Film and Media Studies

Chair:                                 PATRICIA WHITE, Professor
Core Faculty:                     SUNKA SIMON, Professor and Associate Provost for Faculty
                                           BOB REHAK, Associate Professor 3
                                           ERICA CHO, Visiting Assistant Professor
Affiliated Faculty:               Timothy Burke (History)
                                           William Gardner (Modern Languages and Literatures, Japanese)
                                           Haili Kong (Modern Languages and Literatures, Chinese)
                                           Maya Nadkarni (Sociology and Anthropology)
                                           Carina Yervasi (Modern Languages and Literatures, French)
Administrative Assistant:   Susan Grossi
3 Absent on leave, 2014–2015.

Moving-image media have been one of the most distinctive innovations and experiences of the past century. In today’s media-dependent culture, developing a critical understanding and a historical knowledge of media forms is vital. Film and media studies provides an understanding of the history, theory, language, and social and cultural aspects of film, television and new media; introduces research and analytical methods; teaches digital video production skills and approaches; and encourages cross-cultural comparison of media forms, histories, audiences, and institutions.

The Academic Program

The Film and Media Studies Department offers a range of courses in critical studies and production, cross-lists film and media courses with other departments, and awards credit for approved offerings from other departments and programs. Students may major or minor in film and media studies, pursue an honors minor, or, in special cases, design an honors major. FMST 001 is the prerequisite for advanced work in the major or minor and is recommended preparation for any course in the department except first-year seminars. In addition to class meetings, most courses require weekly evening screenings. Production courses are limited to 9 students and may not be taken pass/fail.

Course Major


Majors must take a minimum of 10 credits. Requirements: FMST 001 (Introduction to Film and Media Studies); FMST 090 (Capstone); 1 production course (FMST 002: Digital Film Fundamentals; FMST 015: Screenwriting; a hybrid critical studies/production class numbered 30–39 or an approved course taken at another institution or in theater or studio art); either FMST 020: Critical Theories of Film and Media or FMST 025: Television and New Media (or both); and at least 1 course that offers historical depth in a national or transnational cinema tradition (classes numbered 50–60). Remaining courses and seminars should be selected to achieve breadth and depth in the discipline and balance between critical studies and production courses. Courses in a major may include three approved credits drawn from film and media offerings at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or the University of Pennsylvania; courses in the discipline taken abroad or at other U.S. institutions; or approved offerings from other Swarthmore departments and programs.

Acceptance Criteria

To be accepted as a major, students must have completed FMST 001 with a grade of B or above and have completed or be currently enrolled in at least one additional FMST course.

Course Minor

Students may add a minor in Film and Media Studies to any major.


All minors must take a minimum of 5 credits, which may be selected from the courses and seminars listed or from those taken abroad, at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or University of Pennsylvania, when the work is approved by the committee. The 5 credits must include FMST 001: Introduction to Film and Media Studies and FMST 090: Capstone, normally taken in the senior year. No more than two credits taken outside FMST can be counted toward the minor.

Acceptance Criteria

To be admitted to the minor, students must have satisfactorily completed one film and media studies course.

Honors Major

FMST offers a limited number of honors seminars and approves honors majors proposals only in exceptional cases. Students wishing to design an honors major in film and media studies should consult with the department chair.

Honors Minor


Students in the Honors Program may minor in film and media studies by meeting the requirements for the minor and by preparing for and taking one external exam. The exam preparation usually consists either of an FMST seminar or FMST 090 plus a 1-credit honors attachment; however, the two-credit honors preparation may incorporate a 1- or 2-credit thesis or project or other course or seminar work with the approval of the film and media studies chair. Senior honors study (SHS) consists of a revised essay or short film submitted for a course or seminar in the preparation. No SHS is required for a thesis or creative project.

Acceptance Criteria

Students wishing to complete an honors minor must have received a grade of B+ or better in all film and media studies courses.

Thesis / Culminating Exercise

FMST 090: Capstone is considered the culminating exercise for majors and minors and facilitates the completion of individual research or creative projects. There is no required thesis. Occasionally senior majors may be permitted to write a one-credit thesis or to make a thesis video in addition to their work in the capstone; applications must be submitted and approved in the semester before the project is to be undertaken.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Credit

Consult with the department chair to determine eligibility of AP or IB work.

Transfer Credit

Students may apply two approved transfer credits to their FMST major.

Off-Campus Study

Students in any major may apply to receive film and media studies credit for courses in critical studies or production taken abroad or on other campuses. Please consult with your adviser as you plan your study abroad for recommended programs. Two approved credits may be applied to the FMST major or minor.


FMST 001. Introduction to Film and Media Studies

In this course students are introduced to forms and histories of film and other moving-image media, as well as to key concepts, theories, and methods in the discipline of film and media studies. We begin with analysis of the elements of film form; explore narrative, documentary, experimental and genre formats; and conclude with perspectives on authorship, national cinema, historiography, and topics in film and media theory. Emphasis is on developing writing, analytical, and research skills. Required weekly evening screenings of works from diverse periods, countries, and traditions. FMST 001 is the prerequisite for most upper-level FMST classes.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. White. Fall 2015. Rehak.

FMST 002. Digital Film Fundamentals

This course introduces students to the expressive possibilities and rigors of the film medium while offering a sound technical foundation in digital production and post-production. We will explore documentary, experimental, and narrative approaches and also consider the opportunities and limitations—conceptual, practical and aesthetic—of exhibiting work through different venues and platforms. Emphasis will be on using the formal and conceptual palette introduced in the course to develop one’s own artistic vision. Coursework includes short assignments, discussions, screenings, and a final project.
Prerequisite: FMST 001.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Cho.

FMST 005. First-Year Seminar: Special Effects and Film Spectacle

Focusing on the history and theory of spectacular media culture with an emphasis on visual effects and other forms of behind- the- scenes industrial knowledge, this course introduces students to the basics of studying and writing about spectacle in film, television, and digital entertainment, exploring questions such as the relationship between style and technology; formal and narrative principles of “showstoppers” such as musical numbers and fight scenes; and issues of realism and illusion, visual pleasure, sensory immersion, capitalism, and ideology. Required weekly evening screenings.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. Rehak.

FMST 011. Advanced Production Workshop: Approaches to Narrative

This course is an advanced filmmaking workshop for students with prior production experience. Through practical workshops in pre-production, sound production, cinematography, and editing, students advance their technical, aesthetic, and storytelling skills beyond the fundamentals. Through reading, discussion, and exposure to a variety of creative practices within film and video, the course promotes a critical understanding of these media. Production coursework includes collaborative exercises and the completion of a short film—documentary, narrative, or experimental. This course is designed to help students develop their voice as filmmakers through the creation of high-quality works and is strongly recommended for students interested in producing a senior capstone film project in FMST90. Required weekly evening screenings and final project screening.
Prerequisites: FMST 001, and FMST 002 or equivalent production course with instructor’s approval.
1 credit.
Fall 2015. Cho.

FMST 013. Experimental Animation

This course is an introduction to analog and digital animation concepts and techniques and includes workshops on cut-out animation, stop-motion, and hybrid computer based forms using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. The course emphasizes technical and aesthetic experimentation, with the goal of developing a personal vision through the creation of high-quality, experimental works. Through reading, discussion, and exposure to a variety of artistic practices within film, video art, and animation, the course promotes a critical understanding of these media. The class concludes with a public screening of final projects.
Prerequisites: FMST 001 and FMST 002 or permission of the instructor. Students with knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and strong drawing skills are encouraged to contact instructor.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Cho.

FMST 015. Screenwriting

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of screenwriting while enabling them to explore their unique sensibility as writers. We consider how screenplays differ from other dramatic forms and understand what makes good cinematic storytelling. By looking at short and feature-length scripts and films, we examine issues of structure, character development, effective use of dramatic tension and dialogue, tone, and theme. Through in-class exercises and discussions, students flesh out their ideas and grapple with their writing in a supportive workshop atmosphere. Coursework includes screenings, short assignments, and the completion of several drafts of a short screenplay. By application only. No previous writing experience required.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Cho.

FMST 020. Critical Theories of Film and Media

Film critic André Bazin’s famous question, “What is cinema?,” has gained new relevance since the advent of digital media. This course introduces classical film theory (realism, montage, theories of modernity and perception), contemporary film theory (theories of film language, the cinematic apparatus, and spectatorship), and approaches that cut across media (authorship, genre, stardom, semiotics, narratology, feminism, production and reception studies, cognitivism). Through readings and weekly screenings, we explore the significance of film and other media in shaping our identity and cultural experience. Required weekly evening screenings.
Eligible for INTP credit.
Prerequisite: FMST 001.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. White.

FMST 021. American Narrative Cinema

(Cross-listed as ENGL 087)
This course surveys U.S. narrative film history from the 1910s to the 2010s with an emphasis on the Hollywood studio era. We consider how genres such as the western, the melodrama, and film noir express aspirations and anxieties about race, gender, class and ethnicity in the United States. Film is understood as narrative form, audiovisual medium, industrial product, and social practice. Classical Hollywood is approached as a national cinema, illuminated by attention to independent narrative traditions (“race movies,” New Queer Cinema). Required weekly evening screenings.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. White.

FMST 022. Cinema and Modernity, 1894–1934

This course explores the first decades of film history in the context of global modernity and artistic modernism. In form and content, silent-era cinema functioned as both a vector and a reflection of the transformative subjective and social experiences of modernity. Urbanization, immigration, consumerism, and women’s participation in the labor force were refracted in silent movie genres and stars. We will pay special attention to cinema’s internationalism before the introduction of synchronized sound, looking at film culture and national film stars in Asia as well as the U.S. and Europe. Field trips and guests will address key topics of silent film historiography including archives and preservation and film music. Required weekly evening screenings.
1 credit.
Fall 2015. White.

FMST 025. Television and New Media

This course introduces students to major trends in critical thought regarding electronic media, including the rise of broadcast television, recent developments in narrowcast or niche programming and distribution, and the relationship among media industries, advertisers, and audiences. Special attention will be given to probing and historicizing the formal concepts of broadcast and digital TV, examining our ongoing cultural adaptation to emerging screen technologies and their attendant narrative and audiovisual forms. Coursework includes weekly blogging, one analytical paper, presentations, and the production of a creative TV-related project. Required weekly evening screenings.
Prerequisite: FMST 001.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Simon.

FMST 035. Histories of Water

(Cross-listed as HIST 061)
Film and history are narrative forms that have both been challenged—creatively and analytically—by the subject of water, its politics and its poetics. This course will explore the written and filmic histories of water through analytic as well as artistic practice. Students will watch films in different genres (the film essay, found footage film, experimental documentary, and dramatic narrative) and read across sub-disciplines of history (from the early modern Pacific world to climate change denialism in the late twentieth centuries). We will discuss themes that emerge at the intersection of water history and water cinema: water as mystery/nature; water as social, political, and ecological crisis; water as dream of leisure and recreation; water as space of labor, economy, transit. The final project addresses a specific problem in the history of water through a creative and analytical lens.
Eligible for ENVS credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Cho, Azfar.

FMST 041. Fan Culture

Explores the history, philosophy, and impact of fandom in film, television, and new media. Drawing on methodologies including reception ethnography, feminism, performance, cultural studies, and convergence theory, we will consider topics such as the history of celebrity and “cult” status; the creation and sharing of fan fiction and videos; gendered, queer, and cis identities in fan culture; relationships between fans and industries; and fandom in digital social media. Screenings include serial and episodic TV, camp and “trash” cinema, narrative and documentary films, and fan-generated content.
Eligible for GSST credit if all papers and projects are focused on GSST topics.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. Rehak.

FMST 042. Animation and Cinema

This course examines the forms, technologies, and history of animation in film and other media. Screenings include short- and feature-length animated films, narrative and experimental animation from the U.S. and other countries, and animation in television and digital media. Emphasis is on framing animation in relation to an array of cultural and economic forces and theoretical perspectives, including performance, gender, the body, media evolution, taste, symbolism and realism, and the avant-garde. Required weekly evening screenings.
1 credit.
Fall 2015. Rehak.

FMST 045. Feminist Film and Media Studies

(Cross-listed as ENGL 091)
This course focuses on critical approaches to films and videos made by women in a range of historical periods, national production contexts, and styles: mainstream and independent, narrative, documentary, video art, and experimental. Readings will address questions of authorship and aesthetics, spectatorship and reception, image and gaze, race, sexual, and national identity, and current media politics Required weekly evening screenings.
Eligible for GSST or INTP credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2015. White.

FMST 046. Queer Media

(Cross-listed as ENGL 090 and GSST 020)
The history of avant-garde and experimental media has been intertwined with that of gender non-conformity and sexual dissidence. Queer theory has developed in relation to queer film texts and cultures. How do lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (lgbt) filmmakers queer sexual norms and standard media forms? Challenging classic Hollywood’s heterosexual presumption and mass media appropriations of lgbt culture, we will examine lgbt aesthetic strategies and modes of address in contexts such as the American and European avant-gardes, AIDS activism, and transnational and diasporan film.
Eligible for INTP credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. White.

FMST 050. What on Earth Is World Cinema?

Is there such a thing as world cinema, or is the concept a naïve or imperialist one? What is the relationship between “world cinema” and national cinemas? What is “national” about national cinemas? This course introduces students to theoretical debates about the categorization and global circulation of films, film style, authorship, and audiences through case studies drawn from Iranian, Indian, East Asian (Korea, Taiwan), Latin American, European, and U.S. independent cinemas presented at required weekly evening screenings. Special attention to how film festivals, journalism, and cinephile culture confer value.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. White.

FMST 051. European Cinema

(Cross-listed as LITR 051G)
The course introduces post-war directors (Bergman and Fellini), British and French New Waves, Eastern European cinema (Tarkovsky, Wajda), Post-New Wave Italian auteurs, Spanish cinema after Franco (Erice, Saura, Almodovar), New German Cinema (Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders), British cinema after 1970 (Roeg, Leigh, Loach, Greenaway) and Danish cinema: Dogme 95 and others. The course addresses key issues and concepts in European cinema such as realism, authorship, art cinema, and political modernism, with reference to significant films and filmmakers and in the context of historical, social, and cultural issues. Required weekly evening screenings.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. Simon.

FMST 052. Postwar France: French New Wave

(Cross-listed as LITR 073F)
This course is an in-depth exploration of the development and evolution of the French New Wave in postwar France. We will concentrate on the history of the New Wave in France from the 1950s through the late 1960s by the close study of the styles of individual filmmakers, the “film movement” as perceived by critics, and the New Wave’s contribution to modernizing France. The primary emphasis will be on the stylistic, socio-political, and cultural dimensions of the New Wave, and the filmmakers and critics most closely associated with the movement. Directors who were once all film critics for the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma—Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and François Truffaut—will be studied along side other important filmmakers of the era Chris Marker, Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda.
Eligible for FMST credit, fulfills national cinema requirement.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Yervasi.

FMST 055. Contemporary Chinese Cinema

(Cross-listed as CHIN 055)
Cinema has become a special form of cultural mirror representing social dynamics and drastic changes in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan since the mid-1980s. The course will develop a better understanding of changing Chinese culture by analyzing cinematic texts and the new wave in the era of globalization.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Kong.

FMST 059. Re-Envisioning Diasporas

This course is team-developed and co-taught in an interdisciplinary, international collaboration. It addresses the historical, cultural, representational, and theoretical specificities of diasporas through examining how visual and literary productions deal with questions of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, nationality and globalization from a perpetual state of “elsewhere.” How does this experience mark the conceptualization, aesthetics, and politics of the artistic process and textuality? What role do language, body memories, and visualization/projection play in the works we will discuss? How do virtual and real-life diasporic communities interact with their imagination and reception? Students are encouraged to do work in their first and secondary languages. Commitment to cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration a must. Film Studies background helpful but not required. Seminar-style class taught in English.
1 credit.
Fall 2015. Simon, Yervasi.

FMST 090. Film and Media Studies Capstone

This team-taught course begins by exploring a major paradigm or debate in the field and reviewing research methodology and production techniques. Students then undertake an individual or collaborative research or creative project (in some cases building upon work started in another class or independent study), meeting to workshop ideas and present works-in-progress. Research projects will incorporate multimedia presentation, and creative projects will be accompanied by written materials. The semester culminates in a panel/film festival.
Required for senior majors and minors.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Cho, White. Spring 2016. Cho, Rehak.

FMST 097. Independent Study

Students must apply for preregistration approval in writing.
0.5 to 1 credit.

FMST 098. Thesis

For a limited number of majors.
Requires approval.

Writing course.
1 credit.

FMST 099. Creative Project

For a limited number of majors.
Requires approval.
1 credit.

Other Courses and Seminars Currently Approved for FMST Credit

For descriptions of the following courses offered in other departments, please consult the appropriate section of the course catalog:

ANTH 002E. Anthropology of Mass Media

ANTH 072D. Visual Anthropology (Spring 2015. Nadkarni.)

DANC 079. Dancing Desire in Bollywood Film

FREN 045D. Les cinemas africains (Spring 2015. Yervasi.)

GMST 111. German Media Culture (Honors Seminar) (Fall 2014. Simon)

HIST 044. American Popular Culture (Spring 2015. B. Dorsey.)

HIST 082. Networks, Simulations, Information: Cultural Histories of Digital Media (Fall 2014. Burke)

PHIL 019. Philosophy of Film and Literature

SPAN 082. Cruzando fronteras: migración y transnacionalismo en el cine mexicano (Spring 2015. Buiza)

THEA 004D. Integrated Media Design for Live Performance (Spring 2015. Saunders)