Radical Media Fall 09 - Outline

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Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

MCM 1700P - Radical Media (CRN 15008)
Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Fall 2009


Instructor Information

Name: Mark Tribe
Email: Mark_Tribe AT brown DOT edu
Office Phone: 401 863-7886
Office Location: 155 George Street, Room 101
Office Hours : Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm, or by appointment
Campus Box : 1957
Web Site: http://www.marktribe.net

Course Description

Walter Benjamin wrote that in the age of mechanical reproduction art ceases to be based on ritual and "begins to be based on another practice--politics." What is the relation between art and politics in an age of digital distribution? This production seminar explores the nexus of media and radical political action, paying special attention to artistic practices that mobilize media tactically to engage hegemonic power structures. Students will explore political action through the development of their own art work: identifying issues, conducting research, defining tactics, and creating media projects. The course examines historical examples of radical media, including video art, culture jamming, and hacktivism, placing them in historical context and developing a critique of these practices based on readings including Hakim Bey, Bertolt Brecht, Critical Art Ensemble, and Guy Debord. The course also considers jihadi video produced by militant Islamist groups as an example of reactionary media. Prerequisite: one MCM course.

Meeting Times and Location

Wednesdays 10:00AM-1:50PM

Unless otherwise indicated, all course meetings take place in the MCM Production Building, 135 Thayer Street, Room 102 (Production Two)


  1. Investigate radical media practices and related media theory;
  2. Respond to this exploration by producing media projects that interrogate or extend key concepts and strategies of radical media;
  3. Develop skills of observation, analysis, interpretation, and oral and visual communication through peer critiques and presentations.


  • Nota Bene:** Assignments are not considered complete until they have been adequately documented on the wiki and linked-to from the student work page and from your personal wiki page. See How to Document your Project for the Wiki for details.
    • For each project your personal page should contain, at a minimum, the following:
      • A thumbnail image;
      • A project title that links to your project page.
      • A statement that describes your project and sheds light on your intentions and, if relevant, your process.
    • Projects will be presented in class during critique: be sure you have your media ready to go!
    • Late assignments will not be accepted without prior permission from the instructor.


1. Poster Project, due Sept. 30

Design, print, and distribute a poster.

2. Online Video Project, due Nov. 4

Make a 3-5 min. video and upload it to a media sharing or social networking site (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook).

3. Final Project, due Dec.16

Work independently or in collaborative groups on a radical media project that explores ideas addressed in the course. If working collaboratively, each member of the group should write a short statement (250-500 words) that discuss the project and details his or her own role in the project.

Presentation, dates TBD

Give an in-class presentation on one or more radical media project(s) of your choice. Select projects in consultation with the instructor. Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes long and should involve some kind of media support (Web sites, video, PowerPoint, etc.) in which you show the project(s) you are discussing. Presentations should be well-researched, should include detailed description and critical analysis, and must be documented on the wiki.

Attendance and Punctuality

Given the participatory nature of this course, it is important that everyone attend regularly and punctually. Please contact the instructor in advance if you won't be able to make it to a class due to an unavoidable conflict or medical condition. Class starts on time, so please arrive on time. Students with multiple unexcused absences or excessive lateness may not pass the course.


Student performance will be assessed in five areas:

  1. Quality of production work;
  2. Relevance of production work to the concepts and strategies explored in the course;
  3. Quality and relevance of in-class presentation;
  4. Active participation in class meetings demonstrating critical engagement with course material;
  5. Attendance and punctuality.
    ----Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography
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