Spring 2021 Graduate Courses

Core Courses

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

Film Theory Through the Senses

Marina Hassapopoulou

CINE-GT 1020
Class # 7047
4 points

This course is only open to Cinema Studies MA students. This course fulfills the MA Film Theory Core requirement.

This course closely examines a variety of theoretical writings concerned with aesthetic, sociocultural, and psychological aspects of the cinematic medium. Theoretical frameworks are approached thematically, rather than chronologically, in order to formulate new conceptual connections between different modes of cinematic inquiry. The course uses the innovative organizational structure of Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener’s Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses to address the multisensory relationship between spectators and cinema. Sound, sight, touch, smell and taste provide a way to access and compare theories ranging from classical to digital, and to explore areas that have been marginalized from overarching canons of film analysis. Approaching film theory through the senses opens up new ways of thinking about the screen-spectator relationship as the course moves from “external” to “internal” [cognitive/mnemonic] associations. Students will study the writing of classical theorists such as Eisenstein, Metz and Bazin, as well as contemporary thinkers such as Sobchack, Mayne, and Friedberg. 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 media in order to interrogate certain ideas about cinema and spectatorship that persist despite the medium’s material and technical changes. By the end of the semester, students will acquire the critical skills to apply a broad range of analytical perspectives to films and other media.

Television: History & Culture

Anna McCarthy

CINE-GT 1026
Class # 24254
4 points

This course is only open to Cinema Studies MA students.

This M.A. core course examines the background, context, and history of television with an initial emphasis on broadcast and digital eras in the U.S., then expansion into case studies of international television. The approach is comparative, with a focus on television as cultural, social, and aesthetic formation. Topics include histories of technology, economics of media institutions, local and networked intersectional politics, audiences and reception, and questions of representation. We will also pay particular attention to methods and modes of historiography, especially in light of emerging opportunities for online access and digital research tools.

Dissertation Seminar

Antonia Lant

CINE-GT 3902
Class # 7061
4 points

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

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.

Advanced Seminars

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

Surveilllance Studies: Contemporary Digital Videos & The State

Howard Besser

CINE-GT 2836
Section 001 class # 7255
Section 002 class # 7256
4 points

This graduate seminar will explore video, social network, and other technological developments employed by those advocating or demonstrating for social change and by state entities they may or may not confront. Objects of study will include cellphone videos of police misconduct, police bodycams, surveillance videos, "Karen" videos, drone videos, videos used to illustrate human rights violations, etc.

The class will study the software and hardware development that made these possible, as well as how these digital objects circulate and become part of political discourse. The course will examine this type of digital object within broader issues of privacy, surveillance, policy, documentation, and how "ephemeral" videos can contribute to history. The class will also cover issues of archiving and preservation of this type of unedited material. Techniques such as facial recognition, gait recognition, and analysis of Big Data will also be explored. The class will also examine the ethical issues around circulation of these videos (such as the sensitivity of families of murder victims when explicit videos of the murder are screened before hundreds of thousands of people).

The class will include case studies of Black Lives Matter, the Occupy Movement, and the surveillance of Uighur communities.

Structures of Passing

Chris Straayer

CINE-GT 3006
Section 001 class # 24258
Section 002 class # 24259
4 points

This semester, the seminar will focus on racial, class, and gender passing, primarily in the US historical context. There has been considerable scholarship on this subject, which we will engage alongside film and literature. From a social-activist perspective, passing is often criticized as a willful act of deception for the purpose of personal gain.  Such an understanding invests in truth and visibility politics, and assumes that all passing is deliberate and upwardly mobile. This seminar complicates the discussion by analyzing passing in relation to certain supporting structures (e.g., racial constructions, stereotypes, segregation, property, and assimilation) and processes (e.g., masquerade, appropriation, profiling, identification). More than anything else, the concept of passing relies on identity.  Interdisciplinary readings will investigate identity in its multiple foundations and constructions, deployments and betrayals.  In the last few weeks of the course, students will select and workshop a contemporary situation/event, which may extend beyond the US, beyond race/class/gender per se, and beyond passing per se, but is productively informed by our critical study of passing's relation to identity, (im)mobility, discrimination, privilege, and hierarchical economics. For example, what lens might a complex consideration of the history of passing (and non passing) offer to current discussions of immigration, profiling, police brutality, and the business of incarceration?

Latin American Cinema & Its Archives

Juana Suárez

CINE-GT 3014
Section 001 class # 24260
Section 002 class # 24261
4 points

How can film archives render new ways to examine Latin American cinema? Can archives propose ways to look at Latin American cinema not as regional epistemologies but as a part of global systems? What is encompassed in the notion of Latin American Archives? This course addresses the place of film archives in shaping cultural histories in the region by analyzing audiovisual holdings but also documents, photographs, posters, and ephemera. Film archives also attest to the history of available technology at different times, the history of local and global negotiations for material goods, histories of migration, work, and human capital transactions, and evidence of cultural extractivism that is accentuated in the digital times.   

We question traditional ways to read the archive of big European and US-born filmmakers (Eisenstein, Orson Wells, and Buñuel, for example) far from the grandiose exoticism of the “super-filmmaker in Latin America”. These readings often go in tandem with narratives from national archives that perpetuate standard notions of high and low culture and discussions on race, ethnicity, gender, and social class, highly fixated in Westernized film cultures and Eurocentric traditions. Is it time to revise these foreign and other national myths of Latin American filmographies? How have major archives promoted notions of nationalism that call for an inclusive and challenging revision? [Cineteca Nacional, Filmoteca UNAM, ICAIC in Cuba, Patrimonio Fílmico in Colombia, Cinemateca Brasileira in São Paulo, Cinemateca Uruguaya, for example].

We will also study how centered and decentered collections inform other ways to look at Latin American cinema and the way Latin American cinema is placed in cinema studies. Where are Latin American collections situated? Are they only hosted in national film archives? What about archives in the diaspora, minor archives located at universities, regional cinémathèques, private film collections, community archives, border archives, and centros de la memoria? How do they inform other ways to organize the history of Latin American cinema?

The course is also about locating (digital) resources. We address the history of institutions, the emergence of new cinematecas and new audiovisual centers in the region, and how they are working to provide access to collections, decolonize the archive, engage citizens, include other visual cultures and activate collections in favor of new ways to tell the history of Latin American cinemas more in tandem with contemporary cultural discussions and the archive.

Emphasis on film archives; however, students will be able to research, contribute, and present on archives containing media collections in general.

BFF: Black Film Feminisms

Josslyn Luckett

CINE-GT 3025
Section 001 class # 24262
Section 002 class # 24263
4 points

What films and which filmmakers come to mind when you hear the words Black, film, and feminism in the same breath? This graduate seminar will grapple with what constitutes a Black feminist film, whether or not and how Black feminist characters, actors, activists can live, thrive, inspire audiences in/through works not made by Black women directors, not made with a commitment to a Black feminist emancipatory vision. Is such a vision ever possible in Hollywood, on HBO or PBS, now streaming near you? While we will center the narrative, experimental and documentary films of Black women directors across the African Diaspora from the 1960s to the present, we will occasionally explore works about Black women activists (Ousmane Sembene's Moolaade, Ramadan Suleman's Zulu Love Letter, Damani Baker's House on Coco Road) or featuring performances by black activist artists (Abbey Lincoln, Diana Sands, Beah Richards) in works not directed by Black women. The range of directors whose work we will engage includes, Sarah Maldoror, Sara Gomez, Kathleen Collins, Cheryl Dunye, Camille Billops, Dee Rees, Michelle Parkerson, Julie Dash, Ava DuVernay, Garrett Bradley+ more. We will think through these works with writings on black feminism/womanism, black feminist organizing, women of color/queer of color filmmaking/film viewing practices by authors ranging from Valerie Smith, Jacqueline Bobo, bell hooks, Barbara Ransby, Jennifer Nash, Gayle Wald, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Samantha Sheppard, Kara Keeling, Christina Baker and more. Black Film Feminisms...the new BFF.

Artaud & The Psychopathology of Expression

Allen Weiss

CINE-GT 3103
Class # 24264
4 points

Antonin Artaud’s The Theater and Its Double is among the foundational texts of Performance Studies. Its influence has been inestimable, and it continues to inform contemporary theory and practice across the arts. This work takes on all the more urgency as it resonates with our current situation of contagion, confinement, violence, revolt. Its most celebrated chapter, “The Theater and the Plague,” proposes an aesthetic of suffering with the epidemic as its central metaphor: a “theater of cruelty” that prefigures the privation, isolation and incarceration of his last years, from which arose his most extraordinary works. Yet The Theater and Its Double is usually read without a broader context, or more recently – given the current wave of interest in the sound arts – along with his radio piece, To Have Done with the Judgment of God. The other thirty volumes of his complete works are generally ignored by all but specialists, yet the earliest writings composed at the moment of his association with the Surrealists offer a prefiguration of his mature work, while the last pieces (diaries, poems, drawings, radio) are tantamount to a radical transformation of modernist French poetry and poetics.


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

Sound & Image in the Avant Garde

Allen Weiss

CINE-GT 1113
Section 001 class # 24255
Section 002 class # 24256
4 points

This course fulfills the MA Film Theory Core requirement.

This interdisciplinary course will investigate the relations between experimental film, radio, music, and sound art in modernism and postmodernism. The inventions of photography, cinema and sound recording radically altered the 19th century consciousness of perception, temporality, selfhood, and death. The newfound role of the voice — depersonalized, disembodied, eternalized — appeared in poetic and literary phantasms of that epoch, and offered models of future (and futuristic) art forms. This course will study the aesthetic and ideological effects of this epochal shift, especially as it concerns the subsequent practice of avant-garde art and aesthetics. It will specifically focus on the recontextualization of the history of avant garde film in the broader context of the sound arts and their discursive practices, from Dada and Surrealism through Lettrism, Situationism, Fluxus and the American Independent Cinema. Special attention will be paid to the transformations of the 1950s and 1960s, the moment when the arts moved toward a more performative mode, entailing the dematerialization and decommodification of the aesthetic domain. The goal of this course is to examine what happens when the general visual dominance in film theorization is overturned and the role of sound is taken as essential.

Contemporary African Cinema

Manthia Diawara

CINE-GT 1160
Section 001 class # 25187
Section 002 class # 25188
4 points

The class explores the new trends in African cinema from the 1990s to the present, with a special focus on film language, politics, and audiences.  The main area of concentration will be the cinemas of sub-Saharan Africa.  We will look at the aesthetic and political evolution of African film from the social realist cinema of Sembene Ousmane to the emergence of Nollywood videos.  With the view of defining new aesthetics in African cinema, we will analyze films by Djibril Diop Mambety, Balufu Bakupa-Kayinda, Zola Maseko, Abderrhamene Sissako, Newton Aduaka, Tunde Kelani Chike Ejuru, and Moussa Absa Sene, among others.

An Eye for the Sound: Jazz and Film and Freedom

Josslyn Luckett

CINE-GT 1314
Section 001 class # 25192
Section 002 class # 25193
4 points

Can a visual archive help to change the discourse of a musical form? How does what we see/screen about this music called "jazz" (in narrative feature films, in PBS documentaries, in music videos, on Grammy night) inform our listening, our purchasing and streaming? Could a different set of films, a wider reaching visual archive transform our understanding of this music, or to paraphrase the late great Gang Starr poet, Guru, could what we see restructure the metaphysics of a jazz thing? Much of what Hollywood feature films and mainstream documentaries have scripted or proclaimed about the history of this music is that it was created by some black genius musicians (all tragic), and a few white genius musicians (some tragic), who were all male (except for an occasional junkie female vocalist) and are now all dead. In spite of decades of academic and cinematic signifying about jazz as democracy and jazz as freedom, this visual archive tells a very limited tale of this music, who played it, and what it meant to communities from the Treme to Sugar Hill to Central Avenue, to the world, and even to the stars ("space is the place"). In this course we will center a different visual archive that tells a wider tale of this music and who made and still makes it and who is energized and challenged by it. We will evaluate this counter-archive of narrative, documentary and experimental film and video keeping in mind Sherrie Tucker and Nichole Rustin's challenge to "grow bigger ears" to listen for gender in jazz studies. This archive and its international, multiracial, multireligious musician participants invites us to grow bigger ears and eyes for the sound. A combination of film studies and jazz studies readings will support our viewing of a wide range of shorts and features, as well as some close listening of film scores by jazz composers.

Cultural Theory & The Documentary

Leo Goldsmith

CINE-GT 2001
Section 001 class # 7053
Section 002 class # 7134
4 points

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.

Film Adaptation

Michael Gillespie

CINE-GT 2057
Section 001 class # 25189
Section 002 class # 25190
4 points

This class focuses on the theories, strategies, and consequence of adapting novels, comics, histories, and memoirs to film and television. Rather than measuring adaptations in terms of successful fidelity to their source work, the course will emphasize adaptation with attention to narrative, genre, historiography, and affect. Pairing an interdisciplinary framing of film theory with historical and cultural contexts, the course centers the formal and textual properties that shape the art of film adaptation.  

Michael Boyce Gillespie is associate professor of film at The City College of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY. His work focuses on the idea of black film, black visual and expressive culture, film theory, visual historiography, music, and contemporary art. He is author of Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film (Duke University Press, 2016); and co-editor with Lisa Uddin of Black One Shot, an art criticism series on ASAP/J. His recent work has appeared in ASAP/J, Black Light: A Retrospective of International Black Cinema, Flash Art, Unwatchable, and Film Quarterly.

Hollywood Cinema: 1960 to Present

Dana Polan

CINE-GT 2125
Section 001 class # 7262
Section 002 class # 24257
4 points

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.


Students outside of the Moving Image Archiving & Preservation (MIAP) MA Program: please email tisch.preservation@nyu.edu to request enrollment permission number.

Curating Moving Images

Dan Streible

CINE-GT 1806
Class # 7096
4 points

This course embraces a broad conception of curating as the treatment of materials from their discovery, acquisition, archiving, preservation, restoration, and reformatting, through their screening, programming, use, re-use, distribution, exploitation, translation, and interpretation. It  focuses on the practices of film and video exhibition in cinematheques, festivals, museums, archives, web platforms, and other venues. The course examines the goals of public programming, its constituencies, and the curatorial and archival challenges of presenting film, video, and digital media. We study how archives and sister institutions present their work through exhibitions, events, publications, and media productions. We also examine how these presentations activate uses of moving image collections. Specific curatorial practices of festivals, seminars, symposia, and projects will be examined. 


Culture & Media II

Tejaswini Ganti

CINE-GT 1403
Class # 7049
4 points

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.

Video Production II

Pegi Vail
CINE-GT 1996
4 points

Class # 7051

Class # 7052

For approved Culture & Media students in their second year only after completing Culture & Media I and Sight & Sound: Documentary. Permission code required to register.


Independent Study

CINE-GT 2901
Class # 7054
1-4 points variable

CINE-GT 2903
Class # 7055
1-4 points variable

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. 


CINE-GT 2950
Class # 7142
1-4 points variable

CINE-GT 2952
Class # 7147
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. 


MAINT-GA 4747-002
Class # 2398

MAINT-GA 4747-003
Class # 2399