The Pomona College Media Studies Podcast explores what Media Studies is, why it matters, and the experiences of the people who study it at Pomona. Listen to episodes about the Media Studies Capstone Project, as well as what Media Studies is via the Media Studies 101 episode.
Daniel Park ’20
I was sold on the major after taking Introduction to Media Studies with Professor Friedlander during my first semester at Pomona as a sophomore transfer student. It was in this highly nuanced yet digestible class, that I first learned to conceptualize media as not just digital spaces or products – but also as a network of ideological forces that carry large social implications. I was committed to learning more about the ways in which our individual practices in global media consumption can aid in either extending, or deconstructing, the harmful forces within media that impact culture, economics, politics, and consequently, our ways of knowing.
After my intro class, I became passionate about stirring tangible change in the medium of film. I started taking introductory production classes because I really wanted to shoot my own stories. This allowed me to take my knowledge into practice, utilizing documentary production to amplify powerful voices and represent communities that mainstream productions consistently marginalize.
Approaching my senior year, I wanted to negotiate my financial and creative needs with the socio-political responsibilities to which I feel obliged as a critical storyteller. I studied abroad in Prague, where I got to shoot a short film on an ancient 16mm camera. That definitely confirmed that I love this stuff. Once I returned, I took Critical Race Theory, Representation, and the Rule of Law with Professor Phillis Jackson – and this class absolutely shattered my imposter syndrome, and helped me fully realize the immense power I possess as an individual consumer, intellectual and multimedia artist. I currently work for a film advertising agency in Los Angeles where I learn a ton every day, and feel one step closer to my goal of eventually producing stories that prioritize representation and aim to stimulate critical thought in audiences.
Through my media studies education at Pomona, I have come to believe that everyone has stories that are innately valuable and worth listening to. I believe that through community and collaboration, we can spread narratives that unite rather than separate, question and illuminate rather than stereotype – stories that combat the global damage that mass media has done, and deconstruct the walls between and amongst ourselves.
Schuyler (Skye) Mitchell '20
I’m an English and media studies double major, and though I always thought I wanted to major in media studies, taking Intro to Media Studies with Prof. Thomas Connelly in the fall of my freshman year cemented that goal. We got a broad overview of media history and critical theory, covering topics from hegemony to remediation to textual poaching. “Media” is everywhere, lying at the foundation of our society and culture from its inception. I felt like my doors had been opened—for the first time, I found myself with the language and knowledge to name and analyze the various societal phenomena and conditions I’d observed. I’m majoring in media studies with a concentration in critical theory because I’ve discovered that a media studies degree at Pomona provides the analytical tools I think are essential for being a conscious consumer and creator in the modern world.
“Media studies” is a vague term, and the major is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary. This can be daunting at first, but I think it’s exactly what makes the program so valuable. Your media studies degree will really be what you make of it, and the major allows you the freedom to really explore. This past semester, in an upper-level theory course called Drone Theory, we discussed everything from drones to Amazon to Cambridge Analytica. The class completely blew my mind and pushed me to think in new ways, seeing the intersections between these seemingly different areas. Going into the course, I was afraid that it would be too “theoretical,” but I’ve found the “real-world” or “professional” applications to be numerous as well. I never would have anticipated that I’d be able to incorporate my knowledge from a course about drones in my internship at an independent record label. I am so excited to take more media studies classes in the next two years, and see how the major continues to challenge and shape my worldview!
Anna Chung '18
In my first year at Pomona, I thought about studying various different things — from chemistry to computer science to mathematics. But I never would have thought that I would be here, three years later, as a media studies major. In fact, I had never even heard of media studies before I decided, on a whim, to register for a class called “Media, Space, and Power” with Professor Mark Andrejevic.
People often talk about certain classes at Pomona as having transformed their lives, and before I took this class, I doubted how true this could be. But this class really changed the way I viewed my education. Until that point, I had accepted my education as something that was otherwise isolated from my everyday life. However, this class challenged me to question the physical and digital spaces that I am constantly occupying, whether it is the very classroom I am in or a social media site like Facebook.
What I find so important about a subject like media studies is that it challenges us to question the intent and impact of things we tend to accept without question. From the moment I took my first media studies class, I found myself becoming a much more inquisitive and perceptive person. At times, I became overwhelmed with realizations of how some of my favorite films perpetuate racist and sexist ideas and how these kinds of media uphold exploitative social systems. In other moments, though, I began to experiment with different mediums, like animation and 360 video, and to create pieces that seek to challenge oppressive ideas. I’m so thankful for my media studies education because it has empowered me to always think critically and to create content that reflects this way of thinking.
Through media studies, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the intersections of so many different fields — film, computer science, philosophy, literature, sociology, and more. Rather than limiting me to a singular way of thinking, media studies constantly challenges me to expand my worldview and to become a more empathetic person.
Shivani Doraiswami '18
Before coming to Pomona College, I dreamt of making the world a better place. My mother was wary of this grandiose notion, often reminding me that while nice in theory, it is very difficult to make such an impact. She encouraged me to be more realistic; perhaps I could be part of an innovative research team or lead a company sector when I grew older — two critical yet also more straightforward paths to follow. However, after taking Intro to Film with Professor Jonathan Hall during my freshman year, I uncovered a realm of people who single-handedly revolutionized the world: filmmakers. We studied films not only for their technical structure, but also to analyze the cultural and historical impressions they left. Almost immediately, I became enamored with the power of film, shaping and influencing people across nations for generations to come.
My interest in film led me towards analyzing other storytelling mediums, such as television, newspapers, books, magazines, and even social media. In this day and age, the media is more widespread than ever, and I think it is crucial for people to critically assess what they’re consuming. As I took more classes in the media studies department, I became aware of some high-level issues behind media production, such as censorship or lack of representation, which can generate misunderstanding. For instance, did the Golden Era of Television erase the struggles of the Civil Rights Era and other such movements, with its depiction of solely upper-middle-class, nuclear families? And do the current roles for minorities in film and television promote harmful stereotypes that alter our perception of race? These are just two examples of inquiries I began to think about on a daily basis.
Ultimately, I became a media studies major because I believe one idea can change the way people think. In studying both the technical and theoretical aspects of media, I hope to one day produce something that will inspire, shape, or fascinate others, just as the films
which impacted me, with a newfound awareness of my social responsibility as a filmmaker.