Film and Media Studies

Chair:                             BOB REHAK, Associate Professor
Susan Grossi, Administrative Assistant

Core Faculty:                 ERICA CHO, Visiting Assistant Professor
PATRICIA WHITE, Professor 1
SUNKA SIMON, Associate Professor 2

Affiliated Faculty:          Timothy Burke (History)
William Gardner (Modern Languages and Literatures, Japanese)
Haili Kong (Modern Languages and Literatures, Chinese) 3
Maya Nadkarni (Sociology and Anthropology)
Carina Yervasi (Modern Languages and Literatures, French) 2

1 Absent on leave, fall 2013.
2 Absent on leave, spring 2014.
3 Absent on leave, 2013–2014.

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

Requirements

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 recognized courses from other Swarthmore departments.

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 approved course. 

Course Minor

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

Requirements

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

Requirements

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.

Courses

FMST 001. Introduction to Film and Media Studies

Provides groundwork for further study in the discipline and is recommended before taking additional FMST courses. Introduces students to concepts, theories, and histories of film and other moving-image media, treating cinema as a dominant representational system that shapes other media forms. Topics include the formal analysis of image and sound, aesthetics, historiography, genres, authorship, issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and nation, economics, technology, and reception and audience studies. Emphasis is on developing writing, analytical, and research skills. Required weekly evening screenings of works from diverse periods, countries, and traditions.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Simon. Fall 2014. White.

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 semester. Cho.

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

Focusing on the history, industry, and theory of special and visual effects, this course introduces students to the basics of studying and writing about film and the relationship between film style and technology; formal and narrative principles of “showstoppers” such as musical numbers, fight scenes, and car chases; and questions of realism and illusion, visual pleasure, and sensation. Required weekly evening screenings.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

FMST 009. First-Year Seminar: Women and Popular Culture: Fiction, Film and Television

(Cross-listed as ENGL 009P)
This course looks at Hollywood “chick flicks” and “women’s films” and television soap operas, their sources in 19th- and 20th-century popular fiction and melodrama, and the cultural practices surrounding their promotion and reception. How do race, class, and sexual orientation intersect with gendered genre conventions, discourses of authorship and critical evaluation, and the paradoxes of popular cultural pleasures? Texts may include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, The Joy Luck Club, Sex and the City, and Twilight. Required weekly evening screenings.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014. White.

FMST 011. Advanced Production Workshop: Approaches to Narrative

As movie lovers in a media-saturated world, we are all highly film literate, yet it is surprisingly difficult to make a narrative film that keeps the audience engaged. So what does a director’s skill consist of? How do you stage the action, work with actors, use the camera as narrator, and manipulate cinematic time and space so that viewers can follow the story and get emotionally involved? This course is an immersive experience in the art of narrative film for students with previous production experience. Through practical workshops in sound production, cinematography, and editing, students advance their technical, aesthetic, and storytelling skills beyond the fundamentals. Coursework includes directing exercises, in-class critiques, viewing film clips, and the production of a digital short film.
Prerequisites: FMST 001, and FMST 002 or equivalent production course with instructor’s approval.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014.

FMST 013. Advanced Production Workshop: 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 01 and FMST 02 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 014. Advanced Production Workshop: Documentary Practices

This course is an introduction to the art and craft of documentary filmmaking for students with prior production experience. Through practical workshops in sound production, cinematography, and editing, students advance their technical, aesthetic, and storytelling skills beyond the fundamentals. Students also research an idea, write a documentary treatment, conduct interviews, and create a visual strategy for a high-quality, short documentary film. Readings and discussions will address a topical theme as well as the social and ethical responsibilities of the documentary filmmaker within a media-saturated, “reality”-televised, video meme’d landscape. The course concludes with a public screening of final projects. Required weekly evening screenings.
Prerequisites: FMST 01 and FMST 02 or permission of the instructor.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. 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 semester. 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 2014. White.

FMST 021. American Narrative Cinema

Surveys U.S. narrative film history from the 1910s to the 2010s with an emphasis on the Hollywood studio era. Considers film as narrative form, audiovisual medium, industrial product, and social practice, emphasizing the emergence and dominance of classical Hollywood as a national cinema, with some attention to independent narrative traditions (“race movies,” New Queer Cinema). Analyzes 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. Required weekly evening screenings.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014. White.

FMST 022. Silent Cinema

This course explores the first decades of film history in the context of global modernity and artistic modernism. In form and content, cinema functioned as both a vector and a reflection of the transformative subjective and social experiences of modernity, including urbanization, immigration, consumerism, and women’s participation in the labor force. 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, North Africa, and Latin America 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.
Spring 2014. 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 concept of “new” media, examining our ongoing cultural adaptation to emerging screen technologies and their attendant narrative and audiovisual forms. Coursework includes blogging, podcasting, and web-based research. Required weekly evening screenings.
Prerequisite: FMST 001.
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Rehak. Spring 2015. Simon.

FMST 033. Asian/American Media Art

This critical-creative hybrid course explores themes of labor and migration in Asian and Asian American film and media culture. It examines activist, documentary, experimental, and fictional film; popular media; and art and is structured around two creative projects. Students make a short comic (collaged, hand-drawn, or digital) and work collaboratively on one of a range of projects (documentary, board game, comic, etc.) to examine the history, politics, and cultural contexts of Asian/American labor and migrations.
Eligible for ASIA credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Cho.

FMST 034. Art and Media Activism

This critical-creative hybrid course explores the relationships between art, media, and activism. Required weekly screenings focus on video activism since the 1960s; tactical media and culture jamming; and art and media practices in present-day social change movements. Readings explore the role of the artist in society as we discuss questions of aesthetics, spirituality, community, and social responsibility in an age of global capitalism. Students work with a media artist/collective/filmmaker to complete a creative project that takes on a social change issue.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Cho.

FMST 041. Fan Culture

This course 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 cults of celebrity; the creation and sharing of fan fiction and videos; gendered and queer identities in fan culture; adaptive responses of media texts and industries; and digital social media communities. 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.
Not offered 2013–2014. Rehak.

FMST 042. Animation and Cinema

This course examines the forms, technologies, and history of animation in American narrative cinema and television. 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.
Not offered 2013–2014. Rehak.

FMST 043. Conspiracy

Investigates conspiracy and the paranoid imagination both within film and television narratives and as a mode of skepticism and mistrust toward media themselves. Focusing on a period from the Cold War to the present day, the course constructs an archeology of screen and print media to explore the shifting meanings of conspiracy in response to technological, political, and social change. Topics include the structural affinities among conspiracy, narration, and seriality; recurring tropes such as biological contagion, corporate and patriarchal menace, and supernatural forces; and the role of digital media in both spreading and debunking conspiracies. Required weekly evening screenings.
Eligible for INTP credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. 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.
Not offered 2013–2014. White.

FMST 046. Queer Media

(Cross-listed as ENGL 090)
The history of avant-garde and experimental media has been intertwined with that of gender non-conformity and sexual dissidence, and even the most mainstream media forms have been “queered” by subcultural reception. How do lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (lgbt) filmmakers queer sexual norms and standard media forms? How are sexual identities mediated by popular culture? 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 through the lens of queer theory.
Eligible for GSST or INTP credit.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. White.

FMST 050. What on Earth Is World Cinema?

Is there such a thing as world cinema, or 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.
Not offered 2013–2014. Simon.

FMST 052. Postwar France: French New Wave

(Cross-listed as LITR 073F)
We will focus on French novels and films as they reflect, reinforce, and critique French society from the early 1950s thorough the end of the 1960s. We will study these texts in relation to modernization, decolonization, and the growing discontent of youth culture in the 1960s. Close readings will allow us to draw conclusions about the relationship of new cultural and social movements - postwar consumer culture, radical political movements, and the women’s movement – to France and French society. (Writers and directors include Lefebvre, Godard, Truffaut, Melville, Etcherelli, Rochefort, Varda, Akerman).
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Yervasi.

FMST 054. German Cinema

(Cross-listed as GMST 054)
This course is an introduction to German cinema from its inception in the 1890s until the present. It includes an examination of early exhibition forms, expressionist and avant-garde films from the classic German cinema of the Weimar era, fascist cinema, postwar rubble films, DEFA films from East Germany, New German Cinema from the 1970s, and post 1989 heritage films. We will analyze a cross-match of popular and avant-garde films while discussing mass culture, education, propaganda, and entertainment as identity- and nation-building practices. Required weekly evening screenings.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Simon.

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.
Not offered 2013–2014. Kong.

FMST 057. Japanese Film and Animation

(Cross-listed as JPNS 024)
This course offers a historical and thematic introduction to Japanese cinema, one of the world’s great film traditions. Our discussions will center on the historical context of Japanese film, including how films address issues of modernity, gender, and national identity. Through our readings, discussion, and writing, we will explore various approaches to film analysis, with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of formal and thematic issues. A separate unit will consider the postwar development of Japanese animation (anime) and its special characteristics. Screenings will include films by Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, Imamura, Kitano, and Miyazaki.
Eligible for ASIA credit.
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Gardner.

FMST 059. Re-Envisioning Diasporas

This course is team-developed and co-taught by three professors in three disciplines in an 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. Seminar-style class taught in English.
1 credit.
Not offered 2013–2014. Simon, Yervasi.

FMST 086. Theory and History of Videogames

Explores video and computer games through historical, cultural, and formal perspectives, mapping the medium’s emergence and evolution from its roots in hacker culture of the 1960s and 1970s to the commercial boom and bust of the arcades, the rise of home console and personal computer systems, and the role of the internet in creating multiplayer environments. Other topics include avatars and roleplay, gaming subcultures, machinima, and transmedia entertainment. Readings and lectures emphasize multiple methodologies including anthropology, psychology, ludology, narratology, ideology, gender, and performance. Although this is not a programming course, some opportunities for design and play may be involved.
1 credit.
Fall 2013. Rehak.

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 2014. Rehak, Cho. Spring 2015. White, Cho.

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.

FMST 100. Film Studies

What is the nature and role of film, a medium born with the 20th century, in the 21st? The academic discipline of film studies, established in the wake of theoretical and political challenges to culture and knowledge in the 1960s, has since evolved to address historical and philosophical questions, electronic and digital media, and the globalization of film culture. Placing weekly screenings in cultural context, this seminar engages key thinkers and texts of classical and contemporary film theory, current ontological and historiographic debates, and a range of research methodologies.
2 credits.
Not offered 2013–2014. White.

FMST 102. Convergence

This honors seminar explores the cultures and content of the contemporary mediascape through formal, technological, and political lenses, reading emergent paradigms such as virality, paratextuality, and collective intelligence against equivalent historical moments of media evolution. Particular attention will be paid to the concepts of “the digital;” rhetorics of revolution and continuity; and the intersection of information, entertainment, and capitalism within a dominant episteme of new media. Course majors and other students with relevant background can apply for instructor’s approval to take the seminar.
2 credits.
Not offered 2013–2014. Rehak.

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 032D. Mass Media and Anthropology (Spring 2014. Nadkarni.)
ANTH 072D. Visual Anthropology (Spring 2015. Nadkarni.)
DANC 079. Dancing Desire in Bollywood Film (Spring 2014. Chakravorty.)
FREN 045D. Les cinemas africains (Spring 2015. Yervasi.)
HIST 044. American Popular Culture (Spring 2015. B. Dorsey.)
PHIL 019. Philosophy of Film and Literature (Fall 2013. Eldridge.)
SPAN 060. Memoria e identidad (Fall 2013. Guardiola.)
THEA 004D. Integrated Media Design for Live Performance (Spring 2014. Saunders.)