Fall 2022 Graduate Courses

Core Courses

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

Film Form/Film Sense: Industries and Aesthetics

Anna McCarthy
Mondays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 648
CINE-GT 1010 / Class # 6844
4 points

This core course introduces the methods and areas of study in the Cinema Studies MA program. In keeping with the department's evolving profile, we'll also learn about research idioms that blend theory and practice, such as documentary, data visualization, and curation. The course is divided into modules that reflect this range of possibilities. Assignments comprise both written and practical projects and will involve some group/collaborative work.

The class meets online each week for clips/lecture and discussion. Screenings, with some exceptions, are all available online through Bobst Library streaming services.

This course is only open to Cinema Studies MA students.

Film History/Historiography

Dan Streible
Wednesdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 648
CINE-GT 1015 / Class # 7049
4 points

This 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, practical guides to conducting research, and a variety of essays from the field of cinema and media history and related disciplines. We analyze social, cultural, aesthetic, economic, ideological, and technological histories of cinema.  How do we frame questions about film and the historical past that are substantial, answerable, and logically sound? What evidence might help answer these questions?  How should we thereby write historical analyses that answer questions posed?  

We will not attempt to survey the entire history of cinema. In roughly chronological sequence, we will consider particular aspects of that history: “early cinema,” “classical Hollywood cinema,” social history and exhibition, nonfiction and nontheatrical traditions, and the web-based media that cause us to reconsider what cinema is and was. This eclectic approach is indicative of the recent forms that film history has taken: de-centering Hollywood and feature films, rediscovering neglected archives, seeking “lost” works, moving past film specificity to historicize all moving images and sounds as a form of media archaeology.

PhD Research Methodologies

Toby Lee
Fridays, 9:00am-12:00pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 2601 / Class # 20131
4 points

This course examines a range of activities entailed in being in the Cinema Studies doctoral program and preparing for a career in cinema and media studies. Most class meetings will include a guest speaker, as most of the full-time faculty in the Department of Cinema Studies will discuss their own research methodologies and careers. The class will also read recent influential work in the field. The professional activities to be examined include things such as participating in professional organizations, answering a call for papers, giving a conference presentation, “dissertating,” book reviewing, teaching, and publishing one’s research. We will consider the process of choosing a research focus for a scholarly project and tackling its research problems. We will study protocols followed for research in specific locations, and also consider techniques of conducting and organizing research. Among the practical exercises that may be assigned are: evaluating journals, presses, and websites associated with cinema and media studies; reporting on libraries, archives, and research resources; attending professional talks and special events; delivering a short scholarly talk; and/or composing a book review, a report or blog entry on a cinema studies or other event you attend or a paper based on the talk or a research portfolio.

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

Advanced Seminars

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

Transnational Melodrama

Zhen Zhang
Thursdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 1116
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 20135
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 20136
4 points

Is melodrama a genre? How can it be studied across different film cultures? This seminar takes as its premise that melodrama is at once a prevalent mode throughout film history and a powerful expressive form addressing significant social changes and historical experiences. We examine the proliferation and transformation of melodrama film within various national, subnational, postcolonial and global contexts. We study melodrama's various manifestations--as colonial fantasy, war trauma rehabilitation, and decolonization and nation-building narratives--in relation to questions of genre, gender, race, class, affect, and style. But most importantly, the course builds its investigation of melodrama trans-nationally and cross-culturally in order to search for new understandings of melodrama's role in making a multifaceted world cinema, an integral part of global modernity. 

Screenings include films from Asia, Europe as well as the US. Students will engage in active discussion in class and online, conduct team presentations, and develop an imaginative research project (that can also extend to Latin America, Africa and elsewhere).

Films of Alfred Hitchcock

Sid Gottlieb
Mondays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 648
CINE-GT 1205
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 25240
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 25241
4 points

This course will focus on representative films from all stages of Hitchcock’s career as a director, including his work in the silent era, his sextet of thrillers in the 1930s, his early films in Hollywood, and the films of his "major phase" in the 1950s and ‘60s, including his television work. I’ll try to balance new looks at some of his films that everyone has probably seen (e.g., The 39 Steps, Vertigo, Psycho) with what may be first looks at some of his films that have been overlooked or under-appreciated (e.g., The Pleasure Garden, I Confess, The Wrong Man). Recurrent topics of discussion will include Hitchcock’s visual style; analysis and presentation of human weakness, wickedness, and sexuality as well as his critical examination of social institutions and political issues; representations of women; and reflections on the act of watching and the art of cinema. We will also examine Hitchcock’s place in film history, discussing films he was influenced by and those he influenced, and his role in critical history. Each class will include an introductory lecture, film screening, and discussion. Required work will include regular reading assignments and writing at least one short (5 pp.) and one long (12-15 pp.) critical essay.
Sid Gottlieb teaches film and media studies at Sacred Heart University. He edits the Hitchcock Annual (Columbia University Press and has edited several collections of Hitchcock's writing and interviews. He has taught Hitchcock with us numerous times before and is very much looking forward to doing so again.

Queer Studies: Trans Studies

Chris Straayer
Wednesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 1780
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / class # 7032
Outside students: Section 002 / class # 7033
4 points

This course maps the emerging interdisciplinary field of Trans Studies, which concerns the history and culture of transgender, transsexual, non-binary, and non gender conforming people. From 19th century (and ongoing) sexology, to 1950s (and ongoing) genital “corrections” of intersex infants, to the 1969 Stonewall (and ongoing) rebellions for gay/lesbian liberation, to the 1970s second wave (and ongoing) feminist movement, the history of transgenderism has intersected lesbian, gay, bi, intersexual, and feminist histories in complicated ways.  The phrase “a woman in a man’s body” has typed male homosexuals as well as transsexuals. Genital surgeries forced on intersexuals have been sought by transsexuals.  Internal and lateral oppression often truncate coalitions against oppression. Within this complex history of theory and practice, trans* activists, lawyers, health workers, celebrities, scholars, artists, and filmmakers have produced an immense and vibrant culture.

Cinema & The Digital Humanities

Marina Hassapopoulou
Tuesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 635
CINE-GT 3040
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / class # 20132
Outside students: Section 002 / class # 20133
4 points

This course will explore Cinema Studies within the interdisciplinary context of the Digital Humanities (DH). Digital tools and platforms, along with the databases they create, have expanded the ways we study moving images and filmmaking traditions. Despite Cinema Studies’ important contributions to the expansion of DH, the study of moving images and time-based media is usually not at the forefront of DH-related inquiry. One of the course objectives is to therefore place Cinema Studies research at the center of DH methodologies in order to diversify interdisciplinary approaches to both DH and Cinema Studies. In this course, students will study DH practice alongside related theoretical frameworks in order to explore the profound historiographical, philosophical, sociocultural, and institutional imperatives that drive the need for digital tools and computational methods in the study of moving images. This approach will help students establish in-depth connections between theory and practice, and will assist them in planning, prototyping, and creating their own final projects to address significant research questions related to Cinema Studies and other fields.

Part I of the course will focus on a historical and critical exploration of pre-digital and early digital Cinema Studies projects that prefigure the interactive, data-driven, cartographic/spatial, and/or computational logic of current DH tools. We will cover a broad historical range of critical making that includes the works of early film theorists-practitioners (such as Lev Kuleshov, Dziga Vertov, and Sergei Eisenstein), collaborations between computer scientists and artists (including the Bell Labs 1960s experiments), as well as more recent digital projects and tools (by Yuri Tsivian, Adelheid Heftberger, Anne Friedberg, Steve F. Anderson, and many others). In addition, Part I of the course will analyze DH projects that contribute to a relatively new subfield in Cinema Studies: “new cinema history,” which refers to a cluster of new methodologies and digital tools for studying the cultural and social histories of cinema and its audiences. We will explore the impact of this new cinema history and of “distant reading” (the collection and computational/statistical analysis of large amounts of text data, rather than the close reading of individual texts) on traditional methodologies in Cinema Studies, through the work of influential DHers such as Deb Verhoeven, Richard Maltby, and Jeffrey Klenotic. Our analysis of these projects will not only focus on technical and methodological aspects, but also on the intellectual, cultural, ethical, and institutional debates regarding the use of digital and open-access platforms in the Humanities.

Part II of the course will provide hands-on DH training through workshops that will introduce students to a variety of DH tools and platforms, including data visualization, text mining, glitching/data-bending, mapping, annotations, digital archiving, collaborative authoring, film forensics, volumetrics, interactive design, databases, and critical remixing. The workshops will help students acquire a diverse set of skills for analyzing moving images, and will provide them with tools to use in their final projects and other class activities. The scope of the workshops will be adjusted according to student interests. Final project options include: conceptualizing and designing new analytical tools, creating new platforms for the digital analysis of moving images, curating digital/digitized artifacts/collections, using existing DH tools for a new research project, activist work, critically remixing archival material/found footage, contributing content to an existing DH initiative, producing multimedia scholarship (including videographic criticism), or using an online authoring platform (such as Scalar, Omeka, Mapme, and StoryMaps) for an academic research paper.

Course assignments include short response papers (part I of the course), presentations (I & II), software reviews (II), prototype design or project outline (II), and a final project (II). The course is suitable for all levels of technical expertise. Students are encouraged to keep an open mind and a willingness to experiment outside their comfort zone.

This course fulfills the MA Film Theory Core requirement.


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

Brazilian Cinema

Robert Stam
Thursdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 674
CINE-GT 2117
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / class # 20125
Outside students: Section 002 / class # 20126
4 points

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 through the “Retomada” films like City of God up to the latest features. 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 as part of popular culture. 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, music, remix, and multicultural dissonance as artistic resources.

Students are expected to write a term-paper on a subject related to Brazilian Cinema.

Hollywood Cinema: Origins to 1960

Dana Polan
Tuesdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 674
CINE-GT 2123
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / class # 7029
Outside students: Section 002 / class # 7030
4 points

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 an 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.

The Caribbean Cinematic

Laura Harris
Mondays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 674
CINE-GT 1178
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / class # 22513
Outside students: Section 002 / class # 22514
4 points

Building on Kara Keeling’s notion of “the cinematic” as a hegemonic common sense conditioned by cinematic processes, we will consider the way the cinematic circulates in the Caribbean and the way the racial, heteropatriarchal and capitalist logics it reproduces have constrained the organization of life there.  We will also consider the way cinematic processes have become interlinked with other aesthetic, social and spiritual practices in the Caribbean.  Does that interlinking further consolidate the cinematic or does it open it to other possible configurations of life?  We will discuss Keeling’s book, The Witch’s Flight, and view films and videos made about the Caribbean (Hollywood, Soviet, anthropological, political, etc.) and films and videos made in and around the Caribbean (by filmmakers such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Sara Gómez, Hugh A. Robertson or Beatriz Santiago Muñoz and diasporic filmmakers such as Horace Ové, Richard Fung, Raoul Peck or Miryam Charles).  We will read about the creation of alternative filmmaking infrastructures (the state-sponsored institute in post-revolutionary Cuba, for example, as well as radical collectives like the Victor Jara film collective in Guyana). We will also study various quasi-cinematic practices such as: music by dancehall deejays who adopted the names of cinema stars and characters; the deployment by poet Kamau Brathwaite of a computer-generated font he calls “Sycorax Video Style;” video “transmissions” in Santeria rituals documented by scholar-practitioner Aisha Beliso-De Jesus; and the radical venue-shaping activities of intellectuals and artists like M. Jacqui Alexander, Sean Leonard, Christopher Cozier and Kriston Chen.

Independent Study & Internship

Directed Reading

CINE-GT 3907 / class # 6856
4 points

Please fill out the Directed Reading form, to be verified by your faculty advisor, in order to receive a permission code to register.

Culture & Media Courses

Culture & Media I

Faye Ginsburg
Tuesdays, 4:55-7:35pm
25 Waverly Place, Room 107
CINE-GT 1402 / class # 7208
4 points

This course explores the history and evolution of the genre of ethnographic film (and related experimental projects)  and the broad issues of cross-cultural representation that have emerged in the works and debates around it , from the early 20th century to the contemporary moment within the wider project of the representation of cultural lives.    We will consider the key works that have defined the genre, and the conceptual and formal innovations associated with them, addressing questions concerning documentary, realism, and social theory as well as the institutional structures through which they are funded, distributed, and seen by various audiences.  Throughout the course we will keep in mind the properties of film as a signifying practice, its status as a form of anthropological knowledge, and the ethical and political concerns raised by cross-cultural representation. Films are placed in the context of an evolving discursive field, shaped by concerns of the time and responses to critiques. What have the theoretical, political and cinematic responses been to efforts to create screen representations of culture, from the early romantic constructions of Robert Flaherty to current work in feature film, to the scientific cinema of the American post-war periods, to the experimental reflexivity of Jean Rouch and others, to the development of television and video on the part of indigenous people throughout the world over the last two decades, to recent experiments in sensory ethnography?

Video Production I

Pegi Vail
Lab: Thursdays / 9:30am-12:30pm
25 Waverly Place, Room 107
CINE-GT 1995 / class # 7212
4 points

For approved Culture & Media students in their second year only. Prerequisites include completion of Culture & Media I and Sight & Sound: Documentary.

Permission code required to register. Request a permission code here.

Information updated 3/22/22