Major Media Texts

Left: drawing of John Milton. Right: a circular Chinese artefact.

Left: John Milton, author of Paradise Lost; right: a Chinese artefact at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Milton's writing and the artefacts of the Pitt Rivers Museum are both textual inspirations featured in His Dark Materials, a three volume series by Philip Pullman that is studied in CMS.796. The circular Chinese artefact above closely resembles Pullman's alethiometer. (Left image taken from Wikipedia. Right image courtesy of Kat Selvocki.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2006



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Highlights

This course features a comprehensive list of readings, films, theater performances, and other media texts in the readings section, as well as sample student papers in the assignments section.

Course Description

This class does intensive close study and analysis of historically significant media "texts" that have been considered landmarks or have sustained extensive critical and scholarly discussion. Such texts may include oral epic, story cycles, plays, novels, films, opera, television drama and digital works. The course emphasizes close reading from a variety of contextual and aesthetic perspectives. The syllabus varies each year, and may be organized around works that have launched new modes and genres, works that reflect upon their own media practices, or on stories that migrate from one medium to another. At least one of the assigned texts is collaboratively taught, and visiting lectures and discussions are a regular feature of the subject.

Related Content

Diana Henderson. CMS.796 Major Media Texts. Fall 2006. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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