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phd media international

The secret of getting ahead is getting started

Contact Details

Miami office, san francisco office, new york office, los angeles office, chicago office.

Media Agency of the Year

Phd is adweek’s global media agency of the year, with a new global ceo, $775 million in new business and an evolving internal philosophy, the omnicom agency is on the rise.

phd media international

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PHD is on a mission to understand the future generation of marketing, one that will be completely reshaped by technology. For the past decade, it has been ahead of the game when it comes to focusing on the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive marketing transformation.

That’s in part because it’s stuck close to parent company Omnicom Media Group (OMG), allowing PHD to grow its tech offerings at scale. In 2018, OMG introduced a centralized platform, Omni, that helps its agencies and clients create, plan and execute ad campaigns using data. From there, the tech offerings have evolved with OMG’s integration of generative AI technology in partnership with Microsoft. And in 2023, the parent company introduced the agency-as-a-platform (AaaP) model , which tackles clients’ problems with technology and tools.

phd media international

This data-centric culture has allowed PHD to help its clients reach untapped demographics and craft media-planning strategies that marry creativity with technology. Clients have responded favorably, as PHD has retained 97% of its accounts and produced a net new business gain of $775 million with revenue growth of 10% projected for the year. New clients included Uber, McCain Foods and Grupo Bimbo. Named as ADWEEK’s Global Media Agency of the Year, PHD employs around 6,500 people in 81 offices across 74 countries, a worldwide reach that has helped it win global accounts such as Uber’s $500 million account.

During its search for a media agency partner, Uber narrowed in on three key factors: talent, technology and agility, Lee Walsh, global head of media at Uber, told ADWEEK.

“We were impressed with the capabilities and sophistication of the Omnicom tool stack. This gives us the platform to deliver greater sophistication to our campaign segmentation, activation and measurement,” Walsh said.

McCain Foods (U.S.), Nielson Financial Services (U.K.), Planeta DeAgostini (Spain and Italy), Stena Line (Europe), Mobily (Dubai), Pelago (Singapore), Rohto (Hong Kong), GetYourGuide (France), and Spin Master (Mexico).

Electrolux (Asia), Sky Betting & Gaming (U.K.), A2A (Italy), Fortum (Nordics), Rover.com (U.S.), VIVO Healthcare (India), Sun Life Financial (Hong Kong), Red Bull (Australia), G.J. Gardner Homes (New Zealand) and Unilever (Australia).

Omnicom policy precludes sharing revenue at the individual agency level; however, it did share a year-over-year percentage of growth projected at 10% for PHD in 2023.

Strategic moves:

PHD’s global client president, Francesca Hills, led the development and launch of an environmental, social and governance (ESG) platform across all of the media network’s agencies. The platform is an end-to-end solution that operationalizes ESG-driven investment. Housed within Omni Studio and aggregating the best ESG tools and activations from across the network, the platform includes a global shared knowledge database; private sustainability and DEI marketplaces; and customized tools for planning, optimization and measurement.

PHD’s leadership is 47% female and 53% male in the C-suite, with senior management at 53% female and 43% male. In addition, 10% of mid- to senior-management roles are held by employees identifying as LGBTQ+. The agency has also introduced initiatives to identify and empower the next generation of BIPOC talent and leadership, such as inclusive hiring manager training.

A watershed year

2023 was a watershed year for PHD with the introduction of a new global chief executive. Guy Marks (formerly CEO of OMG EMEA) succeeded Philippa Brown , who stepped down after four years at the helm, bringing the agency closer to the parent group.

Another chief executive change was made with U.S. CEO Catherine Sullivan being replaced by U.S. chief operating officer Mike Solomon.

Last year, OMG also rolled out its AaaP model, which PHD and other OMG agencies offer to their clients as a multifaceted and flexible service with technology and tools centralized through Omnicom’s operating system, Omni. The road map for this strategy was set out within Shift: a Marketing Rethink, a book written by the agency’s long-standing chief strategy officer, Mark Holden.

“That strategy is focused on the complexity in our industry, how marketing has fragmented exponentially, [and] agencies such as PHD need to solve that for clients,” said Marks, who added PHD must bring simplicity and easy access to talent and capabilities because every brand has different needs based on scale, maturity and internal expertise.

Centralized platform Omni allows OMG agencies and their clients to create, plan and execute ad campaigns using data. Last year, that proposition evolved with the integration of gen AI technology in partnership with Microsoft.

Core to the strategy is the aim to decentralize the agency’s expertise, which clients are able to access through Omni Studio. The company hopes this studio can transform the entire communication strategy and planning process.

Omni Studio, launched in 2018, allows PHD’s strategists to collaborate to create online campaigns, producing 70,000 unique ideas from across the agency. Each week, it estimates that nearly three-quarters of account teams, strategists and planners work together across the platform to brainstorm ideas.

phd media international

Another service currently in beta and set for release this year is AI virtual assistant Omni Assist, which provides insights, recommendations and notifications to reduce the time from planning to activation.

Holden, who has led the agency’s AI adoption, explained that the system was plugged into Omni Studio, acting as a utility that will be used to retrain people to work with AI.

“When you can work with AI to condense information down quickly, the role of the individual is to make a judgment on things as opposed to actually doing the work or even generating. We’ve got, in a beta form, AI within Omni generating channel ideas,” Holden explained.

Susanne Grundmann, chief global client officer of OMG Germany, claims Omni Studio has helped shape the planning process within the business, not just creating an output for clients but creating a consistent and collaborative process for the workforce as well.

“It comes with a unique culture and identification of our talent that is much stronger than I have experienced in any other agency brand,” said Grundmann. “People working in different parts of the agency, coming together to work on innovations on best practices … In my view, it started within the strategy community and is now becoming stronger in other areas of the business.”

Another addition to the agency’s proposition is Omnicom’s acquisition of Ascential’s digital commerce division Flywheel for $835 million.

The platform allows retail clients to monitor and measure ecommerce performance in near-real time as they aim to improve their sales and market share. This will now be integrated within Omni, bringing with it a new data infrastructure for the network.

phd media international

Major new business wins

Since adopting the AaaP strategy, PHD has won billions of dollars of new business, following up the $500 million Burger King and Kimberly-Clark EMEA accounts in 2022 with another $500 million win with Uber and a $300 million win with baked goods manufacturer Grupo Bimbo.

Previously held by EssenceMediacom, the prestigious Uber contract is split regionally, with the majority being spent in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, Australia and Mexico.

“[We operate] in a fast-paced and highly competitive environment,” said Uber’s Walsh. “We needed a partner that could move at speed whilst still producing best-in-class work. PHD demonstrated a deep understanding of our industry and built agile processes that match the pace at which we operate.”

Other wins included McCain Foods in the U.S., Stena Line in Europe, Mobily in Dubai, and several more local contracts. It also retained business with Dr. Oetker in Norway, Unilever in Taiwan, CITIC Bank in Hong Kong and Tourisme Montréal in Canada. At the beginning of this year, PHD also kept hold of HP’s global media account.

Volkswagen’s $3 billion-plus review account is still in review. However, PHD continues to service it while the mandatory review process, which includes PHD as the incumbent, is ongoing.

phd media international

A global reach within OMG

The PHD brand is an important one to Omnicom, underlines Marks, as rival agency networks consolidate and dispose of long-established entities. And that is evident from the years it has spent building its innovative culture.

“The most important part of any media agency is the people. PHD demonstrated a strong track record of in-house training, a meaningful commitment to DE&I and a culture of innovation,” said Walsh.

The AaaP strategy was significant in creating a unique culture across the business because it takes the viewpoint of the client and supports them across all of their brand needs, according to U.S. CEO Solomon.

“I look at what that’s done for how we started to think about other teams inside of our network. How we service the Diageo business, and with the Uber business we thought about the kind of skill sets that come in there,” Solomon added. “The real beauty of it is that over the course of the last year and a half, it shaped everything about how we build and think about those solutions and how we start to focus more on the outcomes and the business and not so much just on … media inputs and outputs.”

According to Marie Lee, vice president of media and digital performance marketing at Princess Cruises, the agency team also operates as a navigation partner that guides her through an increasingly fragmented landscape.

“My goal is to deliver advertising experiences that are on par with their guest experience. And I want to differentiate our brand and tell our story in innovative and creative ways that inspire our audiences. What’s great about PHD and the work that I’ve done with them in the past year is that their team is as passionate about our brand and our vision and is committed to our success as much as we are,” she told ADWEEK.

Key campaigns

phd media international

In November 2023, toy and entertainment company Spin Master introduced its latest fantasy adventure series, Unicorn Academy, on Netflix. PHD helped it rank on the streamer’s Top 10 for kids’ content to ensure it would be renewed.

Due to competitive limitations, advertising on TV and streaming channels was off-limits, leading the team, working through Omni Studio, to implement a two-leveled strategy.

With a budget of less than $5 million, this began with the use of seeding through YouTube and running ads across all networks simultaneously. On launch weekend, a takeover of all major original equipment manufacturers’ screens took place during peak kid viewing periods. This included easy clickthrough to content, which was achieved through strategic media units across the campaign that created a single path for viewers to reach Unicorn Academy content on YouTube and Netflix.

The target was achieved, with the series becoming the most watched of the Top 10 list on Netflix Kids with 15 million hours viewed and another 30 million views on the YouTube channel. The result? A series renewal.

phd media international

As it aimed to reach the highly sought under-40 demographic, ANZ Bank in Australia and New Zealand had to consider its lack of relevance to a younger audience. It identified sports and gaming as two of their key passions, deciding to focus on the development of a sports-centric gaming environment for the brand.

With video game NBA 2K set to launch in the region September 2023, PHD helped ANZ integrate within software updates to feature and serve the brand’s creative to an Australian audience. In-game activity such as the Half Court Challenge offered ANZ player engagement opportunities through a custom court skin, which allowed players to capture themselves making a half-court shot and awarded prizes to select winners. The campaign drove 67,000 clickthroughs to the ANZ Financial Wellbeing page.

A locker code giveaway allowed gamers aged 16-plus to exchange their contact details via the microsite for a unique locker code, redeemable for 15,000 in virtual in-game currency. With a budget of $330,000 (500,000 Australian dollars), PHD beat the KPI of generating 5,000 leads by 117% and delivered 36 million impressions and over 10,000 livestream views on social.

phd media international

PHD partnered with cloud and digital consultancy Kerv to extend Audi’s national campaign into a hypertargeted program across key local markets. The teams were aiming for an easy, cost-effective strategy across OTT and CTV. They launched a first-to-market ad experience that used Kerv’s patented AI/machine learning image recognition technology to deliver a highly localized and personalized ad experience at scale, ultimately driving user engagement and regional awareness. They used Dynamic Destination, an ad service offered by Kerv that links to personalized landing pages and operates with inputs such as location, time of day and weather, to inform advertisers of real-time environments.

Featuring videos that were accessed through QR codes within Audi’s ads, viewers were able to connect with their local dealerships. The activity earned 98% video completion rates with over 23,000 minutes spent with the brand.

Adweek magazine cover

This story first appeared in the Feb. 20, 2024, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen is Adweek's Europe bureau chief based in Glasgow.

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MPhil/PhD Media and Communications

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Media and Communications
  • Application code P4ZM
  • Starting 2024
  • Home full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Media and communications research is developing rapidly, both theoretically and methodologically, in keeping with the vast expansion in the penetration, technological diversity and social significance of the media globally. Media and communications research is essentially interdisciplinary, drawing on the theories and methods of a range of social science disciplines as they apply to the media, both old and new. Our Department is committed to promoting greater diversity and transparency in its doctoral cohort and particularly encourages applications from underrepresented groups in its PhD programme.

With 91 per cent of its research output judged to be "world leading" or "internationally excellent" (REF 2014), the Department of Media and Communications provides an excellent research-based education to its doctoral researchers. Its mission is to guarantee the highest quality graduate research training in media and communications and to undertake original social science research in the field, emphasising in particular the relationship between media, technology and social change.

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution in the field of media and communications in contemporary society.

Programme details

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for mphil/phd media and communications.

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a high merit (68 per cent) in a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in social science or humanities and normally a distinction in the dissertation.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our  Information for International Students  to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate  staff research interests  before applying.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications) - statement of academic purpose - references - CV - research proposal - sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do.  See our English language requirements .

When to apply

The application and funding deadline for this programme is 15 January 2024 . See the fees and funding section for more details.

Research proposal guidelines

Applicants for doctoral study with the Department of Media and Communications are required to submit a research proposal of  no more than 2,500 words  summarising and justifying their proposed research.

The research proposal will provide selectors with an idea of topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors. If your application is accepted, you may be permitted to re-negotiate your topic, subject to the Department’s ability to supervise the new topic.

The final project proposal should feature the following sections:

  • Title : A clearly stated title / research question at the beginning of your proposal.
  • Preferred potential supervisor:  Please indicate clearly on the first page of the proposal who you wish to supervise your project. Available supervisors can be found on our list of  Academic staff  (please note LSE Fellows cannot supervise PhD projects).
  • Keywords:  Please include on the first page of the proposal up to 10 keywords or phrases which accurately reflect the content of your project (eg, 'internet governance', 'data privacy', 'children's media use', 'feminism', 'representation', 'platform studies').
  • Introduction to research question(s):  What question(s) will you attempt to answer? Why is the topic interesting and important? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • Literature Review:  Summarise the relevant literature and the field(s) to be contributed to. What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis the theories and concepts you propose to use?
  • Methodology:  How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? Which methodology is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g. finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?
  • Conclusion:  What is the added value of the project? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen (sub-)field? 
  • Bibliography:  A list of texts used in preparing your proposal. (Not to be included in the word count).

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover  living costs  or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2024/25 for MPhil/PhD Media and Communications

Home students: £4,829 for the first year (provisional) Overseas students: £22,632 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges home research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

The Table of Fees shows the latest tuition amounts for all programmes offered by the School.

Fee status​

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification.

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the  cost of living in London  may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide generous scholarships each year to home and overseas students.

This programme is eligible for  LSE PhD Studentships , and  Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding . Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.   Funding deadline for the LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 15 January 2024

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas.  Find out more about financial support.

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do.  

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students . 

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page). 

2) Go to the International Students section of our website. 

3) Select your country. 

4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page.

Programme structure and courses

All First year students are MPhil students until they pass their upgrade, at which point they will become PhD students.

Theories and concepts training

Research Seminar for Media, Communications and Culture Focuses on the key conceptual issues and analytical strategies required in media and communication research, with special reference to the study of the changing environment of media production, dissemination and consumption, under conditions of globalisation and digitisation of information. Each participant must make at least one presentation annually.

One full unit or two half units of theory courses, chosen from the School’s graduate course provision. Courses are to be chosen in liaison with the primary supervisor/co-supervisors and will be approved by the Doctoral Programme Director. For MPhil students who have no background in the field, it is strongly advised that they select at least one half unit on Media and Communications.

Research methodology training

MPhil students will take Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications . This is a course which involves 3 discrete sections:

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: a series of lectures offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Autumn Term. The lectures will normally cover the following topics central to research design across the social sciences, with a specific emphasis on their application to media and communications contexts: the general nature of research as social inquiry, interviewing, discourse analysis, social network analysis, content analysis, visual analysis, survey design/questionnaires, case studies, ethnography and participant observation, as well as research ethics.

ii. Specialist workshops: Workshops (three hours) x 5 Winter Term (each comprised of one 3-hour session), offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Winter Term. Students are required to participate in all five workshops.

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Students have to take at least one quantitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology ( Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Media and Communications is the basic option). In addition, students need to take either another quantitative or a qualitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology. The combination of courses must be approved by the supervisor and discussed with the Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications (including Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis) convenor. Students will not be permitted to select Fundamentals of Social Science Research or  Qualitative Research methods .

Upgrade process

In addition to satisfactory completion of the above training, all MPhil students will be required to submit a thesis proposal of 10,000 words to their thesis committee. This paper needs to include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for completion.

Together with any examination/s for quantitative methodological courses, the thesis proposal will form part of the evaluation process, and, together with an upgrade viva, will determine whether students are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into their second year

Second year 

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

Third year 

Full time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their fourth year, part-time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their eighth year.

All upgraded PhD students not submitting their thesis must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.

You must note, however, that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.  

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s  Calendar , or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the  updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment

Supervision .

Doctoral supervision in the Department takes one of two forms, with faculty offering either primary and secondary supervision; or co-supervision, ie, joint supervisors with broadly similar responsibilities. In all cases, the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be at professorial or associate professorial level.

New doctoral researchers are assigned to supervisors with requisite knowledge in the chosen field. The supervisory team will normally be made up of Departmental faculty, but if you are working on a topic with a particularly interdisciplinary focus, it may be appropriate for a secondary supervisor or co-supervisor to be enlisted from another LSE Department. In such cases, either the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be Department of Media and Communications faculty.

Each doctoral researcher will be assigned a thesis committee consisting of their two supervisors and a senior member of the Department's faculty as chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade a student from MPhil to PhD. The thesis committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for over-viewing the student's progress in subsequent years

Please see our list of  Academic Staff  to view potential supervisors (please note that LSE Fellows cannot act as doctoral supervisors).

Progression and upgrade requirements

You will initially register for the MPhil and follow a taught programme involving coursework which is formally assessed. Towards the end of your first year, you will submit a 10,000-word research proposal. This paper will include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for its completion. Evaluation of this paper, together with an oral examination based on the thesis proposal and the submission of satisfactory coursework, will contribute to assessing whether you are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into your second year.

You will be assigned a Thesis Committee consisting of your two supervisors and a senior member of the Department's faculty as Chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade you from MPhil to PhD. The Thesis Committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for overviewing your progress in subsequent years.

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document at the end of their second year and each subsequent year in which they are not submitting their thesis.

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small, there are a range of people you can speak to who will be happy to help.  

Department librarians   – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies. 

Accommodation service  – they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries.

Class teachers and seminar leaders  – they will be able to assist with queries relating to specific courses. 

Disability and Wellbeing Service  – they are experts in long-term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as  student counselling,  a  peer support scheme  and arranging  exam adjustments.  They run groups and workshops.  

IT help  – support is available 24 hours a day to assist with all your technology queries.   

LSE Faith Centre  – this is home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.   

Language Centre  – the Centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in nine languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication; and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers  ­ – with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights. 

LSE Library   –   founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and is a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide. 

LSE LIFE  – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom; offers one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision; and provides drop-in sessions for academic and personal support. (See ‘Teaching and assessment’). 

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU)  – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding.  

PhD Academy   – this is available for PhD students, wherever they are, to take part in interdisciplinary events and other professional development activities and access all the services related to their registration. 

Sardinia House Dental Practice   – this   offers discounted private dental services to LSE students.  

St Philips Medical Centre  – based in Pethwick-Lawrence House, the Centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients.

Student Services Centre  – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.  

Student advisers   – we have a  Deputy Head of Student Services (Advice and Policy)  and an  Adviser to Women Students  who can help with academic and pastoral matters.

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective. 

Student societies and activities

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in  extracurricular activities . From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from. 

The campus 

LSE is based on one  campus  in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community. 

Life in London 

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more. 

Want to find out more? Read why we think  London is a fantastic student city , find out about  key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners . Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about  London on a budget . 

Student stories

Ludmila lupinacci amaral phd researcher porto alegre, brazil.

When I first decided to apply to the Department of Media and Communications, the possibility of meeting, and engaging in intellectually stimulating discussions with renowned international scholars of the field was one of my crucial incentives. As someone who comes from a developing country, the idea of having contact with those who constitute the cornerstone of my academic background – and most of my bibliography! – had been, until then, nothing more than a distant daydream.

I evidently had a personal interest in enjoying the structure of a world-class institution such as LSE, and in the benefits that this experience could potentially bring to my curriculum and prospective career. Nevertheless, the central motivation for my application was my understanding that the Department of Media and Communications maintains a strong focus on the development of a broad set of research skills, both theoretical and methodological. After one year in the doctoral programme, I can confirm my impressions were spot-on. What is distinctive about the Department, I would add, is the interdisciplinary, but always critical, approach it provides and fosters.

Being a PhD student is, at the same time, a challenging, rewarding, stressful, inspiring, and emotionally demanding experience. However, in the Department of Media and Communications, the faculty, the staff, and the colleagues provide a welcoming and encouraging environment for early-stage researchers. I have always heard how doing a PhD can be a lonely and socially isolating process. My experience in this first year of registration, however, shows me that this is, thankfully, not always the case.

View Ludmila's profile .

Richard Stupart PhD Researcher Johannesburg, South Africa

I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD primarily because it contained so many of the world’s leading researchers working on projects connected to the mediation of distant suffering, public action, and humanitarianism. It was an area that had interested me for a while, and LSE turned out to be the perfect home for my project.

The first day at school, as it were, was terrifying – a chance to meet academic heroes and accomplished first-year PhD colleagues from a range of backgrounds. It surprised me how approachable my supervisors, colleagues, and the Department in general was, and the intense reading and discussions of the first year made it one of the most intellectually fulfilling of my life. PhD study has meant developing a new relationship with reading, writing, and argumentation which can be equal parts intense and rewarding, but in moments where I’ve paused from worrying about how much I still don’t know and haven’t read, it’s incredible to see just how far I’ve developed already.

My own research has developed into a project looking at the work of journalists covering conflict and its effects in South Sudan – something perhaps unconventional to most media and communications departments. LSE has been probably the most supportive environment in which to be doing this work, though. The presence of so many colleagues interested in questions of the representation of suffering, journalism in difficult contexts, and postcolonial critiques of many ‘foreign correspondent’ studies has been a constantly valuable resource. Being granted the freedom – and support – to do practical fieldwork in Juba and Malakal in South Sudan really drove home that this was a space in which I really did have the freedom to do the practical work involved in pursuing my project where I needed to.

At the time of writing I am heading into my third year, and there is a great deal of writing and thinking still on the horizon, but I’ve no doubt at all that I’ve found the right academic home in which to be doing it.

  View Richard's profile .

SSu-Han Yu PhD Resaercher Taoyuan, Taiwan

The reason I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD may seem obvious, considering it has been ranked within the top 3 in the QS World University Rankings for Communication and Media Studies for the past three years. Nevertheless, the rankings indicators do not tell the whole story, as faculty in the Department not only excel in conducting research, but are always ready to listen, giving advice and feedback. In particular, I am very impressed by how much care and respect my supervisors have shown not only to my studies, but also to my professional development.

During my studies, I have had access to a large pool of research and teaching opportunities within and beyond the Department, which have allowed me to coordinate with external research institutions, organise international conferences, exhibit research findings, and write for publications. Additionally, I have gained knowledge and experience of engaging graduate students in seminar discussions through my role as classroom assistant.

Most importantly, however, my PhD journey would not have been the same without my peers. Although I expected LSE to attract talented individuals from around the world, I did not foresee that my cohort’s support and their enthusiasm for research and social change would help sustain me during the moments of self-doubt inevitable within the PhD process. The commitment to advancing knowledge and improving the state of the world demonstrated by my peers, faculty, and visiting fellows is as stimulating as the diverse events one can enjoy whilst studying in London.

View Ssu-Han's profile.

Preliminary reading

  • Baym N. K. (2010) Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Polity
  • Boltanski l. and Chiapello E. (2001) The New Spirit of Capitalism London: Verso
  • Carey J. W. (1989) Communication as Culture New York, NY: Routledge
  • Chadwick A. (2017) The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power – 2nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Chesher C. Crawford K. and Dunne A. (2014) Understanding the Internet. Language, technology, Media, Power London: MacMillan. Palgrave
  • Chouliaraki L. (2013) The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism Cambridge: Polity
  • Couldry N. (2012) Media, Society, World Cambridge: Polity
  • Lievrow A. L. and Livingstone S. (eds.) (2006) The Handbook of New Media (updated edition) London: Sage
  • Mansell R. (2012) Imagining the Internet Oxford: OUP
  • Papacharissi Z. (2014) Affective Publics. Oxford: OUP
  • Rogers R. (2013) Digital Methods Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
  • Wacquant L. and Bourdieu P. (1992) Introduction to Reflexive Sociology Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Silverstone R. (20060 Media and Morality. On the Rise of Mediapolis Cambridge: Polity

Quick Careers Facts for the Department of Media & Communications

Median salary of our PG students 15 months after graduating: £30,000

Top 5 sectors our students work in:

  • Advertising, Marketing, PR, Media, Entertainment, Publishing and Journalism           
  • Government, Public Sector and Policy   
  • Education, Teaching and Research            
  • Consultancy      
  • International Organisations

The data was collected as part of the Graduate Outcomes survey, which is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Graduates from 2020-21 were the fourth group to be asked to respond to Graduate Outcomes. Median salaries are calculated for respondents who are paid in UK pounds sterling and who were working in full-time employment.

Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the  support available to students through LSE Careers .

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Come on a guided campus tour, attend an undergraduate open day, drop into our office or go on a self-guided tour.  Find out about opportunities to visit LSE . 

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Code(s) P4U6

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Ph.D. in Media and Communication

Our doctoral program in Chapel Hill prepares students to lead in the academy and industry.

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We offer a close-knit community where students learn, develop as scholars and collaborate with faculty advisers and mentors.

You’ll learn cutting-edge research methods and acquire a deep understanding of communication theory to help you develop a research program that fits your interests. Our graduates are training the next generation of scholars, improving public health, strengthening democracy and helping leading organizations across the world innovate in a changing media environment.

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As she completed her master's at the Hussman School, Kyla Garrett Wagner wasn't sure whether she'd stay in Chapel Hill for her doctorate. She applied to eight other programs but decided to stay where she felt her ideas were most supported. "While it is a competitive school and one of the best schools, we're not competitive with one another on the inside," she says. "We all can work together, and that's an incredible feeling."

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Fall Application Deadlines

US applicants:  Jan. 15 International applicants:  Dec. 1

In the online application, select Media Studies as the department, Media Research & Practice  as the degree, and Media Studies  as the subplan/track.

How to Apply

The PhD in Media Studies offered by the Department of Media Studies is one of three separate and distinct tracks of the Media Research and Practice doctoral program within the College of Media, Communication and Information.

Drawing largely from contemporary cultural and critical theory, the PhD in Media Studies focuses on interactions among the major components of modern communication — media institutions, their contents and messages, and their audiences or publics — as a process by which cultural meaning is generated. It examines that process on an interdisciplinary basis through social, economic, political, historical, legal/policy/regulatory and international perspectives, with a strong emphasis on issues involving new communication technology and policy.

As a graduate student and colleague in the Department of Media Studies you will be working within an environment that is committed to rigorous scholarship, critical pedagogy, and intellectual and creative engagement, one that celebrates traditional forms of intellectual inquiry and other equally-profound models and road maps of knowledge pursuit. Our commitment is to ensure that:

…you will emerge with a deep understanding of a range of theoretical paradigms drawn from social, cultural and media theory and a set of significant core competencies – intellectual, methodological, and creative.

…you will develop a sophisticated understanding of a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

…you will use this experience to cultivate your intellectual and creative voice, one that is unique to you.

…you will have the opportunity to express that voice in a variety of ways, whether that be the traditional forms of intellectual expression, the book, the journal article, the conference paper or, where appropriate, employing the possibilities provided by emergent technologies and creative forms. 

…you will understand the Department’s commitment to, and support of, engaged scholarship, our recognition that intellectual inquiry is also about intensifying synergies within and beyond the confines of the university, that the pursuit of knowledge is not an isolated affair, nor is it a privileged conversation, and that our scholarly labor is strong when it shortens the distance between academia and public life.

  • Program Requirements
  • Applications Guidelines and Resources
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  • Contact Graduate Advising

Students take a minimum of 72 hours to complete their degrees, although they may take additional course work if there is a justified need. Students are expected to complete their course work and defend their dissertations in 4–5 years. Students may take up to 15 credit hours of course work outside the Department of Media Studies, through a required Outside Emphasis (9 hours), which complements the student’s plan of study, and through Advanced Methods in Media Research and Practice, (6 hours), which may include relevant courses offered either inside or outside of the department.

In general, course offerings toward the PhD in media studies emphasize the following cross-cutting themes that are treated throughout our curriculum:

  • sophistication in the treatment of theoretical issues;
  • rigor and high ethical standards in the collection, analysis and presentation of research;
  • thorough knowledge of the historical context of media institutions and practices; and
  • sustained focus on issues of social and cultural diversity (race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexualities), and on issues arising due to the increase in transnational media and information flows and influences.

Required Courses:

  • Proseminar—6 (2 courses)
  • Qualitative research methods—3
  • Quantitative research methods—3
  • Advanced research methods—3 hours
  • One additional advanced methods course, or one media practice course—3 hours
  • Inside emphasis—12-15 hours (4-5 Media Studies courses)
  • Outside emphasis—9-12 hours (3-4 courses in other units)
  • Dissertation hours—30 credits

Students are expected to complete the program and defend the dissertation in four-five years.

Applicants to the Media Studies track of the PhD program in Media Research and Practice are expected to hold the master’s degree or equivalent graduate work. In exceptional cases, applicants without a master’s degree may be considered for admission.

Completed domestic applications must be received by the program no later than Jan. 15 prior to the fall semester for which entrance is sought. International applications should be submitted by Dec. 1. Late applications may be considered under special circumstances.

Successful applications typically meet or exceed the following criteria:

Have an undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2 and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in previous graduate work.

International applicants must have a TOEFL score of 625 (IBT 106).

Provide three letters of recommendation.

Provide a 700-word Statement of Purpose.

Provide a resume or CV that includes academic and employment experience.

Provide a writing sample that exhibits the ability to undertake the conceptual and empirical studies required of doctoral students (e.g., a chapter from a master’s thesis or graduate-level term paper).

Meeting these criteria does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Because we accept relatively few new doctoral students each fall, we may have more qualified applicants than available openings.

For review and decision purposes you are required to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) in the online application. We require one copy of the scanned transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution that you attended. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed.   Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university.

ONLY after you are recommended for admission will you need to provide official transcripts. 

Instructions for Uploading Unofficial Transcripts to Your Application  (scroll to 'Uploading Unofficial Transcripts in the Application')

FAQ  |  Online Application  |  International Students Online Application

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Center For Environmental Journalism  |  Center for Media, Religion and Culture

Research or teaching assistantships, including a tuition waiver and stipend, as well as fellowships, are available. PhD students may receive assistantships for a maximum of four years.

Phone: 303-735-0730

Email:  [email protected]

Campus Location: CASE W 361

MDST MDRP Program Handbook

Media Studies PhD Alumni

  • Graduate Course Offerings

The following are Media Studies graduate courses. Not all courses are yet available. Please see an advisor if you have any questions.

  • Core Courses
  • Elective Courses

MDST 5000 (fall) Connected Media Practices—3 credit hours Helps students understand the evolution of film, television and gaming in the digital era. This course explores how screen media are created, circulated and consumed. Specifically referring to a multi-platform news and entertainment experience, connected media practices integrates digital technology and socially networked communication with traditional screen media practices. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only. Required of students in Media and Public Engagement MA program.

MDST 5002 (spring) Media Activism and Public Engagement—3 Explores the theory on media activism and actual activist practices within both old and new media and on a local, national and global scale. Special attention will be paid to questions of creativity and efficacy and the value of media activism as both an aesthetic and political activity. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only. Required of students in Media and Public Engagement MA program.

CMCI 6051 Theories of Mass Communication—3 Studies theories and perspectives of mass communication and explores the role of mass media in society. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only. Required of students in Media and Public Engagement MA program.

MDST 7011 (fall) Proseminar in Media and Communication Theory 1—3 Introduces principal concepts, literature and theoretical and paradigmatic perspectives of media studies and mass communication and their ties and contributions to parallel domains in the social sciences and humanities. Prerequisites: Restricted to PhD students in Media Studies (MDST), Journalism (JRNL) and Advertising, Public Relations and Design (APRD).

MDST 7021(spring) Proseminar in Media and Communication Theory 2—3 Continues the introduction of principal concepts, literature and theoretical and paradigmatic perspectives of media studies and mass communication and their ties and contributions to parallel domains in the social sciences and humanities. Prerequisites: Requires a prerequisite course of MDST 7011 (minimum grade D-). Restricted to PhD students in Media Studies (MDST), Journalism (JRNL) and Advertising, Public Relations and Design (APRD).

CMCI 7051 (fall) Qualitative Research Methods in Media—3 Examines various methods of qualitative data gathering and analysis in the mass and social media context. Requisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

CMCI 7061 (spring) Quantitative Research Methods in Media—3 Examines various methods of quantitative data gathering methods and analysis in the mass media context. Requisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 5211 Asian Media and Culture—3 Offers an understanding of the various people, cultures and nations of East Asia through their media systems. Provides a critical overview of the historical, cultural, social, political and economic dimensions of East Asian communication systems in today's digitally connected/disconnected world. Same as MDST 4211. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 5311 Mass Media Criticism Introduces the critical perspectives most often employed in qualitative media analysis: semiology, structuralism, Marxism, psychoanalytical criticism, sociological criticism. Texts from contemporary print and broadcast media.

MDST 5331 Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality in Popular Culture—3 Studies the construction, interconnections and replications of gender, race, class and sexuality in popular culture and how these constructs become cultural norms and mores. Uses critical methods with a focus on producing responsible viewers and readers. Same as MDST 4331. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6071 Critical Theories of Media and Culture—3 Introduction to critical theories and analysis of media and popular culture. Examines major theoretical traditions and/or theorists that significantly inform media studies (e.g., culturalism, structuralism, Marxism, critical theory, feminism, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism) and applies these to media analysis and criticism. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6201 Global Media and Culture—3 Covers mass communication within the international system, including similarities and differences in functions, facilities and content; social theories of the press; and the international flow of mass communication. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6211 Communication and International Development—3 Studies and analyzes communications technologies and techniques used in addressing social problems in developing countries. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6301 Communication, Media and Concepts of the Public—3 Introduces students to historical and contemporary uses of fundamental concepts in research and theory about media institutions, particularly public, community, mass, publicity, public space, public opinion, public interest and the public sphere. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6311 Power, Politics and Mediated Culture—3 Examines various literatures that consider the role of power in shaping social orders and the social beings that constitute that order and the place of media in both processes.

CMCI 6331 Political Communication—3 Explores the relationships involving media and politics. Incorporates normative and empirical perspectives on the media-politics complex. Areas covered include media effects on public opinion and policy, uses of media ingovernance, journalism sociology, coverage of elections and implications of interactive media for governance and civic participation. Requisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6341 Children and the Media—3 Examines the concepts of children and childhood from the historical, social, cultural, economic and political perspectives, this course explores the interaction between mass media and the socialization and cultivation process of children and youth.  Multiple theoretical traditions are used as a framework to study a variety of issues related to children and media. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6551 Media and Communication Policy—3 Surveys historical and contemporary developments in media and communications policy, emphasizing social and cultural dimensions. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6671 Media, Myth and Ritual—3 Anthropological and interpretative exploration of cultural practices of media audiences. Addresses theoretical and methodological implications of studying audiences from a culturalist perspective, with particular focus on media audience practices. Students engage in field research projects related to course content. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6711 Media and Popular Culture—3 Introduction to fundamental methods for understanding the construction of meaning in film, television, popular music and advertising. Traces the study of popular culture through film theory, mass media analysis and cultural studies. Surveys various strands of research that seek to understand popular culture and its effects. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6771 History of Media and Communication—3 Examines history and the history of communication, including the means (technologies) of communication, social practices (institutional, collective, individual) that intersect with the study of communication and media and cultural forms (texts, products). Situates the study of media, technology and culture within historical contexts, comparative historical research, media archaeology, genealogy and media history. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6781 Economic and Political Aspects of Media—3 Examines economic problems and political issues relevant to media institutions and industries. Prerequisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

CMCI 6861 Visual Communication—3 Visual communication involves understanding both perception of messages and construction of them. Students analyze their visual thinking abilities and develop habits of visual analysis and criticism, as well as visual communication skills. Requisites: Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6XXX Youth and Media Engagement—3  (course number to be determined) Young people today have unprecedented access to information and modes of media production, but how much of this access can translate into political and social engagement? What factors indicate youth involvement in media and participation in social and political processes. This course examines how youth engage media practices for greater civic participation. Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6XXX Practices of Social Mobilization—3  (course number to be determined) This course explores the role of mainstream and alternative media in the history of social advocacy, engagement and dissent. Through theoretical readings and case studies, the course provides an overview of the relationship between social movements and the media. Students learn theories and concepts of dissent, communication and social movements and develop critical analytical skills to apply to the analysis of specific cases. Case studies explore activist media across platforms (print, radio, broadcast, internet), contexts (from local to global, present-day to historical) and use (dialogic, contentious, hacktivist). Restricted to graduate students only.

MDST 6871 Special Topics—3 Variable topics. Restricted to graduate students only.

  • Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design
  • Communication
  • Critical Media Practices
  • Information Science
  • Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance (PhD)
  • BA: Media Studies
  • Minor: Media Studies
  • MA: Media and Public Engagement
  • Mellon / ACLS Speaker Series
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  • PhD in Communications & Media

The ICR has one of the most renowned communications Ph.D. programs in the world. Students in the program study such topics as media economics, organization and structure; media policy; political economy of the media; new technologies and new media; telecommunications; advertising and consumer research; journalism studies; media ethics; media and communications history; social and cultural studies of science and medicine; popular culture and film; race, ethnicity and gender; democracy and the media; and global/international communications. Recent Ph.D. dissertations have addressed a wide range of topics, from intellectual property and cultural production in Africa, to the history of sound technology, Chilean television infrastructure and policy, and advertising regulation and post-Mao journalism in China.

The ICR attracts many international students from such countries as Austria, Argentina, Barbados, Canada, China, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey. Our graduate student body has been extremely successful in terms of research grants and fellowships both on campus and nationally, and recent graduates are employed internationally in institutions such as McGill University, UC-San Diego, Rutgers, the University of New Hampshire, CUNY Queens, the University of Chicago and Texas A & M.

Today, nearly everyone recognizes the importance of knowing everything possible about communication. Information technologies, media mergers and computer marvels are daily convention. Intellectually significant research on communication is not commonplace, however. Work of enduring quality develops from comprehending the gravity and stature of the subject, and communication is among the most challenging and fascinating areas that humankind has been inspired to address.

Its proper study crosses the boundaries of established academic disciplines and draws upon a holistic intellectual heritage grounded in the liberal arts, in the traditions of social scientific research and cultural interpretation, and in a thoroughgoing spirit of critical inquiry. This conceptual pursuit of the highest order requires preeminent standards of imagination, academic rigor and historical awareness.

These are qualities the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois has nurtured in establishing its distinctive reputation. The Institute has encouraged innovative doctoral work, while striving to appreciate more deeply why the study of communication has endured through human history. These Web pages provide a glimpse into the Institute's intellectual environment, and they should be viewed only as a starting point. You can gain a richer understanding by discussing with faculty members and doctoral students how their special interests may relate to your own. We encourage you to do that, either through a phone call or a personal visit to the Illinois campus.

  • Director of Graduate Studies:  Amanda Ciafone

Office location: 119 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL Phone: 217-333-1549

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Dissertation Abstracts

Phd, media, culture, and communication, an art of ambivalence: on jean rouch, african cinema, and the complexities of the (post)colonial encounter.

Jamie Berthe

French anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch made over 100 films throughout his long career, the bulk of which were recorded in West Africa. Founder of the cinéma-vérité movement and pioneer of techniques like 'shared anthropology' and 'ethno-fiction,' Rouch used the medium of film to stimulate new ways of thinking about anthropological knowledge, cross-cultural encounters, and the apparent fixity of social roles in the (post)colonial world order. Furthermore, in his drive to 'share' anthropology, Rouch sought to use his skills and resources to assist his African collaborators in their own ambitions to make films, either with him or independently. But as a French man working in West Africa both prior to and following French colonial rule, Rouch's practice evolved out of a historical moment fraught with complexities and ambiguities. And in spite of Rouch's efforts to use film as a means to transform anthropology into a more collaborative and dialogic undertaking, many African filmmakers accused Rouch of having an imperialist vision of his African subjects. Rouch was also criticized - and not only by Africans - for his aversion towards politics and for what some perceived as a tendency to avoid political controversy in his films. This dissertation examines the evolution of Rouch's filmmaking practice, looking, in particular, at the role that French imperial culture and the colonial situation played in shaping his ideas about both anthropology and film. Rouch's life and work took shape in dialogue with both France's imperial project and West Africa's struggle for independence from (neo)colonial power. In light of this, I argue that Rouch's story needs to be retold, as one that is not altogether unique, or even specifically French, but rather, as part of a narrative about Franco-African (post)colonial history. Unpacking this history helps to resituate Rouch's film work as part of a larger discussion about the complexities of the (post)colonial encounter, and about the role that visual artifacts can play in helping contemporary thinkers work through those complexities.

Before Truth: Memory, History and Nation in the Context of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada

Naomi Angel

The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in June 2008, and focuses on the mistreatment and abuse of Aboriginal children in the Indian Residential School (IRS) system. The system, run by the government of Canada and the Presbyterian, Anglican, United and Catholic Churches, separated Aboriginal children from their families and placed them in the Indian Residential School system. Children at the schools were forbidden from speaking their traditional languages or practicing their cultural and religious beliefs. When parents objected to having their children taken, their children were often forcibly removed. Many former students have now spoken out about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that took place at the schools. The IRS system is now recognized as one of the major factors in the attempted destruction of Aboriginal cultures, languages and communities in Canada. Through an analysis of archival photographs from the Indian Residential School system, testimony taken at TRC gatherings, and popular representations of the IRS legacy in media and literature, this dissertation focuses on the complicated terrain of reconciliation in Canada. In particular, I concentrate on how reconciliation influences and is influenced by 1) understandings of Canadian nationhood, 2) the ways in which visibility and invisibility are negotiated through truth commissions, and 3) the dialectical relationship between remembering and forgetting. To discuss these three themes, I focus on the cultural dynamics and various mediated forms (performance, photography, artwork) involved in the representation of the Indian Residential School legacy. My project seeks to understand the normative orders of remembrance as dictated through the IRS TRC, and the ways in which individuals and communities take up/negotiate/and push back against these imperatives. By framing reconciliation as a way of seeing, I focus on the ways in which reconciliation is mediated through visual culture.

Book Typography and the Challenge to Linear Thought

Katherine Brideau

This is a shape-based study of typography as a medium. The analysis herein focuses on the structure, and to a lesser extent the infrastructure, of one of our most omnipresent yet overlooked media. Typographical shapes have been neglected by works in media studies that address "print media" and the threat of "digital media," and also by design fields that study the semiotic, socio-historical, or classificatory sides of typography. In contrast, I maintain that it is shape that most notably set the typographical medium apart from handwriting, and also that that which is essential to typography is its visuality, not the linguistic function to which it is often put. The motivation for this project is epistemological. Media philosopher Vilém Flusser argues that when we lack immediate access to an object, knowing that object requires we learn to read media. Building on his work, this project assumes an epistemological necessity to study the media we use to record, store, and communicate ideas. It explores how the structure of typography influences the structures of our daily thought. However, typography makes this structural analysis challenging, because of an inherent tension between typography's visuality and function--when we read type we most often fail to see type. In both practice and study, we ignore the visual thing before us, and instead look through typography at its linguistic, social, and symbolic functions. Both critiquing and bracketing these traditional function-focused studies of typography, this dissertation uses Flusser's concept of the techno-image and the model of the diagram, to propose a shape-based analysis of this medium. It identifies a series of features that come to the fore when one studies typography as shape, and it sketches out a diagrammatic analysis of eighteen character forms. The new typographical system proposed here highlights typography's technologies and its non-linear, quantized structure; and through the diagram it promotes typography as a functional visualization in which function no longer obscures visuality. This project presents an understanding of typography that better reflects its many details, an approach to media that stresses structure and infrastructure, and contributes to the study of visualization's role in knowledge production.

Bounce: The Material Certainty of Sporting Chance

Carlin Wing

This dissertation traces the development of “true bounce” in modern sport. Almost all human cultures engage in some form of ball play. Playing with balls and other kinds of bounding objects is a basic way that humans hone their spatiotemporal skills and learn what kinds of motion to expect from their own and other physical bodies. When play becomes rule-bound game, these activities become dialogic and narrative encounters of the self with the social. And when games become institutionalized and ritualized as sports, theories of the social order and the natural order come fully into contact. That is to say, when ball play becomes sport, players simultaneously enact both ideology and physics through their bodies. With the invention of digital computing in the mid twentieth century, ball play was redirected into electronic space, creating new conditions of bounce and changing the terms of both bodies and play.

Drawing on archival materials, fieldwork, and interviews, I map a theory of bounce that connects sixteenth century European court tennis first to nineteenth century British imperial sports played with industrial rubber balls, then to the squash-and-stretch techniques in Disney animation, and finally to the bounce programs that sit under contemporary computer graphics and world modeling practices. I argue that bounce is a property distributed among people and things – a name for those kinds of interactions from which all of the entities involved emerge with their shapes and speeds relatively intact and with their identities confirmed – and that sport and other rule-bound games provide frameworks for these kinds of material symbolic interactions and thus offer method of measuring, situating, and placing the self in the world. If bounce has emerged as an essential conceptual metaphor for interaction in the context of digital computing, my project’s lounge durée situates this emergence by showing how different kinds of bounce have been enacted and made into material metaphors for communication in both physical and digital realms.

Data Mining: Ethics, Ethos, Episteme

Solon Barocas

This dissertation examines the novel challenges that data mining poses to privacy, fairness, and autonomy. It first shows how ‘big data’ necessarily reflect pre-existing views about what exists and what is worth capturing. It further demonstrates how the information systems that ‘capture’ big data are shot-through with specific ideas of a social world and sociality that they are innocently meant to mediate, but which they quite clearly shape. These findings suggest that practitioners, policymakers, and scholars should attend to the properties of such systems before they adopt big data as objective evidence for their own purposes. The dissertation then delves into the inner workings of the data mining process to better account for its foundational assumptions, its potential sources of bias, and its claims to accuracy. It demonstrates that the push for improved accuracy may have the perverse result of reifying evaluation methods that cannot capture the full range of bias and error that may beset a data mining project. It also addresses the fact that improved predictive accuracy often comes at the cost of greater complexity.  The dissertation then develops a framework to explain why consumers may perceive certain kinds of inferences as violations of their privacy. It focuses on a series of real-world cases where the very possibility of making inferences was not apparent and where individuals could not arrive at these conclusions through their own powers of reason. The dissertation argues that where such inferences deny individuals the ability to anticipate the possible import of the behaviors that they exhibit, individuals will perceive data mining as a profound threat to their privacy and autonomy. Finally, the dissertation explores the paradoxical finding from computer science that attempts to ensure procedural fairness in data mining may be in conflict with the imperative to ensure accurate determinations. It shows that data miners cannot disentangle legitimate and proscribed criteria from their model-building because proscribed attributes meaningfully condition what relevant attributes individuals possess. The dissertation concludes by considering the policy implications of the finding that any decision that only takes these relevant attributes into account would still nevertheless recapitulate inequality.

Designing the Amsterdam Red Light District

Magdalena Sabat

This study broadly explores urban prostitution. Specifically, it examines the urban renewal of the Amsterdam Red Light District, locally known as De Wallen. Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District is a legal place of prostitution, a global sex industry hub, and a mass tourism and entertainment zone. The district represents an intrinsic and authentic part of the city because of its long history and the specific type of prostitution that has developed there–the red light window. But recently public perception has shifted. The district is increasingly seen as a foreign, crime-ridden area, and a place of sexual exploitation. As a response, in 2007, Amsterdam’s city council launched Project 1012, a large-scale urban renewal plan to restructure Amsterdam’s city center, with the major goal of substantially limiting sex industry presence in De Wallen.  Shifting focus from legal and ethical issues surrounding the sex industry, but not omitting them, this study looks at the spatial environments of urban sex commerce. The study has two main goals: 1) to detail the self-design of the sex industry in De Wallen, and 2) to look at the way professional designers redesign the district and reshape the city’s sex industry. The study uses archival, ethnographic, and discursive analysis research to show how the sex industry organizes itself and self-designs spaces for sex commerce, opening up new terrain through which to understand this complex and contradictory sector. Through a geneaology of De Wallen, it also connects the urban spatialities of sex work to specific moral discourse about prostitution, showing that urban spatial forms of sex commerce are key discursive sites. Ultimately, the study zeros in on new urban design ideology and practice, demonstrating how they transform and dematerialize sex work in the city, in the process erasing vernacular city spaces like the Red Light District. The study’s design lens uncovers a complex relationship between the visual and highly aestheticized design practices in the district, and the hidden politics and problems facing sex workers. It problematizes the market model of prostitution and sheds much needed light on the effects of urban design on sex work in the city.

Desk, Firm, God, Country: Proprietary Trading and the Speculative Ethos of Financialism

Robert Wosnitzer

In 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Paul Volcker proposed a ban on capital markets proprietary trading by the nation’s largest banks and financial institutions. Yet, the term proprietary trading is ambiguous, as it can refer to a variety of competing trading activities, financial instruments, and agents operating in the financial field. The ambiguity arises from the complexity by which financial action and value are mediated in the global capital markets, as well as from a lack of historical context. This dissertation uses the figure of the credit trader to examine the complex history and organization, as well as the technical tools and devices used in the contemporary practice of proprietary trading in the global credit markets, in order to show how an orientation to risk and speculation has emerged as a productive means, or ethos, by which different forms of value are mediated. Relying upon a deeply social and agentive practice, the day-to-day practice of proprietary trading and the circulation of credit instruments constructs a picture of finance that resembles a ritual form, one that ediates social relationships and value, operating to secure and enclose claims on wealth generated in the market. The attempt to ban such practices emerges not so much as meaningful reform, but rather as redefining the spaces of circulation calling attention to how governance simultaneously invokes and denies different publics. The practice of proprietary trading and its history reveals much more than how value is produced and disproportionately claimed by financial actors, but demonstrates how the act of risking together can make wealth more expansive.

Digital Afterlives: From the Electronic Village to the Networked Estate

Tamara Kneese

Everyone with a web presence has the potential to live on as information. Today, numerous stories in the popular press examine the afterlives of social data, asking what happens to our online profiles, feeds, blogs, and accounts after we die? This dissertation traces the rise of digital estate planning, a new cultural field that organizes individuals' various online accounts and bequeaths control of these materials to designated kin members. I locate the origins of digital estate planning in the aftermath of the campus shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007, when victims' loved ones petitioned Facebook to keep the profiles of those who were killed as virtual, interactive shrines. Virginia Tech was a particularly networked place, and the Blacksburg Electronic Village already shaped campus life. By connecting the valorization of Facebook pages to a longer history of web memorialization practices that appeared during 1990s net culture, I show how Web 2.0 logics about user-generated content and collaboration enabled profiles to become valuable objects worthy of preservation. Based on qualitative interviews with digital mourners and digital estate planning startup company founders alike, I discuss how Facebook memorialization precipitated the emergence of digital estate planning as a way of capturing what I call communicative traces, or the electronic ephemera people constantly create over a dense ecology of interfaces, platforms, and devices. In aggregate, communicative traces are speculatively valuable because of their connection to data mining as well as their potential to become meaningful heirlooms transferred across generations. Some digital estate planning websites are tied to transhumanism, a movement that promises immortality by uploading human consciousness into computers, thus connecting mundane actuarial practices to loftier techno-utopian goals. For surviving kin members, digital remains are complicated by the burdens of caring for them, which requires physical infrastructures, perpetual upkeep, and affective labor. Do we have obligations to digital souls, and what are the ethical, legal, emotional, and material implications of this kind of afterlife?

Divination Engines: A Media History of Text Prediction

Xiaochang Li

This dissertation examines the historical development of text prediction technologies and their role in the rise of so-called “big data” and machine learning. Historically, efforts to grapple with text computationally have played a pivotal yet largely unexamined role in both the technical development and popular imagination of computing, artificial intelligence, and data processing. In the present, predictive text systems continue to saturate our everyday experience, from the minute interventions of “autocomplete” and “autocorrect” software in our most mundane communications to the influence of text-mining as a core component for data analytics in areas such as business intelligence and public policy. Through archival research and original interviews, I map the discursive and material arrangements that brought language under the purview of data processing and the corresponding development of statistical techniques that today underwrite applications across diverse fields, generating financial models, genome sequences, and web search results alike. The pursuit of text prediction, I argue, prepared the conceptual terrain for predictive analytics as a distinct and pervasive form of knowledge work, where information could be unanchored from the demands of explanation. At the same time, it drove technical developments in natural language processing that were pivotal in making data “big,” transforming previously “unstructured” text into vast troves of computer-processable data used in modeling everything from cholera outbreaks to purchasing habits. Centering on two pivotal encounters between statistical modeling and text processing—first in speech recognition research beginning in the 1970s and then in text-mining in the 1990s—this project offers an account of how data processing became a means of not only transmitting, but also generating knowledge. By drawing out the history of its epistemic underpinnings, this research wrests data-driven analytics from the quarantine of technical inevitability, and highlights the sociotechnical arrangements in which such practices became not only technically feasible, but thinkable and desirable in the first place.

Far Corners of the Earth: A Media History of Logistics

Matthew Hockenberry

“Far Corners of the Earth” narrates the media history of logistics. In so doing, it follows the transformation of early forms of logistical media in order to historicize their impact on the development of decentralized manufacture and the arrangement of the productive apparatus over the prior two centuries. This argues for an understanding of logistics as a second-order operation, the optimization and encapsulation of networks already well understood. To this end, I examine the extent to which emergent mediators—sites like the warehouse, small shop, and factory; documents like the bill of lading, parts list, and catalogue—came to be inscribed within the pattern of production externalized by technologies of telecommunication like the telegraph, telephone, and telex.

In developing these accounts, I consider how these mediators circulated between actors as they engaged in historic debates about the nature of production. By reading media forms like advertisements, pamphlets, and reports not only as functional documents, but as emblems and spokes-things reinforcing particular patterns of association, these forms emerge as the very mechanisms defining emergent practices of manufacture and trade. They become not only the raw material for new patterns of association, but often the very means through which those associations became durable. By leveraging manufacturing networks into pathways for product distribution, some early twentieth century companies were able to marshal vast numbers of suppliers as sources for other businesses. For the readers of their supply catalogues or owners of their order books, this promised a singular point of origin for material needs. The incarnation of modern production that has followed from these promises arose not, I argue, from some “logistics revolution,” but rather from the steady march of these communication technologies as they formed new assemblies of assembly. Through the work of the telecommunication and electrical industries—the companies of the Bell System, electrical manufacturers like Western Electric, and nascent computing concerns like IBM—the language of logistics has, I argue, become ingrained within the mechanisms of modern mediation.

Fixing Identity: A Socio-Historical Analysis of State Practices of Identification Mediated Through Technologies of the Body

Travis Hall

This dissertation explores historical and social contexts through which governments employ technology to identify individuals through their bodies. It poses the question of why these programs are necessary and investigates the promise and limitations of these technologies' influence on policy and the relationships that they mediate. It does this by considering historical and contemporary identification programs: tattooing in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps during World War II, mobile fingerprint and iris scanning by the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000's, and the ongoing implementation of the Unique ID project in India. Through these case studies, I show how governmental programs that affect people as individuals, i.e. not merely affiliated with a group, class, or geographic location, require particular forms of identification. Further, in situations where the control and surveillance of individuals is at its peak (prisons, welfare systems, occupied territories), more stringent and innovate means of identification are deployed. Specifically, when forced to manage the anxiety of fluid identities, government officials reach for the stability of the material, i.e. bodies. The alluring yet elusive promise of perfect universal identification is one of the most pervasive and interesting characteristics of the policy discourse on modern identification. It is the disconnect between the promise of an ideal future and the technical failures of the present that allows the flexibility necessary for those tasked with governing to reconcile the messiness of reality with the abstract dictates of bureaucracy, while legitimizing these decisions in routine practice. Yet for those who are subjected to such programs, identification is a mixed blessing. With each identification transaction, there is a possibility that the individual is a fraud. In order to fight the chance of deception, the mechanisms of identification must be opaque to the very populace that they aim to make transparent. Instead of clarifying and simplifying the relationship between those who have legitimate claims on the state and the agencies set up to help or protect them, identity regimes create technological black boxes whose output is often a matter of life and death.

Freud's Jaw and Other Lost Objects: Psychoanalysis and the Subjectivity of Survival

This dissertation examines the psychic effects of cancer, in particular how cancer disrupts the security with which a body ordinarily feels coincident with the self. Using psychoanalytic theory and literary analysis of atypical pathographies, the study shows how cancer prompts a loss of feelings of unity, exposing the vulnerability of bodily integrity and agency. The thesis analyzes how three exemplary figures, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, poet Audre Lorde, and literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, grapple with life-threatening illness that is compounded with other violences to their identities, such as racism and homophobia. Cancer's destruction demands from each a creative response that mediates their relationship to morbidity and mortality. Freud's sixteen-year ordeal with a prosthetic jaw, the result of oral cancer, demonstrates the powers and failures of a prosthetic object in warding off physical and psychic fragmentation. Lorde's life writing reveals how losing a breast to cancer recapitulates the loss of the original "first object," the maternal breast, and the reassurance of wholeness and protection that it promises. Drawing on Lorde's critique of breast prostheses, I interpret the social pressure to reconstruct the absent breast as fetishistic. Sedgwick's memoir and breast cancer advice column function as explicitly reparative projects that seek to come to terms with impending death by disseminating a public discourse of love and pedagogy. I conclude by interrogating reparative efforts at the rival Freud Museums. In London, where Freud fled to "die in freedom," the analyst's possessions are mobilized to symbolically defy his death, while in Vienna, photographs taken prior to Freud's exile are recruited to compensate for the Museum's material and historical losses.

Affliction has the capacity to uncover knowledge that is typically repressed in quotidian existence, for instance, awareness of death's immanence in life. Psychoanalytic intervention clarifies problems that physical trauma can pose, which cut across the tenuous divide between the conscious and unconscious. I argue that the habitual threat to life forces the unconscious to become conscious, a process that is disconcertingly destabilizing and itself divisive. However, the prospect of imminent destruction paradoxically incites a creativity that I suggest is a requisite albeit inadequate reparative endeavor.

Homework and the Bedroom-Study: Work, Leisure and Communication Technology

Elizabeth Patton

(Home)work and the Bedroom-Study: Work, Leisure and Communication Technology, investigates the myth of the bedroom as a space of sex and privacy and the disruption of the myth through the introduction of communication technology. This project examines the bedroom as a site of work, although it is commonly associated with modern notions of what constitutes the private sphere. Privacy has historically been reflected in the separation of home and work, the private and public spheres, respectively. However, as I argue, the bedroom has always been a space where the line between public and private is blurred. This research examines representations of the bedroom (and its co-evolution with the study/home office) to argue that the bedroom has always been a space of work within the system of capitalism. Within the home, the bedroom is a key site for this intersection of leisure and work. In examining the bedroom as a social space, this project reveals how representations in popular culture of the bedroom depict persistent and shifting American ideologies about family life, class, gender, and the relationship between work and leisure and potentially challenges them. Furthermore, this research reveals how the production and design of the hybrid bedroom-study have helped alter and consequently reveal transformations in the meaning of leisure and work life. That practices of the bedroom-study reveal how media and communication technologies have transformed social and labor relations within and outside the home by undoing spatial divisions between the sites of leisure (formerly coded as unproductive by disregarding unpaid labor) and sites of work/labor. This research contributes to the interdisciplinary areas of cultural studies, communication and media studies by combining the social history of the bedroom and media studies to understand the influence of long-term social processes on the present and to determine connections between media, space, technological development, and structures of power. Specifically, this research examines the social organization of space as a site of ideological meaning, where markers of difference such as class and gender are contested, negotiated, and transformed, and the role of communication technologies in those processes.

Humanity's Publics: NGOs, Journalism, and the International Public Sphere

Matthew Powers

As legacy news outlets slash foreign news budgets, international NGOs have been discussed as sources of both promise and caution with respect to the future of foreign news - for journalists, for advocates and for citizens. To optimists, NGOs provide original, insightful reporting from neglected areas of the world. To skeptics, the influence of such groups augurs a worrisome conflation of the lines between advocacy and journalism, with deleterious consequences befalling both parties. This dissertation tests these competing claims by asking what the information work of NGOs is, what types of news coverage they support and whether NGOs expand or reinforce established patterns of international news attention. The dissertation puts forward three primary findings. First, NGO information work is neither singular nor shaped entirely by the preferences of the news media. Instead, both NGOs and news media are internally differentiated between elite and general public sectors and the international differentiations correspond to different relations across sectors - making interactions between elite-oriented NGOs and the prestige press much more likely than interactions, and vice versa. Second, different relationships between NGOs and news outlets shape different types of news coverage, including a policy/elite set of discussions conducted in the prestige press and oriented towards high-level decision-making; and also a discourse of donation and charity in search of potential donors. Third, the capacity of NGOs to live up to their stated missions of raising awareness of neglected parts of the world depends on where they seek publicity. A group's capacity to bring countries from outside the media spotlight into it is most likely to occur in the prestige press, not the broadcast media. The dissertation concludes by evaluating the normative implications of the research findings. If one sees the role of public communication as mediating between experts, the data provide room of cautious optimism. NGOs that align with the prestige press constitute a modest expansion of elites and allow for civil society perspectives to be articulated in elite discussions. If, however, one sees the role of NGOs as raising general public awareness of issues outside the media spotlight, the space for optimism diminishes greatly.

Hurricane Katrina: Visuality, Photography, and Representing a Crisis

This dissertation explores the ways in which the photography of Hurricane Katrina is informed by historical networks of representation and distribution through the strategies of visuality and countervisuality. Photography and visuality have a unique relationship, both in terms of the importance of both as a commodity, but also in that they both represent ideologies. In the case of post-Katrina photography, what emerged was my inquiry into the experience of the body, specifically the black body, in the circum Atlantic "new world" that was the United States and the unique subject position that the body occupies within the photographic archive.

Image Objects: An Archaeology of 3D Computer Graphics, 1965-1979

Jacob  Gaboury

Image Objects: An Archaeology of 3D Computer Graphics, 1965-1979  explores the early history of 3D computer graphics and visualization with a focus on the pioneering research center at the University of Utah. The University of Utah is one of the most significant sites in the history of computing, but has been largely neglected by historians and digital media scholars alike. From 1965-1979 almost all fundamental principals of modern computer graphics were developed by Utah graduates and faculty, many of whom went on to found some of the most important research and technical organizations of the past fifty years, including Adobe, Pixar, Netscape, and Atari. The project begins with this history, but looks to pull apart familiar narratives of invention and innovation by engaging the challenges and failures of early research into computer visualization. As such the project is organized around a set of technical and cultural objects of particular significance to the early history of graphics. Chapter One introduces the project and its research site and the University of Utah, discussing methods, archives, and the history of the Utah program. Chapter Two offers a meditation on questions of vision and visibility, structured around the development of the "hidden surface algorithm" for graphical display from 1965-1969. Chapter Three offers an analysis of memory and materiality through the lens of early graphics hardware, with a focus on the development of the first commercial framebuffer in 1973. Chapter Four investigates objects and ontology through an analysis of the "Utah Teapot", a famous graphical object standard developed in 1974 and used widely in contemporary software, film, and research demonstrations. Finally, Chapter Five offers an analysis of language and text through an exploration of the object-oriented paradigm first conceived by Alan Kay at the University of Utah. By looking to the first moments in which visual computing is made possible this project critiques popular narratives that view the digital image as an extension of earlier visual forms, arguing instead that the development of 3D interactive graphics marks the moment at which computer science develops a concern for ontology and the simulation of objects in the world. Ultimately the project seeks to make the familiar strange, offering a theory of the digital image that refuses a genealogy of the visible.

Imagining the Art Market

Paul Melton

Whereas many studies of the art market have focused on market participants and technologies, this study has taken as its object the ways in which popular portrayals of art market - the understandings they disclose - index the development of the neoliberal "regime of truth." In this regard, the study complements the literature on the artist / creative (and artistic / creative labor) as the model for neoliberal labor, precisely because the spheres of discourse analyzed - entertainment, education, and regulation - are vectors through which that model is disseminated. Surveying board games, reality television, investment manuals, graduate education, and legal battles, the dissertation charts a wide array of attempts to inscribe (or prescribe) neoliberal rationality - its reducation of the social to competition, of knowledge to action-oriented calculation, and of being to invested human capital - in the art market and, importantly, their failures. In theorizing those failures, the dissertation seeks to illuminate the very limits of neoliberal rationality and its concomitant subject formation and, thus, point toward potential for resistance and advance the rethinking both our governing forms of reason but the subject itself.

Listening Intently: Towards a Critical Media Theory of Ethical Listening

Jessica Feldman

This dissertation considers how advances in the surveillance of cell phone data, decentralized mobile networks, and vocal affective monitoring software are changing the ways in which listening exerts power and frames social and political possibilities. The low- and middle-level design limitations and broad implementations of these communication media frame cultural circumstances in terms of what kinds of emotional expressions and social relations are both perceptible and acceptable. The first chapter looks at recent and contemporary software that seeks to identify emotions in the acoustic voice by ignoring words and instead measuring quantifiable parameters of sound. The design of these algorithms shows a change in their conception of the human emotional system as they evolve from truth-telling to predictive machines. The chapter views this techno-psychological shift as the enactment of an emerging mode of surveillance, which serves the risk economy by claiming to predict subjects’ behavior by coding and categorizing their emotional motivations. The second chapter traces the development and global dissemination of cell phone surveillance programs. Here, the research draws on declassified white papers, interviews, and legal scholarship to make a “fear-based standing” argument against ex-ante mass surveillance, showing how the capture and storage of real-time communications can cause low-level psychological trauma, and how the chilling effect obstructs political progress and experimentation. The third chapter considers non-hierarchical models for listening, consensus, and community governance, as practiced in the “movements of the squares”, together with a handful of emerging, but marginally adopted, circumvention apps and peer-to- peer networking tools that these movements developed in order to overcome blocking and surveillance. It concludes that these social movements experimented with autonomous zones of horizontal connectivity, but failed to sustain themselves in part because of a lack of resilient communications infrastructures to mirror and facilitate their politics. The fourth chapter is a whitepaper outlining the requirements elicitation for the amidst project, an ad-hoc peer-to- peer decentralized network for mobile devices, which is a collaboration between the author and three engineers. This project proposes a remedy to the critiques of surveillance, blocking, and infrastructural weakness elucidated throughout previous chapters.

Making Brooklyn Local: The Politics of Nostalgia in the Postindustrial City

Kari Hensley

This dissertation explores localism through a variety of lenses. It primarily examines Brooklyn's local, artisanal food movement and the branding of Brooklyn, and also looks at early localist tendencies in the borough as well as the early food movement in California. It positions the localism movement as a cultural response to globalization and the post-industrialism. This project is not only about food and branding but about how nostalgia for the late nineteenth or early twentieth century becomes the primary form of these post-industrial practices. Once a major port and industrial sector and renown for its village-like ethnic neighborhoods, Brooklyn has responded to an economic imperative and transitioned into a post-industrial economy. Its population and neighborhoods have dynamically transformed, largely due to immigrants and rising real estate prices. While the borough's economy is no longer based on a producerist model, there has been a ground-swell of efforts to reverse the trend of globalization by creating small-scale, "local" food networks and to "return" to a kind of pre-industrial mode of food production, whether in practice or in aesthetics. In Brooklyn, part of one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world, the local food movement has emerged in tandem with an ethos and aesthetic of craftwork, in part, as a response to shift from manufacturing and manual labor to a service economy where much work is considered "immaterial." This dissertation explores pre-branded forms of localism in Brooklyn: the rise and decline of industry and shipping in Brooklyn and the history of its neighborhoods and ethnic groups. It traces the rise of conscious locavore practices nationally, internationally, and in Brooklyn. It interrogates the politics of the local food movement, through discourses and practices of localism and of craftwork within the milieu what has been called "New Brooklyn Cuisine," a subgenre of American Cuisine that has a particular century-old, rustic aesthetic. Finally, this dissertation analyzes Brooklyn's turn to branding and destination marketing to be economically competitive in the global economy, efforts which are equally steeped in nostalgia for a Brooklyn of yore. What is at stake here, in each case, is the question of urban authenticity.

Objectivity in an Age of Dissensus: Mainstream U.S. News in the Context of Fragmentation, Pluralism, and Polarization, 1958-2009

Sarah Stonbely

This dissertation is about how mainstream U.S. news has responded to three major developments in latter-twentieth century American culture and politics: the fragmentation of the journalistic field after the uptake of cable television and the Internet, the greater acceptance of pluralism after the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the polarization of U.S. politics, beginning in the early 1980s. These three developments, I argue, were pivotal in re-shaping the public sphere from one where relatively few voices and viewpoints prevailed, to one where a greater diversity of voices and viewpoints are considered legitimate, thereby increasing the instances in which no one narrative becomes widely accepted as "truth;" or, stated differently, decreasing the salience of issues or ideas on which a broad majority of Americans are in agreement. This dissertation finds that mainstream news, with its mandate of objectivity, has increasingly imposed its own logic on a socio-political world with multiple, often conflicting, voices, while at the same time working to defend against successful challenges to the very institutions on which its own legitimacy rests. As such it highlights the historical contingency of the practice of journalistic objectivity - how it is indelibly marked by its formation in the crucible of the liberal-centrist twentieth century - and shows how "objective" news has adapted to the epistemological challenges posed by a pluralist and partisan political sphere.

Red Gold: On the Global Politics of Regulating Marine Life

Jennifer Telesca

Canned and worth pennies a half century ago, a single bluefin tuna sold at auction in Tokyo for a record $1.7 million in January 2013. Global demand for the planet's best sushi has fueled the environmentalists' concern that the prized bluefin--what industry insiders call "red gold"--is on the brink of extinction. At the same time, nation states have agreed to protect it and other animals on the high seas through the policies adopted by the treaty body known as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Because marine life has plummeted under ICCAT's watch since its inception some four decades ago, this dissertation asks: what is ICCAT achieving, if not its advertised purpose to conserve sea creatures? This ethnographic study illuminates environmental diplomacy in action, and takes the supply of the high-profile Atlantic bluefin tuna as material to explain how the oceans are governed, by whom, for whom and according to what values and logics. Based on time-series data collected over three years, it shows in situ that ICCAT is entangled in a larger universe of international lawmaking, economic development, statecraft, civil society and fisheries science--all to master very mobile things of nature. The dissertation advances three primary findings. First, red gold and ICCAT co-produced one another, and did so under pressure from the environmentalists and from encroaching international legal instruments. As delegates safeguard the survival of red gold for the export markets of ICCAT signatories, red gold ensures ICCAT's importance in the emergent field of ocean governance. Second, two bets organize ICCAT's regulatory action. In the game of marine conservation, delegates worry about the net total of the export quota. Yet in the game of economic development, member states seek to grow their share of the pie. Conservation is calibrated to supplying the market for economic growth, not to creating an ocean full of fish. Third, as delegates aspire to control the supply of red gold, ICCAT proclaims its empire too: today member states assert their sovereignty by demonstrating their good standing in supra-national regulatory regimes, even when a meeting's outcome does not satisfy their interests.

Retreat: Hurricane Sandy, Home Buyouts, and the Future of Coastal Cities

Elizabeth Koslov

This dissertation explores the social and cultural dimensions of urban climate change adaptation through an ethnographic study of “managed retreat.” As storms grow stronger and sea levels rise, one response is to move away from certain places entirely, to “retreat” by relocating people, clearing land, and restricting future development. Research in urban and environmental studies consistently shows the devastating impacts of forced relocation; however, climate change is now rendering some places increasingly vulnerable – even uninhabitable. What are the social, political, and cultural consequences of these changes? How do individuals and communities mediate bodies of knowledge about climate change, risk, and vulnerability in ways that are in tension with government policies meant to alleviate those risks? Who decides when it is time to retreat, and how does this form of collective movement reshape the urban landscape and everyday life? While managed retreat is conventionally understood as a top-down process, this dissertation charts the rise of communities organizing from the bottom-up to enlist government support to move. It draws on fieldwork over four years in the New York City borough of Staten Island, where residents mobilized in favor of retreat after Hurricane Sandy, lobbying the government to buy out their damaged houses and return their neighborhoods to wetlands rather than rebuilding. It shows how this mobilization for retreat emerged and spread, analyzes the conflicting government responses to residents’ demands, and explores the fraught determination of which places are sufficiently at risk to be permanently un-built. Examining the paradoxical process of a community organizing to disperse itself, the dissertation argues that retreat is not the direct result of individual decisions or objective measures of imminent danger but rather is mediated by social and cultural dynamics, government policies, and contested technologies of representing risk. Understanding the lived experience of retreat on Staten Island, where moving away from the waterfront came to mean, for many, an empowering act of personal sacrifice for the greater good, but was ultimately only possible for a select few, lends insight into the complexities of responding to climate change in ways that are both environmentally sustainable and socially just.

Sounding Western: Frontier Aurality, Tourism, and Heritage Production in South Dakota's Black Hills

Jennifer Heuson

This dissertation explores how heritage experiences are made and managed through sound in one of the most sacred, contested, and popular tourist regions in the United States. Located in western South Dakota, the Black Hills are home to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials, the town of Deadwood, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and the site of Wounded Knee, an enduring symbol of cultural genocide. Tourism is big business in South Dakota, and like elsewhere in the American West, it relies upon producing experiences that draw heavily from frontier histories and mythologies. Based on a production-centered sound ethnography conducted over four summers and drawing on the approaches of sound studies, media and affect theory, and historical and cultural analysis, this dissertation argues that the aural modes used to produce frontier experience in the region are the most crucial and under theorized aspects of tourist production.

The dissertation traces frontier and tourist myths to a shared belief in the material emplacement of future transformation, arguing that tourism is an extractive industry built upon the methods and infrastructures of earlier resource-based industries. It outlines a conceptual frame for understanding how sound, noise, and silence are used to produce frontier experience and showing how aural relations between silent nature, noisy technology, and sounded culture are naturalized. It investigates the forms of hearing, listening, and sound making that work to solidify the region as an experiential artifact of the originary conquest of the American West. Finally, it explores how regional Lakota and non-Lakota producers negotiate frontier aural productions and politics. Ultimately, this dissertation articulates how audibility is constructed along racial lines as a form of heritage. Through the aural stances enacted at tourist venues in the Black Hills, Lakota peoples and lands are consistently exploited and colonized. They are protected as valuable, spiritual silences and made inaudible by the noise and sound of technological processes. These processes, in turn, shape non-natives as active participants in sounded culture. This dissertation thus argues that frontier aural productions have profound consequences for the future cultural, political, and economic sovereignty of Lakota peoples.

Stand-Up Comedy in the Biomedicalization Era: Negotiating the Ideological Production of Health

In the last forty to fifty years, stand-up comedy has emerged as a site where anxieties about health, illness, death, and dying are negotiated. Part of a proliferation of health discourses beyond clinical spaces and encounters between physicians and patients, stand-up comedy and stand-up comedians participate in the construction of new publics and practices that reflect changes in how health, responsibility, and health risk are acted on at the intersection of biomedicine and culture. Stand-up comedy is at once deployed to communicate the moral imperative of and resistance to idealized notions of responsible patienthood in the present-day United States. Drawing on biomedicalization theory, this dissertation examines how the emergence of stand-up comedy in our health discourse reflects critical changes to how we talk about illness and loss, and how we understand health as a personal, moral responsibility. Defining ‘health’ in the United States today is as much about ideology as it is about well-being. From the imperative to be positive and cheerful in the so-called culture of ‘cancer survivorship’ to the targeting of high-risk racial minorities through coded signifiers of race and difference, the language we use to talk about health and illness is deeply constrained. This dissertation examines three key sites where stand-up comedy participates in this ideological negotiation: illness narratives performed by professional comedians, self-help organizations that promote ‘therapeutic humor’ as a care of the self, and public service announcements that use stand-up comedy to inculcate self-surveillance behaviors within high-risk target populations. Employing discourse analysis and an ethnography that includes participant-observation and semi-structured interviews, I examine how and why stand-up comedy emerged as an important site of inquiry for the cultural study of health.

Stand-up comedy has long functioned as a bastion for the transgression of cultural taboos. I am interested in what the emergence of stand-up comedy in our health discourse uncovers about how we talk about illness experiences, and how that is changing. I argue that these emergent practices reveal a profound discomfort in addressing the lived experiences of illness, death, and dying in frank terms. Further, I argue that the ideological production of health in the present-day United States frames the ‘ideal patient’ as an active and responsible consumer of biomedical knowledge sources while simultaneously and aradoxically restricting the languages we use to talk about pain and loss in public. Located at the intersection of science and technology studies (STS) and the cultural study of health, my dissertation explores the cleavages between these efforts, and considers what the utilization of stand-up comedy on both sides of this divide reveals about how we understand health and the experience of illness in the twenty-first century.

Substance and Mediation: Towards a Critical Hylomorphic Metaphysics of Media

Aaron Pedinotti

Recent years have seen a significant revival of interest in Aristotle's hylomorphic philosophy among intellectual historians and philosophers working in both the analytic and continental traditions. This dissertation applies the diverse conceptual outgrowths of these contemporary engagements with Aristotelian thought to the study of media and mediation. This objective is pursued in three distinct but related ways. In its first three chapters, which are primarily theoretical in nature, the project develops a hylomorphic metaphysical system that centers upon the motif of mediation. In its fourth and fifth chapter, which are focused on empirical content, it applies this system to the analysis of multi-modal texts and products of the current media landscape. Throughout both of these broad sections, the project also develops and demonstrates a uniquely critical approach to hylomorphic thought, one which fuses modified Aristotelian concepts with post-Marxist approaches to cultural studies. Taken together, Chapters 1-3 incorporate a number of influences from Aristotle and other, more contemporary thinkers into its metaphysical system. Chapter 4 then carries out the first empirical application of the project's metaphysical system through an analysis of the contemporary media phenomenon known as "Game of Thrones." Engaging in a technical demonstration of the theoretical apparatus' relevance to actual media products, this chapter applies the ideas that are developed in Chapters 2 and 3. While building on the empirical demonstrations of Chapter 4, Chapter 5 focusses more extensively on the critical applications of the project's metaphysical scheme. Applying the method developed in the previous chapter to the famous real-time strategy videogame entitled StarCraft, this chapter analyzes the manner in which the game mediates specific elements of Cold War-era defense ideation and military-industrial economics. The conclusion then summarizes the arguments and findings, and proposes further applications.

That Sognal Feeling: Emotion and Interaction Design from Smartphones to the "Anxious Seat"

Charles Luke Stark

This dissertation examines how computational interaction design has been influenced by theories of emotion drawn from the psychological sciences, and argues that the contemporary field of interaction design would be impossible without the developments in psychology that allowed human emotions to be understood as orderable and classifiable. Interaction design, or the process by which digital media are created and modified for human use, has grappled with theories of human emotion since its inception in the early 1980s. The project examines how the longer histories of psychology and psychiatry have changed conceptualizations of emotion in relation to cognition and behavior, and how shifts in these theories have shaped the development of a burgeoning array of digital tools for tracking and managing human emotions. Examining the continuum of humans and machines desired and configured by individuals throughout this history, the project explores how these subject identities, both imagined and made, have reflected broader changes in the exercise of social power and authority. The research draws on materials from several archives, including newspaper reports; the published works and archival materials of psychologists and computer science researchers; materials from the West Coast Computer Faire tradeshow in the late 1970s; interviews with designers; and psychological texts and textbooks. Alongside a design assessment of smartphone apps for mood tracking grounded in Values in Design (VID) scholarship, the project deploys historical, philosophical, and qualitative methods, including close reading and discursive and thematic analysis. The key mechanism for understanding emotion's role in digital media design is the drive to make human feelings both technically ordinal and scalable. Through these conceptual mechanisms, human feelings have become increasingly classifiable not only horizontally as different categorical types, but also hierarchically in ways that differentiate and assign value to the emotions and moods of individuals in relation to a larger mass of data. Accomplished through both natural and symbolic language, these mechanisms combine qualitative and quantitative modes of classification, enabling sociotechnical phenomena ranging from personal applications for digital mood tracking to the analysis of emotional "Big Data" by social media platforms.

The Documentary Debates: Censorship, Protest, and Film Festival Publics in Contemporary India

Tilottama Karlekar

This dissertation is an ethnographic study of the socio-political and economic contexts, ideologies, and activism of documentary filmmaking in post Nehruvian India. Focusing on documentary filmmakers' rejection of state-sponsored documentary canons, their critiques of state, cultural, and economic institutions, and their battles against censorship, this ethnography links documentary's legacy of political activism to the far-reaching social and political transformations of post-liberalization India. In doing so, it asks: in what ways does the social world of documentary film open up new possibilities for political engagement and social transformation? And, how do documentary filmmakers reimagine and reinterpret discourses about the national public sphere and citizenship in India in a time of "globalization?"

The dissertation engages documentary filmmakers' battles against censorship amidst the vast expansion of documentary film festivals and screening spaces in the early twenty first century. Focusing on the Campaign against Censorship, in which filmmakers directly confronted the state over the censorship of their films, it explores the ways in which the "censorship debates" among filmmakers foregrounded questions of activist ideologies, form, and the aesthetics of political filmmaking. These questions were inextricably linked with histories in which documentary filmmaking has been deployed within "nation-building" projects and as activist tools in social movements in postcolonial India. I show how this legacy continues to define documentary film, even as filmmakers attempt to rearticulate and question these histories in the context of shifts in markets, audiences, and technologies that redefined the terrain of political activism in post-liberalization India.

Even as collective action on censorship stalled amidst internal dissensions, these critical debates took vital, material form within the rapid proliferation of documentary film festivals in the country. The new festival spaces marked the emergence of "documentary publics," critical counterpublics that, I argue, represented a distinctly alternative political formation in the context of the forces of religious nationalism and globalizing consumerism that have defined India's post Nehruvian public sphere. Converging through multiple, divergent screening histories, these publics embodied a social imagination based on ideals of collectivity, inclusiveness, and an abiding ethical commitment, and marked the unpredictable borders of political possibility in contemporary India.

The Dying Patient, The Invincible Mouse and Tumor Media: Representation of Cancer Research at the Human-Animal Crossroads

Cancer is no longer just one entity. In fact, advances in genetic sciences reframe our understanding of the disease(s) and shape how cancers will be treated in the future. These new developments highlight the importance of the genetic make-up of each individual. The quest is not to find a cure, but to devise personalized solutions. Based on a multi-sited ethnography, the dissertation describes the network amongst patients, scientists, institutions, and animals in the rush to find cures for cancers. It is concerned with understanding moments of mediation and mediatization of cancer research that identify cultural transformations around the understanding and representation of the disease. This interdisciplinary dissertation first identifies the field of cancer studies historically. It then, explores the role of Jackson Laboratory and mice in the creation of a new imaginary of cancer. Next, it describes the rise of the field of personalized medicine, which needs mice to see, understand, and ultimately cure cancers. Created and trademarked at the Jackson Library in Bar Harbor, ME, avatar mice are engineered to host human tumors on their bodies. These mice allow researchers to test drugs and to attempt to see and understand the patient’s tumor on these through a new lens, the animals themselves. My research describes these advances in cancer research and comments on theories of posthumanism, avatarity, virtuality, and actuality. An examination of Jackson Library’s self-promotion shows how this particular institution presents itself as a genomic medicine center and self-identifies as a defining site of future cures of cancer. I observe the interplay between mediatization and biomedicalization by examining promotional materials at the laboratory, and conclude with a consideration of the role of affect for animal/products of the laboratory. Here animals are sold as media technologies and made part of scopic regimes. My exploration for for-profit mice sales, introduces the notion of bioaffect to make sense of the constant state of exception that such laboratory mice live under. Overall this dissertation presents a platform by which questions about biopolitics, affect, animality and bioethics are posed and argues for the importance of a media studies approach to the study of cancer.

Up Against the Real: Anti-representational Militancy in 1960s New York

Nadja Millner-Larsen

This dissertation traces the history of anarchist anti-art collectives Group Center, Black Mask and Up Against the Wall/Motherfucker, active on the Lower East Side of New York City between 1961 and 1969. Group Center organized art exhibitions, lectures and jazz shows and Black Mask produced an eponymous Dada-influenced broadside and participated widely in anti-war agitation. Eventually taking the name Up Against the Wall/Motherfucker, the group ran crash pads, neighborhood watch brigades and a local free store. These groups also persistently performed actions against the art world, including protests against the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, and even the New York School poets. This dissertation argues that such protests were aimed at the institutionalization of culture, but also at the very logic of representation. Situating Group Center and Black Mask's early aesthetic experimentalism as central to the formation of their anti-representationalism, the dissertation follows these groups' collaborations with the artist Aldo Tambellini on a series of "electromedia" performances that addressed the rise of Black Liberation within abstract form. In addition, the dissertation traces the connections between these collectives and a broad range of art practices in which they were engaged, including televisual art, a nascent "expanded cinema" scene, Intermedia, art practices surrounding Judson Memorial Church, a radical theater scene surrounding the anarchist Living Theatre, early Minimalism and the Black Arts Movement. Alongside this cultural history, the dissertation follows these groups' relationships to the politics of numerous contemporaneous leftist groups including New York Anarchists, the Situationist International, Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Power movement and Radical Feminism. While the groups that form the core of this study eventually rejected art practice in favor of "the real" of on-the-ground activism, I argue that the negotiations between politics and form entailed by their earlier aesthetic experimentalism were constitutive of the anti-representational politics they would later embody. Operating at the intersection of aesthetic and political avant-gardes, Group Center, Black Mask and Up Against the Wall/Motherfucker have resisted historical legibility because they maintained an ambivalent relationship to the era's prevailing "new social movements" as well as most institutionalized art movements. This project thus aims to open out this "minor history" to a broad range of influences in order to show how the extremity of these groups' anti-representational militancy was no mere aberration from the modernist project, but rather, an attempt to push the avant-gardist protest against the separation between art and life to its limits, and beyond.

Value-able Circuitries: An Examination of Human Values Embedded in Commercial Video Game Design

Kyle Rentschler

Over the past decade, video games have been commercially substantiated as a mass medium, addressing an increasingly broad audience. With the sudden explosion of mobile platforms and social network games, hundreds of millions of users now play video games. Yet, it seems few industry developers pay heed to the impact video games have on the day-to-day lives of their players, as they continue to design games primarily for economic profit. As both media and technology, however, video games are imbued with ethical, political, and social values expressed through the various components of the games themselves.

In this dissertation, I seek to examine how these human values are expressed in video games by focusing on four layers of the video game: rules, fiction, platform, and kinesthetic. By negotiating how each of these layers is expressive of human values, I explain how video games are capable of uniquely communicating ethics and politics through the intricacies of their complex design, including the more commonly analyzed sites of the visual, aural, and narrative, as well as rule sets, code, and input mechanisms. In my case studies on melodrama, proceduralized gender, and gunplay, I also examine some of values communicated by popular industry video games thus far, understanding what values and ideologies these seemingly frivolous media artifacts operate by and communicate in toto.

Vaudevillian Returns: Space, Community and Economy in Post-millennial Theater Cultures

James Stanley

This dissertation examines several contemporary East Coast theater projects that, in pursuit of individual communitarian missions, self-consciously evoke "populist" cultural forms of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, namely vaudeville, Chautauqua, and American folk music. Through a series of case studies, I explore how contemporary cultural practices emerge from a precarious encounter between modernist aesthetics and various technical, social, and economic pressures, from the rise of digital recording and processing technologies to shifts in local real-estate markets to the changing priorities of funding agencies. Combining ethnographic and archival research with practice-based research attained in the field of theatrical production as playwright performer and theatrical producer, I argue that these contemporary creative communities try, and ultimately fail, to overcome the contradictions of post-millennial cultural production through a return to traditional forms. To the extent to which they do succeed, however, they do so by consciously looking past romantic and ideological notions of "community" to the material practices and social processes that constitute historical change. This work, then, contributes to account of American theater history attuned less to movements, canons, stars and spectacles than to the challenges of participatory action and the necessity of historical memory within the extended moment of American neoliberalism.

Ph.D. in Information and Media

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The interdepartmental Information and Media Ph.D. Program prepares students to become scholars, teachers and leaders. Three highly ranked academic units of MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences participate in the academic training: the Department of Advertising + Public Relations , the School of Journalism and the Department of Media and Information .

Our Program

We invite you to join an exciting interdisciplinary field of study at the intersection of the social sciences, humanities, and technology. We develop and apply transformative knowledge about all media systems, society and evolving information and communication technologies. This STEM designated program (09.0702 Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia) engages students to become leaders in academia, government, and industry in the media and information fields.

Our approach is multidisciplinary, combining faculty members with degrees in communication, advertising, public relations, journalism, economics, information studies, sociology, law, marketing and computer science, all pursuing teaching and research opportunities in three participating departments.

Benefits to an interdisciplinary program vs. a traditional program

  • Students are exposed to a wider range of theories and schools of thought which facilitates complex problem solving from multiple perspectives
  • Students gain a broader toolkit of research methods and analytical tools, including both quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Enhances communication skills because students learn the “language” of multiple disciplines

Ph.D. Ranking

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QS World University rankings place MSU 9th in the world and 6th in the U.S. in communication and media studies. The National Communication Association (NCA), in their most recent doctoral program reputation study, ranked MSU’s Ph.D. programs as No. 1 in educating researchers in communication technology, and in the top four in mass communication. Michigan State University ranked third in frequency of faculty publication in communication in a study reported in The Electronic Journal of Communication in 2012.

Faculty Research Areas

Faculty in the three participating departments have complementary skills and research interests. Students typically participate in one or more research groups and design a dissertation to take advantage of the interdisciplinary environment offered by the program. Research in our departments currently focuses on the following areas:

Advertising + Public Relations

  • Media Psychology and Persuasion
  • Neuroscience and Social Influence
  • International Advertising and Public Relations
  • Effects of Media on Child and Family Development
  • Political Communication
  • Social Media and Advertising
  • Media Sociology
  • International and Comparative Media systems
  • Visual Communication
  • Science, Health, Environment, and Crisis Communication
  • News Content and Effects

Media and Information

  • Social Media and Social Computing
  • Human-computer Interaction, Games and Meaningful Play
  • Management Info System (policy and economics)
  • Health (media, ICT and development)

Learn more about the collaborative labs and learning spaces in our college

We're focused on many different areas of research, doctoral students and their work, gain insight into their studies, see what the students have been up to, here's where our doctoral students are working now.

Additional information about the Information and Media Ph.D. program may be obtained from:

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Patricia Huddleston, Ph.D. Information and Media Ph.D. Program Director [email protected] (517) 353-9907 College of Communication Arts and Sciences 404 Wilson Road, Room 304 Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan 48824

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Getting PR after graduating from a master’s or PhD program as an international student

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It may now be easier for students who come to Canada for a master’s or Ph.D. program to obtain permanent residence (PR).

On February 15, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) enacted a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) policy that was first announced on January 22 as one of many changes coming to Canada’s international student system.

This policy now means that international student graduates of master's degree programs at Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) – the only post-secondary institutions authorized by IRCC to accept international students – are eligible for a three-year PGWP . This is true even for students studying in master's programs that are two years or less in length.

Discover your options to study in Canada

Note: Before February 15, the validity period of a PGWP for master's students was directly correlated to the length of the program of study.

How does this make it easier to obtain PR in Canada?

The value of a PGWP lies in that it allows international student graduates to work in Canada once they complete a PGWP-eligible program at a DLI.

This Canadian work experience is valuable to those who later intend to pursue PR because many of Canada’s immigration pathways either require or reward such experience.

For example, Canada’s popular Express Entry application management system, which prioritizes a candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, rewards candidates with a minimum of 80* additional CRS points for work experience acquired in Canada before they apply for PR.

*This point value is for Express Entry candidates without a spouse or common-law partner under the Core/Human Capital Factors section of the Express Entry system. Candidates in other circumstances, such as those applying alongside their spouse/partner, may receive a different number of CRS points.

Therefore, this expanded PGWP policy will make it easier for eligible students to obtain PR because it allows them more time to acquire valuable Canadian work experience, which they can then use on their immigration application.

Other ways IRCC makes it easier for master's and PhD students to immigrate to Canada

Express Entry’s CRS system rewards higher education

Further to the value of a master's or Ph.D. for Canadian immigration, the Express Entry CRS system rewards higher levels of education.

Specifically, students with master's and Ph.D. degrees are rewarded with the two highest CRS scores under “level of education” by the Express Entry system.

  • Master’s students: 126 points with a spouse/common-law partner; 135 points without
  • Ph.D. students: 140 points with a spouse/common-law partner; 150 points without

Simply, more CRS points gives candidates a better chance of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian PR.

Many provinces/territories have dedicated Provincial Nominee Program streams for Masters/PhD students

Students who obtain either a master's or Ph.D. degree in Canada also open themselves up to various additional Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams.

Note: 11 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, excluding Quebec and Nunavut, operate a PNP

This is because many of Canada’s top newcomer destination provinces, including Ontario and British Columbia, operate specific streams for students who graduate from these programs. More information on some of these PNP streams is available at the links below.

Ontario: Ontario Masters Graduate Stream and Ontario Ph.D. Graduate Stream

British Columbia: International Post-Graduate Category

Manitoba: Graduate Internship Pathway

More information on Canada’s PNPs can be found here .

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List of Shortlisted Candidates for PhD Programmes (NOT in Order of Merit)

  • The candidates in the lists below have been shortlisted for PhD programmes. These candidates will now be invited for interview.
  • Individual letters will be sent by email to all shortlisted candidates on Monday 3rd May 2023 for further instructions.
  • • Any candidate whose name appears in the list of shortlisted candidates but has not received email should write to us at [email protected].
  • Candidates not included in the lists below are not being considered for interview.

International Programs

Ui student alex bezahler earns prestigious boren fellowship to georgia.

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Alex Bezahler , a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Iowa, has been awarded a 2024 David L. Boren Fellowship to study Georgian and conduct fieldwork in Tbilisi, Georgia , next year.   

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania     Degree: PhD candidate in political science  

Were there experiences at Iowa that inspired your decision to pursue a Boren?     Working with the International Programs office inspired me to pursue a Boren, since they made me aware of it and the benefits of doing such a fellowship. While exploring fellowships to spend a year conducting research abroad, the Boren stood out to me because of its focus on language studies and national security. Finally, the federal service requirement was exciting to me because I have worked for the government in the past and found the work environment to be interesting.  

What drew you to your language studies?     For my dissertation, I am planning on interviewing policy experts and government officials. To do this, I want to have a basic understanding of Georgian so that I can navigate the country. Languages also offer great insight into a country’s history and culture. Being able to speak basic Georgian will allow me to order food, ask for directions, and greet people in their own language, which will bring me closer to the country.  

How do you foresee this influencing your future career?     The Boren has a requirement for federal service, so I anticipate working in the federal sector, at least for a few years. Since I am also interested in a career as an academic, I hope that my federal service will inform my ability to teach students with real-world examples of political science in action.  

What excites you most about spending a year in your host country?    Aside from learning Georgian, I am excited to eat Georgian food and to explore the country. As someone who enjoys the outdoors, Georgia is an incredible country for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. Finally, I am looking forward to learning more about the country’s history by visiting the numerous monasteries and ancient buildings that dot the countryside.  

Do you have professors or mentors you'd like to thank?    My two co-advisors have been especially helpful in mentoring me: Elise Pizzi and Marina Zaloznaya . Bill Reisinger and Sara Mitchell from my department were also incredibly helpful during my fellowship application cycle.  

The Boren Fellowships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.   


International Programs  (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.

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International Programs at the University of Iowa supports the right of all individuals to live freely and to live in peace. We condemn all acts of violence based on race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and perceived national or cultural origin. In affirming its commitment to human dignity, International Programs strongly upholds the values expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights .  

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Kazakhstan arrests ex-interior minister in connection with unrest that left 238 dead

FILE - A police car on fire as riot police prepare to stop protesters in the center of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Authorities in Kazakhstan have arrested a former interior minister in connection with deadly unrest that gripped the country in 2022, Kazakh news media reported Tuesday April 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov, File)

FILE - A police car on fire as riot police prepare to stop protesters in the center of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Authorities in Kazakhstan have arrested a former interior minister in connection with deadly unrest that gripped the country in 2022, Kazakh news media reported Tuesday April 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov, File)

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Authorities in Kazakhstan arrested a former interior minister on Tuesday, in connection with deadly police crackdown on unrest that gripped the country in 2022, Kazakh news media reported.

The Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Monday that Erlan Turgumbayev was detained on charges of “abuse of power and official authority resulting in grave consequences” in the harsh crackdown of riots by the police. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is in charge of the nation’s police force.

The unrest started in the city of Zhanaozen on Jan. 2, 2022, when residents protested a sharp increase in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas, commonly used as fuel for vehicles in Kazakhstan.

Those protests evolved into criticisms of corruption, economic inequality against former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose critics say have been profiting off the country’s vast energy wealth ever since assuming office in 1991.

Nazarbayez resigned from the presidency in 2019 but still held substantial power at the time of the protests as head of the Kazakhstan’s security council.

In Almaty, the country’s largest city, protests turned violent and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev issued shoot-to-kill orders as demonstrators stormed government buildings. Officials said 238 people were killed in the unrest.

This June 2017 photo provided by Aitbek Amangeldy shows a selfie taken by his sister, Saltanat Nukenova, in Astana, Kazakhstan. Her husband, former economics minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, is standing trial in her November 2023 death – a case that has riveted the Central Asian country and boosted awareness of domestic violence. (Courtesy of Aitbek Amangeldy via AP)

Tokayev then pushed an array of reforms, including limiting the presidency to a single seven-year term. He also removed Nazarbayev as head of the security council and the capital city, which had been named Nur-Sultan in Nazarbayev’s honor, reverted to its former name of Astana.

Turgumbayev was relieved of duty a month after the unrest.

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Mediawan CEO Pierre-Antoine Capton to Receive Variety’s International Visionary Award

By Elsa Keslassy

Elsa Keslassy

International Correspondent

  • Mediawan CEO Pierre-Antoine Capton to Receive Variety’s International Visionary Award 1 day ago
  • Cinderella Tale Gets Horror Comedy Twist With ‘The Ugly Stepsister’; Memento International Boards Sales (EXCLUSIVE) 1 day ago
  • Mediawan Acquires Leading German Production-Distribution Group Leonine (EXCLUSIVE) 2 days ago


Mediawan CEO Pierre-Antoine Capton is set to receive Variety’s International Visionary Award at the Cannes Film Festival where the company will have multiple films playing across the Official Selection.

The award will pay tribute to Capton’s trailblazing track record at the helm of Mediawan, the company he founded with investment banker Mathieu Pigasse and telecom billionaire Xavier Niel in late 2015. Mediawan is now a global production powerhouse encompassing more than 85 labels around the world, having just announced its acquisition of Leonine, a leading German distribution-production company.

Popular on Variety

“Pierre-Antoine Capton’s direction and vision have transformed Mediawan into one of the world’s leading production companies,” says Michelle Sobrino, CEO and Variety Group Publisher. “Mediawan’s artistic and commercial success continues with their large Cannes Film Festival presence this year, as well as the international achievements of franchises like ‘Miraculous’ and ‘Call My Agent!’ and box office wins for movies like ‘Bob Marley: One Love.'”

During a wide-ranging interview with Variety on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival, Capton said he’s “always been guided and passionate about content.” “It’s the focus that has set Mediawan and my productions companies apart. We’re not guided by finance nor investor-dictated strategies,” says Capton.

Variety will present the award to Capton at an exclusive event hosted during the Cannes Film Festival, on May 16.

Capton was named Knight of the Legion of Honor by French President  Emmanuel Macron  during a ceremony held at the Elysée Palace in Paris in October.

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K-State graduate students named Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation fellows

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

MANHATTAN — The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society, has selected two Kansas State University graduate students as 2024 Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation fellows . Sachin Dhanda, doctoral student in agronomy, Hisar, India , and Chase Spears, doctoral student in leadership communication, Lansing , are two of only 15 students to receive the award. The $10,000 fellowships support active Phi Kappa Phi members in the dissertation writing stage of doctoral study. Dhanda and Spears were selected based on several criteria, including how the fellowship will contribute to the completion of the dissertation, the significance of original research and endorsement by the dissertation chair. "We are very excited for Sachin and Chase to receive the Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation fellowships," said Shawna Jordan, president of the K-State Phi Kappa Phi chapter. "They continue a legacy of students from Kansas State University receiving this fellowship to continue their education." Dhanda's dissertation research is focused on understanding the extent of multiple herbicide resistance among kochia populations across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, he will develop integrated weed management strategies for controlling herbicide-resistant kochia and Palmer amaranth in the no-till dryland production system. Vipan Kumar, assistant professor of agronomy, and Anita Dille, professor and assistant head of teaching in the department of agronomy, are Dhanda's co-advisors. Dhanda said their guidance has been crucial to his work. Dhanda has authored 15 peer-reviewed journal articles, four extension publications and 21 abstracts from scientific presentations, and he has delivered seven guest lectures. Additionally, he received a North-Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant to evaluate the potential of fall- and spring-seeded cover crops to manage herbicide-resistant weeds. At K-State, he is a teaching assistant for 300-level Weed Science and Soil Science courses. An active member in many professional and leadership activities, Dhanda serves as a student representative for the Western Society of Weed Science's Herbicide Resistant Plant Committee and a K-State Graduate Student Ambassador. He has served as secretary for the K-State Agronomy Graduate Student Association and the International Coordinating Council. Dhanda is a first-generation student, and he earned his bachelor's degree in agriculture from CCS Haryana Agricultural University in India. He holds a master's degree in agronomy from Punjab Agricultural University in India. "This prestigious fellowship not only recognizes the significance of my research in weed science but also underscores the importance of sustainable agriculture," Dhanda said. "I am grateful for Phi Kappa Phi's support, which will enable me to further advance agronomy and make a meaningful contribution to sustainable agricultural practices." Spears' research explores how the U.S. military violates its own rules through selectively applied apolitical norms that are enforced with greater weight than actual military policy and law. He has published peer-reviewed scholarship in the Public Relations Journal and Strategy Bridge as well as chapters in the books "Maintaining the High Ground: The Profession and Ethics in Large-scale Combat Operations" from Army University Press and "Internal Communication and Employee Engagement: A Case Study Approach" from Routledge. His commentary work has appeared around the nation in publications including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Federalist and Military Times. Spears is a regular contributor to the online journal The American Mind, published by the Claremont Institute. He has also taught crisis communication and public relations courses at Spurgeon College in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as a classical composition course St. Giles Christian Academy in Leavenworth. An Army veteran, Spears earned his bachelor's degree from Lee University. He holds a Master of Military Art and Science degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, a master's in professional studies in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University and a master's in science in journalism from the University of Tennessee. Spears was an Army Public Affairs Fellow at Georgetown University. He has delivered guest lectures at the University of Florida, the U.S. Army SHARP Academy and U.S. Army Recruiting Command. His other honors include Best Paper on the 24th International Public Relations Research Conference Theme, Kansas City IABC KC Quill for Promotional Writing, Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium Award for Best Paper, Georgetown University Spirit of Public Relations Award, first place in the U.S. Army Forces Command Fourth Estate Awards for Television Spot Production and second place in the U.S. Army Forces Command Fourth Estate Awards for Television Reporting. "It is one thing to be told that your research is important," said Spears. "It's another thing entirely for an organization to invest tangibly in you as a scholar, as patrons have done for the arts throughout history. My family and I are tremendously grateful for the practical aspect of this funding, and I am deeply honored by the show of support for my work that being a Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellow demonstrates."

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2024 Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellows

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CNBC International Finds New President In Senior ITV Exec Who Was Driving Force Behind ITVX

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Deep Bagchee , a driving force behind the launch of ITVX , is exiting to become President of CNBC International.

Bagchee replaces John Casey, who Deadline revealed was stepping down late last year after almost 30 years with the news network. An interim team had been filling in for the past few months.

Bagchee’s role will see him oversee the news network’s editorial output outside of the U.S., building out its operations and audiences across TV, digital, social, audio and live events. Bagchee announced the news on X a few days ago.

An ITV spokeswoman said succession plans for Bagchee will be announced in the next couple of months and he will remain with the broadcaster until the summer.

“Deep Bagchee will be leaving ITV to take up the role of President of CNBC International ,” she added. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Deep and ITV wishes him well in his new role.”

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Minister Miller to address off-campus work hours for international students

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media advisory

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, will hold a media scrum to address new rules governing off-campus work hours for international students.

Ottawa, April 29, 2024— The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, will hold a media scrum to address new rules governing off-campus work hours for international students.

Monday, April 29, 2024

1 p.m. EDT

Foyer of the House of Commons of Canada 111 Wellington Street, West Block Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Notes for media:

  • Media attending the event in person are asked to arrive no later than 12:45 p.m. EDT.

For more information (media only):

Bahoz Dara Aziz Minister’s Office Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [email protected]

Media Relations Communications Sector Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 613-952-1650 [email protected]

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Humza Yousaf quits as Scotland's first minister in boost to Labour’s chances in UK vote

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