Introduction

Introduction

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

About Amherst College

About Amherst College

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Honors & Fellowships

Honors & Fellowships

Back

Film and Media Studies

Faculty: Professor Hastie‡ (Chair, fall 2021); Associate Professor Rangan† (Chair, spring 2022); Assistant Professors Guilford and Levine; Visiting Five College Senior Lecturer Mellis*; Visiting Professor Sanders; Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya (fall 2021).

Contributing Faculty: Professors Brenneis, Couvares, Drabinski*, Engelhardt, Gewertz, Kimball, Lembo, Parham*, Rogowski, Sarat, Schroeder Rodriguez, Van Compernolle, and Woodson; Associate Professors Gilpin, Kunichika, Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media. The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses. In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies. The dual emphasis on critical and creative practices allow the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of four additional courses (FAMS electives) that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, one-two 400-level seminars (see below) and a Capstone project. The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study in consultation with their advisor in the major, but it is anchored by two foundations courses in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema," "Coming to Terms: Media," "Knowing Cinema," and "Knowing Television"), one foundations course in Production (a 200-level production course), and one 410-level course in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one 400-level FAMS course in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least four other courses as electives. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course, and all seniors will complete a comprehensive exam in the form of a symposium in the Spring semester of their senior year.

* On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

110 Film and Writing

(Offered as ENGL 180 and FAMS 110) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 25 students. Twelve seats reserved for first-year students. Open to first-year and sophomore students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

182 Constructing Childhood: From Page to Screen

(Offered as ENGL 182, EDST 182 and FAMS 182) How has childhood been imagined across the twentieth century and into our own present? Since the Victorian era, childhood and the experience of being a child have been associated with innocence (and experience), nostalgia (and regret), and a simpler (while deeply complex) time of life. Yet across literature and media, childhood is constructed after the fact, by adults whose perceptions are shaped by their understanding of childhood as a distinct and discrete set of experiences. In this course, we will explore constructions of British and American childhoods on page, stage, and screen, exploring two foundational late Victorian/Edwardian intermedial texts (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan), before venturing on a journey exploring cinematic depictions of childhood over the course of the twentieth century. We will examine twentieth-century films depicting children and popular genres designed to appeal to child audiences; how media texts represent children as they navigate conceptions of gender, sexuality, race, and class; and children as both consumers and producers of media in the twenty-first century. Students will explore different genres and modes of expository writing, including personal essay and close textual analysis and do an independent, guided research project. Students will gain a familiarity with key terms and methodologies in English and Film & Media Studies; an ability to think and write critically about literary and cinematic texts; an awareness of historical, social and cultural perceptions of childhood in Britain and the United States; confidence in reading primary and secondary sources; and proficiency in analytical writing, including sentence-level clarity, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

This course is designed for entering first-year students. Non-English/FAMS majors and Five College students are welcome. Limited to 18 students. Eighteen seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 280 and FAMS 210) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of key critical terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American, popular and avant-garde) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion may include, among others: modernity, montage, realism, visual pleasure, ethnography, choreography, streaming, and consumption. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2022

212 Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960

(Offered as ENGL 287 and FAMS 212) This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the “golden age” of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman’s film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Reading and writing assignments and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. By the end of the semester, students can expect to gain the following: a familiarity with key terms in film language and film analysis; an ability to think and write critically about film, its aesthetics, historical development, technology, and cultural context; an overview of some key films in American cinema history from the silent era to 1960; an appreciation of different film genres, their structure, iconic language, and ideological/cultural meanings; and confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in film criticism and history.

Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Knowing Television

(Offered as ENGL 282 and FAMS 215) For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions–looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.

Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 45 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2016, Fall 2019

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(Offered as ENGL 284 and FAMS 216) What do we mean when we talk about “the media”? Coming to Terms: Media will parse this question, approaching the media not as a shadowy monolith but as a complex and changing environment comprised of varied technologies, formats, practices, devices, and platforms (e.g.: photography, gramophone records, online dating, smartphones, Netflix). The course will introduce key terms and critical approaches for the study of modern media in their specificity in an era of digital mediation. We will ask questions such as: What are the formal and technical features of different media? How do they construct us as spectators or users, and shape our perception of the world we inhabit? How do our media practices produce experiences of space, time, and community? And crucially, what are the ideological impacts of these perceptions, constructions, and practices when it comes to race, sex, identity, and the circulation of power and capital?

Each week students will encounter important works of twentieth- and twenty-first-century media and cultural theory and will encounter concrete examples to flesh out the abstract concepts in the readings and engage in ample class participation. Assignments will encourage students to enter into a conversation with these texts as a way of exploring and constructing arguments about contemporary media. The course will provide a strong foundation for advanced work in film and media studies, and related disciplines.

This course has no prerequisites, but it is best suited to students who have completed a 100-level course dealing with the analysis of literature or film. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

221 Foundations in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.

Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester: Professor Levine. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Mellis. 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

227 Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2021

233 2020: Art Can Help

(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?

In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.

Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.

Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2021-22 Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

234 Television Narratives

(Offered as ENGL 283 and FAMS 234) What stories does television tell? And how does it tell them? This course will approach television’s narratives through a focus on both form and content. We will take into account issues of production, distribution, and exhibition, with attention both to historical developments and contemporary transformations to the medium. In this way, we will explore how shifts in programming, platforms, and viewing habits alter both televisual narration and consumption. By considering television’s specific form–whether commercial networks, cable TV, or subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu–we will query how this specific media format enables or limits the ways it tells stories and what stories it tells. Each iteration of this course will focus on particular forms of narrative programming, through an emphasis on genre, format, historical eras, or cultural facets. Readings will include key critical works in Television Studies, essays on particular television series, and other works that situate television texts in a broader cultural framework and history. The goal of the course is to think through narrative form, representational systems, authorship, exhibition, and reception habits in order to define not just what television narrative is but also what it can be.

In spring 2021, “Television Narratives” focused on policing race, as represented in US television series, with some forays also in documentary programming and music videos from the late 1980s, early 1990s, and our contemporary period. We began with episodic police and detective series of the late 1960s and 1970s, such as The Mod Squad, Tenafly, and Shaft, when the role of the black detective merged social consciousness and contemporary style, sometimes treading the line between criminality and the law. We then turned to the hybrid episodic-serial format of Hill Street Blues, focusing on the representation of both African-American policing and criminality represented within the series. Our next case study, spanning the 1990s and early 2000s, considered the emergence of the police procedural as a dominant televisual form, with an emphasis on the long-running Law and Order franchise. Our final case study composed the latter half of the course, as we looked at mini series and limited season serials, including the docudrama When They See Us and the one-season series Seven Seconds. During this final unit, we also integrated queries into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to consider how the narratives of such series are extended through intertextual connections with clips, interviews, and productions by both fans and artists.

Two sections of this course were offered, each section limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

238 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330 and FAMS 238) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in English.

Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2019

313 Still/Moving: The Documentary Project

(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

316 Performance

(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European—primarily German—culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts, will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will also be screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Limited to 16 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

317 Victorian Sensations, or, When Old Media Were New

(Offered as ENGL 375 and FAMS 317) Ghosts, vampires, madwomen, and typists: what do these figures have in common? In this course, we will investigate the characters and events that made the Victorian period the age of sensation, from the rise of popular fiction and the illustrated newspaper to the introduction of new methods for viewing and experiencing the world on a global scale. The course will focus on nineteenth-century Britain, exploring the ways in which Victorian fiction, poetry, and print and visual media give voice to the period’s obsession with sensory experience. We will read Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, a tale of deception, mistaken identity and madness, alongside works by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Bram Stoker, among others. Historians of “old” media–including telegraphy, photography, and early cinema–will assist us in exploring new technologies for communication in the nineteenth century, while media archaeologists and theorists of ephemerality, memory, and the archive will deepen our understanding of the relationship between past and present media cultures. Three formal essays will be required: a literary close reading (3-4 pages); a critical explication of a scholarly article (4-5 pages); and a final research project (a 10-12 page paper or a digital humanities project of similar length and scope).

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

320 Japan on Screen

(Offered as ASLC 234 and FAMS 320)

This course places equal emphasis on the two key terms of its title, “Japan” and “screen.”  Is the concept of national cinema useful in the age of globalization?  What is the place of cinema in a history of screen culture in Japan?  This course aspires to rethink the idea of Japanese cinema while surveying the history of cinema in Japan, from early efforts to disentangle it from fairground spectacles and the theater at the turn of the last century, through the golden age of studio cinema in the 1950s, to the place of film in the contemporary media ecology. This course will investigate the Japanese film as a narrative art, as a formal construct, and as a participant in larger aesthetic, social, and even political contexts.  This course includes the major genres of Japanese film, influential schools and movements, and major directors.  Additionally, students will learn and get extensive practice using the vocabulary of the discipline of film studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(Offered as GERM 347 and FAMS 323) This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin – Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including works by Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood.
Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2020

324 New Latin American Documentary

(Offered as SPAN 240 and FAMS 324) Latin American documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century has been enjoying a renaissance marked by a shift away from the highly political social documentaries of the second half of the twentieth century towards more reflexive modes of representation that explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects in ways that profoundly alter both. In this course, we will first discuss several canonical social documentaries of the 1960s and 1970s, and then proceed to discuss documentaries of the twenty-first century from Argentina (Andrés di Tella, Albertina Carri, María Inés Roque, Mario Oesterheld, and Jorge Prelorán), Brazil (Eduardo Coutinho, João Moreira Salles, Eryk Rocha, and Gabriel Mascaro), Mexico (Roberto Hernández), Colombia (the collective Mujeres al borde), Chile (Patricio Guzmán), and Guatemala (Ana Lucía Cuevas). As part of the class students will have the opportunity to create their own reflexive documentaries using the techniques we will have studied and discussed in class. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

325 Nazi Cinema

(Offered as GERM 348 and FAMS 325) This course examines the vital role cinema played in sustaining the totalitarian Nazi system. From the visually stunning “documentaries” of Leni Riefenstahl to the tearful melodramas starring Swedish diva Zarah Leander, from the vicious anti-Semitic diatribes of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to the ostensibly apolitical “revue films” featuring Hungarian dancer-chanteuse Marika Rökk, the cinema of the Third Reich (1933-45) is fraught with contradiction and complexity. How did the German film industry cope with the exodus of Jewish (or politically suspect) talent after Hitler came to power? What tensions arose between a centralized bureaucracy pursuing an ideological agenda and an industry geared toward profit maximization? How do genre films of the period negotiate the conflict between official notions of a “racially homogeneous” body politic on the one hand and audiences’ pervasive fascination with the exotic on the other? What does the popularity of stars such as Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Lilian Harvey, and Kristina Söderbaum tell us about the private dreams and aspirations of German audiences at the time? Were there pockets of resistance to censorship? Can there be artistic freedom under a totalitarian regime? To answer questions such as these, we will examine films from a wide range of directors, including Willi Forst, Veit Harlan, Helmut Käutner, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Leni Riefenstahl, Reinhold Schünzel, Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, and Hans Steinhoff.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rogowski.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2021

327 Fascism, War, and Freedom: Spain and Japan On Screen

(Offered as ASLC 327, EUST 327, and FAMS 327) The relationships among media, the state, and civil society are complex.  This course aims to address these relationships by examining cinema—the art form of the twentieth century—in Japan and Spain during different but overlapping eras of tumult: the 1930s to the 1980s. Putting these two national cinemas in a comparative framework will allow us to address issues such as: the interest in film by authoritarian regimes; the way cinema is harnessed to wartime goals by the state; the nature of censorship and self-censorship in war and peace; the potential of image, sound, and narrative to give expression to propaganda and democratic ideals; the cathartic release following the end of an authoritarian regime or occupation. The course, taught in English, does not assume prior knowledge of either country, nor of film studies. All films have English subtitles.

Spring semester. Professors Brenneis and Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, and FAMS 328) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.

Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022

345 Performance Studio

(Offered as THDA 353 and FAMS 345) This is an advanced course in making performance in dance, theater, video and/or hybrid forms. Each student will create, rehearse and produce an original performance piece in his/her/their preferred medium. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, these pieces will be shared on digital platforms as ongoing works in progress (with students in the class) and as final projects with a wider audience at the end of the semester. Different strategies, tools and philosophies will be given and explored with an emphasis on taking creative advantage of found spaces and available resources. Improvisational and interactive structures and approaches among and within media will be investigated.  

Two ninety-minute class sessions per week and rehearsal/production sessions as required.   

Requisite: An intermediate departmental course in performance-making and consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(Offered as ENGL 381 and FAMS 351) Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, Agnès Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Three hours of lectures and three hours of film screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

354 Sound Design Studio

(Offered as THDA 354, FAMS 354 and MUSI 354) Building on the concepts learned in THDA 254/MUSI 254, this studio course further develops the student’s work in sound design through an intensive focus on hands-on practice. Students will participate as sound designers in the Amherst Theater & Dance production program, the Five-College production program, and in other collaborative sound design and compositional opportunities with filmmakers, visual artists, installation artists, game designers, and podcasters. Throughout the term, students will expand and deepen their relationship to the toolkit introduced in Sound Design I, while we examine strategies for developing an efficient, real-world approach to the creative and technical rehearsal processes in various modes of live performance and art making. Limited to twelve students.

Requisite: THDA 254/MUSI 254 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

355 Disability Media

(Offered as ENGL 376 and FAMS 355) Moving image and audiovisual media frequently assume a fully able subject despite the infinite variety of our embodied capacities and debilitations. This course will explore how this assumption has shaped the design, narrative forms, audiovisual poetics, exhibition contexts, and modes of spectatorship and engagement of a range of media forms, from cinema to digital interfaces. We will examine how critical, experimental, and therapeutic approaches to media, the uses of media by people with disabilities, and media made in collaboration with disabled makers and protagonists enable us to fundamentally rethink what media can be and do. Readings will draw from disability studies and film and media studies as well as philosophy, science and technology studies, performance studies, sound studies, and other areas. Topics may include: disability tropes and rehabilitation narratives in film and TV; prostheses and “assistive” technologies; subtitles, captions, and the politics of accessibility; inclusive product and interface design; staring as spectatorial mode; sound art and polymodal listening. 

Prior coursework in ENGL or FAMS is recommended but not required. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(Offered as ENGL 383 and FAMS 360] What’s intimate about cinema? And what, if anything, is cinematic about intimacy? Since its invention, cinema has been closely associated with intimate experience, though understandings of this association have shifted over time. For classical film theorists, cinema’s intimate devices (the close-up, the kiss, etc.) were often invested with revolutionary potential, though more recent cultural theorists have issued strong rejoinders to such claims. Isn’t intimacy crucial to the workings of modern power? Doesn’t cinema structure intimate relations in accordance with normative ideologies? Examining a range of intimate film cultures–from early cinema to surrealism, classical Hollywood, Black British film, and queer world cinema–this course will explore the intimate dimensions of filmic representation and reception, and the reasons cinema’s intimacy has been both celebrated and denounced. Assignments include in-class presentations, critical essays, and weekly entries in personal film journals.

Requisite: One 200-level ENGL or FAMS course, or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

361 Remixing and Remaking: Adaptation in Contemporary Black Literature

(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

369 Discipline and Defiance in Black Creative Expression

(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

370 Traumatic Events

(Offered as GERM 363, ARCH 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, social media, and performance, online and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic and inter/national events of 2020. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014, Fall 2018

374 Gothic/Horror: Literature, Film, Television

(Offered as ENGL 374 and FAMS 374) Gothic fictions are known for their ability to send shivers down the spine, evoking sensations of discomfort, fear, and horror. This interdisciplinary course will explore the genre of the Gothic from its roots in the late eighteenth century through the present, moving among literature, film, television, and digital media forms. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be a key text; we will explore intermedial texts like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and the course will end with twenty-first century incarnations of the Gothic (Get Out, Penny Dreadful). Throughout, we will discuss the tangled relationship between sexuality, race, and power that characterizes the genre. Students will  develop a creative project, whether a piece of short fiction or a visual/digital exploration of Gothic themes, keep a weekly reading/viewing journal of their responses to the assigned texts, and facilitate discussion on a given text. In addition, students will write a 3- to 5-page close textual analysis, with a mandatory peer review workshop and revision, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) or creative project. Students will gain a familiarity with key literary and film/media studies terms and approaches; an understanding of major works in the Gothic and horror genres; an ability to think and write critically about Gothic literature and related media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays in literary studies, cultural studies, and film and media studies; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or Film & Media Studies, or equivalent. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(Offered as MUSI 225 and FAMS 375) Jazz occupies a special role in the development of American film. From The Jazz Singer (1927), the first American film that included synchronized sound, to the sprawling Jazz: A Documentary (2001) from Ken Burns, filmic representations of jazz speak to fundamental ways that Americans negotiate difference and imagine national identity. This course examines the relationship between jazz and American culture through three modalities: improvisation, narrativity, and representation. How might jazz improvisation influence the construction of film? Is there an "improvised film"? Moreover, jazz musicians often speak about "telling stories" through their music. How might this influence narrative structure in film and inform the ways that stories about jazz musicians are constructed in film? How might this influence narrative structure in film? And how might these stories about jazz musicians reflect larger debates about race, gender, sexuality and nationality? Assignments will include guided viewing of several important jazz films, required reading, and a series of essays.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Robinson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2019, January 2021

380 SPACE

(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 380) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; architectural, art, and film theory and history; performance studies and performance theory; and theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.

Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German. 

Limited to 18 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2022

382 After COPS: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition

(Offered as ENGL 378 and FAMS 382)

Calls to defund the police may have helped to cancel the notorious reality program COPS, but crime scenes, courtrooms, cops, lawyers, victims, and vigilantes dominate our media and our imaginations. This course asks what needs to be abolished—not just canceled—in our media environment in order for us to imagine a world without prisons. Abolition is, at its core, a transformative project that aims to change the very social relations, conditions, and logics that produce the harms for which police and prisons seem to serve as solutions. A project that once took on the seemingly impossible challenge of ending slavery, abolition has become a movement of interlinked struggles against systemic oppression. We will examine a range of media, historical and contemporary, cinematic and televisual, fictional and documentary, global and local, through the lens of abolition, deconstructing carceral scenarios and affects, and discovering and imagining transformative approaches to narrative, healing, and justice. Students enrolling in this course should be prepared to take on a range of activities including and beyond weekly readings, film/media viewing, and analytical writing, such as independent and collaborative research, site-based field work (if public health guidelines permit), and optional creative media assignments.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

383 The Documentary Impulse

(Offered as ENGL 377 and FAMS 383) Documentary is one of the fastest-growing areas of media production today, enjoying unprecedented commercial success in theaters, on television, and online streaming services. What drives the urgent desire to represent reality? Where did this impulse originate, and how do documentarians continue to channel it today? This course focuses on the innovative forms and ethical dilemmas that have resulted from the pursuit of reality. We look at different approaches to documentary (ethnographic, personal, observational, interactive, essayistic, activist) and emerging forms such as fake news, true crime podcasts, mockumentaries, web-docs, and documentary art. Our discussions consider the shifting boundaries of the documentary genre, the unique ethical and political considerations involved in making documentaries, and the impact of technological and socio-cultural changes on historical trends in documentary.

Open to students with no prior film classes. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Rangan.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

410 Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview

(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410)  This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.

In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre. 

 

Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

411 The Film Essay

(Offered as ENGL 480 and FAMS 411) The “essay” derives its meaning from the original French essayer: to try or attempt. In its attempts to work through and experiment with new ideas, the essay form becomes a manifestation of observation, experience, and transformation. Originally developed through the written form, the essay has also taken shape in visual work–photographic, installation, and, of course, cinematic. The “essay film” is exploratory, digressive, subjective; the “video essay” is similarly personal and simultaneously transformative. The “film essay” has the capacity to be all of these things, though in the past few decades this form has become arguably schematic. Working against the conventions of the “academic” or college essay and inspired by visual experimentation, this course will explore film through a variety of manifestations of the written essay. After all, since film comes in multiple forms and offers multiple experiences, it demands multiple possibilities of rhetorical exploration.

The models for writing in this course will come from both visual and written works. Course readings will be collected from a range of historical periods and will run a gamut of approaches to film: theoretical and experiential, critical and poetic, autobiographical and historical. Class screenings will similarly come from a variety of historical eras, genres, and national spaces. Because writing assignments will often explore the cultural experience of the movies, we will visit a variety of screening venues, including a film festival, “archival” and repertory houses, art cinemas, and commercial theaters. Though it will include some lectures to contextualize readings, this course will primarily be discussion-oriented, with attentive writing workshops. Thus experimenting with method and form, students will produce weekly writings, two extended essays, and a collaboratively-produced project.

Requisite: a 200-level foundations course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

412 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

424 “It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

430 Ozu Crossing Borders

(Offered as ASLC-430 and FAMS-430) Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963) was almost completely unknown outside Japan until the early 1970s but is now considered among the most important artists in cinema history. He spent his entire career in a major Japanese studio, where he developed a signature style that some have called an “anti-cinema.” Ozu’s career began in 1929 with comedies inspired by Hollywood slapstick and ended in the high-growth era with the contemplative films for which he is best known. This course will use this remarkable body of work to tell an Ozu-centered history of the cinema. Weekly screenings of select films spanning the late silent era to his final film in 1962 will acquaint students with Ozu’s oeuvre. A variety of readings will help us position these films within broad aesthetic, cultural, and historical contexts. Students will work in small groups to help trace the lines of influence that reached Ozu in the beginning of his career and the lines that reach outward after his death, crossing borders to the rest of the world. Coursework includes a final project.

Requisite: A prior course in FAMS or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

431 Fashion / Media / Modernity

(Offered as ENGL 475 and FAMS 431) Fashion has long been associated with frivolity, ephemerality, and triviality. Yet trends in clothing and design are irrevocably linked to politics, technology, society, and cultural change–from hats to hemlines to heels, fashion can reveal the transformations of an era. How has fashion evolved in the modern age, and what is its relationship to literature, film, and other media forms? What can fashion teach us about our past, present, and future? This advanced seminar will delve into the interdisciplinary field of fashion studies to examine the vicissitudes of fashion from the nineteenth century onward, focusing on Britain, Europe, and the United States, with an eye toward the role of imperialism, Orientalism, and cultural appropriation in shaping fashion’s tangled histories. Students will study literary texts; film and television; print, visual, and digital media; and material culture. Potential case studies include the dandy, the New Woman, and the flapper; wartime fashions; subcultural style; the wedding gown; the sneaker; among other topics. Students will do independent research, culminating in a written research project and/or curated digital exhibit; keep a weekly reading/viewing journal recording their critical responses to the assigned texts; and facilitate discussion on a given topic. Students can expect to gain: a familiarity with key terms and approaches in fashion studies, media studies, and cultural studies; an ability to think and write critically about fashion and fashion media, in terms of aesthetics, historical development, and cultural context; confidence in reading critical/theoretical essays; and proficiency in various aspects of project-based work, including identifying a research topic, building arguments, using evidence, and working with and appropriately citing a variety of sources.

Requisite: At least one 200-level foundations course in English, Film & Media Studies, Art & the History of Art, History, Theater and Dance, and/or Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies. Upper-level coursework in one or more of these fields is strongly recommended. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

437 A Media History of Anime

(Offered as ASLC 437 and FAMS 437) Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) is ubiquitous in today’s world. This seminar traces the history of animation in Japan, from the earliest known work in 1907, stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid, to the media convergence of the present. Animation allows us access to a larger history of media in Japan, including cinema, television, and today’s hybrid “contents industry.” Animation is also shaped by these many media forms. Topics include the relationship between animation and the state during wartime, the rise of a commercial industry, the analog revolution of the multi-plane camera, the digital revolution of the computer, and the stream of experimental animation across the twentieth century, among others. Course materials include films, television shows, computer entertainments, technical readings, and theoretical essays. Assignments, centered on a final research paper, are designed to cultivate research skills that can be applied to popular culture texts.

Limited to 25 students. Fall Semester. Professor Van Compernolle.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

438 The City in Literature and Early Film

(Offered as ENGL 485 and FAMS 438) This course examines the role of the city in shaping modern experience. We will study literary works by Charles Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf alongside a number of early films, reading these texts against historical and critical discussions of everyday life in the urban environment. Among other themes, we will take up the debate over “flanerie” as a spatial and social practice, investigating the class and gender dynamics of urban and cinematic spectatorship. Our conversations will be shaped by an awareness of the city as a geographically locatable space to be mapped and traversed, but also as a site for imaginary projections of individual and collective experience. In addition to a short creative assignment, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Requisite: A 200-level foundations course in English or equivalent. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Sanders.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

441 Documentary Production

(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.

The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.

Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Levine.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

445 Advanced Projects in Video Production

(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.

Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(Offered as ENGL 481, ARHA 481, and FAMS 481) Experimental film is a vital area of contemporary media culture where artists engage the moving image from a wide range of creative approaches, exploring film as an aesthetic, poetic, or political medium, rather than a commercial enterprise. By departing from the conventions of mainstream film, experimental filmmakers present their audience with a stimulating challenge, asking viewers to develop new critical frameworks through which to assess films that often resist classification and traditional interpretive approaches.

In this seminar, students will take up this challenge by exploring different ways of entering into conversation with the work of experimental filmmakers. Through weekly screenings, in-class visits by contemporary filmmakers, and group discussions of course readings (such as artists’ writings, interviews, and related theoretical material), we will develop critical and creative vocabularies that help us to analyze and respond to an array of experimental films and videos. Along with completing writing assignments and in-class presentations, students will plan and execute a final project that can assume a number of critical or creative forms, such as an interview with a filmmaker, a short video, or an analytical essay.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in FAMS, ARHA, or ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Guilford.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021