(1) For each term, be able to supply a rich and precise definition, with specific examples if asked. You may not have encountered all of these terms in your courses; part of this section of the exam assesses how you are able to integrate common terms in the field with what you already know. You may study in groups, contact faculty with questions, and/or consult the suggested reference texts.
(2) For production terms, be able not only to define terms (e.g.: “Explain the difference between a tracking shot and a pan”); be able to supply accurate formal terms if you are shown an audio-visual example (e.g., "this short film clip exemplifies a z-axis tracking shot...") and be able to apply them in interpretation ("...as a means of intensifying audience identification with first-person point of view.") On the 2015 Comprehensive exam, all clips for the identification of production terms will come from the film Do The Right Thing (dir. Spike Lee, 1989). You may watch it on your own, you may watch the department copy in our screening room (contact Ms. Mars to schedule a viewing between 9am-5pm); or you may view it in Mullen Library.
(3) Do not just study the terms in isolation. Many terms are related to one another, and a good way to develop your knowledge is to build connections and associations between and among terms. You will be expected to articulate such connections, not just regurgitate definitions by rote. For example, “Define enthymeme and interpellation, showing how they are similar and different.” Note the use of multiple terms in the sample answer below.
(4) Some critical studies terms may have a relatively commonplace meaning, as in the sample below; in such cases, know the meaning and application as used in the field of media studies.
(5) If there are significant scholars or schools of thought associated with a critical studies term, be able to supply and contextualize relevant names and historical periods.
Example: Identify Encoding and Decoding
“Encoding is the process of someone putting a message into a form that can be received or decoded by someone else.”
“Encoding and decoding as a theory of mass communication was first developed by Stuart Hall, who founded the Birmingham School of Communication in the 1970’s. It is a kind of reception theory holding that media texts are polysemic and can thus be interpreted by audiences in ways specific to an array of possible cultural factors, (e.g. gender, race, class), and that these interpretations may vary in the degree to which they accept or oppose the dominant, hegemonic intention of the producer’s ‘preferred’ meaning. This approach is in some respects neo-Marxist, but it also countered some other neo-Marxist perspectives, such as that of Critical Theory as practiced by Frankfurt School thinkers, which tended to paint audiences and consumers as more passive and unable to resist ideological texts.
Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction, 8th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2008).
Hartley, John. Communication, Cultural and Media Studies: The Key Concepts, 4th ed. (Routledge 2011).
Herrick, James. History & Theory of Rhetoric, 4th ed. (Allyn & Bacon, 2008).
Zettl, Herbert. Sight, Sound, Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics, 7th ed. (Wadsworth, 2013).
Yale Film Studies Film Analysis Website