The Department of Visual and Performing Arts (V&PA) at Clark University will offer a major in media, culture and the arts (MCA), directed by Hugh Manon, associate professor of screen studies. MCA’s focus on media history, theory and production in equal measure encourages students to engage in research and creative work that transcends or eradicates traditional boundaries between media.
MCA majors will be expected to commit to rigorous engagement with both hands-on practice and written scholarship in at least two of the following areas already offered as majors through the V&PA: art history, music, screen studies, studio art and theatre arts. In addition to V&PA faculty, the program will draw on a selection of faculty from departments like Language, Literature and Culture; Sociology; English and Psychology. Sample courses include Experimental Production Workshop: Glitch Aesthetics, Motion Graphics, Gender and Representation, Soundtracks and The Image and the Word.
Manon is excited about the possibilities offered by the new major.
“Besides being a rigorous and edgy new pathway through the liberal arts, what I find exciting about the MCA major is that the possibilities for experimentation and innovation are literally endless, limited only by a student’s willingness to take risks and develop new approaches to media,” he says.
The new concentration in Africana studies is designed to help students understand the lives of people of African ancestry, both in Africa and around the world, but especially Sub-Saharan African, the United States and Caribbean. Students will be able to choose from a tempting array of courses such as African Art and Architecture, Africa’s Development in Global Context, Black Political Literary Movements, Francophone Literature and Film and The Atlantic World, in order to develop a cultural, historical, political, social and geographical awareness of the ways people of African descent have lived, worked and fought for self-definition. Esther Jones, assistant professor of English and E. Franklin Frazier Chair of African American Literature, will serve as the concentration’s inaugural director.
Jones takes care to distinguish between Africana studies and African studies.
“African studies is the study of continental Africa. Africana studies encompasses, not only the continent, but its people’s diaspora — dispersal — as well,” she explains. “Africana studies looks at these pathways of global interconnection, the ways that African-ness and people of African descent have dispersed in different cultures, in different spaces and in different times.”
Africana studies will join four other concentrations (peace studies, Latin American and Latino studies, Holocaust and genocide studies, and race and ethnic relations) and two majors (Asian studies and women’s and gender studies) under the umbrella of Clark’s new Center for Gender, Race and Area Studies, located in Dana Commons.
Professor Matt Malsky, associate provost and dean of the college, sums up how the MCA major and Africana Studies concentration reflect Clark’s approach to undergraduate education: “These two new interdisciplinary programs show just how exciting it can be to think beyond familiar academic boundaries. At Clark, opportunities like these are an important part of our dynamic and innovative learning environment.”