Current and former critical/global media studies students speak about their careers in the field.
I am a graduate of The College of William & Mary in Virginia Class of '15 with a BA in Sociology and American Studies. I currently work at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio. My job description entails reporting to the Vice President of Education and Public Programs and the Director of Education and am responsible for performing a variety of administrative duties to assist in the efficient operation of the Education Department and for providing administrative support to the Vice President of Education and Public Programs as needed. Media Studies in College was extremely inspiring integral to the culmination of my critical thinking abilities inside and outside the classroom. Developing a keen eye and sense to the world around me, particularly delving deeper into truly analyzing issues especially which are pertaining to critical race/gender/differences that I observe in my every day work- that is essential to me navigating the politics that come with a "real world job". Immersing myself into learning critical media studies also revealed to me that whatever I do moving forward it must have a highly communicative element that incorporates media anthropological pedagogy, community outreach, medium forces that influence and affect the masses (video, audio, digital media.) Another interesting discovery based in the freedom I had while still under a solid structure from the Dr. Neff instruction the agency I was given to conduct my research was extremely fulfilling and empowering. I by no means discourage the traditional “9-5” work lifestyle whether it be in the public/private sector or “for-profit”, non-profit, the office work is not for me because I don’t have the same agency to affect discourse and positive change in my community, when you correspond and are connected with media studies you feel a certain moral obligation to serve the communities you are profiling, educating, and ultimately serving. What I do may be seen as “cool work” but when you are tapped into yourself and know the power and potential you hold, the big p powers and means and modes of production must be taken into your own hands in a modern age entrepreneurial state. I currently am looking at Graduate study programs. I am also currently starring a radio show podcast as a media resource and platform that aims to inspire a cultural shift in music and conversational discourses that values the artistry of the guests and music being curated/interviewed. My advice for current students, find something you care about, serve your community, and while engaging give 100% to what you do. You are important, I highly recommend taking these classes, the opportunities and possibilities are limitless, find your wings…
Music scholar/Professional DJ
Jess graduated from UNC in 2011 with substantial coursework in critical media studies and remains based in the NC Triangle.
As a club DJ and producer, PlayPlay creatively interweaves nostalgic hip-hop and house classics into both their DJ sets and their music production, which are largely composed of city-specific sounds – namely Chicago juke and footwork, Bmore/Jersey/Philly club, NYC house, Detroit techno, and Miami bass. Their ultimate goal is to be in constant musical conversation with the crowd, speaking across generation, race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexuality to create an all-inclusive dance floor.
Jess is also a music scholar and activist interested in local music scenes, dance floor dynamics, queer theory, and media studies, and was recently editor-in-chief for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music website (iaspm-us.net). Jess has presented at past conferences on topics such as José Muñoz’s disidentification and queer rap, 90’s musical nostalgia, queerness within New Orleans bounce music, and media framing of protestor actions and emotions at the 2012 DNC/RNC.
I truly, honestly, 100 percent seriously believe I would not be where I am today if I had not taken critical media studies classes at UNC. Where exactly I am today is this: I am a freelance writer whose work has appeared in GQ, SPIN, the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, VICE, MTV, Salon, Noisey, and give or take a million other places. I worked for VICE from 2012 until early 2016, covering music, culture, film, TV, politics, and news. I have watched Drake play soccer, poorly. I have ridden in Maybachs with The-Dream. I have argued about satanic black metal with Harvey Levin on live television, and I proved that Instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is funded by dirty money. How did I get here? Well, I am not uniquely talented, nor am I smarter than your average bear. I have worked hard to get where I am, yes, but lots of people work hard, and many of them work harder than me. More than that, I credit taking Professor Neff's classes with training me to consider that pop culture is almost always more "culture" than "pop"—even seemingly vacuous ephemera often have deep, meaningful roots and say something about someone's life somewhere, and even when they don't, pop culture can have just as legitimate and profound an impact on someone as so-called "high art." Not only did UNC media studies teach me to look past labels and into the pop culture's soul, she taught me how to do that as well. It is not an understatement that she set me up with the basic tool kit that informs what I do literally every day.
Kayla Sharpe is a junior at the College of William & Mary studying Film & Media and American Studies. Originally from Vienna, VA, Kayla is pursuing a career in digital media and communications in the Washington D.C. area. Kayla currently works as the Online Editor of the College’s student newspaper, The Flat Hat, where she produces videos, podcasts, and other multimedia content. She is also the Public Relations Director of the William & Mary Global Film Festival and a Marketing Assistant at William & Mary Campus Recreation.
Kayla began her career in Washington D.C. during the summer of 2014 as a Communications Intern at the Brookings Institution. The following summer, she was selected as a New Media Fellow in the William & Mary D.C. Summer Institute and interned in the Communications Department at the Democratic National Committee. During the summer of 2016, Kayla will return to Washington D.C. to serve as Teaching Assistant for 2016 New Media Institute and continue to build upon her experiences in new media. She is currentl working to direct a documentary on Cuban filmmaking and art in a production that's set to travel to Cuba in spring 2016.
Georgia Ellie Dassler is a cultural anthropology student in her third year at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her first media studies class with Dr. Neff a year and a half ago yielded a short documentary about the importance of pointe shoes in empowering young ballet dancers. Her experience with the documentary helped her gain the opportunity to learn more about video, audio, and web development as a Media Intern at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in the summer of 2015. There, she got to learn about the Center’s cultural preservation efforts and work with a variety of Peruvian artists, musicians, and scholars at the annual Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. She is currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain, putting her web skills to work once again at the Museo del Baile Flamenco (Museum of Flamenco Dance), where she is helping to improve their English-language website. That first ballet documentary has also expanded into an independent senior thesis in anthropology, to begin in the fall of 2016. In the thesis, Ellie plans to employ material culture and embodiment theories to explore the human-technology (dancer-shoe) relationship central to classical ballet. Throughout the research process, she plans to continue using video and audio to augment her field notes and present her thesis in an accessible way. As she continues to learn about audiovisual media, Ellie most loves how it allows her to use her creativity while explaining complex, important topics to a wide and diverse audience.
Her original pointe shoe documentary, Holy Ground, as well as updates on the pointe shoe project, can be found here. (https://mediaenpointe.wordpress.com) You can read some of her work for the Smithsonian here. (http://www.festival.si.edu/blog/author/dasslerg/page/2/)