Cinema and Media Studies

Committee Chair: James Lastra, G-B 432, 702-9244
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Jacqueline Stewart, G-B 426, 702-7999
Program Administrator: G-B 405, 834-1077
World Wide Web:

Program of Study

The concentration in Cinema and Media Studies provides a framework within which College students can approach film and related media from a variety of historical, critical, and theoretical perspectives. Focusing on the study of the moving image (and its sound accompaniments), the program enables students to analyze how meanings are created through representational devices specific to the medium and its institutions. At the same time, the goal is to situate the cinema (and related media) in broader cultural, social, and aesthetic contexts, such as visual culture and the history of the senses; modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde; narrative theory, poetics, and rhetoric; commercial entertainment forms and leisure and consumer culture; sexuality and gender; constructions of ethnic, racial, and national identities; and transnational media production and circulation, globalization, and global media publics. Students wishing to enter the program should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the spring quarter of their first year. Participation in the program must be declared to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before registration.

Program Requirements

The concentration requires twelve courses and a B.A. research paper. Course work is divided into a major field specifically concerned with cinema, and a minor field focusing on a separate but related area or topic.

Major Field. There are eight required courses in the major field. Students must take the introductory course in film analysis (Cinema and Media Studies 10100). If possible, this introductory course should be taken by the end of the first quarter of the third year. In the autumn quarter of the fourth year, students are expected to participate in a senior colloquium that helps them conceptualize their B.A. research paper and address more advanced questions of methodology and theory. The remaining six courses must be chosen according to the following distribution. Students must choose:

1. three courses in film history (at least one course in a cinema tradition other than mainstream American);

2. two courses dealing with genre (e.g., horror, musical, or experimental film) or individual directors, actors, or stars (one such course may be replaced with a course in film/video making); and

3. one course in film theory, media theory, or theories of audio-visual representation.

Minor Field. In addition, students must take a cluster of four courses in a separate area that can be brought to bear on the study of cinema in significant ways. Such clusters could be imagined, for instance, as focusing on other media and art forms (e.g., photography, video, the visual arts, architecture, literature, theater, opera, or dance); cross-disciplinary topics or sets of problems (e.g., the urban environment, violence and pornography, censorship, copyright and industry regulation, concepts of the public sphere, or globalization); subfields within area studies (e.g., East Asian, South Asian, African-American, or Jewish studies); or traditional disciplines, such as history, anthropology/ethnography, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, sociology, or political economy. Students develop these clusters in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and are expected to write a brief essay explaining the rationale for, and coherence of, their minor field by the fourth week of the winter quarter of their third year.

B.A. Research Paper. A B.A. research paper is required of all students in the program. During the spring quarter of their third year, students meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss the focus of their B.A. project, a process to be concluded by the seventh week of the quarter; they begin reading and research during the summer. By the autumn quarter of the fourth year students should have selected a project adviser and be prepared to present an outline of their project to the senior colloquium; writing and revising take place during the winter quarter. The final version is due by the fourth week of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. The B.A. research paper typically consists of a substantial essay that engages a research topic in the history, theory, and criticism of film and/or other media. In exceptional cases, students may apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies to substitute a creative project for the essay, provided they have taken at least one course in the respective area of production (e.g., film/video making or screenwriting). Any creative project should include a research component that the student is expected to describe in an accompanying report. Registration for the B.A. research paper (Cinema and Media Studies 29900) may not be counted toward distribution requirements for the concentration.

Grading. Students concentrating in Cinema and Media Studies must receive letter grades in all courses required for the concentration. Nonconcentrators may take Cinema and Media Studies courses on a P/N basis if they receive prior consent from the instructor.

Special Honors. Students who have earned an overall grade point average of 3.25 or higher and a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in concentration courses may be nominated for special honors. These honors are reserved for the student whose B.A. research paper shows exceptional intellectual and/or creative merit in the judgment of the first and the second readers, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division.

Summary of Requirements

1 introductory course (CMST 10100)

1 Senior Colloquium (CMST 29800)

6 major field courses (as specified)

4 minor field courses (as specified)

B.A. research paper


Advising. By the beginning of the third year, each student is expected to obtain approal or his or her program of study from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. For the construction of their minor field, students are encouraged to take courses and to consult with members of the resource faculty. Consult the following lists for the names of core and resource faculty members.

Committee Members

TOM GUNNING, Professor, Department of Art History and the College

MIRIAM HANSEN, Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Department of English Language & Literature, Committee on the Visual Arts, and the College

NoËl Herpe, Assistant Professor, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures and the College

JAMES LASTRA, Associate Professor, Department of English Language & Literature and the College

LAURA LETINSKY, Assistant Professor, Committee on the Visual Arts and the College

DAVID LEVIN, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Studies and the College

JOEL M. SNYDER, Professor, Department of Art History, Committees on the Visual Arts and General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

Jaqueline Stewart, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Committee on African & African-American Studies, and the College

KATIE TRUMPENER, Associate Professor, Departments of Germanic Studies, History, English Language & Literature, and Comparative Literature, Committee on General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

YURI TSIVIAN, Professor, Departments of Art History, Comparative Literature, Slavic Languages & Literatures, and the College

REBECCA WEST, Professor, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures and the College

Resource Faculty

ARJUN APPADURAI, Samuel N. Harper Professor, Departments of South Asian Languages & Civilizations and Anthropology, and the College

LEORA AUSLANDER, Associate Professor, Department of History and the College

LAUREN BERLANT, Professor, Department of English Language & Literature and the College

CAROL BRECKENRIDGE, Senior Lecturer, Division of the Humanities and the College; Associate Member, Department of South Asian Languages & Civilizations

WILLIAM L. BROWN, Associate Professor, Department of English Language & Literature and the College

DIPESH CHAKRABARTY, Professor, Department of South Asian Languages & Civilizations and the College

JAMES CHANDLER, Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Committee on General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

GEORGE CHAUNCEY, Professor, Department of History and the College

Jean Comaroff, Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Anthropology, Committees on Human Nutrition & Nutritional Biology and African & African-American Studies, and the College

MILTON EHRE, Professor, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures and the College

MARTHA FELDMAN, Associate Professor, Department of Music and the College

NEIL HARRIS, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor, Department of History, Committees on Geographical Studies and General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

Berthold Hoeckner, Associate Professor, Department of Music and the College

THOMAS HOLT, James Westfall Thompson Professor, Department of History and the College

RONALD B. INDEN, Professor, Departments of History and South Asian Languages & Civilizations, and the College

LOREN KRUGER, Associate Professor, Departments of English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, Committee on African and African-American Studies, and the College

W. J. T. MITCHELL, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of English Language & Literature and Art History, Committees on the Visual Arts and General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

C. M. NAIM, Professor, Department of South Asian Languages & Civilizations

DAVID POWELSTOCK, Assistant Professor, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures and the College

ERIC L. SANTNER, Harriet and Ulrich E. Meyer Professor of Modern European Jewish History, Department of Germanic Studies and the College

WILLIAM F. SIBLEY, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations and the College

BARBARA STAFFORD, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Art History and the College

XIAOBING TANG, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations

KATHERINE TAYLOR, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and the College

WILLIAM R. VEEDER, Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Committee on General Studies in the Humanities, and the College

MARTHA WARD, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Committee on the Visual Arts, and the College


For a description of the numbering guidelines for the following courses, consult the section on reading the catalog on page 15.

10100. Introduction to Film I (=ARTH 19000, CMST 10100, COVA 25400, ENGL 10800, GSHU 20000). This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Films discussed include works by Hitchcock, Porter, Griffith, Eisenstein, Lang, Renoir, Sternberg, and Welles. J. Stewart. Autumn.

21100. African-American Literature on Film (=AFAM 21100, CMST 21100, ENGL 27100). This course surveys a range of twentieth-century African-American literary works that have been adapted to the screen, exploring (1) the formal and stylistic relationships between literature and the cinema, and (2) our approaches to them as objects of intellectual inquiry. Titles we examine include novels and films by Oscar Micheaux; Richard Wright/Pierre Chenal/Jerrold Freedman (Native Son); Lorraine Hansberry/Daniel Petrie (A Raisin in the Sun); Chester Himes/Ossie Davis (Cotton Comes to Harlem); Alice Walker/Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple); Malcolm X and Alex Haley/Spike Lee (The Autobiography of Malcolm X); Walter Moseley/Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress); and Julie Dash's film and novel Daughters of the Dust. J. Stewart. Autumn.

21200. Politics of Film in Twentieth-Century American History (=CMST 21200, HIST 18500). This course examines selected themes in twentieth-century American political history through both the literature written by historians and filmic representations by Hollywood and documentary filmmakers. We read one historical interpretation and view one film on themes such as the following: Woodrow Wilson and World War I, the emergence of Pacific Rim cities such as Los Angeles, Roosevelt's New Deal, the Japanese-American experience in World War II, McCarthyism and the Korean War, the cold war and the nuclear balance of terror, the radical movements of the 1960s, and multiculturalism in the 1990s. B. Cumings. Spring.

22100/32100. Art and Film in the Weimar Republic (=ARTH 26000/36000, CMST 22100/32100, COVA 26300, GRMN 23100/33100). This course explores the visual culture of Weimar, Germany, with particular focus on the fine arts and more popular imagery, the intersections with Weimar Cinema, and their interactions with the contemporary social and political milieus. We consider such art and film movements as expressionism, dada, and neo-objectivity; artists' groups encompassing the Bauhaus, the November Group, and the Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists of Germany; artists ranging from George Grosz and Otto Dix to Kurt Schwitters and Wassily Kandinsky; and films including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, M, and Kuhle Wampe. Screenings required. R. Heller. Autumn.

22300/32300. Staging Femininity: Gender as Spectacle in Opera and Film (=CMST 22300/32300, GNDR 23800, GRMN 23800/33800, MAPH 33500, MUSI 22800/31900). This course explores the relationship between cultural production and gender identity. We read a broad range of texts from contemporary cultural, performance, and film theory (e.g., Judith Butler, Catherine Clement, Mary Ann Doane, Susan McClary, Laura Mulvey, and Slavoj Zizek) and examine a number of symptomatic films and operas where gender norms become apparent through their exaggeration, violation, or suspension. Films by Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, 1930), Busby Berkeley (The Gang's All Here, 1943), King Vidor (Gilda, 1946), Werner Schroeter (Death of Maria Malibran, 1972), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Lili Marleen, 1980), and Jean-Jacques Beineix (Diva, 1982); operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Marriage of Figaro), Gaetano Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor), and Giacomo Puccini (Turandot). Texts in English. D. Levin. Spring.

22700. The Divided Heaven: The 1960s in West Germany and the German Democratic Republic (=CMST 22700/32700, GRMN 23700/41400, GSHU 21200/31200). PQ: Knowledge of German. The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 cemented the division of Germany but it also, paradoxically, catalyzed a period of aesthetic experimentation and political ferment in West Germany and in the GDR. Beginning with the differing accounts of l961 produced on either side of the Wall, this course compares the cultural life of both Germanies, as manifested in literature and in film. Our focus is at once on aesthetic questions (i.e., late modernism, New Waves, and the relationship between avant-garde and documentary impulses) and artistic attempts to process social and political developments (i.e., the generation gap; the new, divided topography of Berlin; the Auschwitz trials, new discussions of fascism and Stalinism; and the student and feminist movements). K. Trumpener. Spring.

23400. Classical French Cinema (=CMST 23400, FREN 23400/33400). Classic French cinema (from the earliest filmmakers to the beginnings of the New Wave) is studied through the examples of ten movies that influenced its history and represented the development of an esthetical movement: the French school before 1914 (Louis Feuillade's Fantômas), the "avant-garde" of the 1920s (Jean Epstein's La Chute de la maison Usher), the surrealist cinema (Luis Buñuel's L'Age d'or), the musical comedy (Rene Clair's Le Million), the "100 percent talking" film (Marcel Pagnol's Le Femme du boulanger), the poetic realism (Jean Renoir's La Règle du jeu, Marcel Carne's Le Jour se lève), the cinema under the Occupation (Henri-Georges Clouzot's Le Corbeau), the evocation of the Belle Epoque (Max Ophuls' Le Plaisir), and the revival of the literary adaptation (Robert Bresson's Journal d'un cure de campagne). N. Herpe. Spring.

24100/34100. Films in India (=ANTH 20600/31100, CMST 24100/34100, HIST 26700/36700, SALC 20500/30500). This course considers film-related activities from just before Independence (1947) to the present. Most attention is paid to the Hindi film and especially to its "peculiar" features (e.g., song and dance). The course relies on people's notions of the everyday, festive days, paradise, arcadia, and utopia to pose questions about how people try to realize their wishes and themselves through film. We also look at how film is related to other media such as television. Some comparisons with Hollywood are made. Students are asked to familiarize themselves with existing approaches to Indian film against the background of more general approaches to film and the media. One film screening a week required. R. Inden. Autumn.

24300/34300. Religion and Modernity in Film (=ANTH 21900/32400, CMST 24300/34300, HIST 26800/36800). This course considers the problem of how popular films in the United States, India, and Europe have represented the conventional religions' relation to modernity: the idea of film practices ("youth culture") as constituting a secular religion alternative or antagonistic to the conventional religions. We also examine the recuperation and transformation of conventional religiosity in modernist (especially patriotic and science fiction) films as a national theology ("civil religion"). One to two film screenings a week required. R. Inden. Winter.

25400/35400. Women and New China Cinema (=CHIN 25400/35400, CMST 25400/35400, EALC 25400/35400, GNDR 24900). In this course we study the representation of women in a series of films from different stages of New China cinema. Specifically, we examine a collection of "rural films" (i.e., Li Shuangshuang and Ermo) in which the transformation of a female character constitutes the central action. We explore questions of a film genre, quotations, subjectivity, and the projection of desire. Texts in English. X. Tang. Winter.

25600/35600. Cinema and Magic (=ARTH 26200/36200, CMST 25600/35600, COVA 25800). PQ: CMST 10100 or equivalent. This course traces relations between motion pictures and traditions of magic, both as a theatrical entertainment and as a belief system. The invention of cinema's roots in the magic lantern and other "philosophical toys" that trick the senses into seeing visual illusions are explored. The early trick films of Melies and others are discussed. The relation between cinema and hypnosis is also explored. We consider the appeal of magic systems of thought (i.e., spiritualism, theosophy, and ritual magic) for avant-garde movement, as well as their relation to experimental films by Epstein, Artaud, Deren, Anger, Smith, Fischinger, and others. T. Gunning. Spring.

26400/36400. Charlie Chaplin: The Man, the Artist, and the Cultural Hero (=ARTH 28900/38900, CMST 26400/36400, COVA 25900). Three aspects stressed in the course title define the approach to (and explain the significance of) this key figure in the history of film and twentieth-century culture. As a man, Chaplin was a frequent target of large-scale political and sexual scandals. As an actor-director, he was responsible not only for the Tramp figure but also for such genres as social comedy and comedy melodrama. As a myth, Chaplin's figure was key to a number of twentieth-century art movements (e.g., Expressionist poetry, Cubist painting, and Soviet Constructivist art). Y. Tsivian. Winter.

27100. Film Aesthetics, Spectatorship, and Cinema Experience (=CMST 27100, ENGL 28000, GSHU 20700). This course focuses on the relation between the film medium, its aesthetic possibilities and practices, and the forms of reception mandated by and available within the institution of cinema. Beginning with a few classical film theorists (i.e., Balazs, Kracauer, Eisenstein, and Benjamin), we explore questions of film aesthetics and spectatorship through more contemporary theorists in the psychoanalytic-semiotic vein (i.e., Metz, Baudry, and Mulvey). We also consider the perspective of recent film history (i.e., Gunning, Musser, Tsivian, Carbine, and Hansen) that emphasizes the significance of the entire cinema experience (i.e., the social space of the theater, music, programming, and the public horizon of the audience) for the process by which films convey meaning, pleasure, and subjectivity. M. Hansen. Winter.

27200/37200. Slavic Critical Theory from Jakobson to Zizek (=CMST 27200/37200, GSHU 21300/31300, SLAV 28500/38500). This seminar style course surveys the cultural and literary theory of critics including Roman Jakobson, the Russian Formalists, Jan Mukarovsky, the Prague School, Mikhail Bakhtin, Tzvetan Todorov, Julie Kristeva, Mikhail Epstein, Slavoj Zizek, and the Solovenian Lacanians. M. Sternstein. Winter.

27600/37600. Beginning Photography (=CMST 27600/37600, COVA 24000). PQ: COVA 10100, 10200, or consent of instructor. A camera and light meter are required. Photography affords a relatively simple and accessible means for making pictures. Through demonstration, students are introduced to technical procedures and basic skills, and begin to establish criteria for artistic expression. Possibilities and limitations inherent in the medium are topics of classroom discussion. Class sessions and field trips to local exhibitions investigate the contemporary photograph in relation to its historical and social context. Course work culminates in a portfolio of works exemplary of the student's understanding of the medium. Field trips required. Lab fee $60. L. Brown, Autumn; L. Letinsky, Winter, Spring.

27700/37700. Advanced Photography (=CMST 27700/37700, COVA 27800). PQ: COVA 10100 or 10200, and 24000 or 24100; or consent of instructor. Throughout the quarter, students concentrate on a set of issues and ideas that expand upon their experience and knowledge, and that have particular relevance to them. All course work is directed towards the production of a cohesive body of either color or black-and-white photographs. An investigation of contemporary and historic photographic issues informs the students' photographic practice and includes critical readings, as well as class and individual critiques. Visits to local exhibitions and darkroom work required. Lab fee $60. L. Letinsky. Spring.

27800/37800. Visual Culture (=ARTH 25800/35800, CMST 27800/37800, COVA 25400, ENGL 12600/32600, MAPH 34300). PQ: Any 10000-level ARTH or COVA course, or consent of instructor. This course explores the fundamental questions in the interdisciplinary study of visual culture: What are the cultural (and, by the same token, natural) components in the structure of visual experience? What is seeing? What is a spectator? What is the difference between visual and verbal representation? How do visual media exert power, elicit desire and pleasure, and construct the boundaries of subjective and social experience in the private and public sphere? How do questions of politics, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity inflect the construction of visual semiosis? W. J. T. Mitchell. Winter.

28500/48500. History of International Cinema I: Silent Era (=ARTH 28500/38500, CMST 28500/48500, COVA 26500, ENGL 29300/48700, MAPH 33600). This is the first part of a two-quarter course. The two parts may be taken individually, but taking them in sequence is helpful. The aim of this course is to introduce students to what was singular about the art and craft of silent film. Its general outline is chronological. We also discuss main national schools and international trends of filmmaking. Y. Tsivian. Autumn.

28600/48600. History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960 (=ARTH 28600/38600, CMST 28600/48600, COVA 26600, ENGL 29600/48900, MAPH 33700). PQ: CMST 28500/38500 or consent of instructor. This is the second part of the international survey history for film covering the sound era up to 1960. The crystallization of the classical Hollywood film in terms of style and genre, as well as industry organization, is a key issue. But international alternatives to Hollywood are also discussed, from the unique forms of Japanese cinema to movements such as Italian Neo-Realism and the beginnings of the New Wave in France. Texts include Thompson Bordwell, Film History and Introduction, and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, Godard, and others. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir. T. Gunning. Winter.

28900. Introduction to Video and Film (=CMST 28900, COVA 10500, GSHU 20300). PQ: COVA 10100 or 10200, or CMST 10100. Video camera required. This course is a hands-on production course dealing with basic techniques and concepts of composition, editing, lighting, and storytelling through images. Through exercises, screenings, discussions, and critiques, students explore experimental, narrative, and documentary video and filmmaking. Staff. Autumn.

29700. Reading Course. PQ: Consent of faculty adviser and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. This course may be used to satisfy distribution requirements for Cinema and Media Studies concentrators. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

29800. Senior Colloquium. PQ: CMST 10100. Required of all Cinema and Media Studies concentrators. This seminar is designed to provide senior concentrators with a sense of the variety of methods and approaches in the field (e.g., formal analysis, cultural history, industrial history, reception studies, and psychoanalysis). Students present material relating to their B.A. project, which is discussed in relation to the issues of the course. J. Lastra. Autumn.

29900. B.A. Research Paper. PQ: Consent of instructor. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Form. This course may not be counted toward distribution requirements for the concentration, but may be counted as a free-elective credit. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.