MDST464C-1 (Schedule # 64985)
University of Virginia
Fall 2003
R 3:00-5:30PM Clemons 201 ***(Note: first class on Thurs Aug 28 meets in 330 Bryan)***
Mr. David Golumbia
Office: 304B Bryan
Fall 2003 Office Hours: T 2:30-4, W 11-1, R 11-1 and by appt

Alternative Media Workshop

In the age of so-called media convergence, it becomes more and more difficult to locate alternatives to mainstream media. This practicum provides an opportunity for students to explore the question of what alternative media looks like in the digital age. We will focus on contemporary media forms to which students have production access, including radio and other audio, the web as a content medium, and other forms of software production. We'll read materials on the relationships between media production and the creation of media mainstreams, including writers like McChesney, Alterman, Drudge, Goodman, Lessig, and Hilmes. We'll pay close attention to recent developments in media regulation, including the trend toward increased media consolidation as represented by corporations like AOL Time Warner, Fox, Disney, and Clear Channel. The main focus of the course will be on group projects in which students create practical examples of alternative media, principally in audio and the web. Some media production and/or media studies experience are required.

Course Materials

Primary books (available at UVa bookstore):

Secondary reading (on reserve at Clemons or online)

Films, videos and television programs (on reserve in Robertson Media Lab)

Other media (online or on reserve in Robertson Media Lab)


This class is structured as a workshop to provide an opportunity for Media Studies majors to plan, construct, and present small group projects that involve contemporary media and issues involving the definition and/or creation of media alternatives. We will spend substantial class time during the first weeks of the semester defining these projects and the teams who will work on them. During the rest of the semester our time will be divided between critical discussion of written texts and primary media that raise questions about the nature of political and cultural alternatives. These discussions will be used to inspire our work on the group projects that will constitute the major work of the course.


Because of the highly interactive nature of a workshop course, participation by all students in every aspect of the course is vital.


Grades will be constituted solely through the student's participation in the planning, analysis, and discussion of the major class projects. Students will be expected to provide individual feedback on group projects throughout the term, in addition to more formal results stemming from the projects themselves.

Honor Code

All work for this class is subject to the University's Honor Code.


R Aug 27 - Alternative Media: Definitions; Discussion of major projects (meets in Bryan 330)

R Sep 4 - Alternative News (meets in Clemons 201)
                  Reading: Eric Alterman, "What Liberal Media"
                  Link to assignment page for this week

R Sep 11 - Alternative Histories (meets in Clemons 321)
                  Reading: Chomsky, 9/11 and/or "On 9-11: Belgrade Radio Interview"
                  Link to assignment page for this week

R Sep 18 - Alternative Media Overview (this and all subsequent classes meet in Clemons 201)
                  Reading: Atton, Alternative Media, Part I

R Sep 25 - Alternative Media II
                 Reading: Atton, Alternative Media, Part II

R Oct 2 - Alternative Media III
                  Reading: Atton, Alternative Media, Part III

R Oct 9 - Global Alternatives: Television
                  Reading: McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Part I

R Oct 16 - Alternative Film
                  Reading: P. Adams Sitney, from Visionary Film
                  Media for study: Stan Brakhage, short films from Hand-Painted Films

R Oct 23 - Global Alternatives: Film
                  Reading: Trinh Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other, Part I
                  Media for study: Trinh Minh-Ha, Surname Viêt, Given Name Nam

R Oct 30 -Alternative Video and Art
                  Reading: Trinh Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other, Part II
                  Media for study: Trinh Minh-Ha, Reassemblage

R Nov 6 - Alternative Media and Art
                  Reading: Trinh Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other, Part III
                  Media for study: by Jimpunk, Jodi, mez_breeze, and others; Nam-June Paik videos

R Nov 13 - Alternative Writing
                  Reading: McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Part II

R Nov 20 - Alternative Music
                  Reading: McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Part III

R Nov 27 - No class meeting (Thanksgiving break)

R Dec 4 - Presentations of final student projects