Media Studies reaches department status
Department hopes to create a graduate program in media studies.
Photo by Jack Looney.
The Media Studies Program officially became a department this summer, beginning the process of broadening its resources and course offerings to better meet students’ needs.
Media Studies began at the University in 2000 as an interdisciplinary major focusing on the media and effects of mass media, particularly in contemporary society. The major is open to undergraduates by application only, though a minor was created recently to accommodate more students.
One important result of the change to department status is that Media Studies will now be able to hire its own faculty, instead of being restricted to hiring faculty with joint appointment in a department.
Andrea Press, chair of media studies, said the department is still waiting to hear how many new faculty members it will be able to hire.
“There are a lot of areas in Media Studies that, because we’re so small right now, we don’t cover, and so we’d like to hire several new professors to cover those areas,” she says. Some of the areas not covered include global media and globalization, new media technology and media policy. The new department has already hired one new faculty member for the fall who will aid the department’s attempt to expand course offerings.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor from New York University, will teach copyright law and new technology and copyright issues as an associate professor of media studies and law at the University.
Vaidhyanathan is well known for his book “Copyrights and Copywrongs” (New York University Press, 2001), and the University has worked to attract him to the developing program for over a year.
The Virginia Film Festival has recently been moved under the umbrella of the Media Studies department, and Press has been named the executive director. “We have been developing courses in conjunction with the festival curriculum and trying to involve media studies students more in the festival,” she said.
Previously, the program brought a film professor from New York University to teach a course related to the festival, which the Media Studies department hopes to continue. The department is also contemplating holding a January Term course in Los Angeles with Virginia Film Festival board members.
Future developments for the department include an undergraduate minor in film studies, in response to the large student interest in film, and Press said the department is also hoping to create a graduate program in media studies.