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New Media Studies major aims to integrate disciplines

April 6, 2019
By Web Arnold'19

A new media studies major was approved by Academic Senate last December after three years of planning. Courses that have previously spanned multiple departments (TDMS, English, journalism, art and more) are now synthesized into a single media studies curriculum. Shawn Gillen, a professor of English and journalism, led the effort to create the major and enthusiastically claims that it will "foster a [new] creative media environment" at Beloit. Shawn will chair the new department.

The aim of the new major is to allow Beloit students to study the interdisciplinary field of media studies under one academic roof. Joe Bookman, who was brought onto the faculty during the formation of the department, indicated that within the major, students will be able to specialize in one of two sides of media studies—the first being media production. This can take a number of forms including film making, broadcasting, etc. The second is media theory, critique, and journalism. Though these sub-specializations exist, the professors intend for students to be well-versed in both upon completing the major.

Michelle Bumatay, assistant professor of French, was also key to the formation of the new major. Her interests include teaching the numerous French scholars important to media theory and bringing a multilingual dimension to the curriculum. For those (like myself) unfamiliar with the extent of the interdisciplinary quality of media studies, the inclusion of French courses in the major may come as a surprise. The integrative nature of media studies, however, certainly allows it to fit in a liberal arts curriculum.

Joe and Shawn emphasized the academic personalization available within the major. In addition to specializing in either the production or theoretical sides of media studies, Joe wishes for students to be able to "create on their own terms, actualizing their own visions." This combination of student centered skill-honing and inherent breadth to the media studies curriculum makes this new major an exciting addition to Beloit College.