In my sophomore fall, I wrote the art of trying new things, where I wrote about all the clubs and classes I was doing. I’ve decided to revisit this!
CMS.701 Current Debates in Media taught by Ed Schiappa
Addresses important, current debates in media with in-depth discussion of popular perceptions and policy implications. Students use multiple perspectives to analyze texts emanating from these debates, and present their findings through discussions and reports. Explores emerging topics (e.g., piracy and IP regimes, net neutrality, media effects, social media and social change, and changing literacies) across media forms and from various historical, transcultural, and methodological perspectives. Examines the framing of these issues, their ethical and policy implications, and strategies for repositioning the debate. Instruction and practice in written and oral communication provided.
This is my Comparative Media Studies CI-M. CI-Ms are part of the communication requirement for MIT. All students must take 4 CI’s during their time at MIT. Two of those are general CI-Hs, general, Humanities, arts, and social sciences communication classes that you typically get out of the way your freshman and sophomore year. Then there are CI-Ms which are your major specific communication requirements.
This class is honestly the one I’m least excited about because I really, really hate debating. I think it’s stressful and nervewracking. I signed up for four debate topics this semester as we are required to. My topics are:
- Framing of major news events has a non-significant influence on viewers/readers (OPP)
- The FTC should take legal action to break up the “big 5” media conglomerates (PRO)
- Efforts by the government to regulate content of social media are undesirable (OPP)
- “Fake news” should be punishable by law (OPP)
Research is really fun, though, and I really like deep diving into topics. I just think the actual act of debating is tiring, but luckily I really like Ed and he’s been my professor before for CMS.621 Fans and Fan Culture so it’s less nervewracking than it would be.
21W.744 The Art of Comic Book Writing taught by Marjorie Liu
Students create short scripts and full-length comic book narratives across a variety of genres, while analyzing a wide range of comics (corporate and independent, print and web). Focuses on scripts; drawing skills not required, but illustrations or storyboards are welcome. Special attention to questions of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality in both critical and creative work. Limited to 13.
I’ve already blogged about my first assignment for this class: Atomic Friends, a 3 paged comic script. Like I said in the post, this class is challenging and interesting because it is the perfect sweet spot between a novel and a movie. Everything really has to have a purpose because there are very little words there to convey meaning, aside from SFX and dialog. I’ve found that I’ve really had to be intentional with how I write — every detail in the background adds more and more context to the story and every panel in the comic serves some purpose. It’s important to pick and choose actions depicted in each panel well since page space is so precious.
The class also has us read a variety of different comic books to help us understand the different styles, with regards to both art and writing, out there. I personally have not read many comics in my life aside from webcomics (Heartstopper, Lore Olympus, Check, Please!) and a good chukn of the 2014 reboot series of The Amazing Spider-Man (in addition to JMS’s take on Spider-Man comics).
I really enjoy this class and it’s really making my brain work so hard. Every week, we workshop people’s comic book scripts — aka we go around and talk about what it did well and what it could have done better. I am always amazed at Marjorie’s criticisms because they’re so well-founded and insightful. Often times, she’ll suggest changes to the script such as how she would rework panels either by condensing them, or adding insert panels. Other times, she’ll give dialog or SFX suggestions or things to add artistically to help drive narrative. It’s really incredible hearing these critiques from someone with so much experience and her expertise really is demonstrated through her constructive criticism. I feel like I can learn a lot from her.
CMS.335 Short Attention Span Documentary taught by Vivek Bald
Focuses on the production of short (1- to 5-minute) digital video documentaries: a form of non-fiction filmmaking that has proliferated in recent years due to the ubiquity of palm-sized and mobile phone cameras and the rise of web-based platforms, such as YouTube. Students shoot, edit, workshop and revise a series of short videos meant to engage audiences in a topic, introduce them to new ideas, and/or persuade them. Screenings and discussions cover key principles of documentary film – narrative, style, pace, point of view, argument, character development – examining how they function and change in short format. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 16.
I’ve been waiting to take this class since I was a freshman and it was only offered this semester. It’s a video-making class!!! It has been incredible sitting in lecture and listening to the professor’s insights because, just like Marjorie Liu, he has so much videomaking and editing experience that every piece of critique he has is chock-full of wisdom and insight.
Our first project is a 90-120 second video on someone or some place we find interesting. I decided to do it on my friend who is really, really good at Minesweeper.
The recurring theme of all my classes seems to be intention, and CMS.335 is no exception. I find that after just these first few weeks of class, I’ve already changed the way I think about videomaking. I find that I put a lot more effort into setting up the shot — lighting, consistency, stability. I also find this reflected in my editing style, too.
This class has also been interesting because I’m one of the few people in the class who is very, very comfortable in Adobe Premiere Pro. I have a lot of leftover experience in the software from my irksome YouTube days (though the editing wasn’t fantastic) and it’s been really nice to be able to just deep dive into editing. And even though I’ve used Premiere for years, the class has taught me so many valuable things like keeping a timeline clean, color grading, and more.
What I have in Premiere experience, I lack in artistic direction. There are so many people in my class (shouting out specifically Kidist!!) who I just believe are incredible visionaries. They come up with cool concepts for shots and simply execute on it and I really want to push my limits and try to come up with more interesting, creative content.
SOCIOL 1000 Introduction to Sociology by Danilo Mandic (dropped but not forgotten)
What is society? What is the role of the individual in society? How does the way society is organized affect the behaviors and beliefs of people who live in it? How can we change our societies? This course introduces students to the field of sociology. By surveying social theory as well as empirical studies, students acquire what C. Wright Mills calls the “sociological imagination”: the ability to think beyond our personal lives and to connect the experiences of individuals with large social structures. Readings include prominent empirical investigations into family dynamics, class inequalities, gender roles, organizations,
religions, the nation-state, capitalism, democracy, and globalization. We examine common-sense assumptions about culture, politics, history, and psychology, and empower students to replace them with evidence-based reasoning. By emphasizing reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, this course helps students build the foundation for a deeper understanding of theory and methods in the social sciences.
My first real Harvard class!….that I dropped this week.
Dropping this class absolutely broke my heart. I cried over it, which is embarrassing, yes, but hopefully is a testament to how much I did not want to fucking drop this class.
In the five weeks I was in this class, I think I learned the most I’ve ever learned in my entire academic career. I read a lot on the theory and basis of sociology — Marx, Durkheim, and Weber — and read a lot about race, gender, sexuality, and class.
This class made me feel so excited to go to lecture everyday, but it also filled me with a deep, deep regret of how I’ve spent my college career. There’s a part of me that wishes I had forgone the computer science aspect of my degree altogether and dedicated myself to sociology, media studies, and anthropology entirely. But that’s for another blog.
I had to drop this class because this semester I opted to take a fall internship, and that internship will require 20 hours of my week. 20 hrs/wk + 4 classes is very hard, so I felt as though dropping to three was enough and this class unfortunately does not contribute anything to my degree, so it was the first on the chopping block.
I loved commuting to Harvard every Tuesday and Thursday and I will really, really miss this class deeply. God, this fucking sucks to even write out. I might just cry all over again.
Other Stuff I’m Doing
I’m in the Sailing PE class making my way toward my pirate certificate! Did I mention I have a fear of the Charles River and of boats?
Every week, I’ve been meeting at the MIT Sailing Pavilion for 90 minutes to ride in a Tech Dinghy and sail on the Charles.
It’s been really fun and I’m so proud of myself for attempting to overcome my fear of dirty bodies of water and boats.
In the class, we are paired into groups of two and take turns steering the boat (being the skipper) and releasing and tightening the sail (being the crew). The tightness of the sail determines how fast you go (ie how much you let the wind determine your speed) and the steering. well that’s obvious I guess, it points you where to go.
Note that you can in fact capsize in these boats! And that fucking terrifies me! Not cause I can’t swim, I actually was on the swim team for a good chunk of my life. I am simply afraid of how dirty the water is.
MIT Spinning Arts
I learned how to spin things! Ish! MIT Spinning Arts is a club on campus that teaches students how to spin things, and sometimes those things happen to be on fire.
I’m not the best blogger to talk about these things since I’ve only been once, and we have far more experienced bloggers in this space, but I just thought it was neat.
Though I was already in LSC last semester, I’ve decided to be a lot more active. LSC is basically a movie theatre group on campus where we project movies for the MIT community and beyond! I’m so excited because this semester we’re showing Pulp Fiction, Pride and Prejudice, and (potentially) Akira which is super cool cause I want to watch/have watched and enjoyed some of these movies.
LSC was also the group that allowed me to watch Everything, Everywhere, All at Once early and did an exclusive Q&A with the directors.
I’ve found that I’m a lot…nicer? This semester. That seems silly to say but I feel as though I’ve always been someone with a relatively short fuse. I’m unsure what to attribute the sudden kindness, too. Maybe getting the shit kicked out of me this summer made me realize that I don’t want to be known as the mean person at work or school. Maybe switching from estrogen-based birth control to progesterone-based birth control is doing wonders for my mood. No clue. But all I know is that I think I feel a lot less…angry than I have been. I think I spent a lot of my teenage years just being angry at everything and everyone. Now I feel as though I’ve mellowed out. Is this what comes with being a jaded senior?