Department of Modern Culture and Media


The uniqueness of Modern Culture and Media resides in its commitment to situate the study of media in the context of the broader examination of modern cultural and social formations.

Modern culture is characterized by the development and dissemination of media that can be identified as technical modes of reproduction:

  • print, insofar as it is connected to mass dissemination
  • photography
  • sound recording
  • cinema
  • video
  • television
  • digital media

Modern Culture and Media (MCM) faculty and students attempt to unite aspects of modern culture that are normally separated by university departmental structures (such as fine art, literature, and philosophy). We study the products and processes of both "high" and "mass" culture with equal seriousness, and with critical intent. What we mean by modern is the period of the 19th to 21st centuries, dating from the invention of photography in the middle of the 19th century. In addition to uniting the study of cultural theory with the study of the mass media, we are committed to uniting actual work in the production or creation of media texts with our analytical and theoretical consideration of the arts and media.

Our goal is to help our students become active participants in contemporary American culture, both as thoughtful critics and as creative workers. MCM students are knowledgeable about the theory, history and analysis of media and culture and are able to produce innovative work that interrogates and transforms conventional understandings of these forms. 

The Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies

In 1991, a graduate of the Semiotics Program at Brown, Timothy Forbes '76, was responsible for a gift to Brown from the Forbes Foundation. This gift created what is now the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, the research arm of the department, to pursue projects designed to promote and contribute to scholarship and production dealing with theories, practices and histories of modes of representation as they engage mass mediated culture.

Center Sponsored Events

The Center sponsors conferences and lectures organized by MCM faculty, and research projects associated with the department. Projects have included symposia and conferences, postdoctoral and faculty fellows, exhibitions and festivals, and archival and research resources. Topics of conferences that have been sponsored by the Center include: Television and Nationality; Modernism and Modernity; The Archaeology of Multi-Media; and Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project.

The Center has also sponsored or supported several public events that exhibit media texts normally difficult to access in the U.S. Examples include: a festival of Portuguese and Lusophone cinema; festivals of French and Francophone cinema; and a festival of Turkish diaspora cinema in Germany.