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School for the Contemporary Arts Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Comparative Media Arts

Master of Arts

This Master of Arts (MA) degree program in Comparative Media Arts trains students to think across the media arts in a comparative perspective that synthesizes the historical and theoretical approaches of art history, cinema studies, performance studies, and studies of computer-based arts.

Admission Requirements

Applicants will hold a Bachelor of Arts degree with at least a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) in studies of the arts, or equivalent humanities disciplines. Students with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree may be admitted if their studies included a substantial scholarly component.

Candidates must also satisfy the general admission requirements as shown in the Graduate General Regulations.

Program Requirements

This is normally a four-semester program. Students complete a minimum of 30 units, including:

CA 821 - Research Methods in Comparative Media Arts (4)

This core course is taken in the first semester of the MA program. It develops thinking across the media arts in a comparative perspective that synthesizes the historical and theoretical approaches of art history, cinema studies, performance studies, and computer-based media studies. It establishes bases for understanding the relationships among the visual arts, visual culture, performing arts, and art forms that incorporate reproducible and digital media; these include cinema, video, photography, and computer-based media. In addition to this, the course investigates some of the useful emergent methods for making comparisons among media, across history, and across cultures. While other courses in the MA in Comparative Media Arts focus on the distinctive nature of specific media arts, this course considers what properties cross different forms of media arts. Prerequisite: Enrollment in MA in Comparative Media Arts or permission of the instructor. Students with credit for FPA 821 may not take this course for further credit.

CA 822 - Research Colloquium in Comparative Media Arts (4)

The research colloquium is a core course taken in the final semester of the MA program. It develops students' research presentation skills and other aspects of professional development. In it students develop two extended research essays under the supervision of the faculty member leading the colloquium. The course guides students in methods of writing extended prose works, including strategies to move through writer's block. We will devote time to developing public presentation skills for a variety of venues. Students submit drafts of their extended essays to their peers and make a formal presentation, followed by detailed discussion. Peer review evaluates the framing of the research topic and research problem, timeliness, originality, appropriateness of research methods, depth of research, structure and effectiveness of argument, and style. Students are guided in peer review, developing useful and specific comments that will help their peers in revising the essay for publication. In the colloquium students also learn how to develop their work for publication, including identifying their audience, choosing an appropriate venue for publication, and submitting their work for publication. We discuss issues regarding publication such as permissions for reproducing artworks, contracts, and responding to peer review. Prerequisite: Enrollment in MA in Comparative Media Arts or permission of instructor. Students with credit for FPA 822 may not take this course for further credit.

and at least three of

CA 823 - New Approaches in Visual Art and Culture (4)

Empire follows Art, and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose. - William Blake, annotations to Sir Joshua Reynold's Discourses (ca. 1798-1809) For WJ.T. Mitchell, pictures have lives and loves. Instead of seeing images as inert objects that convey meaning, he urges us to see them as animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands, and drives of their own. In the past three decades, literature on visual culture has burgeoned in art history, cultural studies, critical theory, philosophy and anthropology, and recently it has taken on a "performative turn." For art history, which is traditionally concerned with the interpretation of art objects, the artists who make them and the interests of patrons, the interdisciplinary field of visual culture has opened up new ways of thinking about images of all kinds. In a culture in which the production and dissemination of images has grown exponentially, it has never been more necessary to pay attention to how images work and what they do. While histories of images tend to locate intentionality in the maker or the patron, this seminar seeks to bring forward the intentions of the image, how, for example, its formal material characteristics, modes and contexts of circulation and use, reproducibility and referentiality, solicit responses: how images seem to take on, in Mitchell's words, "lives of their own." For your paper, you can choose as your main object of study a work of art, a landmark exhibition, or a famous image drawn from popular culture. This image or event will be the subject of student presentations at the end of the term. The topic must be a visual phenomenon about which there is a substantial discourse in print, preferably in both scholarly and popular sources. The final paper will be based on your presentation and should address some of the critical issues and readings discussed in class. Prerequisite: Undergraduate degree or equivalent and permission from instructor. Students with credit for FPA 823 may not take this course for further credit.

CA 824 - New Approaches in Moving-Image Studies (4)

This course is an elective in the MA program. In it we examine what are understood as the arts of the moving image: these include film, video, and other time based audiovisual media. We will begin by grounding our objects of study, i.e. specific works and practices, in cinema studies and survey emerging approaches in cinema studies, relating these developments to the longer history of the discipline. Investigating cinema intermedially, we will keep in mind the art forms that informed it historically, including theater, public spectacles, photography, painting, music, sound recording. Then the course will examine how the practice, aesthetics, and reception change when cinema moves to television, both move to digital formats, and all these platforms move to handheld and social media. We will investigate medium specificity in the moving-image arts in light of what is termed "media convergence." We will consider what new forms emerge when moving images shift from the institution of cinema to other contexts such as museums and online sites. The course includes two or three weeks topics of interest that arise in the field, such as new national cinemas, new approaches to documentary, cognitive theory and neuroscience, etc. Students with credit for FPA 824 may not take this course for further credit.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G200 Laura Marks
We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
GCA 4390, GOLDCORP
G201
We 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
GCA 4390, GOLDCORP
CA 825 - New Approaches in Digital Art Studies (4)

This course will focus on the history and practice of digital art, with an emphasis upon the artistic outcomes of the new methodologies and practices within this field. Digital technology has fundamentally changed the process and products of contemporary creativity in art-making. Although a great deal of contemporary art involves some aspect of digital technology, this course will examine those artists and art-works in which digital technologies play an intrinsic part in the creative process, as well as the realization. A range of processes - from interactive systems through to algorithmic approaches (stochastic, deterministic, chaotic) - will be examined, with particular reference to artistic goals, approaches,and results. Prerequisite: Undergraduate degree or equivalent and permission from instructor. Students with credit for FPA 825 may not take this course for further credit.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
D100 Claudette Lauzon
We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
GCA 4390, GOLDCORP
CA 826 - New Approaches in Performance Studies (4)

This course is an elective in the MA program. It traces the interdisciplinary origins of performance studies and brings its concepts and methods to bear on dance, music and sound arts, theatre and performance arts, and media performance while introducing cross-disciplinary ideas from emergent areas such as neuroscience, cognitive science, and gaming, for example. Course assignments will involve case studies as forerunners for further research. Prerequisite: Undergraduate degree or equivalent and permission from instructor. Students with credit for FPA 826 may not take this course for further credit.

CA 827 - Practicum in Comparative Media Arts (4)

This course is an elective in the MA program. Students are placed with an arts organization in order to carry out a specific project of finite length. The student's labor time in the practicum should total approximately 120 hours, to be carried out over the course of a semester. Projects are initiatedby the student in consultation with the supervisor at the organization and the MA program supervisor. Projects can involve research, writing, organizing events, curating exhibitions and programs, public relations, media production, archiving, andrelated activities. The student submits a proposal that indicates the project's purpose, schedule, plans for documenting andreporting, and planned outcome. Final outcomes will vary depending on the placement. The MA program coordinator and the supervisor at the organization approve the project. Students file a Work Study Program Agreement with the Worksafe BC office at SFU. In some cases the project must be approved by the Ethics Review Board. SFU's code of conduct and academic dishonesty policies apply to students while on practicum. The MA program coordinator assigns a grade in consultation with the supervisor at the organization. Prerequisite: Enrollment in MA in Comparative Media Arts and permission of the MA program coordinator. Students with credit for FPA 827 may not take this course for further credit.

and two extended essays

CA 829 - Extended Essays in Comparative Media Arts (6)

These two essays, the final project of the MA, are completed in the fourth semester of the program. The extended essays build on knowledge students have gained in coursework. Students research in-depth two related topics in comparative media arts and develop and polish an original argument, with the goal of producing at least one essay suitable for publication. The length of each essay should be that of a typical academic journal article in the media arts, about 5000-7000 words. Students may also write catalogue essays or similar nonacademic publications, supplemented by a research essay. Students research the extended essays with the supervision of their senior supervisor. They develop and polish it in the Research Colloquium, CA 822. In the colloquium they write the essay proposal and drafts, give and receive peer review, prepare to submit the essays for publication, and prepare to make a 20-minute public presentation of their research at the culminating research symposium. Students may enroll in the extended essays continuously beginning in the third (summer) semester if they wish, or they may enroll in it in the fourth (fall) semester only. Grading: The essays are evaluated by two faculty members. They jointly assign a grade of In Progress/Complete. Prerequisite: CA (or FPA) 821, Research Methods and three of the following: CA (or FPA) 823, 824, 825, and 826, and permission of the MA program coordinator. Students with credit for FPA 829 may not take this course for further credit.

Students must take one additional graduate course within the School for the Contemporary Arts, or from another department with the permission of the MA Program coordinator and the faculty member teaching the course. Students who take a 3-credit elective will also enroll in CA 888-1, Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts.

CA 821-5, Research Methods in Comparative Media Arts, taken in the first semester, prepares students for research across the media arts, while each elective deepens the student's knowledge of the history and theory of individual media arts. The two extended essays are undertaken in CA 829-6, Extended Essays in Comparative Media Arts. For each, students research in depth a topic in comparative media arts and develop and polish an original argument. CA 822-4, Research Colloquium, taken in the fourth semester, supervises the preparation of the extended essays for publication, and prepares students in research presentation and other aspects of professional development. The program concludes with a public symposium in which students present their research.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.