Click on the clapper for the Literature/Film Association Newsletter and news of the LFA Conference October 15-18, 2009

Film Studies Contributing Faculty
  • Nancy Mellerski, French (Coordinator, Film Studies)
  • Alex Bates, East Asian Studies
  • Mara Donaldson, Religion
  • Amy Farrell,  American Studies & Women's Studies
  • Paul Gleed, English
  • Kamaal Haque, German
  • Nitsa Kann, Judaic Studies
  • David Kranz, English
  • Stephanie Larson, Political Science
  • Christopher Lemelin, Russian
  • Nicoletta Marini-Maio, Italian
  • Tullio Pagano, Italian
  • Thomas Reed, English
  • Victoria Sams, English
  • J. Daniel Schubert, Sociology
  • T. Scott Smith, Physics (emeritus)
  • David Warfield, Film Studies
  • Stephen Weinberger, History
  • Blake Wilson, Music



Film Studies 101:  Introduction to Film Studies

An introductory study of the preeminent art form of the 20th century. The course focuses on the fundamentals of film study as an academic discipline, including formal analysis of film narrative and cinematic technique (the art of film), contextual approaches to film, study of various film genres,  and rudimentary experience with film production (using videocams and computer editing).  Students are exposed to a range of aesthetically and historically important films from a variety of film genres and cultural traditions.  Given every Fall semester.
Film Studies 201:  The History of Film
An examination of the economic, cultural, technological, generic, formal, and aesthetic evolution of cinematic art, from 19th century precursors of the motion picture to the current state of world cinema.  Between these bookends, the survey might include such developments as the medium's inception in 1895, early international (especially German, Soviet and French) classics in silent film, the rise of Hollywood, the emergence of sound, American censorship and classical Hollywood cinema, pre-war French classics, post-war Italian neo-realism, la nouvelle vague, Asian and third-world cinemas, eastern European and British developments at mid-century, and changes in the American film industry in the nineteen-sixties and seventies.  Given every Spring semester.
Topics in Film Studies 301
In-depth analysis and discussion of selected areas in Film Studies not normally covered in other interdisciplinary offerings.  Topics may include, for example, auteur studies, genre studies, film theory, and film and popular culture.  Recent offerings have included Psychology and Cinema, The Anarchy of Laughter, and New Directions in American Film, Hollywood on Hollywood. Most of these courses are cross-listed with other departments. See below for current offerings.




Film Studies 102. Fundamentals of Digital Film Production. This course provides instruction in the basic aesthetic and technical aspects of digital film production, including writing, producing, directing, shooting, lighting, recording and mixing sound, and editing. Students will learn to harness digital tools while focusing on their roles as storytellers. Each participant will write and direct a video, rotating through various crew positions as they carry out exercises designed to deepen their knowledge of the different elements of moviemaking. Ultimately, they will collaborate in teams on short movies, which will be screened at the final class. Prof. Warfield. 

Film Studies 201. History of Film. See description above. Prof. Weinberger.

Film Studies 301/Italian 320. Representations of Terrorism in Italian Cinema


American Studies 200. Mass Media. This course examines the connections between mass media and American culture, focusing in particular on ideological constructions, commercialism, and audience reception. We will examine the origins of U.S. mass media, emphasizing the utopian hopes that American citizens brought to the media and the competing demands of commercial interests. Then we will turn our attention to analysis of the media itself, in particular television situation comedies, television advertisements, and television news. We will explore how meanings are constructed within media, the ways that different audiences interpret these meanings in multiple and often conflicting ways, and the ways that commercial constraints shape what we see and hear on television. Prof. Farrell. (Film Studies minors may count one media course toward their requirement.)

American Studies 30/Africana Studies 310. Black Visual Aesthetics. This course examines the construction and performance of "black" racial identities through various forms of visual culture. We will investigate how visual representations, technologies of vision, and the visual arts including specifically film and photography produced in North America (the U.S. Canada, and the Caribbean) and Europe have been used to create and transform the idea of "blackness" at specific historical moments. Specifically, we will look at the films of Sankofa Film and Video Collective, a pioneering group of young black British filmmakers; "blaxploitation" films in the U.S.; and the work of various Caribbean film makers. In addition, the photography of African Americans James Van der Zee and Lorna Simpson, British-Nigerian Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Jamaican Albert Chong, among others, will be explored to examine the ways in which people of African descent have used visual means to call into question and subvert dominant racial, sexual, and gender categories and ideologies. Prof. Philogène. (Film Studies minors may count one media course toward their requirement.)

English 101. The Hollywood War Film. Over its 230 years, the United States has been a country at war (hot and cold) more than at peace. In the 20th and 21st centuries alone, we have fought two world wars, a Cold War with the Soviet empire, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, brief wars in Grenada and Somalia, the "War on Terror," and continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America's dominant ideologies and its related proclivities for war as well as our understanding of the great costs of such enterprises has been well documented in that quintessential American art, the Hollywood film. In this course, we shall explore the genre of the war films made by Hollywood, assessing the limits of its diversity, appreciating the art of its greatest exemplars, and relating the genre to the values, paradigms, political controls, and economic urgencies of its country of origin. In this exploration, we shall ask a myriad of questions about the popularity of this film genre, its relationship to American culture (especially involving race, gender, and class), and the themes, narrative schemes, and cinematic techniques which distinguish this kind of movie. Two samples: How do some war films mute and evade images of death and destruction in order to promote national and military goals and myths? Can anti-war films successfully de-romanticize battle, and if so, how? Prof. Kranz.

English 101. Monty Python and the Real Grail. This is largely an historically-focused literature course with a cinematic "hook"; it will consistently look well beyond Monty Python and the Holy Grail to the actual medieval texts and contexts which the film both "builds on" and tears apart. Rather than giving students a chance to master some loony British dialogue (brilliant as it is), the course will shed substantial light on the mind(s) of the Middle Ages--and, just as importantly, on the ways some medieval material has been understood and misunderstood, appropriated and distorted, by subsequent ages. Among our primary texts will be The Song of Roland, Chretien de Troyes' Arthurian romance Yvain, the French Vulgate Quest of the Holy Grail, selections from Marie de France's Lais and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and the letters of Francesco Petrarch. Secondary readings will cover major historical, social and ideological trends that are relevant to the material. We will also watch films like Excalibur, Camelot, and The Seventh Seal. Prof. Reed.

French 363. Cinema and Society. This course explores Francophone cinema of the past two decades as it focuses on contemporary social and economic realities in France. We consider issues of marginality and difference, in particular immigration, integration, social exclusion, the world of work, and sexuality. In addition, we study the context within which this new social and political awareness in French film-making emerges--its influences and antecedents in relation to post-war French film history, as well as its significance in the wider socio-political context of France in the since the early 1980s. In addition to about a dozen films, we read two novels. In French.  Prof. Mellerski.












Film Studies 101 (see description above). Prof. Mellerski.

Film Studies 301/English 218. Creative Writing:  Screenwriting. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the fundamentals of good screenwriting:  structure, theme, conflict, character, and dialogue. Students take part in weekly writing exercises as preparation for their final class project -- creating a detailed outline of an original screenplay, and completing the first act.  Topics include plot and subplot, character development, and commercial considerations such as format and genre.  Students are required to read essential books on scriptwriting and to analyze several successful films and the screenplays on which they are based.  Prof Warfield.

East Asian Studies 205. Japanese Film. This course provides a survey of Japanese cinema from its early days to the present and places that development in its historical context. Within the overarching frame of history we will examine how Japanese cinema became a “national cinema” and what that means; how genre theory helps us approach “Japanese” genres such as samurai, yakuza and giant monster movies; how auteur theory was applied to the work of directors like Kurosawa and Ozu; and the role of Japanese cinema in the world as evidenced by the recent Oscar winning film Okuribito (Departures). Recognizing that film is a global medium, we will look at these issues from an international perspective and compare the Japanese case not only to traditional Hollywood style but also to other national cinemas. Prof. Bates. Fulfills the Comparative Civilizations requirement.

Religion 241. Love and War in Motion Pictures: Middle Eastern Cinema. Explores a range of topics regarding the Middle East through diverse lenses. The discussion will focus on the different vantage points of various cinematic voices on the same topics such as the disputable existence of Israel, religious strife, national identity, and the complex interaction between the East and Western culture. The course will emphasize the similarities concerning universal and humanistic themes such as love and relationships within a zone that faces the constant danger of terrorism and war; tradition and modernity; and women's status in a patriarchal society. The course will introduce a collection of contemporary films from throughout the Middle East. The goal is to observe the film's characteristics along with thematic discussions. Prof. Kann. Fulfills the Div Ia and Comparative Civilizations requirements.


Click on the clapper to see a list of recent Film Studies Minor courses.

Click on the following URL to link to  the courses offered in the Film Studies program at the University of East Anglia,where many  Dickinson students  spend their junior year: