Media and Arts Major | Duke Kunshan University

Media and Arts with tracks in Creative Practice and History

Media and Arts with tracks in Creative Practice and History

The Media and Arts major captures the breadth of both media as communications process and art as creative and documentary expressions.  By exploring the history of media and arts as well as emerging technologies and cultures, students in this major will gain a depth of understanding that is broadly applicable to future life choices.  Media studies might include communications studies, journalism, science, technology and society at the local, as well as national and global levels.  Arts studies might address visual art in film, photography, and sound; music; theater; and literature.  The intersection of media and arts will provide both a well-rounded foundation as well as the opportunity to immerse oneself in a particular field of study or practice.

Understanding of media and the arts is foundational to the concept of interdisciplinarity that is the basis for a liberal arts education at Duke Kunshan University.  On the one hand, exposure to the arts provides for the complete student: a well-rounded individual who is able to see the world in both its breadth and depth, thus creatively seeking, discovering and implementing solutions to global problems.  In particular, the documentary arts intersect history with creativity; the understanding of cultural tradition with the artistic imagination.  On the other hand, media literacy is not a luxury. In this interconnected world, it is a necessity.  Students in this major will gain a more complete understanding of the evolution of media, broadly defined, and how the media and media systems of today interact with the institutions, individuals and ideas in society.  

The Media and Arts major has two tracks: 1) Creative Practice and 2) History. The Creative Practice track will focus on providing opportunities for students to create the media and arts that interest them, with a strong academic foundation.  The History track provides a mixture of humanities and social science approaches to understanding media and arts, creating a foundation for work in the field or further graduate-level study.

Major Requirements

(Not every course listed is offered every semester, and the course list will be updated periodically. Please refer to the online Course Catalog for Courses offered in 2019-2020.)

Divisional Foundation Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
ARHU 101 The Art of Interpretation 1: Written Texts 4
ARHU 102 The Art of Interpretation 2: Images and Sound 4

Interdisciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MEDIART 101 Introduction to Media Studies and the Arts 4
MEDIART 210 Media and Arts Practicum 4
MEDIART 211 Media, Art and Critical Theory 4
MEDIART 390 Junior Seminar: Advanced Topics 4
MEDIART 490 Senior Seminar: Advanced Topics  
And choose one from the following two History courses
HIST 210 Global Art History 4
HIST 220 Global Media History 4
And choose one from the following three Creative Practice courses
MEDIART 103 Introduction to Moving Image Practice 4
MEDIART 104 Introduction to Photography 4
MEDIART 110 Audio Documentary 4

Disciplinary Courses

For Creative Practice Track

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MEDIART 109 Introduction to Visual Culture 4
MEDIART 202 Ideas, Imagination, and Creativity 4
HIST 207 History of Media Art 4
  Practicum course I: Choose one from the list of 200 level creative practice courses in the electives 4
  Practicum course II: Choose one from the list of 300 level creative practice courses in the electives  

For History Track:

Art History thematic area:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
HIST 201 History Methods and Research 4
HIST 106 Art History 1 4
CULANTH 201 New Media and Society 4
And one course from electives in the thematic area (200-400 level) 4
And one history course outside of the thematic area (100-400 level) 4


Students can choose the recommended electives in their tracks or select other courses in different divisions as electives. The course list will be updated periodically.

For Creative Practice Track

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MEDIART 105 Introduction to Film Studies 4
MEDIART 108/LIT 108 Love and Dreams on the Chinese Stage 2
MEDIART 204 The Photographic Essay 4
MEDIART 205 Digital Imaging 4
MEDIART 206 Computer Graphics 4
MEDIART 207 Creative Writing and Elements of Story 4
MEDIART 212 Editing for Film and Video 4
MEDIART 301 Experimental Filmmaking 4
MEDIART 302 Contemporary Documentary Film 4
MEDIART 303 Documentary Photography and the Cultural Landscape 4
MEDIART 304 The On-Going Moment: Presentations of Time in Still and Moving Images 4
MEDIART 305 Producing Docu-Fiction 4
MEDIART 306 Foundations of Interactive Game Design 4
MEDIART 310 Screenwriting 4
MEDIART 311 Cinematography 4
MEDIART 312 Graphic Design in Motion 4

For History Track

Electives in the Art History thematic area:

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MEDIART 106 The Visual Culture of News, Past and Present 4
MEDIART 109 Introduction to Visual Culture 4
GCULS 201 Culture and Industry 4
GCHINA 203 Visual China 4
MEDIART 208 Comparative Media Systems and Chinese Mass Media 4
LIT 208 From Cool Japan to the Korean Wave: Popular Culture from East Asia 4
POLSCI 302 Public Opinion 4
MEDIART 307 International Communication 4

Career Path

Graduates will be prepared to begin careers in arts organizations, advertising & marketing, film/TV production companies, etc. Graduates may also elect to pursue graduate study in communications studies, journalism, science and technology.

The Art of Interpretation 1: Written Texts

Training in close reading and analysis of text remains a foundational skill in the arts and humanities, whether the text is literary or documentary. This core course combines practical training in close reading of a variety of texts, with strategies of analysis that are theoretically informed without, however, offering a comprehensive treatment of theory per se. The course will focus both on reading and analysis of literary texts, and on the nuanced unpacking of documents (official, unofficial, personal) with a view to historical method.

The Art of Interpretation 2: Images and Sound

This class will train students to develop skill and sophistication in viewing and analysis of images, including art objects, film, and the new media; and in sound studies, including sonic culture, film music, and traditional musical arts. The goal is audiovisual literacy – the creation and interpretation of sound and image that has become central to the ways we experience and understand the world. This core course combines practical training (how to see, how to hear) with a variety of modes of analysis.

Introduction to Media Studies and the Arts

Media Studies and the Arts explores the cultural significance of the media in the contemporary world. It is a cross-disciplinary field that draws on communication studies, art history, literature, sociology, psychology and philosophy, among others. Particular attention is paid to new media and digital media including those enabled by the technological revolution of the Internet age.

Media and Arts Practicum

For students of media, it is vital to have some skills in media production or art practice. This course will introduce students to some practical aspects of media and the arts. These might include: how to code a web page; how to write a news story; how to make a documentary, how to do interviews, how to edit media; cultivation of skills in theater, music or art, among others. An emphasis is placed on understanding and experimenting with contemporary technologies that enable digital communications.

Media, Art and Critical Theory

Media technologies lie at the core of a variety of social and cultural inquiries. Building on the Introduction to Media Studies and the Arts course, this course explores in greater depth the critical theoretical tools required to analyze how culture, society and communication as enabled and manipulated by media. To do so, the course develops critical thinking from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. It investigates the construction and dissemination of knowledge, the formation and transformation of mass culture, as well as the roles of media industries and everyday media practices in constituting the society, distributing power, and shaping the everyday life in the global context.

Global Art History

Art has been a part of every society since recorded history. How have the arts told stories about civilizations, ethnicities, communities and peoples? How have the arts evolved and circulated across the globe? The arts provide vital narratives in our understandings of each other as our cultures have both clashed and shared over time. This course asks these questions by focusing on visual arts across cultures not with the aim of comprehensive coverage, but representation of key issues in the interpretation of art. Students will learn how to interpret art from a critical perspective in terms of its relation to broader social, cultural and political dynamics.

Global Media History

Media can be understood as the connective tissue between countries, empires and peoples. From the Marathon’s run in Greece to deliver battle news, and the ancient Asian religious texts to modern news agencies and SnapChat, media create communities and disseminate a variety of perspectives on world events. This course will help students try to make sense of how communications processes have shaped the world and its peoples. It does so by examining specific instances of media communications in a number of key cases in world history, and showing how technological innovation in media communications enabled new social, cultural and political forms to take place.

Introduction to Film Studies

This course is a wide-ranging introduction to the fascinating world of film and the cinema industry. Here we will look at the language and critical tools we use to understand and interpret films, while considering examples from a variety of geographical, historical, and theoretical backgrounds. Following a primarily historical trajectory, the course will allow students to develop an appreciation of cinema’s role in visual culture throughout the 20th century up to our present day. Understanding how movies function, how they become meaningful for their audiences, and how this relationship between moving images and viewers has evolved during the past 120 years, contributes to our further enjoyment of cinema in its various manifestations. At the same time, this deeper appreciation and knowledge allows us to come to grips with the ways in which movies have had an impact on the broader construction of society and human culture to date.

Introduction to Moving Image Practice

Like any craft, making movies is something that takes time, study, and, more importantly, practice. Each film is a unique challenge. What works for one film may not work for another. This is what asks learning about filmmaking an ongoing process. This course includes reading, discussing, and studying of the fundamental elements of video production. Strongest emphasis is in the several short exercises to guide students towards a solid understanding of the building blocks of different types of video production. Student will learn to use digital video cameras and audio equipment, learn basic video editing with Final Cut Pro X (or another comparable software), and create original work.

Introduction to Photography

An emphasis on how to see with the camera and ways of thinking about photographs. Class assignments accompanied by historical and theoretical readings, lectures, class discussions, and field trips. Course will use photography as a tool for exploring the local community. Learn digital techniques including camera function, Photoshop, ink-jet printing, audio capture and production of audio-visual slide shows. Discuss ethical issues that emerge as a result of digital photographic impermanence.

Editing for Film and Video

Two questions a film editor must always ask are: What shot comes next? And, why this shot and not that? In this course, students explore answers for these questions by studying and editing different genres, styles, and forms of film and video. The goal is achieved through expanding students’ understanding of editing as both a viewer and as a working editor. To that end, in addition to classroom discussion, readings, and screenings of feature films and excerpts, students will complete several editing projects on digital video. These projects are designed to provide both real-world challenges to solve as well as opportunities to experiment. Knowledge of a video editing program is not necessary at the beginning of the class; by the end you should be extremely comfortable with Final Cut Pro X.


This course introduces students to theory and practice of the process of writing for the screen. We explore visual storytelling and analysis of screenplays and movies in order to develop original stories into screenplay format. Student will learn to recognize and understand proper screenplay format and structure, understand how screenplay writing is a unique style of writing and why, understand character development and power relationships, and have a better understanding of the business of screenwriting. Through the actual writing of a feature length script, students gain hands-on practice on writing and presenting treatments, outlines, scenes, story planning, character development, communicating information, relationships between script and cinematic dimensions, as well as working with studios and editors.


Practice based investigation of cinematographic principles and visual storytelling techniques in motion picture production. Professional practice is informed and contextualized by screenings, readings, workshops, and in and out of class exercises towards the creation of original work in the context of the history of cinematography. Working with both film and video, students learn and apply fundamental techniques of composition, exposure, frame rate, focus pulling, point of view, camera placement and movement, lighting, and framing people and objects.

Experimental Filmmaking

This course engages with poetic and experimental image-making, utilizing techniques that trace a historical trajectory from celluloid to digital. Students are exposed to exploration of cinematographic principles and cameraless experiments. Teaching methods include lectures, discussion, readings and screenings focusing on avant-garde film and digital traditions. Students are required to produce final projects deriving or departing from course materials.

Contemporary Documentary Film

Our subject is the art, content, technology, and life of documentary film. We will study contemporary filmmaking approaches that fall under broad categorization of "documentary," and show how documentary filmmakers choose and interpret their subjects, themes, and points of view. We will analyze the form, technique, and impact of documentary filmmaking. In the process of considering issues of autonomy and power, politics and public policy, we will begin to define the role of documentary art in public dialogue. Although this course does not include instruction in film production, you may well be encouraged to try your hand at documentary filmmaking. In addition to class lectures and screenings, the course may feature guest filmmakers who will introduce their films and follow the screenings with question and answer sessions.

Documentary Photography and the Cultural Landscape

Emphasis on the tradition and practice of documentary photography as a way of seeing and interpreting cultural life. The techniques of color and black-and-white photography - exposure, development, and printing - diverse ways of representing the cultural landscape of the region through photographic imagery. Issues such as objectivity, clarity, politics, memory, autobiography, and local culture play in the making and dissemination of photographs. The course will simultaneously consider image content, representations place, landscape, and culture through documentary image.

Audio Documentary

Recording techniques and audio mixing on digital editing software for the production of audio documentaries for radio, the web, and podcast. Various approaches to audio documentary work, from the journalistic to the personal; use of fieldwork to explore cultural differences and histories of place. Stories told through audio focusing on a particular concerns such as war and peace, death and dying, environmental change.

The Photographic Essay

This course teaches the language of photography through the study of classic and contemporary photographic essays and through the completion of assigned photographic essays by the students themselves. Students will learn to make, choose, sequence, and pace their own images for class discussion and for digital projection. During the semester students will complete three assigned photographic essays of at least ten images each. Each essay will be on a particular theme or subject to be announced.

The On-Going Moment: Presentations of Time in Still and Moving Images

Project-driven studio course exploring time through video and still photography. Management, presentation and trace of time discussed in relation to various forms of art, augmented by examination of concepts of duration, aura, silence and thought as they pertain to still and moving images. Individual and group projects investigate various manifestations of stillness and movement in video and photography, with and without sound. Slices of time in both media examined for their properties of continuity, discontinuity and fissure, with emphasis on rendering meaning in and through time and space. Instructor consent required.

Producing Docu-Fiction

This course investigates hybrid, genre-defying films that question traditional definitions of documentary and fiction. Emphasis on experimental forms, documentary reenactment, mockumentary and dramatized "true stories." Students utilize both documentary and fiction production techniques, culminating in the production of a final video project.

Digital Imaging

With the increasing use of digital media, visual communication is becoming more and more important. This course helps students to express themselves visually and introduces different techniques of Digital Imaging using Photoshop and Illustrator. The focus is not only on retouching and manipulating images, but also on using the computer as a medium to create art and communicate ideas. Digital painting, collages, vector graphics, special effects, matte painting, Photoshop for video and interaction with other media are some of the techniques covered. Photoshop and Illustrator used to introduce single and serial images for print and web output.

Computer Graphics

This course offers an overview and history of computer graphics as well as an introduction to key software technologies and concepts. These include: coordinate systems and geometric transforms; drawing routines, antialiasing, supersampling; 3D object representation, spatial data structures, constructive solid geometry; hidden-surface-removal algorithms, z-buffer, A-buffer; illumination and shading models, surface details, radiosity; achromatic light, color specification, colorimetry, different color models; graphics pipeline; animation, levels of detail.

Graphic Design in Motion

Motion Design is the creation of animated graphics using graphic design, typography, advertising, photography, animation sound and filmmaking. Students learn the latest technology such as After Effects and 3D softwares but it is the creative intent that motivates the acquisition of technical capabilities. We will learn how to work collaboratively with other students with different skill sets. Emphasis will be on design, conceptualization and the ability to communicate ideas. The course enables students to learn the language and principles of graphic design, to develop a method for solving design problems, to communicate ideas effectively and to create professional quality motion design such as title sequences, logo animation, news reel, that can be integrated into film, life performance or web, using the latest technology combining softwares like After Effects, editing software (Premier or Final Cut Pro) and 3D software, and by creating style frames and storyboards. Familiarity with Photoshop and Illustrator is helpful but not required. Instructor consent required.

Foundations of Interactive Game Design

Surveys history, technology, narrative, ethics, and design of interactive computer games. Games as systems of rules, games of emergence and progression, state machines. Game flow, games as systems of pleasure, goals, rewards, reinforcement schedules, fictional and narrative elements of game worlds. Students work in teams to develop novel game-design storyboards and stand-alone games. Exploration of the interplay between narrative, graphics, rule systems, and artificial intelligence in the creation of interactive games. Programming experience not required.

Methods of Historical Research

This course offers an introduction to theories, methods and approaches to historical inquiry and research including the use of archives, the interpretation of visual and textual documents, and the recording of oral histories. Students will be exposed to both the humanist and the social scientific approaches to historical research, as well as broader theoretical questions of history and historiography. As such, students learn what is history, how is it made, and what constitutes valid scholarly approaches to historiography. Students will apply their learning by conducting original historical research on a topic of their own choosing and writing a research paper.

Art History 1

Rather that aiming at a comprehensive survey, this course offers an introduction to key moments in the intersection of history, politics and visual art in the world before 1900s. It places art in a global context, highlighting themes from European, Asian, African and Indigenous art and focuses on art as the exercise of cultural power, and the way that artists have both promoted and resisted these entanglements with elite authority. In each case studied, students will gain sufficient historical background to understand the art in question, but will also engage in the comparative study of art to highlight issues of power, religion, class, and gender.

New Media and Society

New media – ranging from the Internet to Twitter and Facebook, from informational networks to handheld devices – have in recent years drastically influenced the social relations for individual and communities, and have exerted profound influence on social, economic and political life. The course traces the development of new media, their relationship to previous modes of communication and transmission, and how digital technologies influence emerging and changing spheres of economic, political and social exchanges.

Culture and Industry

Apple is currently the most valuable company/brand in the world. Despite its technological origin, the company has always valued design, interface, affect, imagination and creativity—skills that the humanities and the interpretive social sciences offer and promote. This course examines how cultural studies, in its analyses of fandom, reception theory, cultural hegemony, etc., provide students the theoretical skills to understand, analyze and prepare for working in the emerging creative industries in China today. Some topics we will explore in the course include: cultural industry and modernity, popular culture and everyday life, representations of gender and sexuality in advertisement, the impact of new social media and information technology, and censorship.

Comparative Media Systems and Chinese Mass Media

In a globalized media world that is bringing people together, countries still maintain their own media systems. These systems are closely tied to government types, economic structures and culture norms and standards. What are the differences and similarities between the world’s different media systems? How does contemporary technology change the way that media systems function? How do countries with different media systems work with each other to disseminate information? The Chinese have played a pivotal role in the dissemination of information to its citizens over time. Currently, the Chinese read and watch news at a higher rate than any other country in the world. This course will explore the evolution of mass media and communication in China over time.

From Cool Japan to the Korean Wave: Popular Culture from East Asia

The hegemony of American popular culture notwithstanding, cultural products from Japan and South Korea are becoming significant players in the globalization of culture. From the de-Disneyfied anime to the hybridized R&B K-pop, these cultural products challenge American cultural domination, and inspire alternate forms of aesthetics, participation and enjoyment. This course examines the historical formation of Japanese and Korean popular culture, focusing on their contested cultural meanings at the national, regional, and global scales. Some of the issues we will consider include: cultural imperialism, fandom, the role of the state and the development of cultural industry, representations of race and gender, capitalism and transnationalism.

The Visual Culture of News, Past and Present

Does news affect us differently if we watch it on YouTube, on or on The Daily Show, or if we read it on The New York Times or as a blog post? Do we feel that certain kinds of news-cultural, political, satirical-is more important, or more informative? How did these differences play out in earlier news formats, like periodicals, pamphlets, or almanacs? This class will explore the visual culture of news from Early Modernity to the present by examining the formats and media it has adopted, the ways it designs the page/pamphlet/screen, how it incorporates images, and the relationship of all of this to what the news reports. Our goals in this class are to collectively explore the relationship between text, image, design, and medium.

Public Opinion in a New Media Age

Examines nature and role of public opinion in a society, providing broad-based introduction to dynamics of citizens' social and political attitudes in the contemporary world. Goal of course is to help students arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of forces that shape beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of the public, the means by which those views are publicly expressed, and the influence of those opinions on policy outcomes. Examines how current media landscape changes the way public opinion is gathered, measured and analyzed.

International Communication

This course will examine the global effects of media, the flow of information, the controls countries impose on communication systems and the effects of Western dominance on world media systems. The course will introduce students to the key theories, concepts, and practices in the broadly defined international communication. Students will examine the giant media companies around the world and discuss the impact of ownership on media messages. The course will look at how advertising, music and news programs affect more than their intended audiences, and look at how technology is changing the global media picture.

Visual China

>From film’s first appearance at a Shanghai teahouse in August 1896 to Jackie Chan’s latest transnational stardom, the history of modern Chinese cinema has always sought to raise questions of national and cultural identity. How do Chinese films between the two fins-de-siècle create the spectacle of “China,” narrate its history, and represent its increasingly diversified cultural landscapes both at home and abroad? Students will study photography, documentary film, cinema and social media in China from the 1930s “Leftist” films to present.