Graduate Certificate Program in Culture and Media
For a list of recent student documentaries produced in the Culture and Media Program click here.
Join us on Friday May 17th, 2013 for our annual Docs on the Edge screening.
Certificate Program in Culture and Media
The Departments of Anthropology and Cinema Studies offer a specialized joint course of study leading to a New York State Certificate in Culture and Media for NYU graduate students who are also pursuing their PhD degrees in Anthropology or Cinema Studies.
David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology
Director, Program in Culture and Media; Director, Center for Media, Culture and History;
Director, Video Labs
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
University Professor, Cinema Studies
The program’s philosophy takes a broad approach to the relationships between culture and media in a number of domains including: ethnographic film’s significance for the fields of anthropology and cinema/media studies; problems in representation of cultures through media; the development of media in indigenous, Diaspora, and non-Western communities; the emerging social and cultural formations shaped by new media practices; the political economy shaping the production, distribution and consumption of media worldwide; and the impact of new media technologies on these processes.
This graduate program provides a focused course of studies integrating production with theory and research. Training in this program will enable students to pursue the following:
Production work in state-of-the-art digital video based on their own research, resulting in a twenty-thirty minute documentary. Student works have shown in festivals worldwide, won multiple awards, and are in distribution.
For a list of recent student documentaries click here
Each year, two student works are selected for a pitch session at the prestigious SILVERDOCS documentary festival. http://silverdocs.com/
Ethnographic research into the social practice of media in a range of communities and cultures. Students from the program have done PhD research on the development of media in diverse settings, from the emergence of film and TV in Papua New Guinea, to circulation of religious media in Northern Nigeria.
Teaching the history, theory, and production of ethnographic documentary and related issues.
A career in media requiring an understanding of anthropology, such as specialized programming and distribution of ethnographic film and video, community-based documentary production, management of ethnographic film/video libraries and archives, or work in new media.
The program also arranges supervised internships for course credit, tailored to individual research and professional interests. Students work in a variety of programming and production positions for institutions, such as:
The American Museum of Natural History Margaret Mead Film Festival
The National Museum of the American Indian, Film-Video Center
The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film
The Anthropology Department has a film and video screening theater that seats up to forty. Our excellent and expanding study collection of over 2000 ethnographic/documentary film and video works -- from direct cinema to experimental genres -- includes most of the classics, important recent works, and a unique and comprehensive collection of works by indigenous media makers from all parts of the world.
The Department of Cinema Studies has a collection of over 38,000 videos and 3000 16mm prints at The George Amberg Memorial Film Study Center, and New York University's Avery Fisher Music and Media Center has over 2000 documentaries as well as other films available to students in its video library facility. In addition, some of the best film, video and broadcast libraries are available in New York City.
THE CENTER FOR MEDIA, CULTURE, AND HISTORY
The program works closely with the Center for Media, Culture, and History, directed by Professor Faye Ginsburg. The Center sponsors fellows, screenings, lectures and conferences, and integrates concerns of faculty and students from the Program in Africana Studies and the Departments of Anthropology, Cinema Studies, History, and Performance Studies as well as other programs. The Center addresses issues of representation, social change, and identity construction embedded in the development of film, television, video, and new media worldwide. For more information about the Center, visit the website.
The Center for Media, Culture, and History: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/program/media
THE CENTER for RELIGION & MEDIA
The Center for Religion and Media, directed by Faye Ginsburg and Angela Zito, was inaugurated in 2003 as one of ten Centers of Excellence funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts; it seeks to develop interdisciplinary, cross-cultural knowledge of how religious practices and ideas are shaped and spread through a variety of media. http://crm.as.nyu.edu/page/home
Students cannot take courses in the Culture and Media program unless they are enrolled in the PhD. program in Anthropology or the M.A/Ph.D program in Cinema Studies at NYU. To complete the Certificate Program, they must:
(1) take the curriculum outlined below;
(2) design and complete a project in ethnographic film or video in the form of either a production or original research; and
(3) complete their M.A. in Anthropology or Cinema Studies. Students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. can integrate the Certificate Program into their studies for the advanced degree in consultation with their Dissertation Committee. Students with prior training in media may be able to substitute other courses from the extensive curriculum offered in Cinema Studies, Anthropology, or media production – including other forms such as photography and new media.
Courses  &  below can count toward their M.A., and courses  &  can count toward their PhD.
Students should contact Prof. Jonathan Kahana
All students are required to take the following courses:
 ANTH GA 1215 / CINE GT 1402 Culture and Media I, 4 PTS. (Ginsburg)
History and Theory of Ethnographic Documentary
 ANTH GA 1216 / CINE GT 1403 Culture and Media II: (Ginsburg/ Ganti)
ETHNOGRAPHY OF MEDIA 4 PTS
 CINE GT 2001 Cultural Theory and The Documentary (Kahana) 4 PTS
 Recommended course or approved elective in opposite dept:
/ CINE GT 1998 H56.0080 SIGHT AND SOUND DOCUMENTARY (Staff) 6 PTS.
(Summer documentary production; mid-May to late June; 6pts.)
/ ANTH GA 1218-19 ANTH GA 1218-19 VIDEO PRODUCTION SEMINAR (Stout/Furjanic) 8 PTS
(Prerequisite: Sight and Sound Documentary or equivalent)
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS (REQUIRED)
CULTURE & MEDIA I (Ginsburg)
This course offers a critical revision of the history of the genre of ethnographic film, the central debates it has engaged around cross-cultural representation, and the theoretical and cinematic responses to questions of the screen representation of culture, from the early romantic constructions of Robert Flaherty to current work in film, television and video on the part of indigenous people throughout the world. Ethnographic film has a peculiar and highly contested status within anthropology, cinema studies, and documentary practice. In this seminar, we will situate ethnographic film within the wider project of the representation of cultural lives, and especially "natives". Starting with what are regarded as the first examples of the genre, we will examine how these emerged in a particular intellectual context and political economy. We will then consider the key works that have defined the genre, and the epistemological and formal innovations associated with them, addressing questions concerning social theory, documentary, as well as the institutional structures through which they are funded, distributed, and seen by various audiences. Throughout the course we will keep in mind the properties of film as a signifying practice, its status as a form of anthropological knowledge, and the ethical and political concerns raised by cross-cultural representation.
CULTURE & MEDIA II: ETHNOGRAPHY OF MEDIA (Ginsburg/Ganti)
In the last decade, a new field — the ethnography of media — has emerged as an exciting new arena of research. While claims about media in peoples lives are made on a daily basis, surprisingly little research has actually attempted to look at how media is part of the naturally occurring lived realities of people’s lives. In the last decade, anthropologists and media scholars interested in film, television, and video have been turning their attention increasingly beyond the text and empiricist notions of audiences, (stereotypically associated with the ethnography of media), to consider, ethnographically, the complex social worlds in which media is produced, circulated and consumed, at home and elsewhere. This work theorizes media studies from the point of view of cross-cultural ethnographic realities and anthropology from the perspective of new spaces of communication focusing on the social, economic and political life of media and how it makes a difference in the daily lives of people as a practice, whether in production, reception, or circulation. The class will be organized around case studies that interrogate broader issues that are particularly endemic to questions of cross-cultural media including debates over cultural imperialism vs. the autonomy of local producers/consumers, the instability and stratification of reception, the shift from national to transnational circuits of production and consumption, the increasing complicity of researchers with their subjects over representations of culture, and the historically and culturally contingent ways in which images are read and used. These concerns are addressed in a variety of locations, from the complex circulation of films, photos, and lithographs, to the ever increasing range of televisual culture — from state sponsored melodramas, religious epics and soap operas, to varieties of public television; to the activist use of video, radio, the internet, and small media.
CULTURAL THEORY AND THE DOCUMENTARY (TBA)
This course considers the actual and possible forms of relation between theories of culture and society and the mode of nonfiction cinema known as (social) documentary. From one perspective, theory is a discourse of explanation that is applied, concurrently or retroactively, to the images of culture presented in documentary films: films present raw material of culture to be theorized aesthetically, sociologically, psychologically, historically, politically, and so on. But at the same time, documentary filmmaking can be conceived as an intellectual discourse, what its founders called “a method of philosophic reasoning” (Paul Rotha), one meant to reflect or challenge certain cultural and social ideas. Despite the order of terms in the title of this course, what theory means to documentary, and vice versa, has always been an open question. This course explores various ways to answer the question.
SIGHT AND SOUND DOCUMENTARY (SUMMER COURSE) (Marco Williams)
The intensive six week summer course teaches students to look at their world and to develop the ability to create compelling and dramatic stories in which real people are the characters and real life is the plot. Through close study and analysis of feature length and short documentaries, and hands-on directing, shooting, sound-recording, editing and re-editing, students will rigorously explore the possibilities and the power of non-fiction story telling for film and video. The course is a dynamic combination of individual and group production work, in which each student will be expected to complete five projects.
While tuition is covered, please be advised that there is a lab fee of approximately $600.
VIDEO PRODUCTION SEMINAR (Stout/Furjanic )
A two-semester seminar that provides training and equipment for advanced graduate students to produce a media ethnography or short documentary. During the fall semester, in-class instruction, lab exercises, and readings introduce digital audio and video production, including shooting and editing with HD cameras, professional audio equipment, and Final Cut Pro non-linear editing systems. Focusing on ethnographic media practices, students also address key representational, methodological, and ethical issues in the production of ethnographic documentary. By the completion of the fall term, students will have chosen a topic and field site for their final projects and completed a short video (5-10 minutes). During the spring semester, students continue to work intensively on their projects by shooting, editing, and screening their footage. The course culminates in a public screening of students’ completed, 20-30 min. ethnographic documentaries. Attendance in class and lab sessions is mandatory, and students who fail to complete all fall assignments will not be allowed to register for the spring semester. Students should come into the class with a well-developed project idea.
THE SEMINAR IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS IN THE PROGRAM IN CULTURE AND MEDIA. IT IS LIMITED TO TEN STUDENTS AND REQUIRES PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTOR. Culture & Media I and Sight and Sound Documentary (summer session) are mandatory pre-requisites. There is no lab fee, but students are expected to provide their own videotapes. For a list of recent student documentaries click here
SELECTED ELECTIVE COURSES/ CINEMA STUDIES
Documentary Traditions CINE GT 1400 (Bagnall)
Fourteen sessions are devoted to a comparison of current documentaries with those made in earlier decades to illustrate how the art has responded to social, political, and economic realities and to changes in technology and systems of distribution. Undergraduates who take the course for 3 points are required to keep journals in which they respond to each session and compare observations with those made when viewing at least one documentary of their choice seen outside class, as well as in response to critical essays provided at each session and references in the text. Those wishing to earn an extra point (register for one point of H56.1097 Independent Study) may write a substantial term paper based on a topic approved by the instructor.
Advanced Seminar: Ethical Direction: New Chinese Documentary CINE GT 3105 (Zhang, Zito)
The new Chinese documentary as an independent film practice emerged in the shadow of the 1989 democracy movement and its subsequent suppression. Prior to that, documentary film in China was exclusively produced and distributed within a state-controlled media system. Paralleling and bearing witness to two decades of rapid and large-scale economic and social transformations in China, the new documentary has also transformed itself into a broad movement involving an increasingly large number of filmmakers, critics, and publics, and has caught the attention of both domestic and international film and arts festivals. This seminar proceeds along two axes of investigation: to trace a historical trajectory of the movement and to search for viable theoretical models for understanding the dynamic relationships between aesthetic experimentations and sociopolitical exigencies of the new Chinese documentary. Also considered are related questions of technology, distribution, and the connections between the documentary and the “documentary impulse” in the urban generation fiction film. Screenings include seminal works by Wu Wenguang, Jiang Yue, Duan Jingchuang, Zhang Yuan, Jia Zhangke, and Wang Bing as well as by newcomers including woman and queer filmmakers.
Those students interested in taking this seminar should email Zhen Zhang at email@example.com and Angela Zito at firstname.lastname@example.org. The email should state your status in the grad program, any relevant past courses/reading/research, and your particular interest in the seminar.
History of Documentary Film CINE GT 2002 (TBA)
This course offers a comprehensive survey of the international history of documentary film, from its late-nineteenth century origins in the illustrated lecture and moving-image actualities to the present-day landscape of the documentary “blockbuster,” reality-based series television, and a range of sponsored and independent (experimental, radical, personal) styles of film and video. This history will be encountered through screenings of films by filmmakers both well-known and obscure, and through the writing of filmmakers, critics and historians from every decade of documentary. While a central goal of the course is to investigate major figures, films, movements, and institutions of documentary history and to establish aesthetic, technological, social, and political contexts for these milestones, readings and lectures will also raise historiographic questions, and attention will be paid to the different models presented in primary and secondary writing on documentary of change, contestation, and canon formation in the writing of film history. Assignments will include short and longer pieces of critical writing and research.
History of Documentary Film can be taken as the first part of two-course sequence, followed in Spring 2011 by Cultural Theory and the Documentary, for which it will serve as valuable background; but either course may be taken by itself.
Open to Advanced Level Cinema Studies undergraduates with Instructor approval.
Nonfiction Film History CINE GT 2307 (Streible, TBA)
This course introduces students to the study of nonfiction film. It explores the history and theory of nonfiction cinema, including—but not limited to—documentary film. The established milestones of the international tradition of documentary—from the romantic mythmaking of Robert Flaherty to the leftist collectives and state propaganda projects of the 1930s and 1940s, through cinéma vérité of the 1960s and the activist and personal styles of recent decades—are considered. But the course also places documentary in a broader context that includes forms of nonfiction typically segregated from the traditional conception of documentary. Some are somewhat familiar forms, such as actualities, travelogues, and newsreels. Others have been largely ignored by scholars until quite recently: sponsored, industrial, educational, scientific, and medical films; home movies and other amateur films; outtakes and other archival footage. Viewed both as discrete works of cinema and as artifacts of social and cultural significance, such orphaned films pose problems of history, culture, and aesthetics that challenge traditional conceptions of making, viewing, and studying films. Students read primary historical sources, as well as new scholarly approaches to the global history of nonfiction film, and to the possible uses and meanings of this vast archive.
Adv. Sem. Comparative Post-colonialism CINE GT 3207 (Stam)
Alongside and in the aftermath of the "culture wars" in the United States, many battle lines, national and
transnational, have formed around such inter-related issues as "postcoloniality," "comparative imperialism," "critical race" and so forth. Challenged and debated from many directions, the terms themselves have become subject to diverse political force-fields, in some ways becoming sliding signifiers onto which diverse groups project their hopes and fears, their fantasies and anxieties. Our seminar will focus on the ways these debates are articulated differently in three zones: the Anglo-American, the French and Francophone, and the Brazilian Lusophone. What will interest us specifically will be the process of translation through which the debates are filtered. How do the debates "travel" and what happens to them during the voyage? What happens in the movement from one geographical space and cultural semantics into another? How do these movements translate? What are the different vocabularies? How do the terms themselves shift political and epistemologial valence? What happens, then, when "multiculturalism" or "postcoloniality," for example, are seen through other national grids, or enter other "intellectual fields?" How are "outof-place" ideas reinvoiced, indigenized, coopted, contained, hybridized, recontextualized, resisted? What is elided or added, or subtly changed, in the process of cross-cultural translation? How do the debates get grafted onto other, preexisting debates? What are the mirrors and grids and prisms through which the debates are seen? What is the role of national narcissism and exceptionalism? What anxieties and Utopians come into play when debates travel?Our approach throughout will be transdisciplinary, drawing on cultural studies, media studies, literary theory, and so forth. We will address the ways that popular culture can filter and reframe the debates. Popular culture, in this sense, will be invoked as illustrative of our largerthemes but also as a form of intellectual/cultural agency in a globalized world.
***Those students interested in taking this seminar should email Robert Stam at <email@example.com> by April 15. The email should state your status in the grad program, any relevant past courses/readina/research, your particular interest in the seminar, and particular project, if any, that you would like to work on during the seminar.
****** Find out more about 2012's NYU Culture & Media @ 20: Past, Present, Future event *******