBC
__ If there is enough interest, we can try doing a group crit on Zoom

Week 16
• Capstone papers and projects due date and Senior Presentation launch - TBC - this will most likely be during Week 16 (5.4-5.8)
__ Paper (F/V/D/E first draft) drafts due, email to me by Wednesday 5.6.
__ • Course evaluation will most likely be online (which is what normally happens in all my classses) If a group discussion is desired, I can set-up a Zoom meeting for all of us.

Monday 5.4: Scripps Thesis deadline. Please submit to all faculty readers.

Senior Presentation

Monday 5.11: Material for your web page (written statement, video, images, etc.) due. Please send to Stephanie and Eddie

Thursday 5.14: Senior presentation web site ( launch 4:00PM PST
__ • Part 1: Zoom Q&A (approx 60 min.)
__ • Part 2: BYOD virtual cocktail toasting YOU!!! (IMS graduating seniors) Invite your fellow senior majors, minors, family members and friends to celebrate with us.

Friday 5.15: Final deadline - any material for grading must be submitted by today

Thursday 5.21: Senior grades due

Class evaluations will be online. Each of you should receive an email with a link to the survey. Surveys are open from Wednesday 5.13 to Friday 5.22. Please give us your feedback on the class, thank you!



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