Fall 2016 Undergraduate Courses

Tier One

Seminars and small lecture classes that serve as a core curriculum for Cinema Studies MAJORS only.

Introduction to Cinema Studies


Marina Hassapopoulou
Tuesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 674
4 points
Class #13804

This course is designed to introduce the basic methods and concepts of cinema studies to new majors.  The course aims to help students develop a range of analytical skills that will form the basis of their study of film and other moving-image media they will encounter in cinema studies.  By the end of the semester, students will: 1) be fluent in the basic vocabulary of film form; 2) recognize variations of mode and style within the dominant modes of production (narrative, documentary, and experimental); 3) appreciate the relationship between formal analysis and questions of interpretation; and 4) grasp the mechanics of structuring a written argument about a film’s meaning.  Lectures and readings provide a detailed introduction to the basic terms of film scholarship, and to some critical issues associated with particular modes of film production and criticism. Screenings introduce students to the historical and international range of production that cinema studies addresses. Recitations provide students with opportunities to review the content of readings and lectures, and to develop their skills of analysis and interpretation in discussion. 

CINEMA STUDIES MAJORS and pre-approved minors ONLY.

Section 002 / 9:30-10:45am, class #13805
Section 003 / 11:00am-12:15pm, class #13806
Section 004 / 12:30-1:45pm, class #13807

Film Theory


Chris Straayer
Thursdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 648
4 points
Class #13808

This course closely examines a variety of theoretical writings concerned with aesthetic, social and psychological aspects of the medium.  Students study the writing of both classical theorists such as Eisenstein and Bazin and contemporary thinkers such as Metz, Dyer, DeLauretis, Baudrillard, and Foucault.  Questions addressed range from the nature of cinematic representation and its relationship to other forms of cultural expression to the way in which cinema shapes our conception of racial and gender identity. 


Section 002 / 9:30-10:45am, class #13809
Section 003 / 11:00am-12:15pm, class #13810
Section 004 / 12:30-1:45pm, class #13811

Advanced Seminar: Women & The Documentary


Toby Lee
Thursdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 635
4 points
Class #13827

This course centers the figure of woman -- multiply understood as embodied, discursive, performed, strategic, subversive or subverted -- in a revisionist examination of documentary history and theory. How might our understanding of the documentary, its particular epistemology, and its central concepts be recalibrated through a shift of focus onto gender and sexual difference, variably behind or in front of the camera, on or in front of the screen? Multiple generations of feminist, queer, and post-humanist perspectives are brought to bear on the practices and discourses of documentary film & video. Filmmakers whose work we will consider include Chantal Akerman, Agnes Varda, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Jil Godmilow, Carolee Schneemann, Su Friedrich, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Shirley Clarke, Chick Strand, Hito Steyerl.

CINEMA STUDIES MAJORS ONLY, Permission code required.

Advanced Seminar: The Poem Film


Anna McCarthy
Tuesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 635
4 points
Class #20266

A poem should not mean but be, says Archibald MacLeish. All very well and good, but what happens when the poem is also a film? In this course we'll examine the forms of the poem film as imagined within various traditions, with a particular focus on the challenges that poetry poses for cinematic adaptation. We'll do so with an eye on the present, asking how digital media, including games, might open up (or, alternately, foreclose upon) possibilities for creative interaction between the moving image and the word.

 Over the course of the semester, visits from poets and filmmakers will give us a chance to explore these concerns from a variety of perspectives. We'll also tackle them through assignments that combine hands on exercises with written work. You don't need any prior familiarity with the poem film to take this class. What you do need are a genuine interest in the craft of poetry, a grasp of the value of close reading and listening, and an appreciation of poetic language as a disciplined force that cannot be reduced to self-expression.

CINEMA STUDIES MAJORS ONLY, Permission code required

Tier Two

These are small lecture classes open to all students. *Seats are limited. Non-Cinema Studies majors should register for section 2 of each class. It is suggested that non-Cinema Studies majors enroll in Expressive Cultures: Film or Language of Film prior to enrolling in these courses.

Topics in TV: Showrunners


Claudia Calhoun
Wednesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 670
4 points

Section 001 (Cinema Studies majors): Class #23368
Section 002 (non-majors): Class #23369

The term "showrunner" has recently come into usage to describe the individual who is most responsible for the style and content of a television show, such as The Sopranos' David Chase, or Girls' Lena Dunham. This course will analyze and interrogate this new category of "showrunner" on U.S. television, looking at the stories that showrunners tell on-screen and the ideas of authorship that showrunners mobilize and challenge.  We will look at series from the 1950s to the present day, considering how individuals become authors in a collaborative medium and how conceptions of television authorship have changed over time. The writers and producers covered will include early television creators like Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy), Molly Goldberg (The Goldbergs), and Jack Webb (Dragnet); network-era figures like Aaron Spelling (Charlie's Angels), Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue), and David Lynch (Twin Peaks); and contemporary writer-producers like Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), Kenya Barris (Black-ish), and Shonda Rhimes (Scandal). 

Indian Cinema


Priyanjali Sen
Thursdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 670
4 points

Section 001 (Cinema Studies majors): Class #20346
Section 002 (non-majors): Class #20347

The history of Indian cinema has been studied primarily through Hindi and Bollywood films originating in Bombay/Mumbai.  India however, has always had several robust, regional language film industries that have consistently contributed to its film culture as a whole, throbbing with socio-political specificities and differences unique to each region, thereby defying the possibility of constructing a uniform or systematic history/historiography. Given that the concept of “national cinema” has been challenged through the lens of transnational and trans-hemispheric study of films, this course examines the subnational/regional film industries within India that have produced parallel narratives about the nation and its peoples, often drawing inspiration from Bombay cinema but also exhibiting sensibilities and aesthetics particular to their local cultural identities, languages and politics. By taking into consideration Hindi as well as regional language films such as Awaara, Pather Panchali (Bengali), Narthanasala (Telugu), Sholay, Matira Manisha (Odia), Bhumika, Mathilukal (Malayalam), Nayakan (Tamil), DDLJ, Bhole Shankar (Bhojpuri), Queen and Bajirao Mastani, this course will analyze the complex ways in which the idea of the “nation” and “national cinema” has played out in India post-independence and partition.

This course will count as international cinema and an elective for Asian Film & Media minor.

Film Directors: Agnès Varda


Sylvie Vitaglione
Fridays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 670
4 points

Section 001 (Cinema Studies majors): Class #20268
Section 002 (non-majors): Class #20269

Often considered the Mother of the French New Wave and a pioneer of feminist filmmaking, director Agnès Varda's career has spanned several decades and several countries. An auteur par excellence, Varda writes, produces, and directs her own material. She has created shorts, feature-length films, television programs, and art installations using photography, film, video, and digital media. Her work is both personal and political, often mixing genres and blurring the line between fiction and documentary. This course investigates Varda's signature style and themes, including memory, female identity, and the relationship between cinema and other visual arts, especially painting and photography.



Linda Williams
Tuesdays, 12:30-5:00pm
Room 648
4 points

Section 001 (Cinema Studies majors): Class #20349
Section 002 (non-majors): Class #20350

This course explores the relationship between that often derided term, melodrama, and cinema. Is melodrama a genre or a mode? Is it for women to cry or for men to thrill at sensational actions? Is it a subversive form of popular protest or a commercial form of bourgeois pacification? Is it an old-fashioned form of Victorian morality or uniquely associated with the intensifying impact of ‘modernity’?  Is it realistic or based on coincidence and wish fulfillment? Is it a specifically Western form or has it taken root in other, non-Western, cinemas, for example, China, India or Latin America?


We will develop a historical and theoretical framework for studying melodrama looking primarily, though not only, at its relation to movies. We will start from the evolution of early film melodrama out of popular theater, opera and pictorial traditions and trace the conventions of the mode as they change throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and early twenty-first century. The class will have three main concentrations:  American silent film melodrama; popular Hollywood melodrama, and a selection of melodramas from widely different cultures.  Since melodrama appears in many media and forms, our focus will be on developing a set of fundamental theoretical principles that we can then test historically and in diverse cultural contexts. We will watch and discuss at least one feature-length film each week, along with shorter visual and audio materials and a variety of readings.

Postwar Hollywood: Social Problems to Civil Rights


Claudia Calhoun
Fridays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 674
4 points

Section 001 (Cinema Studies majors): Class #24555
Section 002 (non-majors): Class #24556

In this course, we'll look together at narratives of race and integration during the U.S. postwar period. Focusing on films made between 1945 and 1968, we will analyze the changing shape of Hollywood's racial imaginary, the strategies of socially progressive filmmakers, and the impact of larger social and cultural changes, including postwar demobilization, the shifting politics of the Cold War, and the advances of the Civil Rights Movement. Films will include mainstream Hollywood releases (Home of the Brave, Broken Arrow, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner) as well as independent productions (Lost Boundaries, Salt of the Earth, Nothing But a Man).

Tier Three

These are large lecture classes with recitations open to all students.  No permission code necessary.

Hollywood Cinema: Origins to 1960


Dana Polan
Tuesdays, 6:20-9:50pm
Cantor 102
4 points
Class #13812

This course offers a broad survey of American cinema from its beginnings (and even its pre-history) up to 1960.  While the emphasis will be on the dominant, narrative fiction film, there will be attention to other modes of American cinema such as experimental film, animation, shorts, and non-fiction film.  The course will look closely at films themselves -- how do their styles and narrative structures change over time? -- but also at contexts:  how do films reflect their times?  how does the film industry develop? what are the key institutions that had impact on American film over its history?  We will also attend to the role of key figures in film's history:  from creative personnel (for example, the director or the screenwriter) to industrialists and administrators, to censors to critics and to audiences themselves.  The goal will be to provide an overall understanding of one of the most consequential of modern popular art forms and of its particular contributions to the art and culture of our modernity.

Wednesdays, Room 646
Section 003 / 11:00am-12:15pm, Class #13814
Section 004 / 12:30-1:45pm, Class #13815
Section 005 / 2:00-3:15pm, Class #13816

International Cinema: Origins to 1960


Maria Vinogradova
Mondays, 6:20-9:50pm
Cantor 102
4 points
Class #13819

This course provides a broad survey of international cinema from the birth of the medium until 1960. Discussing some of the most significant films from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Soviet Union, Japan, India and China, it traces the evolution of cinematic style through a variety of frameworks, such as technology, industrial development, politics, major aesthetic movements of the day, and the cultures of spectatorship that both shaped and were shaped by the rapid emergence of cinema as a new art form. Engaging the key styles, such as German Expressionism, French Surrealism, Soviet montage cinema, or Italian Neorealism, the course shows their reemergence in various national contexts. In-class screenings will include films by Georges Méliès, Louis Feuillade, Victor Sjöström, Robert Weine, Luis Buñuel, Sergei Eisenstein, Leni Riefenstahl, Yasujiro Ozu, Satyajit Ray and Vittorio de Sica.

Tuesdays, Room 646
Section 003 / 11:00am-12:15pm, Class #13821
Section 004 / 12:30-1:45pm, Class #13822
Section 005 / 2:00-3:15pm, Class #13823

Tier Four

These are small lecture classes on theory and practice for Cinema Studies MAJORS only.  SEATS ARE LIMITED.

American Film Criticism


Eric Kohn
Tuesdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 670
4 points
Class #14268

This course demystifies the professional and intellectual possibilities of film criticism in the contemporary media landscape through a historical foundation. Students will write reviews and critical essays as well as produce analyses of existing work, all of which should aid those interested in pursuing further opportunities in criticism and/or developing a deeper understanding of the craft. Through a combination of readings, discussions and screenings, we will explore the expansive possibilities of criticism with relation to global film culture, the role of the Internet, distinctions between academic and popular criticism, and the impact of the practice on the film and television industries itself. We will cover the influence of major figures in the profession with course readings and discussions based around work by major figures including Bazin, Ebert, Haskell, Farber, Kael, Sarris, Sontag, Tyler and many others. Major critics will visit the course to provide additional context. Emerging forms of critical practices, including podcasts and video essays, will also figure prominently, as will discussions surrounding the value of entertainment reporting and other related forms of journalism. In addition to engaging in classroom discussions, students will be expected to write weekly reviews, pitch essay ideas, file on deadline during certain courses and complete a final research paper. 

NOTE: Seats in this class are very limited.  Cinema Studies Undergraduates ONLY.

Script Analysis


Ken Dancyger
Mondays, 6:20-9:00pm
Room 109
4 points
Class #14560
This class is designed to help the students analyze a film script. Premise, character population, plot and genre, dialogue, foreground, background, and story will all be examined. Using feature films, we will highlight these script elements rather than the integrated experience of the script, performance, directing, and editing elements of the film. Assignments will include three script analyses.

NOTE: Seats in this class are very limited.  Cinema Studies Undergraduates ONLY.

Independent Study and Internship

CINEMA STUDIES MAJORS ONLY.  Permission code required. Students may register for a maximum of 8 points of Independent Study/Internship during their academic career.

Independent Study

1-4 points (variable)
Class #13828

1-4 points (variable)
Class #13829

A student wishing to conduct independent research for credit must obtain approval from a faculty member who will supervise an independent study for up to 4 credits. This semester-long study is a project of special interest to the student who, with the supervising faculty member, agrees on a course of study and requirements.  The proposed topic for an Independent Study project should not duplicate topics taught in departmental courses.  This is an opportunity to develop or work on a thesis project. To register, you must present a signed “Independent Study Form” at the department office when you register.  This form must be completely filled out, detailing your independent study project.  It must have your faculty sponsor’s signature (whomever you have chosen to work with - this is not necessarily your advisor) indicating their approval.


1-4 points (variable)
Class #14465

1-4 points (variable)
Class #14466

A student wishing to pursue an internship must obtain the internship and submit the Learning Contract before receiving a permission code.  All internship grades will be pass/fail.

Cross-listed, Graduate & Outside Courses

Israeli Cinema


Yael Feldman
Mondays, 12:30-3:15pm
4 points
Class #17613

Israeli Cinema has finally come of age. It has recently scored numerous awards and world-wide recognition not only for its artistic achievements but also for its gutsy in-depth engagement with political, social, and sex-and-gender borders and boundaries that are local and universal at one and the same time. The course will explore some of the high points of recent Israeli cinema and ask how its treatment of these issues compares to and differs from analogous literary representations in contemporary Hebrew fiction.

This course will fulfill the International Cinema requirement.

Topics in Chinese Cinema: Culture & Media in Urban China


Lily Chumley
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11:00am-12:15pm
4 points
Class #20719

What does it mean to be “urban” in China and how is Chinese urbanism mediated by new cultural formations? In this course we will examine the culture and media that define city life in China, including Chinese state and popular media, television and film, music, fashion, verbal art and literature (in print and online) and visual art. We will focus on the period from the building booms of the mid-to-late nineties to the present. Students will work in teams to make presentations on urban culture, and use primary sources in translation and secondary sources to write individual essays. Chinese language ability appreciated but by no means required

This course will fulfill the International Cinema requirement and the elective requirement for the Asian Film & Media minor.

Documentary Traditions

CINE-GT 1400

David Bagnall
Mondays, 6:20-9:00pm
Room 108
4 points
Class #5646

This course examines documentary principles, methods, and styles.  Both the function and the significance of the documentary in the social setting, and the ethics of the documentary are considered.

Community Archiving: Media Collections

CINE-GT 2008

Mona Jimenez
Wednesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 674
4 points
Section 002 / Class #5896

This graduate seminar combines research into moving image collections, both institutionally and individually held, with hands-on archival tasks that will provide insight into the way that media is collected, cared for, and accessed. Through direct engagement with endangered independent media collections from the 1960s-1980s, students will gain an understanding of key philosophies and practices of non-commercial video production in the US during this period, as well as of the practical labor and the decision-making involved in access for their scholarship and creative re-use. Students will plan and carry out a community archiving event where they will work side by side with caretakers and other stakeholders, taking preparatory steps necessary to understanding the content, relative value, and physical condition of the tapes – tasks designed to aid in selection, preservation planning and access. Students will use primary and secondary materials and discussions with creators and caretakers to gain an understanding of the context within which the collections were made, distributed and collected. Students will also be assigned key texts on archival theory and methodologies, particularly those addressing theories and practices of archivists and activism, community-based documentation, ethics in archiving, and the roles of specialists and non-specialists in archiving and maintaining media materials. Students need not have experience with moving image archiving and preservation; those studying in MIAP or other archival/library programs will gain depth in skills handling media and in media history. Advanced undergraduates may enroll with the permission of the instructor.  Advanced undergraduates may enroll with the permission of the instructor: mona.jimenez@nyu.edu