Media Arts and Culture

Overview

The Media Arts & Culture Department (MAC) integrates the study of film and media, digital and visual culture, and media production, working with students to engage an increasingly participatory media landscape. We produce graduates who are media literate, technologically savvy, critically engaged, and culturally and historically informed.

Our students research and write about a broad range of topics in the fields of film and media; they create a wide variety of audiovisual media, including fiction, documentary, and experimental work; they advance media making beyond the screen into installation, public, and mobile spaces; and they learn new tools for digital scholarship. Students produce senior comprehensives capstone work in one of two tracks: Critical Media or Media Production. All students, regardless of their project choice, are expected to push the boundaries of media scholarship, project form, and modes of audiovisual communication.

Note that it is not possible to complete the MAC major in less than three years due to course sequencing. Two gateway courses must be successfully completed before spring semester junior year in order for students to enroll in the Junior Seminar. If interested in a study abroad semester, this must occur in the fall of junior year. As comparable gateway courses are difficult to find away from Occidental, students intending to study abroad should complete gateway courses by the end of sophomore year. 

Major Requirements

The Media Arts and Culture Major requires a minimum of 48 units.

COURSEWORK

Gateway Courses

Students are required to take at least two of the three 100-level gateway courses listed below before the spring semester of junior year:

MAC 143Introduction to Visual and Critical Studies

4 units

MAC 145Introduction to Digital Media and Culture

4 units

MAC 146Aesthetics of the Cinema

4 units

Four 4-unit MAC courses at the 200-level or above

Students are required to take at least four 4-unit MAC courses at the 200-level or above. Note the track-specific requirements below when selecting these classes: 

  • Critical Media Track: Students must have taken at least two critical or historical media studies courses at the 200-level or above (in addition to MAC 390) by the end of junior year.
  • Media Production Track: Students must complete MAC 240 and MAC 355 by the end of junior year. Students intending to produce fictional comps work must also complete MAC 220 by the end of junior year.

Writing Requirement

The college's second-stage writing requirement is fulfilled by completing the MAC Junior Seminar in the spring semester of junior year. See the second-stage writing requirement section below for full details.

MAC 390Junior Seminar in Film Theory and Criticism

4 units

Senior Seminar

Students will satisfy this requirement by selecting the appropriate Senior Seminar sequence: 

  • Critical Media Track: The MAC 490 Senior Seminar in Critical Media is a year-long pro-seminar with 2 units conferred in the fall and 2 additional units in the spring. 
  • Media Production Track: The MAC 491 Senior Seminar in Media Production is a 4-unit fall course. Students must also then enroll in the 2-unit MAC 492 Advanced Editing course in the spring of senior year to scaffold post-production on their comprehensives project.

Elective Units

Students may choose from the following elective options to bring their total units in the major to 48:

  • take additional MAC classes
  • take pre-approved course from other Occidental departments (such as Art & Art History, Theater, Music, Critical Theory & Social Justice, English, or Computers Science) determined in consultation with their faculty advisor
  • take pre-approved courses while studying abroad (eligible students may apply to study abroad in the fall semester of junior year; students must be back in spring of junior year for the MAC 390 Junior Seminar and Advanced-Level coursework)
  • enroll for 2-unit INT 200 internships through the Hameetman Career Center
  • take pre-approved courses at Art Center College of Design (Occidental College has an Exchange Program with the Art Center, which offers various technical courses in media software which should be explored for relevance with their faculty advisor)

Please note that while MAC encourages interdisciplinarity, no more than 8 units in the MAC major can be applied towards another major or minor at the College.

SECOND-STAGE WRITING REQUIREMENT

All students majoring in the department must successfully complete the second-stage requirement by completing the MAC 390 Junior Seminar with a grade of C+ or higher. Students not receiving this minimum grade will need to take an additional critical media class, pre-approved by the Department Chair, in the senior year to complete the second-stage writing requirement.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Media Arts & Culture comprehensives projects can take one of two forms: Critical Media or Media Production. Students pursuing the Critical Media track can produce projects that take a range of forms including research papers, websites, video essays, or other hybrid forms of research creation. Projects are often either a 25-page essay or a 7-10 minute video essay and 5-page video statement. Students pursuing the Media Production track produce 7-10 minute video works across a range of fictional, experimental, or documentary-based forms. Please note prerequisite coursework for each comprehensives track in the major requirements above.

HONORS

A student with an overall GPA of at least 3.5 overall and 3.6 in the major who has demonstrated excellence in departmental courses can submit a proposal for an honors project in the fall of senior year for completion in the spring of senior year. For further information, consult your faculty advisor on honors requirements and timelines.

EXCHANGE PROGRAM WITH ART CENTER

Occidental students may take courses in the Art Center at Night Program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. See College Catalog Section on Art Center Exchange. These classes can count towards general College units for graduation but cannot fulfill MAC major requirements without pre-approval of the faculty advisor.

Minor Requirements

Students wishing to minor in Media Arts & Culture must complete five 4-unit MAC courses selected in consultation with a MAC Faculty Advisor.

  • At least three of these courses must be at the 200-level or above. 
  • One relevant pre-approved study abroad class can be counted towards completion of the minor, provided that the class transfers back to Occidental as at least 3 units. 
  • Two 2-unit MAC offerings (from amongst MAC 110MAC 210, or a relevant INT 200 media internship opportunity advised by a MAC faculty member) may be counted in lieu of one of the five 4-unit classes.
  • Students cannot count classes towards both a MAC minor and another major or minor at the College. 

 

Alternately, Media Arts & Culture is also a contributing department to the Interdisciplinary Writing Minor and the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Minor.

Courses

Faculty

Regular Faculty

Broderick Fox, chair

Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., Harvard University; M.F.A., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Allison de Fren

Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., Grinnell College; M.F.A., New York University; Ph.D., University of South Carolina

Aleem Hossain

Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., University of Chicago; M.F.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Ari Laskin

Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., University of Victoria; M.A., York University; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Irvine


On Special Appointment

Marcus Benigno

Part-Time Instructor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., McGill University

Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz

Non-Tenure Track Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., Allegheny College; M.F.A., State University of New York; Ph.D., University of Southern California

Garrett Williams

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Culture

B.A., Augsburg College; M.F.A., The American Film Institute