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Carol Wilder New School School of Media Studies binders

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-02-05-02


These papers consist of administrative planning documents about the development of the Media Studies curriculum and programs at The New School from 1986 until 2014, compiled into binders by Media Studies professor and longtime chair of the program, Carol Wilder, mainly covering the years 1986-2006.


  • 1986-2016
  • Majority of material found within 1986-2006



1.3 Cubic Feet (3 binders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

These papers consist of administrative planning documents concerning Media Studies at The New School, largely covering the period 1986-2006. The majority of the documents in this collection were kept in a series of three ring binders, compiled by media studies professor and chair of the program from 1995 until 2007, Carol Wilder. The New School first established a media studies program in 1976. This collection covers a “middle period” of on-and-off-again efforts to establish an independent school for media studies at the university. “Core Planning Documents” contains each proposal to this end from the period, along with supporting documentation. “Curriculum Proposals” documents efforts to revise the curriculum, rather than the structure, of the department. This collection also contains documents related to the budget, enrollment and facilities planning of the program.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Historical Note

The School of Media Studies at The New School began as the Center for Understanding Media, one of the first programs of its kind in the United States. Founded by John Culkin in 1969 as a New York City-based satellite of Ohio’s Antioch College, the Center’s mission as stated in a 1971 brochure was:

The Center specializes in projects involving young people and the new media. It works to develop critical and active consumers for the various forms of communication and to integrate teaching about the new media with teaching about literature and the traditional arts . . . [The Center] specializes in training teachers to serve the needs of this new media studies curriculum.

Culkin served as the original executive director of the Center with Robert Geller as director of education and Lawrence ("Kit") Laybourne as director of research. The Center received its accreditation through Antioch College's Graduate School of Education and granted graduate-level credits.

During a four-year partnership between the Center and the New School for Social Research, under the leadership of Dean Allen Austill, the Center was allocated classrooms at the New School in return for opening up its classes to New School students. Teacher training in media studies was the focus of the Center's classes at the New School. It was during this affiliation that the Center hired several key staff, including Laybourne and Peter L. Haratonik, both former schoolteachers. Laybourne taught the theory course Foundations in Media Design, as well as practical courses in animation technique. Haratonik began as education program coordinator and instructor of the Seminar in Media Theory. When Haratonik started at the Center, he was still studying with educator and media theorist Neil Postman in the Media Ecology program at New York University, another early media studies program. He received a doctorate in Culture and Communication from that program.

The Center for Understanding Media officially became part of the New School for Social Research in 1975, which launched a Master of Arts in Media Studies in 1978. Sometime after 2007, the department was reclassified as the School of Media Studies, situated in the division that, as of 2016, is known as the Schools of Public Engagement (for many years the division was referred to as the Adult Division). Haratonik succeeded Culkin as director in 1979 and served in this capacity until 1992. Departmental leadership since 1992 includes Linda Dunne and Elizabeth Wurtzel (acting co-chairs), Carole Wilder, Barry Salmon, and, as of 2014, Anne Balsamo.

As of 2016, the department sponsors several annual events. It began sponsoring an invitational film show of judged student work in 1979. In 2003, this was renamed the Dorothy H. Hirshon Film Festival after a specific bequest from her foundation. In 2010, the name of the annual show was changed to Fine Cuts. In 1996, the department launched the annual Mixed Messages Video Show. Media Studies' annual conference, Critical Themes in Media Studies, began in 2000. Throughout the department’s history, it has sponsored several recurring lecture series, including the Gregory Bateson Lecture, begun in 1995, and the Marshall McLuhan Lecture, begun in the 1990s. These series have brought guests such as Helen M. Caldicott, Atom Egoyan, and Sherry Turkle to The New School.

The Media Studies program issues a Master of Arts degree and a Master of Science degree, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates in screenwriting, film production, media management, and documentary media studies. The program continues to offer instruction that encompasses the study of media theory and practice, specializing in media analysis and production across all formats, including film, television, sound production and design, and web-based media.

This historical note was compiled from information present in the record group, in addition to Media Studies course catalogs, oral histories, John Culkin's obituary in the New York Times, and the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) blog (

Biographical Note

Carol Wilder was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her bachelors and masters degrees at Miami University in Ohio, before undertaking a PhD in rhetoric and communication at Kent State University in 1969. At Kent State, Wilder was originally interested in classical rhetoric, but after the Kent State shooting of anti-war protesters by the Ohio National Guard on campus and her divorce in 1970, her interest shifted to media and communication. Her dissertation, The Rhetoric of Social Movements: A Critical Perspective, focused on the feminist movement.

After briefly teaching women’s studies and communication studies at Oberlin College and Emerson College, Wilder moved to San Francisco State University in 1976, where she was a professor of communication studies. She chaired the department from 1993 until 1995, when she became Associate Dean and Chair of Media Studies and Film at The New School.

At The New School, Wilder co-founded the Graduate Program in Media Management in 1997. She remained chair until 2007, after which she received funding from the Fulbright Association to conduct research in Vietnam, culminating in her 2013 book Crossing the Street in Hanoi: Teaching and Learning About Vietnam. She served as chair of Media Studies and Film again from 2015 until 2017. Wilder retired, and was made Professor Emerita, in 2020.


“Carol Wilder Oral History” Kent State University Libraries (2010). Special Collections and Archives, accessed May 18, 2023,

“Carol Wilder – Brief CV” (2016), Carol Wilder New School of Media Studies binders, NS.02.05.02, the New School Archives and Special Collections. CV

“Carol Wilder.” The New School. Accessed May 18, 2023.


Arranged in one series in order documents were sorted in binders.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Carol Wilder in 2019.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds the New School School of Media Studies records (NS.02.05.01), which documents events and programming in the program between 1970-2019.

Guide to the Carol Wilder New School School of Media Studies binders
Jack Wells and The New School Archives and Special Collections staff
June 6, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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