About Matthew Tinkcom, Ph.D.: Matthew Tinkcom is Director of the Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT) Program at Georgetown University. He is a Professor within Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and has affiliated appointments in the English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Culture and Politics Major in the School of Foreign Service. He has taught and served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Georgetown’s campus in Doha, Qatar, where he supervised the curriculum and faculty affairs.
In the CCT program, Dr. Tinkcom teaches the required course for all incoming students, Introduction to Communication, Culture and Technology, as well as electives, including Critical Theory and Contemporary Media, Postmodernism, Global Science Fiction, and Gender, Sexuality and the Body.
His research foci are media studies, especially film and the moving image, feminism, queer theory, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and semiotics. He is the author of Working Like a Homosexual: Camp, Capital, Cinema (Duke University Press), Grey Gardens (British Film Institute) and Queer Theory and Brokeback Mountain (Bloomsbury). In addition, he is co-editor of Key Frames: Popular Cinema and Cultural Studies (Routledge), as well as numerous essays that have appeared in Cinema Journal, South Atlantic Quarterly, and edited collections from Duke, Routledge, Oxford, and Edinburgh University Presses.
Dr. Tinkcom received his B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley, his M.A. in English from The University of Texas at Austin, and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. He also attended Clifton College in Bristol, U.K., and Deep Springs College in California.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology, and how it is structured? What are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program, and how much flexibility do students have to craft their own individualized course of study?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] The CCT Program is organized around two foundational principles: that students learn best in collaboration and in community, and that students thrive when they are able to design their own unique research agendas in relation to their intellectual, professional and personal goals. The program requires students to enroll in three required courses that provide them with research tools and practices to develop their research questions regarding the relations among human social and individual life, communities that range in scale from the intimate to the global, and how technologies of communication have historically and in the present moment shaped language, representation, institutions and daily life.
With the exception of two of the required courses in which all first-year students are enrolled together, all other courses are organized as small seminars, including the required research methods course, among which there are multiple courses which students can choose. Many students enroll in multiple research methods courses during their time in the program in order to learn various techniques of knowledge production across the humanities and the social sciences.
From its inception, the program has rejected the idea that there are separate modes of knowledge, one labeled “theory” and the other “practice,” which somehow don’t inform each other. Instead, the CCT program organizes its curriculum to provide students opportunities to see how the thinking and doing are bound together, and how learning to do rigorous, careful, engaged research serves our graduates over their long professional careers because they learn how to ask questions, consider different methods with which to work on their questions, and see interdisciplinary thinking as collaborative rather than competitive.
Students have great flexibility in designing their course of study in consultation with their faculty advisors, and the program is best suited to students who are intellectually curious and able to engage the challenges of learning new modes of knowledge production.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students can choose between a master’s thesis and an additional coursework option. Could you elaborate on these two options, what they entail, and how students should decide which is best for them?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] Students in the CCT program can complete the degree in one of two ways: the course work option or the thesis option. In the first, they take twelve courses in total (including the two entering courses and the research methods seminar), emphasizing how their course work allows them to complete several projects that explore their professional and intellectual interests.
“In the second option, students apply to have a thesis topic and its related research agenda approved for one or two semesters to complete their research, resulting in an extended project that can include different mediations, including a scholarly document, a video that explores a particular idea, or a digital object that addresses a social problem and considers a solution to that problem, to name a few kinds of theses. The thesis process includes proposal of the topic, research and writing/editing, and public presentation to the faculty committee that has supervised the project and an invited audience, and final submission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Many students who have completed theses have continued to Ph.D. programs on the basis of their initial research for the thesis.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology? Independent of faculty instruction and support, what career development resources and academic services are available to students, and how can they make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] Faculty in the CCT program are appointed solely to the program; the program does not include undergraduate instruction, and thus faculty are focused on each graduate student’s development. We do this via advising and mentoring in one-on-one mode instruction beyond classroom conversation. Students can also take courses outside the program across Georgetown University and within the Washington D.C consortium of universities, resulting in faculty relations within and outside the CCT program.
Students are, upon initial matriculation, assigned a faculty advisor, and as well can consult with all faculty for guidance and input on their research and professional development.
Given its location in the nation’s capital, there are many internship opportunities, which students can identify via the Graduate School’s Graduate Career Center, as well as through CCT alumni events which are held throughout the year.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For students interested in Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology, what advice do you have for submitting a competitive application?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] Applicants are encouraged to understand the curriculum, both in terms of its required and elective courses, and to read the profiles of the faculty in order to understand how we teach and learn, and to know that the program is best suited to students who are motivated, self-reliant, curious, and able to learn in complexity and to know that not all solutions to problems are readily apparent.
Applicants should write a thoughtful and authentic statement about their experiences leading to the present decision to apply to graduate school, have a strong undergraduate preparation in their major(s) and minors(s), and describe their professional and intellectual biographies in terms of what prior research they might have, what they would like to study while at CCT, and where they see themselves contributing their talents and education to the larger world. A demonstration of a good understanding of the CCT curriculum and how the applicant would succeed within it is vital to a successful application.
A strong application will include letters of recommendation, which should include professors and mentors who can describe the student’s talents and achievements, as well as how that student has learned and changed while under that instructor’s tutelage.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Today’s media landscape is constantly evolving, and with this evolution comes new challenges and opportunities for students and professionals across the for-profit, non-profit, and governmental sectors. How does Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology prepare students to stay on the cutting edge of media strategy, ethics, and impact?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] CCT (and Georgetown more generally) consider education to be life-long, and the program’s emphasis is to nurture each student’s ability to ask questions, even (and especially) when others are not asking those questions. While trends may come and go, knowing how to scrutinize each new tool for the impact it has on those who use it remains a long-term priority for all our students, no matter where they go professionally. While the program sees all communication tools and technologies (and competencies with such tools) as vital to student’s professional success, the larger framework of the CCT program asks questions about the ethics of communications tools.
Our curriculum is reviewed on a yearly basis by a faculty committee that seeks balance among the multiple areas of research that we emphasize and include within our curriculum.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?
[Dr. Matthew Tinkcom] As a Jesuit university, Georgetown emphasizes the concept of cura personalis in its teaching and guidance of students, and the CCT program centers its pedagogy on this value. Cura personalis emphasizes each student as unique in their development and needing focus and attention as an individual. As such, at crucial moments in life transitions, be they from undergraduate education to graduate school or at subsequent professional life stages, we foster an inclusive graduate and professional environment that sees diversity as a well-source of excellence and as a form of social justice, and our location in Washington, D.C. provides students with many opportunities to work towards their ultimate goals.
To learn more about Georgetown University’s M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT) program, please visit their website.
Thank you, Dr. Matthew Tinkcom, for your excellent insight into Georgetown University’s Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology!