Critical-Cultural Studies | Department of Media Arts

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Critical-Cultural Studies

The Critical-Cultural Studies side of the Master of Arts program is led by a small dynamic faculty who work closely with graduate students as they develop their degree plans, theses, or exams. Seminar courses provide students with unique opportunities to engage in critical discussion and cultural debate with faculty and peers. Students in this area examine media culture in relation to topics such as cultural history, ideology, critical race studies, feminism, sexuality, fandom, digital cultures, social media, activism, film studies, and youth cultures. The Critical-Cultural studies area is designed for students who wish to develop their critical thinking and writing skills with to proceed to a PhD program or increase their critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

The area values and encourages an interdisciplinary approach in course selection. As applicable, additional faculty are drawn from outside departments such as English, History, Journalism, and Women's Studies, as well as from other local media studies programs to serve on students' theses projects.

To find out more about admissions or the program, contact Dr. Xiaoqun Zhang, Director of Master of Arts program.


  • MRTS 5120: Critical/Cultural Media Theory
  • MRTS 5121: Digital Media Studies


(offerings subject to change with approval from faculty advisor)

  • Gender, Race & Digital Cultures
  • The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
  • History of the Documentary
  • Contemporary Documentary
  • African-American Film
  • Teen Media
  • Gender & Sexuality in the Horror Film
  • Media/Genre Authors
  • Affect/Emotion in Film
  • Video Game Perspectives
  • Cinema Video Verite
  • Lesbian, Gay, Queer Film & Video


  • These can include up to (but not required):
    • 6 credit hours from graduate courses in other departments at UNT as approved by the faculty advisor
    • 3 credit hours practicum OR 3 hours internship
    • 3 credit hours special problems (with faculty approval)


The Master of Arts degree offers the option of a written thesis or a comprehensive exam.

  • Thesis Option (6 hours)
    • Of the required minimum of 30 graduate hours, 6 hours must be thesis credit. The student must have departmental approval for this option, including the approval of a Media Arts graduate faculty thesis advisor. The student must successfully complete and orally defend a written thesis.
  • Comprehensive Exam Option (3 hours)
    • Of the required minimum of 30 graduate hours, 3 hours must be a exam credit with the successful completion of a comprehensive examination. The student must have departmental approval for this option, including the approval of a Media Arts graduate faculty examination advisor. Students are eligible to complete the exam once they have a degree plan approved and have completed 21 hours of graduate course work.


Thesis works completed by graduate students in Critical-Cultural Studies traverse issues of history, representation, multiculturalism, film theory, discursive analysis, television studies, and digital media studies.

  • Chronicle of the Online Culture Wars: Reactionary Affective Publics in Neoliberal Postmodernity - David Rafael Montalvo
  • Musicals & the Margins: African-Americans, Women, and Queerness in the Twenty-First Century American Musical - Brecken Wellborn
  • Furyous Female Just-Warrious of Post-Apocalypse and Dystopia - Shaylynn Lesinski
  • "Reality" while Dreaming in a Labyrinth: Christopher Nolan as a Realist Auteur - Brent Crowley
  • Creating Discussion: An Auteur Analysis of Films Directed by Adrian Lyne - Stephanie Oliver
  • 24, Lost and Six Feet Under: Post-Traumatic Television in the Post 9/11 Era - Tonya Anderson
  • A Textual Analysis of the Closer and Saving Grace: Feminist and Genre Theory in 21St Century Television - Leila M. Stone
  • The Limitations and Stereotypes Placed on Female Hero Representations in Video Games - Linet L. Cisneros
  • True Bromance: Representation of Masculinity and Heteronormative Dominance in the Bromantic Comedy - David Hartwell
  • Framing Femininity As Insanity: Representations Of Mental Illness In Women In Post-Classical Hollywood - Kelly Kretschmar
  • Dangerous, Desperate and Homosexual: Cinematic Representations of the Male Prostitute as Fallen Angels - John Phillip Lay
  • Provincial Heroism: Hunanese Audiences and Sylvester Stallone - Jun Kuang
  • "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To:" Cultural Hegemony and the Representation of White Masculinity in Recent U.S. Cinema - Matthew Schneider

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