Program and Courses
*View official course descriptions in the Undergraduate Bulletin.
Additional information about our courses
FS 175 - Film and Culture explores Hollywood films as art, market products, and cultural artifacts. It considers the visual and narrative design of movies, the attractions of moviegoing, and the reciprocal influence of popular movies and American social trends. In analyzing the breadth of Hollywood's body of work, it reveals that movies function not only as entertainment but as a portrait of the relationship between American national identity and an industrialized mass culture.
FS 260 - The Art of Film gives students the tools and the vocabulary to analyze films in depth in terms of their form and style. It covers topics such as cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing and sound, and answers questions pertaining to the inner workings of the film industry as well as to the job descriptions of people collaborating on a film.
FS 264 - Studies in Film covers different topics each time it is offered. Some examples of topics covered:
- Forbidden Cinema examines the history of screen censorship in the U.S., from the “shocking” 1897 film, The Kiss, through the ultra-violence of 1971’s A Clockwork Orange, to the disturbing recent work of David Cronenberg and Harmony Korine. We’ll talk about important legal cases, filmmaking ethics, audience boundaries, and the interplay of tolerance and art.
- The Horror Film traces the evolution of
the "cinema of fright" from the silent macabre tales
of Tod Browning to the modern mind games of M. Night Shyamalan.
In this course we'll examine the disturbing, cathartic, redemptive,
and even reassuring aspects of this popular genre, and we'll
pay particular attention to that core quality of all horror
films: the fear of the irrational.
FS 270 - Digital Film Production is a production class which familiarizes students with the different production styles of experimental, narrative, and documentary films. Each student makes three projects throughout the semester. While the teaching of technical knowledge such as camera operation and software functions is essential to the class, its main focus is on storytelling and visual thinking.
FS 294 - International Cinema is a survey of modern world cinema. During the semester we will explore crucial filmmakers from various nations, cultures and languages. We will examine the unique universe and ethical and aesthetic vision of each one of these artists while placing them in the context of their national cinematic culture.
FS 370 - Advanced Digital Film Production is a production class which builds and expands on FS 270 and aims to increase student projects’ production values. Students work on their lighting and cinematography skills and learn to improve their overall sound and image quality. They ultimately each assume the role of screenwriter, producer, director, director of photography, or editor in a group project.
FS 394 - National Film Movements covers different topics each time it is offered. Some examples of topics covered:
- Middle Eastern Cinema introduces students to the work of influential directors, including Chahine, Kiarostami, Paradjanov, Ceylan, and Gitai. It illustrates how Middle Eastern cinema explores such crucial concepts as nationalities, identities, and political, historical, and cultural representations.
- Italian Cinema uses a series of available material to launch an in depth analysis of the sociopolitical, ethical, and aesthetic implications of the work of such crucial directors such as: Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, Pasolini, and Antonioni. Not only will we explore how these fiercely independent artists redefine the notion of Auteur, how they put Italian cinema in the center of the cultural and historical map, but most importantly how, despite their differences, all of these artists create a cinema of poetry and spirituality.
FS 395 - Film Directors focuses on different directors each time it is offered. Some examples:
- Pedro Almodovar is, without a doubt, the most famous and celebrated Spanish director today. Showered with prizes from all over the world, Almodovar’s latest films have imposed him as a fiercely original artist whose flamboyant style and obsessive explorations of love, death and desire have redefined the melodrama genre. However the beginning of his work, short of winning such accolades, was deemed as trashy, underground, morally devious and sexually perturbed. So, who is Pedro Almodovar: a degenerate cinematic hoodlum or a sensitive innovator and brilliant stylist?
- The Films of Alfred Hitchcock traces the career of the “Master of Suspense” from his days writing twisty short stories to his reign as Hollywood’s most innovative visual stylist. The role of his chief creative collaborator and wife, Alma Reville, his interest in psychoanalysis, his reliance on storyboarding, his clashes with producer David O. Selznick, and his mischievous sense of humor are just a few of the elements covered.
- The Films of Stanley Kubrick takes students into the world of the man who made Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s an investigation of how a teenage magazine photographer from Brooklyn became one of cinema’s most legendary and reclusive filmmaking geniuses. Nearly all of Kubrick’s feature films will be screened and discussed, myths will be dispelled, and his legacy will be assessed.
- Cinema of Love and Love of Cinema: Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda – Demy and Varda are two endearing and crucial figures of a movement that changed the face of cinema - the French New Wave (la nouvelle vague). Demy cultivated a vibrating universe of songs, music and color where the spirit of childhood strangely collides with a darker world of sensual and philosophical obsessions. Varda, widely celebrated as one of the most influential female directors ever, has stubbornly explored a daring and troubling mixing of genres: fiction, biography, self-portrait, essays on art, documentaries and experimental film. The personal trajectory of these two original artists acquires an even more touching dimension; they shared their faith in each other, in cinema and in love for thirty-three years.
FS 451, 452, 453 - Film History Sequence covers the complete history of cinema, from its early invention to the present day. Landmark films from around the world are screened and discussed, and students conduct research on the mysteries and controversies that have marked the evolution of the motion picture. The sequence takes three semesters to complete.
FS 464 - Advanced Studies in Film covers different topics each time it is offered. Some examples of topics covered:
- Film Criticism: Beyond Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down extends the analysis of film beyond the simple criterion of personal taste. It examines several techniques of criticism - journalistic, humanist, auteur, genre, social science, historical, and ideological/theoretical -- and discusses the assumptions, functions, and intended audiences of each approach. Illustrating each method are the insights of leading critics.
- Teen Movies studies a Hollywood genre often overlooked in film scholarship: the coming-of-age movie. It focuses on various subgenres, such as school, delinquency, horror, science, and romance/sexuality. Topics include the representation of adolescents and their concerns, changes in the construction of youth over time, and how youth movies dramatize societal expectations and fears about teen identities and their roles.
- Women in Cinema explores the many implications of female representations from a sociopolitical, philosophical, and symbolical point of view. Relevant female and male filmmakers discussed include Agnes Varda, Pedro Almodovar, Marleen Gorris, Lars von Trier, Jane Campion, John Cassavetes, Lisa Cholodenko, Samira Makhmalbaf, Mira Nair, Francois Ozon, Liv Ullman, Jane Anderson, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Sofia Coppola, Woody Allen, Claire Denis, Terry Zwigoff, Lynne Ramsey, Rose Troche, etc.
- Melodrama, Emotions and Excess – this class explores how cinema (the art form of the 20th Century) revisited Melodrama: the genre and tradition (rooted in Greco-Roman culture) reached its peak, essence, and popularity in 19th Century Europe. We analyze the sociopolitical, ethical, and aesthetic implications of Melodrama as transcended by three generations of fiercely original artists of cinema: 1) Legendary directors, such as Chaplin and Fellini. 2) Masters of Today’s cinema, such as Wong Kar-Wai and Pedro Almodovar. 3) Promising newcomers, such as Leos Carax and Isabel Coixet. We also explore how these demanding directors celebrate passion, emotion and excess as a crucial aspect of human experience.
- Animation Survey gives a chronological insight into animation production. We start out more than a century ago, with the simple line animations of Emile Cohl and James Stuart Blackton, and trace animation’s development up to the elaborate 3D computer and special effects work of today. Interesting stepping stones include Walt Disney, UPA, and television production as well as Canadian, Western European, Eastern European and Russian animation. Techniques discussed are cel animation, claymation, stop motion, pinscreen, and many more.
- 35mm Production Workshop gives students a unique real-life production experience, using professional, top-of-the line equipment. Students begin with an existing script and work as a film production team to take the project through pre-production, production, and post-production. The goal is a complete and professional-looking five-minute film that may be submitted to film festivals nationwide.
- Rock and Roll Cinema analyzes several aspects of the relationship between rock music and movies. In studying rock and film as commodities, it explores how interlocking entertainment industry structures encourage the cross-promotion of music and movies. Also of interest are how movies incorporate rock music aesthetically, how race, gender, class, and generation shape the ideological construction of rock and roll culture in movies, and how audiences interpret the meaning of rock in film.
496 - Film Theory is the capstone course for the film major,
which means it is a seminar for all the graduating seniors that delves
into a century's worth of great debates over the essence and nature
of the medium. Is formalism preferable to realism? How do viewers "read" a
film? Is there a place for Marxist analysis in a capitalist democracy?
Students will get to the bottom of these and other seminal questions
as they test the major film theories by applying them to contemporary
films and current film practice.