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Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

Film and Media Studies


1. Introduction to Film: From Script to Screen

11F: 3A

This course examines all the processes, which go into the creation of a film, from its inception as a treatment and screenplay to its distribution as a film. Experts (writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, and distributors) may talk on various areas of expertise. The course will offer an in-depth analysis of classic films and different kinds of films, including an explanation and use of the key technical and critical concepts used in understanding them.

Open to all classes. Limited to 75 students. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Lawrence.

2. Introduction to Television

10F: 10A

This course will provide an introduction to television as a form of communication grounded in earlier electronic media such as telephone and radio and looking forward to the internet, its representative stylistic conventions and genres (daytime drama, news, sports, “reality” shows, sitcoms, etc), and the way the medium constructs audiences (e.g., as age, race and gender consumer demographics). Through an exploration of concepts such as “liveness,” segmentation and “flow”, and broadcasting, the class will also examine how television structures time and space. Dist: ART, WCult: W. Desjardins.

7. First-Year Seminars in Film and Media Studies

Consult special listings

10. Special Studies in Film Studies

Not offered in the period from 10F through 11S

20. Film History I (Silent to Sound)

10F: 3A 11F: 2A

Detailed history of film from its origins to early sound films. Among the major topics to be addressed are: Pre-cinematic devices and early cinema; the rise of the feature film; the tradition of silent comedy; the rise of the studio and star systems; European movements and their influence; the coming of sound.

Prerequisite to the major in Film Studies. Open to all classes. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Williams.

21. Film History II (1930-60)

11W: 10A

A detailed history of film beginning with the golden age of the U.S. studio system and its major genres. Among the topics and films considered will be the rise of sound film; Hollywood in the 30s; the impact of World War II; neo-realism; film noir; the blacklist; the impact of television and the decline of the studio system; Japanese cinema; the emergence of European auteurs; beginnings of the French New Wave.

Open to all classes. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Ruoff.

22. Film History III (1960 to 1990)

Not offered in the period from 10F through 11S

This class surveys a history of film beginning with the French New Wave and its impact on international cinema. Among the topics and films to be considered will be the interrogation of genres in this period; the rise of alternative models of production; indepen-dent and radical film in the United States, Europe, and the Third World; new national cin-emas (e.g., Eastern Europe in the 60’s, Australian and New German film in the 70’s, and Soviet, Chinese, and British film in the 80’s).

Open to all classes. Dist: ART; WCult: W.

23. Film History 1990-present

11S, 12S: 3A

This class surveys a variety of national cinemas and their artistic, social, political, and industrial contexts from the period of 1990 to the present. Focus will be on the mutual influences among cinemas during this period, international co-productions, and the ways in which specific national cinema contexts interface with globalized economies and distribution in post-colonial political environments. Some attention will be given to post- French New Wave art film movements, such as Denmark’s Dogme group; to the cross-over of east Asian cinemas, such as Hong Kong cinema, to the west; to East European and German cinema since the break-up of the Soviet Union; and to the appeal of Indian cinema to diasporic communities in North America. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Desjardins, Williams.

30. Documentary Videomaking

11X:2A 11F: 2A

This documentary workshop will explore in depth the rich world of nonfiction film and video production. Working in groups, students will tackle a variety of technological, as- thetic and ethical issues intrinsic to the medium. Each group will produce one 10-minute non-fiction narrative. The class will utilize standard professional production models, which require intense collaborative teamwork and the distribution of tasks and responsibilities.

Open to all classes; enrollment limit of 15. Permission granted by the instructor after the first day of class, on the basis of an application submitted before the end of the previous term. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Ruoff, Brown.

31. Filmmaking I: Basic Elements of Film

11S: 2A 11F: 10A 12W: 3A

An introduction to the theory and technique of filmmaking combining comprehensive analysis of significant works in various film styles with practical exercises in production. The course aims to provide a basic understanding of the filmmaking process—from script to screen. Students will work in 16mm and portable video for experience in scriptwriting, directing, cinematography, acting, and editing. Readings will include introductory film history, film theory and criticism, screenplays, and essays on new aesthetics in film and video.

Permission required with preference given to students who have taken Film Studies 1. Permission is granted by the instructor after the first day of class. Dist: ART. Brown.

32. Filmmaking II

10F, 12S: 3A

A workshop course in film production, with students, working alone or in collaboration, required to complete a project for showing at the end of the term. Weekly class meetings will include analysis of film classics and work in progress, as well as critical discussions with visiting professionals.

Prerequisite: Permission granted by instructor after the first day of class and if you have taken Film Studies 31. Dist: ART. Brown.

33. Writing for the Screen I

11W, 11F:10A

An analysis of the creative writing process as related to film and other media. A variety of styles will be explored and the potential of specific content for a visual medium will be examined. Each student will be expected to complete a script for a work of at least twenty minutes as a term project.

Permission will be granted by the instructor, on the basis of material submitted before the end of fall term. Dist: ART. Phillips.

34. Writing for the Screen II

11S, 12S: 10A

A continuation of Film Studies 33 in which the student is expected to complete a full-length screenplay begun in that course. Continued work on the methods of writing, partic-ularly on character development and plot rhythms.

Permission is granted by the instructor and if you have taken Film Studies 33. Dist: ART. Phillips.

35. Animation: Principles and Practice

10F: 2A 12S: 10A

This studio course will introduce the expansive possibilities of the animated film through a series of exercises in drawn, cut-out, object and digital animation techniques as well as an extended final project that will screen publicly. Class screenings, critiques, and visiting artist presentations will supplement in-class demonstrations. Students should expect to devote serious time to the coursework (up to 20 hours per week). Permission of the instructor is required—granted first day of course. Dist: ART. Mack.

36. Experimental Videomaking

11W: 2A

The basic techniques and theories of portable and studio video production. The course covers the basics of developing a video project from idea through realization on the screen. Students are expected to produce several projects, which emphasize ideas outside the traditional narrative and documentary forms, and are encouraged to develop their own form of aesthetic expression. Students show and critique their work in class weekly in preparation for a final project and public screening.

Permission is granted by the instructor after the first day of class, on the basis of an application submitted before the end of previous term. Limited to 15 students. Dist: ART. Ruoff.

37. Directing for the Camera

Not offered in the period from 10F through 11S

Offered in conjunction with Theater 34 (Acting for the Camera), Directing for the Cam-era investigates the directorial process of translating the written script to the screen. Work-ing with actors from Theatre 34, students analyze, rehearse, shoot and edit narrative scenes from existing or original screenplays. The exercises are critiqued and comparisons are then made between the existing works and the exercises. Students work in crews rotating between the roles of director, camera, and sound. Special attention is also given to lighting, cinematography, and audio recording. Texts will include works on directing, e.g., Truffaut /Hitchcock, as well as on cinematography and writing.

Permission required. Limit 10 students. Dist: ART. Brown.

38. Advanced Animation

11F: 2A

This advanced studio course will facilitate a short series of developed animation exercises alongside the production of an animated short that students will propose, conceptualize, and execute in preparation for a final, public exhibition. Class meetings will include demonstrations, screenings, and discussions as well individual and group critiques that seek to fine-tune each student’s skill set and vision for his/her final project. Prerequisite: Animation: Principles and Practice or previous animation experience. Permission of the instructor required. Dist: ART. Mack.

39. Advanced Videomaking (Documentary and Experimental)

12W: 2A

A workshop course in advanced digital videomaking, with students, working in pairs or groups, required to complete a short (10-minute or less) broadcast-quality documentary or experimental video for screening at the end of the term. Class meetings will focus on conceptualizing, preparing, and completing the various stages of pre-production, production, and post-production, with extensive in–class critiques.

Prerequisite: Film Studies 30, 31, 36, or significant experience shooting and editing digital video. Permission granted by the instructor after the first day of class, on the basis of an application submitted before the end of previous term. Dist: ART. Ruoff.

40. Theories and Methodologies of Film and Media Studies

11W: 3A 12W: 2A

This course is designed to introduce the film and television studies major to some of the field’s major scholarly methodologies and their theoretical value in explaining how texts, industries, creative artists, and audiences participate in meaning-making processes. Stu-dents will read scholarship and participate in projects that illuminate how meaning is created and negotiated at the levels of industrial production, artistic creation of texts, and audience knowledge and engagement. The screenings, readings, and assignments will ask the student to think about the relations among his/her own position as a scholar, as an audience member, and as a creative artist. This knowledge provides a foundation for critical thinking skills necessary for the student’s success in the major. The course is designed for students who have had some introductory exposure to the principles of film and/or television aesthetics and production techniques, but before they have completed their upper division major requirements. Dist: ART. Desjardins.

41. Genre

11W: 10, 2A 11X: 10A 11F: 3A 12S: 11, 2A

An examination of the concept and use of genre with focus on a particular genre. How are the genres determined and how useful structurally and historically is genre as a concept of classification? What constitutes a genre? What is the relationship between periods and genres? Between genre and the Hollywood film? This course will consider genre as both an aesthetic concept and an economic one, producing stabilization and variation in product. The roles of repetition and variation, stability and change. Genres may include the western, the crime movie, the women’s film, the musical, family melodrama, the film noir or other genre-related topics such as film and literature. May be repeated for credit with a different topic. Dist: ART; WCult: Varies.

In 11W at 2A (Section 1), Musicals. This course examines the Hollywood musical from its beginnings in 1927 to the present. Topics include the integration of singing and dancing into narrative; the musical as social commentary; musical biographies; the use of different kinds of popular music (Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, rock, country); the death and revival of the genre from Moulin Rouge to Sweeney Todd). Dist: ART. Lawrence.

In 11W at 10A (Section 2) Men to Boys: Masculinities in Film (Identical to, and described under, WGST 56.8). Bronski.

In 11X at 10A, Ethnographic Film (Identical to Anthropology 12.1). Ethnographic film crosses the boundaries of academic anthropology and popular media. This course will address the construction of meaning in ethnographic films in relation to the parallel concerns of anthropology. We will consider approaches to film style, the relation of visual media to ethnographic representation, and the challenges visual forms pose to written ethnographies. The class will appeal to anthropology and film students as well as students interested in the politics of cross-cultural representation. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. Ruoff.

In 11F at 3A, Animation History. This course is an introduction to the history and development of the field of animation from the prehistory of cinema to the present day. Surveying both commercial and artisanal forms of production and distribution, the class will repeatedly contextualize the various functions of animation under a series of cultural, economic, and formal lenses. Students should bring an enthusiastic interest in the medium and devote serious effort to reading about, viewing, researching, and discussing the works. Dist: ART. Mack.

In 12S at 11 (Section 1) Film as Poetry: The Avant Garde (Identical to, and described under, COLT 62). Lawrence.

In 12S at 2A (Section 2) Visual Music. This course is an introduction to the history of the exploration of the relationship between music and (mostly) abstract imagery. We will investigate this subject from its predecessors to the current day—tracing the constantly expanding practices of visual music through painting, cinema, performance, and installation—from intuitive sketch films to complex algorithmic works. Students should bring an enthusiastic interest in the medium and devote serious effort to reading about, viewing, researching, and discussing all things visual music. Dist: ART. Mack.

42. National Cinemas

10F: 10A, 3A 11S: 2A 11X:3A 11F: 3A

Focus on a specific national cinema or a particular period of a national cinema. May be repeated for credit with a different topic. Dist: ART (unless indicated otherwise); WCult: Varies.

In 10F at 10A, French New Wave. An exploration of selected films by French new wave directors Jean Rouch, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, François Truffaut, Chris Marker, and Jean-Luc Godard, with emphasis on relationships between fiction, documentary, and reality. We will consider these works In relation to aesthetic, cultural, and political developments in postwar France. We will also explore the role of French film criticism and the importance of such alternative exhibition circuits as the Cinémathèque française. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Ruoff.

In 11S at 2A (Section 1) “The Berlin School” (Identical to, and described under, German 43). Gemünden

In 11S at 2A (Section 2), African Cinema (Identical to, and described under, AAAS 55). Coly.

In 11X at 3A, Continental Strangers. (Identical to, and described under, Comparative Literature 62). Gemünden.

In 11F at 3A, Faces of Totalitarianism (Identical to, and described under, Russian 14)

43. The Film Creator: Directors, Producers, Actors, Writers

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

This course will focus on a single figure or group of related figures, examining their roles and creative authority in the filmmaking process, investigating the major films with which they are associated, and determining the central thematics of their works. Resources in addition to films will include biographies, film-scripts, critical writing, and some examples of theory. Dist: ART; WCult: Varies.

44. Television: A Critical Approach

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

Using the student’s exposure to television as a starting point, this course will examine prominent critical issues regarding television as an industry, as a narrative form, and as a cultural institution. Analytic viewing of past and present programs, assigned readings in books and periodicals, and lectures from scholars and industry veterans will be among the materials used as the basis for discussion and critical writing. A historical understanding of the medium will be emphasized. Dist: ART; WCult: W.

45. U. S. Television History

12S: 10A

This course will examine the history of television as an emerging technology; its dynamic interaction with government, private industry, and audiences; and its impact on society and culture. It will include a consideration of both pre-television media (especially radio) and new media (cyber-culture) as they inform a historical understanding of TV. The norms and practices of the network era (1955-1985) will be positioned as a functional middle-ground, much in the way that classical Hollywood Cinema (1920-1960) serves as middle-ground in motion picture history. Students will be encouraged to develop their capacity for a critical distance from contemporary media via this historicized approach. Open to all classes. Limited to 50 students. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Desjardins

46. Topics in Television

10F: 2A 11W: 2A

This course presents a range of approaches to television studies with varying emphases on historical, theoretical, or new methodological approaches including the impact of the new technologies. Dist: Varies.

In 10F at 2A, Broadcast and Electronic Journalism. The history of broadcast and electronic journalism in the United States, from telegraphy to the internet, focusing on the development of and changes to its fundamental relation to the public sphere. We will pursue a contextualized historical understanding of the formats, aesthetics, economics, and industrial organization of these media, in addition to case studies of specific debates, events, and individuals that have conditioned the impact of these media on society. We will invite speakers who have worked in these media industries and/or these histories. Students will be expected to create a digital video project and to write analytical papers, including a research paper. Dist: SOC; WCult: W. Williams.

In 11W, Television and Histories of Gender (Identical to, and described under, Women’s and Gender Studies 56). Dist: ART; WCult: CI. Desjardins.

47. Topics in Film and Media Studies

11W: 10A, 3A 11S: 10A 11X: 2A 11F, 12W: 10A

This course presents a range of approaches to film studies outside traditional categories such as genre or national cinemas. Each course will emphasize a different combination of historical, theoretical, and new methodological approaches to one area of film studies. Dist: ART.

In 11W at 10A (Section 1), Cut and Paste Cinema. Using principles of both animation and editing, this course will explore the results of combination in cut and paste cinema in conjunction with the history of collage--from classic uses in painting, photomontage, architecture, and literature to contemporary functions via mash-ups, samples, and digital manipulation. Through producing projects, screening films, discussing readings, and writing papers, we will explore the varying formulations of new meanings via the pairing of found elements. Dist: ART. Mack.

In 11W at 3A (Section 2), Independent American Film. This course examines the emergence and growth of the American Independent film movement from post-WW II to the present day. Working outside of and sometimes subversively within the Hollywood studio system, independents crafted films of an extraordinary variety across a wide spectrum of genres and styles. Despite a production and distribution system designed to exclude them, they prevailed in creating a compelling alternative vision to Hollywood’s increasingly homogenized mass entertainment. The course seeks to analyze and contextualize what it means to be an independent filmmaker, what an independent film actually is and why it matters. Students will be involved in the actual process of independent film through meeting visiting independent filmmakers and by conceptualizing, producing and budgeting an independent film of their own. Dist: ART. Brown.

In 11S at 10A, Handmade Strategies. This course will explore non-conventional, artisanal modes of experiments and avant-garde cinema that focus on the materiality of moving image media formats. By utilizing a variety of techniques—direct image and sound manipulation 16mm film, hand-processing, ray-o-grams, scanner animation, and live-projector performance—students will gain total-filmmaker toolsets to prepare for individual final projects that will screen publicly. In addition to producing personal projects, students will complete a series of written exercises that build upon in-class screenings, reading, and discussions to locate handmade cinema within historical and cultural contexts. Dist: ART. Mack.

In 11X at 2A, Migration Stories. With over 50 million displaced people today, migration is one of the most compelling problems of our time. Filmic and literary representations of migration focus on borders, different types of migrants, and their border crossing experiences. We will study migration from Latin America to the U.S.; from Africa and Eastern Europe to Western Europe; and internal migration within these countries. We will also analyze how Hollywood cinema itself creates images and values that drive migration. Gemunden, Spitta.

In 11F at 10A, Jews and Hollywood. (Identical to, and described under, Jewish Studies 22. Bronski.

In 12W at 10A (Section 1), History of the Hollywood Studio System. This class will look at the history of the Hollywood studio film production system, concentrating on its formation in the late teens and twenties through its greatest crises in the 1950s, and concluding with its survival as a system for television production and distribution for independent film companies from the 1950s to the present. The emergence of specific studio “styles,” the importance of the star system, the place of other creative talent in studio hierarchies and division of labor, and studios’ relations with other businesses (e.g. manufacturers of ancillary products) will be examined in the context of film and social histories of twentieth-century American culture. The course will also include a focus on the methodologies of researching the history of the studio system. Dist: ART. Desjardins.

In 12W at 10A (Section 2), Found Footage. This hybrid production/studies course examines films that appropriate, quote, and re-contextualize footage from other movies. There will be weekly screenings of works by avant-garde filmmakers such as Bruce Conner and Péter Forgács, documentaries such as Night and Fog and Atomic Café, fiction features such as What’s Up Tiger Lily and Forrest Gump. In addition to screenings, readings, and papers, students will edit short films on Final Cut Pro software. Dist: ART. Ruoff.

48. Topics in Digital Culture and New Media Technologies

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

This course presents a range of approaches to the study of new and emerging technologies outside, or in addition to, the critical paradigms used to study prior media arts and industries, such as film and broadcast television. Dist: ART

49. Practicum in Digital Culture and New Media Technologies

12S: 10A

This course offers students the opportunity to combine critical study with the practice of new media design. This course explores how innovative games are created and what elements go into the design of a good play experience. Games, be they PC games, cell phone games, or locative games, provide to be a versatile platform for media designers. During the course, students will explore the range of options open to the game designer in theory-practice sessions. Students study the process of making games while developing actual game ideas, prototyping, play-testing, and documenting original, innovative game plans within a master design document. Dist: ART. Flanagan.

50. Topics in Film Theory

11W: 2 12W: 11

Introduction to basic issues of film and television theory as seen by classical and contemporary film theorists. Issues include the problem of realism and representation, signification, narrative, and the impact of semiotic, psychoanalytic, feminist, and structuralist theories on classical theory.

Prerequisite: Film Studies 20 or 21, or Permission of the Instructor. Dist: ART; WCult: Varies.

In 11W at 2, Quality TV. This course surveys both the history and contemporary case studies of what is labeled “quality” television. This description spans across fiction, non-fiction, and “reality” formats, and can arise from critics, scholars, advocacy groups, or even the industry itself. As a result, the concept of “quality television” varies a great deal across history and especially within our contemporary media environment. Although our focus will be U.S. television, we will consider how the concept of “quality” is sometimes derived from comparisons with television outside the U.S. We will invite speakers who have worked in quality television and/or its histories. Students will be expected to contribute to a course blog, and write analytical papers, including a research paper. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Williams.

In 12W at 11, Sound: Theory and Practice. Through the analysis of soundtracks and the creation of soundtracks, this course will explore the history of film sound and the way theories of sound reproduction continue to influence the development of sound technology and the practical choices made by sound recorders, sound mixers and editors. We will look at early sound films, 70s breakthroughs (Murch), and the imaginary soundscapes of different genres (e.g. science fiction). Dist: ART. Lawrence.

80. Independent Study

All terms: Arrange

This course is designed to enable qualified upperclass students to engage in independent study in film under the direction of a member of the Department. A student should consult with the faculty member with whom he or she wishes to work as far in advance as possible. A proposal for any independent project must be submitted by the appropriate deadline in the term immediately preceding the term in which the independent study is to be pursued. Permission of instructor required. The staff.

93. Major Project

All terms: Arrange

This course, limited to Film and Media Studies majors or as part of a modified major, involves an individual project in some aspect of film and television history, theory or practice. The subject of the project, the term, and the hours are to be arranged. Each project must be directed by a faculty member of the Department. The approval of the faculty member and the Chair must be secured in advance, not later than the term immediately preceding the term in which the project is to be undertaken. This is a two term project.

95. Honors Project

All terms: Arrange

A thesis, screenplay, or film production written under the supervision of a member of the Film and Media Studies Department. This course must be elected by all honors candidates. Permission of the Film and Media Studies Faculty required. Honors Projects are considered to be two-term projects. Students must register for each of the two terms to receive the Honors designation.