Skip to Content

Department of Media Study records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 16-9-1192

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials on the development and growth of the Department of Media Study (DMS) and a collection of subject files created by the founder of the department, Gerald O'Grady.


  • 1959-2009


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The Department of Media Study records, 1959-2009 are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

The Department of Media Study is an experimental media arts program committed to providing both graduate and undergraduate students a community in which they can develop their own voice as artists. Students can take courses in a wide array of research areas including independent film and video, documentary forms, sound, electronic poetry, digital poetics, media robotics, media urbanism, social computational media, locative media, performance, story and game. This department is strongly linked to artistic practices and conversations in the departments of Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Comparative Literature, English, Music, Theatre and Dance and the Center for the Americas. In addition, we participate in an interdisciplinary program in Film Studies. We encourage our students to combine their work in this department with study in other disciplines. During a period when there was not yet any university which was explicitly devoted to media art, at the same time as making its theoretical analysis a component of the curriculum, Gerald O'Grady founded the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1973.The entire spectrum of media art—ranging from photographic images to slide installations, from music to film and video performances, from film to film installations, from videotape to video environments, and from computer graphics to interactive installations—was investigated, made a reality, and taught about in the 1970s and 80s, by the structuralist avant-garde film makers Hollis Frampton, Tony Conrad, and Paul Sharits; the documentary film maker James Blue; and the legendary video artists Steina and Woody Vasulka, as well as Peter Weibel—all of whom have subsequently been canonized. All Buffalo faculty members were not only practicing artists, but also capable of theoretically accompanying the development of and issues around their media, in lectures, essays, and publications.

Biographical Note

Gerald O'Grady, Ph.D., was the founder and Director of Media Study (Buffalo) and Initiator/Director of Center for Media Study (SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Dr. O'Grady came to the University at Buffalo in 1967 as a medieval specialist in the Department of English. He had become interested while at Rice University in Texas with the new media as a code of communication; at UB he was the initiator and Director of the Center for Media Study in 1972, and he founded the independent, not-for-profit media center Media Study (Buffalo). His concept of the wide-ranging effects and possibilities for "new media" was universal in scope, presciently forecasting that with the advent of film, video and television cameras, broadcast industries and computer technologies there was to be a dramatic change in the way people throughout the world would receive information, do business and communicate with each other. Gerald O'Grady was particularly sensitive to the need for artists to be supported and to work with the advanced thinkers of the scientific communities to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas that would enable the flourishing of the new art forms.... His mission was the preparation of artists and teachers of media whose mode of personal expression would grow from a cross-disciplinary base of general education, and further, to bring the public an awareness and understanding of a new era of media literacy. O'Grady has produced documentaries on arts and on social issues for PBS, and his projects have been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


42.33 Linear Feet (101 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)


The records and department planning materials of Gerald O'Grady and the Department of Media Study.


This collection is arranged in five series: I. Administration; II. Class files; III. Faculty files; IV. Gerald O'Grady Subject files; V. Photographs.

Acquisition Information

The University Archives received the materials that form this collection in 2010 from the Department of Media Study. Please see archivist for more information.

Accruals and Additions

Additions to this Record Group are expected to be transferred from the Department of Media Study into the University Archives at a later date.

Related Resources

16/1/957 Faculty of Arts and Letters Course proposals, 1971-1998
16/9/00-1 Phos -- Center for Media Study, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1978

Processing Information

Processed by Jillian Suarez, July 2011.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle White, January 2015.


Finding Aid for the Department of Media Study records
Finding aid prepared by Jillian Suarez .
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)