Fall 2023 Graduate Courses

Core Courses

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

Film History / Historiography

Dan Streible
Wednesdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 648
CINE-GT 1015 / Class # 6728
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.

This course is open only to Cinema Studies graduate students.

PhD Research Methodologies

Toby Lee
Mondays, 9:00am-12:00pm
Room 635
CINE-GT 2601 / Class # 6782
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 two recent influential books 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, with emphasis on database research and use of NYU Libraries resources. 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.

Cinema, Migration & Diaspora

Feng-Mei Heberer
Mondays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 1025
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 23309
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 23310
4 points

This course explores film and other visual media through the lens of migrancy and diaspora, asking what it would mean if we placed histories of movement and border-crossings at the center of our analysis? To do so, we will combine studies of representation, or how experiences of migration and (un)belonging are told on screen, with inquiries into media infrastructures and practices, i.e. how works are made, circulated, and received beyond national and regional boundaries. Readings from cultural studies, media industry studies, and ethnic studies will define our theoretical framework. Case studies include auteur and popular film, personal documentaries, and television shows as well as media piracy and fan-based online practices.

Documentary Italian Style

David Forgacs
Thursdays, 3:30-6:15pm
Casa Italiana, Room 203
CINE-GT 1986 / Class # 23090
4 points

Non-fiction films have been made in Italy since the beginnings of cinema, yet they are less well known than those made in France, Britain or North and South America, despite the cult status of a few Italian documentarists, such as De Seta and Grifi, and the fact that many Italian directors of features, from Antonioni and Bertolucci to Pasolini and Visconti, also made non-fictions. The course has three main aims: (1) to familiarize students with a sample of Italian non-fiction films of different types: instructional, industrial, newsreel, propaganda, ethnographic, social, memoir, found footage; (2) to equip them to engage critically with these films through close analysis and reading of key texts on documentary; (3) to help them produce high-level critical writing about Italian documentary, paying particular attention to film style. The course consists of weekly readings, viewings and seminars and is graded on class participation, regular assignments and a final paper of 15-20 pages. A few non-Italian films will be viewed, either whole or in part, for comparison and context. Students will be invited to make by the end of the course a visual project, not formally graded, to complement their written paper. A knowledge of Italian will be an asset, but all prescribed films will either have English subtitles or an accompanying written translation or summary and all required readings will be in English.

This cross-listed course is open only to Cinema Studies students. All other students should register through the Department of Italian Studies.

When We See Us: Asian American and Black Doc Traditions of Resistance

Josslyn Luckett
Thursdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 2002
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 20519
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 20520
4 points

While decades of Asian American filmmaking has engaged and critiqued the manifold ways that anti-Asian policies, rhetoric, and violence have impacted Asian American and Asian immigrant communities in the U.S., mainstream media discourse too frequently centers conversations on the topic of "race" in black/white binaries. It has taken multiple pandemics in the past two years to bring about increased discussion of racism and racial violence against Asian/Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and yet the conversations still tend to happen in silos as if racial violence directed at African Americans and Asian Americans bears no relationship. In this course we will take a comparative and relational look at recent (1990s to the present) documentaries produced by Asian American and Black Independent filmmakers (Marissa Aroy, Damani Baker, Vivek Bald, Garrett Bradley, Arthur Dong, Yance Ford, Thomas Allan Harris, Grace Lee, Tadashi Nakamura, Spencer Nakasako, Marlon Riggs, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, and Renee Tajima-Pena) to explore convergences and contrasts in style, themes, practices of resistance, and strategies of media activism/programming/education across the two communities.

The (Post)Human Condition in Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema

Marina Hassapopoulou
Tuesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 2162 / Class # 6703
4 points

Science fiction has been fueling the philosophical imagination for centuries, and many of its thought experiments (such as space/time travel, cloning, and super-intelligence) have prefigured significant scientific and technological breakthroughs. Advancements in bioengineering, prosthetics, mass communication, ubiquitous computing, virtual reality, data-surveillance, and artificial intelligence have further intensified the question of what it means to be human in the digital age. This course will explore the human condition through contemporary sci-fi cinema (mostly late 1990s-present, with references to earlier works), particularly films that reflect on the impact of technology on (post) human identity. Technology will be defined in a broad and diverse scope ranging from engineering and digital media to medicine and ethics. We will consider sci-fi films not only as speculative thought experiments, but also as a complex hybrid genre that tackles ethical and epistemological debates about contemporary society. A diverse international selection of sci-fi films will be analyzed through several critical, philosophical and techno-scientific lenses including: trans/post/anti-humanism, bioethics, biopolitics, necropolitics, technology, animal studies, memory and identity, disability studies, cyborg theory, time travel, surveillance, digital media theory, Afrofuturism, race and gender theory, historiography, phenomenology, ecocriticism, and border cinema/refugee studies. Screenings include Hollywood films, as well as international, co-produced, experimental, short-form, and independent science fiction. Assigned readings, extended bibliographies, and their corresponding films/media have been intentionally selected to provide an interdisciplinary focus that aims to introduce students to multiple intellectual frameworks and current trends for studying the “human” in all its trans/post/ anti/other iterations…

As this is an advanced course, it is recommended that students have completed some Cinema Studies courses prior to taking this class, such as Film Theory. Interested students should send a brief email to professor Hassapopoulou (mh193@nyu.edu) outlining why they are interested in the course and how this course would cater to their academic interests.

Permission code required.

Topics in Asian Film

Zhen Zhang
Fridays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 652
CINE-GT 3243
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 20522
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 23314
4 points

Evaluating recent scholarship in Asian film and media studies, through careful reading of several exemplary monographs, anthologies and articles along with relevant screening materials, the course critically examines existing paradigms such as national cinema and transnational cinema, and problematic fixations on "Asian extreme" genres. We will explore alternative perspectives on local, regional, trans-Asian and trans-hemispheric film culture histories as well as contemporary formations under the impact of digital media, climate change, the pandemic, and neo-Cold War geopolitical conditions.


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

Film Genres: Cold War Thrillers

Isabelle Freda
Mondays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 670
CINE-GT 2121
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 23319
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 23320
4 points

The release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has provided a perfect frame for this course. We might call the film, as some have done, a “Cold War biopic thriller.” Cold War is a mobile term, both historically grounded and a free-floating signifier, and films from both the historical Cold War period and those portraying it retrospectively, such as Nolan’s film (or Revolutionary Road, Trumbo or Good Night, and Good Luck) all fall within its “Cold” domain.  After Truman signed the “NSC 68” in 1947, the Cold War found its momentum, as the nuclear national security state replaced previous iterations of democracy: the development of the hydrogen bomb (opposed by many scientists, including of course Oppenheimer) moved ahead without hesitation, as hesitation was considered weak or just plain subversion, and government secrecy became intertwined with domestic political oppression at home under the auspices of anti-Communism. “Duck and cover” civil defense films in classrooms, movie theaters, and television coincided with prescient science fiction thrillers, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Them, in conveying the fear of nuclear war and the radically changed social-political sphere in which authenticity and performance became increasingly over-determined and confused. Dr. Strangelove and The Manchurian Candidate appear in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy Assasination as the Cold War thriller moves much closer to the presidency and the corrosive effects of the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” in films such as Colossus: The Corbin Project and Fail-Safe! We will also explore films which mirror the normative discourse of the Cold War, embedded in the so-called “Cold War consensus.” This idealized realm of “thrills” in which spies fight out the battle between democracy and communism is exemplarily performed by Sean Connery as James Bond, mixing espionage, sex, technology, and a reassuringly individualistic masculinity with military prowess (although there are others... surely Paul Newman in Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain deserves a look). We will engage, as well, the “Second Cold War” associated with Ronald Reagan, and the real-world effects of his symbolically powerful hawkish simplicity, such as a renewed nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, and aggressive interventions in proxy nations (i.e., Red Dawn, Rambo, and Salvador). A new set of films reprising the nuclear anxiety which characterized the Cold War thriller of the fifties emerges, such as War Games and The Day After, reflecting the powerful resuscitation of the anti-nuclear peace movement both at home and abroad. Throughout the course we will turn, as much as possible, to acknowledge literature, television, journalism, and international and avant-garde films to help our work. Expect 2 to 3 hours a week of additional assigned screenings (online and in-person) in addition to our screenings during scheduled class time. Also expect a heavy and diverse reading schedule of 3 to 4 articles/chapters a week. Midterm essay and final research paper, class presentations required.

Visual Historiography

Michael B. Gillespie
Wednesdays, 12:30-4:30pm
Room 648
CINE-GT 3101
Cinema Studies students: Section 001 / Class # 23316
Outside students: Section 002 / Class # 23317
4 points

This class will examine how cinema enacts a writing of history in the terms of ‘visual historiography.’ If historiography is the study of the writing of history, then this class will consider cinema’s employment of history and the questions of narrativity, temporality, the production of historical knowledge, memory and remembrance, trauma, and power. The course will take a critically disobedient approach in the sense that films will be addressed as historiographic interventions and avoid those less generative approaches concerned with fidelity.

Film Genres: Horror

Jacob Floyd
Tuesdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 674
CINE-GT 2121
Section 004 (Cinema Studies students) / Class # 23348

This course will explore selected topics related to horror cinema. We will first look at key conversations and debates about the genre itself: the difficulties defining horror, its status as an affective genre, and its relationship to taste and transgression. Next, we will analyze the genre through prominent sites and sources of horror: death, the home, the body, and the mind. We will then study horror through larger contexts such as gender and sexuality, race, indigeneity, and nation. Finally, we will examine horror’s relationship to media technologies including broadcasting and video, found footage and surveillance, and new media.

This course is open only to Cinema Studies graduate students.

Theory/Practice Courses

These courses are open to Cinema Studies students only.

Film Criticism

Imogen Sara Smith
Thursdays, 6:00-10:00pm
Room 674
CINE-GT 1141 / Class # 23344
4 points

This course will examine the history and practice of film criticism as a means of helping students to sharpen their own critical thinking and writing. We'll focus on the finer points of film scholarship and film criticism; explore the role that criticism has played in shaping film studies, culture, and filmmaking itself; and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of theory as applied in criticism. We'll also examine the role of criticism in the age of the internet, and the demands of covering the festival circuit. Students will explore the practicalities and challenges of writing about film across all genres, time periods, and national origins—including mainstream comedies, thrillers, and melodrama, art cinema and avant-garde film, political films and documentaries—and we’ll discuss modes of critical practice useful in addressing those films. Weekly readings, screenings and writing assignments are required.

Independent Study & Internship

Independent Study

CINE-GT 2900 / class # 6558           1-4 points variable
CINE-GT 2902 / class # TBA            1-4 points variable

A student wishing to conduct independent research for credit must obtain approval from a full-time faculty member in the Department of Cinema Studies 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 submit an Independent Study Form. Once the information from your form is verified by your faculty supervisor, you will receive a permission code.


CINE-GT 2950 / class # 6671            1-4 points variable
CINE-GT 2952 / class # TBA             1-4 points variable

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.

Directed Reading

CINE-GT 3907 / class # 6563
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, 5:00-8:00pm
25 Waverly Place, Room 107
CINE-GT 1402 / Class # 6553
4 points

This course explores the history and evolution of the genre of ethnographic film (and related experimental projects) as well as Indigenous media 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
Tuesdays, 9:30am-12:015pm
Lab: Fridays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Location TBA
CINE-GT 1995 / class # 6557
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.

Updated April 6, 2023