Call for Participation: Symposium on Media, Communication, and Film Studies Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges

Beth Corzo-Duchardt's picture
Call for Papers
April 4, 2016
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
Communication, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Journalism and Media Studies, Popular Culture Studies

Call for Participation: Symposium on Media, Communication, and Film Studies Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges

May 24-25, 2016
Muhlenberg College, Allentown PA
Due date for proposals: April 4

We invite proposals for papers, panels, and exhibits for a two-day symposium devoted to media, communication and film studies programs housed at small liberal arts colleges (SLACs), to be held at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. The symposium---sponsored by Muhlenberg, Ursinus, and Lake Forest Colleges---will bring together faculty from existing programs at liberal arts colleges for two days of resource sharing, student-work showcases, workshops, and panel sessions.

The symposium organizers hope to build off the insight and momentum generated by Mellon-sponsored gatherings in 2004, 2008, and 2011. The landscape of liberal-arts-college media programs is changing rapidly---a mirror, in some respects, of the wider U.S. university scene. Programs with diverse names and remits were established as far back as the 1950s, often out of existing journalism or speech departments. The most elite colleges, however, tended to shun media and communication as pre-professional and insufficiently scholarly. This began to change in the 1980s, as a number of institutions established interdisciplinary film studies programs staffed by faculty from existing humanities departments. Since then, and with gathering momentum in recent years, these colleges have established departments and dedicated tenure track lines, often with an expanded "media studies" scope. At the same time, speech- and journalism-derived media and communication programs have expanded and evolved at liberal-arts institutions across the country. With digital (and nomenclatural) convergence, the lines that once separated these departments and programs have become increasingly arbitrary.

The purpose of the symposium is to gather together faculty from a diverse range of SLAC programs to compare curricular models, discuss the challenges and opportunities of teaching media in the liberal-arts context, and explore establishing an association of liberal arts college programs in media, film, and communication. Such an association might support a resource- and curriculum-sharing web presence, as well as sponsor periodic gatherings of faculty in follow-up symposia.

We invite proposals (250 to 500 words) for the following formats:

* individual paper abstracts
* panel session abstracts (identifying three to four participants)

* student-work showcases (featuring scholarship, media work, and/or hybrids in digital or other formats)

* pedagogy workshops (on core assignments, capstone courses, and/or pedagogical techniques)
* research workshops (on projects, strategies, publishing models, and/or research/exhibit tools)

Relevant topics include:


* curricular models for majors and minors

* capstone projects and courses

* faculty research collaborations
* integration into the liberal arts missions of host institutions
* challenges and opportunities of blending (critical) theory and (pre-professional) practice
* navigating the disciplinary/interdisciplinary borderlands
* challenges and opportunities of the cross-campus spread of digital pedagogies

* the intersection of media studies and digital humanities initiatives

Sessions and workshops that involve other participants in active discussion, hands-on engagement, and/or resource exchange are especially encouraged.

The symposium will take place at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, May 24 and 25, 2016. Registration is free, with breakfast and lunch included. Limited funds for student and junior faculty travel may be available.


Submissions (250-500 words) are due April 4th, to Please include submitter(s) names, affiliations, email addresses, and the abstract of your proposal. Decisions will be made by April 15, with a tentative program, plenary speakers, and other details to follow soon after.


Contact Info: 

Chief organizer: Beth Corzo-Duchardt (Muhlenberg College) Organizing committee: Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz (Muhlenberg College), Nicholas Gilewicz (Ursinus College), David Park (Lake Forest College), Jeff Pooley (Muhlenberg College), and Louise Woodstock (Ursinus College).