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Film and Media Studies

(For 2013–2014 academic year)

Professor Schwarzer (Director)
Assistant Professor Simonson
Visiting Assistant Professors Stob, Youmans

Advisory Committee Lopes, Schwarzer (Director), Shi, Simmons, Simonson

The film and media studies minor introduces students to engage in a critical study of film, mass media, and social media. Through screenings, readings, and discussion, the program examines how film and media serve as powerful determinants of ideology, identity, and historical consciousness. Courses offered in a range of departments and programs constitute the minor, reflecting the fact that cinema and media-based research cuts across disciplines.

It has been said that the mass media collectively represent the most important and widely shared context for the receipt of information and ideas in our contemporary experience. Courses in the film and media studies minor question the consequences of our passive consumption of mass media as both entertainment and information. Students in the minor learn the history and theory of film and media, analytical approaches and strategies; they also come to understand the various ways in which film and media are produced, circulated, and consumed.

The film and media studies minor encompasses history, theory, and practice, with the goal of developing in students the critical skills necessary to analyze representation and experience as they are constructed by new and emerging visual technologies.

Film and media studies students are strongly encouraged to become involved in internships directly related to the minor. Colgate’s Center for Career Services offers a wide variety of opportunities in areas including film, television, radio, advertising design, and digital design. Career services will work with students individually to obtain regional or national internships for the semester or summer.

Minor Program

The five-course film and media studies minor consists of the following:
1.  FMST 200, Introduction to Film and Media Studies
2.  Four additional courses selected from among those listed below, and distributed as follows:
a.  One course from list A.
b.  One course from list B.
c.  Two additional courses selected from either list A or B, with at least one at the 300 level or above.

List A
ARTS 287, History and Theory of Cinema
ENGL 358, Narrative Screenwriting
FMST 210, Global Cinema
FMST/FREN 223, Introduction to French Cinema
FMST 320, Post-War European Film History and Theory
FMST 333, Documentary Film
FMST 340, Music, Film, and Media
FMST 350, Hollywood and the World: Performing Gender and Sexuality Onscreen
FMST 400, Special Topics in Film and Media Studies
ITAL 223, Introduction to Italian Cinema


List B
ARTS 201, Digital Studio I
ARTS 221, Video Art I
ARTS 241, Photography I
ARTS 284, History and Theory of Photography
ARTS 285, New Media Art: History and Theory
ARTS 302, Digital Studio II
ARTS 322, Video Art II
ARTS 342, Photography II
FMST/ANTH 374, Anthropology of Media: Mass-Mediated Cultures
FMST/SOCI 375, Media and Politics
MUSI 220, Digital Music Studio
PCON 314, Media War: Peace and Conflict in the Digital Age
SOCI 222, Media and Modern Society
SOCI 348, American Popular Culture
WRIT 222, The Narrative in New Media
WRIT 340, Visual Rhetoric


List A includes courses with a primary focus on film. The courses of list B are concerned with general media studies and are broad and comparative by design, focusing on the integration of various media in culture and society, and on the collective experience of living in an image- and media-saturated world.

Courses comprising the minor may be taken in any order; however, it is highly recommended that students take FMST 200 early in the program. Additionally, students should be aware that certain courses have departmental prerequisites. It is the students’ responsibility to fulfill these prerequisites should they wish to declare a minor in film and media studies, recognizing that certain courses may be required even though they themselves do n ot count toward the minor in film and media studies. Note: Film and Media Studies minors wishing to take ARTS 201, Digital Studio I; ARTS 221, Video Art I; and ARTS 241, Photography I — these courses require ARTS 100, Introduction to Studio Art, as a prerequisite. Students should plan accordingly and take ARTS 100 in the first or second year.

No more than one course counted toward this minor may also count toward a major. No more than two courses from a single department may be counted toward this minor.

Following the completion of the minor, students are encouraged to undertake a capstone experience. Honors thesis courses and senior seminars provide an opportunity for research that could build upon both the student’s major and the film and media studies minor.

Course Offerings

Courses unique to film and media studies are described below. Descriptions of other courses noted above may be found under appropriate departments.

200  Introduction to Film and Media Studies
M. Simonson, J. Stob, Staff
From the films we watch to the personal profiles we maintain online, media saturates our lives. Film and mass media can be powerful determinants of ideology, identity, and historical consciousness. This course is a historical survey of media technologies and environments, combining course readings with a required weekly film screening. The theoretical concepts introduced in this course enable students to critically approach the visual culture around them: just how immersed are we in the virtual, and what are the strategies for engaging with or disengaging from virtual worlds? Students learn to respond to film and media as proactive, critical, and articulate viewers. Students also acquire the vocabulary, conceptual strategies, and interpretive skills necessary to closely analyze the form and content of film and media, as well as the ability to set their own relation to the ideologies all representations convey. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

210  Global Cinema
J. Stob, M. Simonson, Staff
This course explores the production and reception of film in a global context, as well as the various ways individuals and communities around the world create and receive film. Students explore the concept of “national cinema,” the interplay of local aesthetic traditions and transnational industrial and artistic practices, the role of cinema in diasporic communities, and the impact of global capitalism on film production, distribution, and exhibition. Films depicting immigration, exile, the refugee, insider/outsider status, and other modes of geographic movement are explored. Prerequisite: FMST 200 or permission of instructor.

223  Introduction to French Cinema
This course is crosslisted as FREN 223. For course description, see “Romance Languages, Course Offerings: French.”

320  Post War European Film History and Theory
J. Stob
This course is an introduction to the methods, concepts, movements, and reception of European cinema from 1945 to the present. Selectively surveying the history and theory of Western, Central, and Eastern European filmmaking, the course juxtaposes the close study of narrative and film form with theoretical texts. From neorealism to the transnational in film, from the postcolonial to double occupancies, lessons emphasize the historic hybridity of commercial and experimental film in Europe and complicate auteurist approaches to European film culture. The postwar thematic motifs which continually surface in European film’s changing social and aesthetic landscape (marginality, desire, and the metropolis) is a focal point of discussion and reflection. Prerequisite: FMST 200 or permission of instructor.

333  Documentary Film
G. Youmans
This course surveys the traditions of personal, experimental, ethnographic, and political documentary filmmaking. This overview of the history and aesthetics of documentary examines its origins, forms, goals, and contemporary styles while at the same time problematizing its canonical readings and reception. Issues covered include documentary styles, documentary representation of history and memory, the filmmaker’s relationship to the subject and the viewer, and the impact of technology on documentary techniques. Particular attention is paid to the influence that certain social and political movements have had on documentaries and filmmakers. A required film series accompanying the class includes works by directors such as Flaherty, Riefenstahl, Wiseman, Rouch, Morris, Moffatt, and many others. Prerequisite: FMST 200 or a cinema studies course in the FMST minor, or permission of instructor.

340  Music, Film, and Media
M. Simonson
This course explores the various ways in which sound and music have functioned in film, television, and contemporary media culture. Tracing film history from silent film through the so-called “gold era” to today’s blockbusters and independent films, students examine a series of film scores and soundtracks, thinking about commonly employed musical devices, the dramatic functions of diegetic music and underscore, the psychology of listening, and the interaction between sound and image. Throughout the semester, students also consider the ways in which music and sound function alongside narrative and visuals in television soundtracks, music videos, and various internet-based media. In addition to examining the evolving styles of film composers, particular attention is devoted to cinematic/media “borrowing” of existing classical and popular music; the integration of film, music, and media industries; and the ways in which music and sound work with other elements of film and media to reflect and construct social and cultural identities. Through readings, screenings, and written assignments, students acquire the tools and language to analyze and discuss the complex ways in which music, film, and media interact. Prerequisites: FMST 200 (or FSEM equivalent), ARTS 285, or permission of instructor.

350  Hollywood and the World: Performing Gender and Sexuality Onscreen
M. Simonson
This course explores the construction and performance of gender and sexuality in and through Hollywood film. Using a variety of critical approaches, the class examines the various ways in which gender and sexual identities are represented and signified onscreen in a variety of films from the silent period through the early twenty-first century. Particular attention is paid to how Hollywood films have historically reproduced and/or questioned contemporary gender roles and sexual identities, and how cultural narratives surrounding masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and queerness have been challenged and/or reaffirmed in Hollywood productions. In addition to close examinations of onscreen performances, generic conventions, technical practices and aesthetic styles in specific films, the class explores various ways in which the spectator’s gender and sexuality have been implicated in film viewing over the course of the twentieth century. Coursework includes required weekly film screenings and writing assignments, analysis papers, and in-class presentations. Prerequisite: FMST 200 or FSEM 149 or permission of instructor.

374  Anthropology of Media: Mass-Mediated Cultures
This course is crosslisted as ANTH 374. For course description, see “Anthropology: Course Offerings.”

375  Media and Politics
This course is crosslisted as SOCI 375. For course description, see “Sociology: Course Offerings.”

400  Special Topics in Film and Media Studies
M. Simonson, J. Stob
This seminar offers an advanced level study of a specific and narrowed field within the discipline of film and media studies. Each year, this course focuses on topics that reflect the breadth of film and media studies at Colgate. Faculty teach in the area of their scholarly expertise on a rotating basis. The seminar may focus on an in-depth study of a filmmaker, or a school of film, or genre, or focus on an advanced study of the history and theory of television or media, among other things. Prerequisite: FMST 200 and one additional cinema studies course in the FMST minor, or FMST 200 and permission of instructor.