Spring 2020 Graduate Courses

Core Courses

These classes serve as a core curriculum for Cinema Studies MA and PhD students only.

Film History/Historiography

Richard Porton
Thursdays / 6:00–10:00pm / Room 648
4 points
CINE-GT 1015 / Class #7286

This MA-level graduate course examines the ways in which the history of film has been conceptualized, written, documented, researched and revised. Readings include theoretical considerations of historiography, methodological approaches, guides to conducting research, and essays from the field of cinema and media history and cognate disciplines. We examine social, cultural, aesthetic, economic, ideological, and technological histories of cinema. How do we frame questions about film and the historical past that are substantial and answerable? What evidence should we examine to answer these questions? How should we then write a historical analysis that answers them?

We will not survey the entire history of cinema. However, in roughly chronological sequence, we will consider particular aspects of that history: silent-era film, classical Hollywood cinema, social history and exhibition, nonfiction and nontheatrical traditions, and the digital media that force us to reconsider what cinema is. This eclectic approach is indicative of the recent forms that film history has taken -- de-centering Hollywood, digging through neglected archives, moving past film-specificity to historicize all moving images and sounds.

This course is open only to first year Cinema Studies MA students.

Film Theory

Laura Harris
Mondays / 6:00-10:00pm / Room 648
4 points
CINE-GT 1020 / Class # 7083

This course closely examines a variety of theoretical writings concerned with aesthetic, social and psychological aspects of the cinematic medium. Questions addressed range from the nature of cinematic representation and its relationship to other forms of cultural expression, to issues of theorizing film spectatorship. Theory will also be studied alongside examples from popular culture, digital contexts, and contemporary films in order to interrogate certain ideas about cinema and spectatorship that persist despite the medium’s technical and ontological changes.

This course is open only to first year Cinema Studies MA students.

Dissertation Seminar

Toby Lee
Mondays / 9:00am-12:00pm / Room 635
4 points
CINE-GT 3902 / Class # 7097

A seminar on the methods and procedures of writing the doctoral dissertation in Cinema Studies. The course guides students in preparing their dissertation proposal through in-class debate, written feedback from the instructor, and visits from guests with experience in the process. Students will make regular presentations of work in progress, with the goal of finishing their proposal by the end of the semester in readiness for their dissertation proposal defense. The course stresses mutual aid in class discussion.

This course is open only to Cinema Studies PhD students.

Advanced Seminars

Non-Cinema Studies graduate students should register for section 002.

Film Noir / Neo Noir

Chris Straayer
Thursdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 652
4 points
CINE-GT 1312 / Section 001 class # 21901 / Section 002 class # 21902

“Neo Noir” explores the multiple ways that films made beyond the classic period reference, appropriate, extend, pay homage to, and even define that amorphous category called “film noir”:  from nostalgia to escalation; from remakes to meta discourse retroactively constructing a “genre;” from genre hybridization to the dispersion of disconnected noir elements (crime, paranoia, the femme fatale, subjective flashback, existentialism); from realist-expressionist black and white to blatantly stylized color; from censorship’s dark sexuality to hyperreal violence; from national to international. To support our study of neo noir, we will simultaneously reference classic film noir from the 1940-50s and its scholarship, considering visual aesthetics, historical/cultural resonances, international/interdisciplinary influences, philosophical/psychological references, and gender relations. However, rather than attempting to rein in Neo Noir insisting on fidelity to film noir, the course celebrates Neo Noir’s exponential extrapolations. A tentative list of films includes Body Heat, Taxi Driver, Blood Simple, Exotica, Coup de Torchon, High and Low, One False Move, The Grifters, Memento, Usual Suspects, The Last Seduction, Kill Bill, Chungking Express, Mulholland Drive, The Thin Blue Line, and Funny Games

Surveillance Studies: After the Panopticon

Feng-Mei Heberer
Thursdays / 6:00-10:00pm / Room 652
4 points
CINE-GT 2836 / Section 001 class # 21899 / Section 002 class # 21900

Looking relations and the gaze have been at the center of much film and media analysis, linking questions of social and economic power and control to the affordances of particular technologies. The panopticon figures largely in this discourse, simultaneously describing a modern form of mass surveillance and marking a transition from top down to lateral and internalized modes of monitoring and discipline. Yet surveillance, panoptical and other, is often theorized in ways that reinforce universal notions of humanness as that which is under threat. By contrast, the ongoing monitoring and dispossession of large parts of the Global South as well as minorities in the Global North who have historically been denied citizen rights and material resources and do not conform to patriarchal family norms, fall under the radar. This course focuses on the discussion, representation, and theorization of contemporary practices of surveillance, and strives to contextualize technologies of information and control within histories of imperialism, racial capitalism, and heteronormative border regimes. With Marxist, queer-feminist, and anti-racist approaches, we will furthermore think through social media as the allegedly exceptional case of ubiquitous surveillance.


Non-Cinema Studies graduate students should register for section 002 when available.

Foucault’s College de France lecture 1

Dana Polan
Thursdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 670
4 points
CINE-GT 1296 / Section 001 class # 21907 / Section 002 class # 21908

In 1969, Michel Foucault took up a position as professor of the "History of Systems of Thought" at France's very prestigious Collège de France where one requirement of the appointment was an annual set of lectures open to the public. Over the next 14 years (one off for sabbatical), Foucault gave lectures that sometimes complemented his published books but sometimes took off in other directions. Topics included: the violence of exclusion in systems of thought, the nature of truth-telling in modern culture, the rise of juridical society, the politics of war, governance of populations, the emergence of companionate marriage, the history of neoliberalism, dominant society's relation to those it deems abnormal, and so on. This 2-semester course (Part 1 is not required for registration in Part 2) seeks to approach Foucault through the Collège de France lectures combined with his canonic published texts. In alternate weeks, we will study a lecture-series and key publications with the goal of gaining an overall picture of the contributions of Michel Foucault to contemporary thought.

Cultural Theory & The Documentary

Toby Lee
Wednesdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 652
4 points
CINE-GT 2001 / Section 001 class # 7089 / Section 002 class # 7175

In this course, we examine the history of documentary form as political discourse and practice. We take as a starting point documentary theorist Michael Renov’s discussion of poetics -- which he defines as the rigorous investigation of aesthetic forms, their composition and function -- in the context of the documentary image. While Renov argues that “poetics must also confront the problematics of power,” so too must an understanding of political documentary take seriously questions of poetics and form. Through close readings of particular films and careful study of their formal strategies and aesthetic choices, we explore how documentary images act, or how they are made to act, within larger structures of power and resistance. We will look at films from a wide range of periods, places and styles — including observational, experimental, compilation/appropriation, performative, propaganda, and essay films — considering these works in relation to a variety of topics including social and political activism, revolutionary movements, state violence, surveillance, sexual politics, colonialism and anti-colonialism, human rights, labor, and the shifting politics of the image in the digital age.

Brazilian Cinema

Robert Stam
Tuesdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 670
4 points
CINE-GT 2117 / Section 001 class # 21894 / Section 002 class # 21895

This course will cover much of the history of Brazilian cinema, from the musical-comedy chanchadas of the thirties and forties, through the Hollywood-style (Vera Cruz) productions of the fifties, through the diverse phases of Cinema Novo up to the latest features such as City of God and Elite Squad. Although a film course that pays close attention to the filmic texts, the approach is also one of (multi)cultural studies, with an emphasis especially on issues of race and multicultural expression. Films will be seen as part of a discursive continuum that includes history, literature, music, and performance. Some of the topics foregrounded will include national allegory, the trope of carnival, the ambiguities of race, and multicultural dissonance as artistic resource. Students are expected to write a term-paper on a subject related to Brazilian Cinema.

Hollywood Cinema: 1960 to Present

Dana Polan
Tuesdays / 6:00-10:00pm / Room 648
4 points
CINE-GT 2125 / Class # 21990

This course offers a broad survey of American cinema from 1960 up to the present.  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.

Asian Film History / Historiography

Zhen Zhang
Tuesdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 674
4 points
CINE-GT 3244 / Section 001 class # 21889 / Section 002 class # 21890

Critically evaluating select influential scholarship in Asian film studies from the last two decades, this course aims to reconsider and move beyond existing paradigms such as national cinema, world cinema, and transnational cinema, in addition to categories or assumptions derived from traditional area studies with origins in the cold war cultural politics.  While critically reviewing literature on specific cases of national and regional cinemas (e.g.; China, Japan, India), we will explore alternative perspectives on trans-Asian and trans-hemispheric film culture histories (for example, film policy, censorship, co-production, traveling genres, festivals), as well as contemporary formations under the impact of globalization and digital media.  With a focus on historiography and methodology, the course serves as a forum for developing innovative research projects that cut across disciplinary as well as geopolitical boundaries. 


The Scriptwriter’s Craft

Josslyn Luckett
Wednesdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 670
4 points
CINE-GT 1500 / Class # 21897

MGM screenwriter Dorothy Farnum once described script writers as "stokers of a ship, necessary but condemned to the hold of obscurity...we do work so the stars and directors will have a nice time on deck." This course is designed to center the work of the writer by analyzing the techniques employed by both Hollywood and independent screenwriters such as Waldo Salt, Sabrina Dhawan, Dee Rees, Ava DuVernay, Bill Gunn, Guillermo Arriaga, John Sayles and Jennifer Phang (in several cases we will screen at least two different films by the same screenwriter). We start in the "hold" by exploring the formal elements of the script (character, scene, dialogue, plot structure, genre). We then move to consider how underrepresented communities are served by the efforts of script writers to bring untold stories to big and small screens, thereby changing and challenging film culture. 

This course is open only to Cinema Studies students.


Documentary Traditions

David Bagnall
Mondays / 6:20-9:00pm / Room 108
4 points
CINE-GT 1401 / Class # 7084

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.

Cross-listed with FMTV-UT 1034. Open to all students, no permission code needed.

Queer Theory: José Esteban Muñoz

Fred Moten
Wednesdays / 6:30-9:15pm / Room 612
4 points
CINE-GT 1781 / Class # 21905

In this class, we will read, as closely and carefully as we can, Muñoz’s Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics and Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Open to Cinema Studies MA & PhD students only.

Culture and Media II: Ethnography of Media

Faye Ginsburg
Tuesdays / 5:00-7:45pm / 25 Waverly, 1st Floor Conference Room
4 points
CINE-GT 1403 / Class # 7085

In the last two decades, a new field -- the ethnography of media -- has emerged as an exciting new arena of research. While claims about media in people’s lives are made on a daily basis, surprisingly little research has actually attempted to look at how media is part of the naturally occurring lived realities of people's lives.  Anthropologists and media scholars interested in film, television, and video have been turning their attention increasingly beyond the text and empiricist notions of audiences (stereotypically associated with the ethnography of media) to consider, ethnographically, the complex social worlds in which media is produced, circulated and consumed, at home and elsewhere. This work theorizes media studies from the point of view of cross-cultural ethnographic realities and anthropology from the perspective of new spaces of communication focusing on the social, economic and political life of media and how it makes a difference in the daily lives of people as a practice, whether in production, reception, or circulation.  The class will be organized around case studies that interrogate broader issues that are particularly endemic to questions of cross-cultural media including debates over cultural imperialism vs. the autonomy of local producers/consumers, the instability and stratification of reception, the shift from national to transnational circuits of production and consumption, the increasing complicity of researchers with their subjects over representations of culture. These concerns are addressed in a variety of locations, from the complex circulation of films, photos, and lithographs that demonstrate the historically and culturally contingent ways in which images are read and used; to the ever increasing range of televisual culture, from state sponsored melodramas, religious epics and soap operas, to varieties of public television; to the activist use of video, radio, the Internet, and small media. Readings will be selected to address the research interests of students in the class.

For approved Culture & Media students only. Other students must request permission of instructor.

Video Production Seminar II

Pegi Vail
Tuesdays / 12:30-3:15pm / 25 Waverly, Room 502
Thursdays / 10:00am-12:00pm
4 points
CINE-GT 1996 / Class # 7087 & 7088

This is the second part of the year-long video production seminar and concentrates on the production and completion of the independent video projects begun in the fall part of the course. This semester will consist of continued work on the projects and production meetings to present and discuss the works in progress. The course concludes with a public screening of finished projects in early May.

Cross-listed with ANTH-GA 1219. Permission code required.


Students outside of the Moving Image Archiving & Preservation (MIAP) MA Program: please email tisch.preservation@nyu.edu to request enrollment and provide your N-Number.

Curating Moving Images

Dan Streible
Mondays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 674
4 points
CINE-GT 1806 / Class # 7132

This course focuses on the practice of film exhibition and programming in museums, archives, and independent exhibition venues. It examines the goals of public programming, the constituencies such programs attempt to reach, and the cultural ramifications of presenting archival materials to audiences. Students will study how archives can encourage increasing quantities and different forms of access through their own publications, events, and productions, as well as through the role of new technologies (DVD, CD-ROM, the Internet). They will study how these methods of circulation provoke interest, study and appreciation of archive and museum moving image collections. The seminar will also treat such themes as: individual vs. collective access; film programming design, budget, documentation, and print control; legal issues; projection, and theater management; archival loans, the "Archive Film"; stock footage services; and film stills archive services.

Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

Culture of Archives, Museums, and Libraries

/content/tisch/about/directory/cinema-studies/99017286Thursdays / 12:30-4:30pm / Room 674
4 points
CINE-GT 3049 / Class # 7093

This course studies the different kinds of institutions that collect and manage cultural material: museums of art, natural history, and motion pictures; libraries and historical societies; corporate institutions. It compares and contrasts these types of institution to reveal how they differ from one another, paying particular attention to how different institutional missions affect internal metadata and information systems. It examines theories of collecting, the history and ethics of cultural heritage institutions, the organizational structures of institutions that house collections (including trends in staffing and the roles of individual departments), and their respective missions and operational ethics. The class will visit a variety of local cultural organizations, and will have working professionals talk about their organizations and duties.

Open to graduate students.


Independent Study

1-4 points variable
CINE-GT 2901 / Class # 7090
CINE-GT 2903 / Class # 7091

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
CINE-GT 2950 / Class # 7185
CINE-GT 2952 / Class # 7190

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


MAINT-GA 4747-002 / Class # 2557

MAINT-GA 4747-003 / Class # 2558