Film and Media Studies

Director: Robert Sickels (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Tarik Elseewi

Affiliated Faculty:
Charly Bloomquist, Art
Jessica Cerullo, Theatre (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Matt deTar, Rhetoric Studies
Keith Farrington, Sociology
Heather Hayes, Rhetoric Studies
Donghui He, Chinese
Kristen Kosmas, Theatre (on Sabbatical, Fall 2014)
Justin Lincoln, Art
Paul Luongo, Music (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Charles McKhann, Anthropology
Roger Miles, Religion
Greg Mitchell, Theatre
Christopher Petit, Theatre
Matthew Reynolds, Art History and Visual Culture Studies
David Schmitz, History
Yukiko Shigeto, Japanese (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)
Lisa Uddin, Art History and Visual Culture Studies (on Sabbatical, Spring 2015)

Film and Media Studies Department Website »

Film and Media Studies (FMS) is an interdisciplinary program that enriches understanding of the complexity of media culture by providing a solid grounding in the theory, history, production, interpretation, and criticism of a wide variety of media texts, thus preparing its students to better understand, analyze, and participate in contemporary society.

Distribution: Courses completed in FMS apply to the humanities distribution area with the following exceptions:
     Cultural pluralism or humanities: 340 and 345
     Fine arts: 260 and 360

Learning Goals: Students completing a major in FMS will demonstrate an understanding of the histories, technologies, and social and cultural contexts of a range of media. Specifically, FMS pursues a broader, liberal arts approach to film and media studies so that students will:

  • Be exposed to a broad range of media across historical eras and international borders so they will be familiar with major trends in media within specific historical and national contexts.
  • Learn research skills and methods, disciplinary vocabulary, and an array of theoretical perspectives and be able to apply them so as to convincingly write and speak about media from a range of academic approaches.
  • Understand the relationship between varying media and its creators, audiences, representations, and industrial and cultural contexts and be able to write essays or participate in discussions connecting media texts to these concepts.
  • Acquire the skills necessary to take part in creative, effective, technically competent, and insightful media production.
  • Have the knowledge to write intellectually grounded essays or engage in informed discussions about the role of media in contemporary global culture.

The Film and Media Studies major: A minimum of 34 credits including FMS 160, 170, and 387. The remaining elective credits may be completed from the list of courses below, as well as other elective courses offered by the FMS program. Students may substitute up to eight of the elective credits with program-approved film and media studies transfer credits. Department policy does not allow a P-D-F grade option for courses within the major.

Senior assessment: The senior assessment, administered during the student’s senior year, is an in-depth oral exam that focuses on coursework in the major completed at Whitman.

The Film and Media Studies minor: A minimum of 20 credits in Film and Media Studies, including 160 or 170. The remaining elective credits may be completed from the list of courses below, as well as other elective courses offered by the FMS program. Students may substitute up to four of the elective credits with program-approved film and media studies transfer credits. Department policy does not allow a P-D-F grade option for courses within the minor.

The following courses are available for the major or minor:

Anthropology 312 Ethnographic Film Studies
Art 104 Foundations: Digital Processes and Production
Art 109 Foundations: Optical Imaging
Art 123 Beginning Photography
Art 125 Beginning Digital Printing
Art 180 Beginning New Genre Art Practices
Art 223 Intermediate Photography
Art 225 Intermediate Digital Printing
Art 280 Intermediate New Genre
Art 323 Advanced Photography
Art 325 Advanced Digital Printing
Art 380 Advanced New Genre
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 230 The Social Life of Photography
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 235 Race and American Visual Culture
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 237/Theatre 357 Theory and Performance
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 253 Art and the Moving Image
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 351 Los Angeles: Art, Architecture, Cultural Geography
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 354 Race, Ethnicity, and the Urban Imaginary
History 290 History and Sociology of Rock n’ Roll
Religion 387 ST: Spiritual Soundscapes
Rhetoric Studies 341/Sociology 341 The Rhetoric of Hip Hop
Rhetoric Studies 277 ST: Visual Rhetoric
Sociology 290 Sociology and History of Rock n’ Roll
Theatre 125 Beginning Acting I
Theatre 126 Beginning Acting II
Theatre 222 Digital Rendering 3-D Environments
Theatre 225 & 226 Intermediate Acting
Theatre 381/Anthropology 347A ST: Documentary Theatre
World Literature 301 Chinese Literature and Film Adaptation
World Literature 325 Imagining Community through Contemporary Japanese Fiction and Film
World Literature 330 Introduction to Chinese Cinema
World Literature 338 Undoing the Japanese National Narrative through Literature and Film
World Literature 349 China through the Cinematic Eye

150-155 Special Topics in Film and Media Studies
1-4

Topics in Film and Media Studies not generally considered in other courses offered by the department. Materials will vary from semester to semester and may cover subjects, developments, and concepts from early times to the present. Lectures, discussions, tests, papers, and/or weekly screenings. May be repeated for credit. Any current offerings follow.

160 Introduction to Film Studies
4, x Sickels

This course introduces the historical and theoretical fundamentals of film studies. Representative films will be drawn from a variety of different eras, genres, and countries. Lectures, discussions, tests, and required weekly film screenings. Open to first-years, sophomores, and Film and Media Studies majors; others by consent of instructor.

170 Introduction to Television Studies
x, 4 Elseewi

This course explores world culture through an analysis of what is arguably its central medium: television. Tracing the medium from its origins in radio to its digital future, we will investigate television as a site of identity formation, controversy, political power, and artistic experimentation. The course will also consider television in terms of industrial production and audience reception, including the rapidly changing practices associated with television viewing in the 21st century. Lectures, discussions, tests, and required weekly screenings.

220 Identity, Gender, & Media
4; not offered 2014-15

This introductory-level class explores the relationship between media and multiple forms of “identity.” By critically exploring and deconstructing normative concepts of gender we shall open critical space to investigate other kinds of identity produced in and through media such as national, religious, ethnic, and class identities. We will focus on contemporary and historically specific examples such as radio and the construction of national identity in the 1920s; television and the production of the domestic housewife in the 1950s; and contemporary marketing techniques and the construction of impossible female bodies. We will bring feminist thought, critical theory, and cultural studies together with specific examples in order to analyze “identity-talk” in film, radio, television, and the Internet. The ultimate goal of this class is to produce an awareness of the different kinds of techniques that bring power and media together to create politically useful identities. Required weekly screenings. Open to first-years, sophomores, and Film and Media Studies majors; others by consent of instructor.

230 Science Fiction & Society
x, 4 Elseewi

Although long-derided as genre fiction, pulp, or simple entertainment, analyzing science fiction film and television can yield important clues about shared social anxieties and hopes. In this class we will critically evaluate utopian and dystopian visual science fiction and fantasy through various lenses including: aesthetics, industrial concerns, politics, gender, and genre. We will screen various examples of science fiction and fantasy film and television (such as Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, and Lord of the Rings) and also discuss the use of science fiction and fantasy in video games. Required weekly screenings.

250-255 Special Topics in Film and Media Studies
1-4

Topics in Film and Media Studies not generally considered in other courses offered by the department. Materials will vary from semester to semester and may cover subjects, developments, and concepts from early times to the present. Lectures, discussions, tests, papers, and/or weekly screenings. May be repeated for credit. Any current offerings follow.

260 Introduction to Filmmaking
4, x Sickels

This course introduces the fundamentals of the visual language and narrative structures of film. Students will collaboratively make their own short films. Extensive lab time required. Prerequisites: Film and Media Studies 160 or consent of instructor. Priority given to Film and Media Studies majors.

330 Media, Politics, & Power
4; not offered 2014-15

This class will explore the complex, interdependent relationships between media and politics in the articulation of power. Not taking any of our terms for granted, we will question what is meant by politics, how different forms of power are articulated openly or discreetly in public life, and how different forms of media enter the process in different ways. While the bulk of our focus will be on media, power, and politics in the United States, we will also question the tensions between media and power globally by studying patterns of media distribution and military, economic, and political power. Along the way we shall come into critical acquaintance with the public sphere theories which have their origin in the work of Jurgen Habermas, cultural identity and representation as expressed by Stuart Hall, and discipline, governmentality, and subjectivity as expressed by Michel Foucault, and the political economic theories of Karl Marx. Required weekly screenings. May be taken for credit toward the Politics major or minor and Rhetoric Studies major or minor.

340 Globalization, Culture, & Media
x, 4 Elseewi

This class will examine transnational media (including television, film, electronic networks, and mobile telephony) from aesthetic, economic, political, and critical theoretical perspectives. We will look at the role that media narratives play in enculturating viewers within and across physical, cultural, and linguistic borders. With an eye towards avoiding simplistic binaries such as East/West, Global/Local, or Good/Bad, we will explore the complex and contradictory impulses of global culture and globalization from multiple theoretical perspectives and academic disciplines drawing on cinema studies, postcolonial theory, literary theory, anthropology, political theory, cultural geography, and cultural studies. Required weekly screenings.

345 The Middle East in Cinema & Media
4, x Elseewi

This course examines visual texts (primarily film and television) in which the Middle East is represented and represents itself. This class is concerned with how the “Middle East” is represented in the West and also with how the region represents itself in film and media. We will look at issues of representation; religion; nationalism; gender; and ethnic identities. In addition to critically, aesthetically, and culturally analyzing films from the Arab, Persian, Turkish, and Hebraic Middle East, we will also look at the role of media in articulating politics and identity. We will focus on Middle Eastern auteurs and the political economies of the culture industries that frame their work. Along the way we will be guided by cultural studies and post-colonial theorists. Required weekly screening. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Race and Ethnic Studies major.

360 Advanced Filmmaking
4; not offered 2014-15

In this intensive workshop course students will produce documentary films and commercials. Extensive lab time required. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Film and Media Studies 160, 260, or consent of instructor. Priority given to Film and Media Studies majors.

365-370 Special Topics: Studies in Film & Media Studies
1-4

Topics in Film and Media Studies not generally considered in other courses offered by the department. Materials will vary from semester to semester and may cover subjects, developments, and concepts ranging from early times to the present. Lectures, discussions, tests, papers and/or weekly screenings. May be repeated for credit. Any current offerings follow.

372 “Mean Streets and Raging Bulls”: The Silver Age of Cinema
4; not offered 2014-15

In tracing film history from the demise of the studio, students in this course will study the all too brief era known as the American cinema’s “silver age,” during which maverick film school directors made deeply personal and remarkably influential films. Texts will likely include works by Coppola, DePalma, Friedkin, Altman, Allen, Polanski, Bogdanovich, Kubrick, Malick, and Scorsese. Lectures, discussions, a big research paper, an oral presentation, and weekly film screenings.

373 “The Genius of the System”: The Golden Age of Cinema
4; not offered 2014-15

In tracing film history from its late nineteenth century beginnings to the 1950s, students in this course will study the era known as the American cinema’s “golden age,” during which the Hollywood Studio System dictated virtually all aspects of filmmaking. Texts will likely include works by Ford, Hitchcock, Curtiz, Hawks, Capra, Sturges, and others. Lectures, discussions, papers, and weekly film screenings.

387 Film & Media Studies Theory
4, x Elseewi

Using a variety of critical theories, this course focuses on the analysis of film and various other media forms. Students give presentations and write papers utilizing these various perspectives. The goal is for students to become more conversant in the many ways they can assess the significant influence media has in our lives. Open to FMS majors; open to other students with consent of instructor

401, 402 Independent Study
1-4, 1-4 Staff

Studies of film and media issues including directed readings and/or approved projects. The student is expected to submit a written proposal to the instructor prior to registration for the course. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

491 Thesis
4, x Sickels

Research and writing of a senior thesis. Open only to senior FMS majors. Prerequisite: approval of a proposal submitted to the FMS Program.

498 Honors Thesis
4, x Sickels

Research and writing of a senior honors thesis. Open only to and required of senior honors candidates in FMS. Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy