Film Studies Minor

Overview for Film Studies Minor

Film studies explores the role of cinema in our contemporary global culture. Using methodologies and perspectives from a variety of disciplines, such as English, anthropology, philosophy, fine arts/visual culture, political science, history, and modern languages, the film studies minor investigates cinema’s mass appeal as a form of entertainment, but also the power it wields as a disseminator of ideas, history, values, aesthetics, behavior, and cultural norms.

Notes about this minor:

  • This minor is closed to students majoring in film and animation.
  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.

The plan code for Film Studies Minor is FILMCUL-MN.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Film Studies Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Course
Electives
Choose five of the following:
    ANTH-265
Native Americans in Film
This course will examine the parallels of anthropological works and resulting government policies in the late-19th and 20th centuries as they relate to the genre of Native Americans film, both popular and ethnographic works. In addition, an extensive regional and historical literature review will complement the possible films. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
    ANTH-430
Visual Anthropology
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   ENGL-319
 Anime
This course examines the history, aesthetics and style of Japanese animation. The course provides a vocabulary for the analysis of anime as well as the critical and analytical skills for interpreting anime as an art form. This course will develop students' skills in viewing, analyzing, interpreting and evaluating the art of anime. Students will learn to analyze important series and films, and connect anime with contemporary and historical trends in Japan. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of works by major directors and studios. Lecture 3 (Fall).
    ENGL-410
Film Studies
This course familiarizes students with a number of different critical approaches to film as a narrative and representational art. The course introduces students to the language as well as analytical and critical methodologies of film theory and criticism from early formalist approaches to contemporary considerations of technologies and ideologies alike. Students will be introduced to a selection of these approaches and be asked to apply them to a variety of films selected by the instructor. Additional screening time is recommended. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
    HIST-275
Screening the Trenches: The History of WWI Through Film
This course uses popular films to examine World War I as the global conflict that set the stage for the rise of communism, fascism, and subsequent wars in twentieth-century Europe. Students will gain an understanding of the major causes and outcomes of World War I while investigating how the war transformed class, gender, and racial politics in Europe. Special attention will be paid to the combat/trench experience, the home front/war front divide, the German occupation of Belgium and Northern France, “total war,” the politics of shell-shock and disability, and the legacies of grief, mourning, and commemoration. Because World War I so greatly divided its participants, little consensus about the war’s meaning emerged in its aftermath. Filmmakers have consequently used World War I as a blank slate on which to project political fantasies, condemn elements of their own societies, or imagine the future. Students will use secondary historical literature and original primary sources to analyze filmic representations of World War I and consider how filmmakers have deliberately misrepresented the past or constructed particular narratives about the war to serve their own ends. This course will therefore equip students to think critically about representations of the historical past in popular culture. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    HIST-450
Japan in History, Fiction and Film
An introduction to Japanese history, highlighting social and aesthetic traditions that have formed the foundations for Japanese literature and cinema. Explores how writers and directors have drawn on this heritage to depict historical experiences. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    MLCH-352/WGST-352
Globalization and Gender through Chinese Cinema: From Kungfu to World Factory
This course surveys Chinese cinema from its beginning to the present with special attention to its transnational connections and gender representation. Films from the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong will be examined in-depth for their aesthetic quality and techniques, and equally important, against their socio-historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts. Topics include Kungfu films, women's cinema, documentation of globalization, independent filmmaking and social activism, and more. The class is conducted in English. Assigned films will be in Chinese with English subtitles. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
    MLFR-151
Film, Comics, and French Culture
The course focuses on French culture through feature films, animated films, and comic books. France is the strongest film industry in Europe and is one of the world’s major movie export powers after the U.S. Franco-Belgian comics are one of the main groups of comics, together with American and British comic books and the Japanese manga. France is Europe’s largest producer and the world’s third largest exporter of animated film. What do French films and comics tell us about French culture? The course explores aspects of contemporary French society. It addresses a broad range of topics including multiculturalism in France, French cuisine and the French paradox, fashion in France, the impact of the two world wars on French society, the legacy of the French colonial experience, and ethnic and sexual minorities in France. The course examines the interconnectedness of French culture with other cultures in the world, particularly American culture and the cultures of former French colonies. Students will also have to interpret and evaluate French films and comic books considering the cultural context in which they were created. They will learn about the specificity of French cinema as opposed to Hollywood productions, of French animated films versus American animated films and Japanese anime, and of Franco-Belgian comics as opposed to American and British comics and the Japanese manga. The course also offers a brief introduction to spoken French. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    MLFR-351
French Films and Hollywood
A comparative study of French films and their American remakes from the 1930s to the 21st century to determine what these films reveal about the cultural and cinematic contexts from which they emerge. The course examines differences as well as similarities in the construction of identities in France and the United States. Devotes particular attention to the (re)construction of race, space, gender, and national histories. Conducted in English. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    MLFR-352
The French Heritage in Films
Heritage films are central to the French cinematographic production. They enable the transmission and the reevaluation of a tradition that lies at the core of French cultural identity. This course examines a selection of French films adapted from both canonical and non-canonical texts representative of major events, trends, social issues, and artistic movements that contributed to shaping modern France. Students will become familiar with world-renowned French novels, short stories, comic books, and films. The course deals with topics such as aristocratic culture, racial identity in France, the myth of the resistance and the legacy of the Second World War, France’s rural past, the French colonial experience, women and bourgeois culture, the long-standing tradition of comic books and comedy in France, the Tradition of Quality, the French New Wave, and heritage films. The course also examines the interconnectedness of French culture and the cultures of the United States, England, and former French colonies. It notably explores how the French colonial experience informed the development of French cinema, and how French heritage films were both inspired and reinterpreted by British and American cinematographic industries to reflect the cultures and values of those societies. Conducted in English. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    MLIT-351
Italian Cinema: Neorealism to the New Millennium
Comparative study of Italian New Cinema and its predecessors from 1945 to the 21st century. Devotes particular attention to the perspectives that shaped race, space, gender, and national histories revealed though the cultural and cinematic contexts. Students will view and compare cinema from the Neorealist canon and the New Italian Cinema to explore the possible common thread in film language and the issues discussed. A special attention is given to gender construction in Italian cinema and cinema from United States. The students will write a comparative research paper on more than two films from the different periods, or create a project such as a short film. The course also contrasts the Italian culture and the cultures of the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa. It explores how Italian cinema was seminal in the development of cinematographic industries and production of other countries. Specific attention will be given to the comparison of Italian culture and colonial experience and the Global South. Conducted in English. Lecture 3 (Fall).
    MLSP-352
Caribbean Cinema
This course provides an introduction to Hispanic Caribbean culture through cinema studies. We will study the role of film in Hispanic Caribbean societies as well as the unique artistic and technical achievements and obstacles of Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican filmmakers. Topics covered include: The Basics of Film Analysis; An Introduction to Caribbean Film History; The Social Context of the Hispanic Caribbean Film Industry; Art and Revolution; Race, Ethnicity, and Religion; Occupation, Dictatorship, and War; Gender, Sexuality and Exile; Transnationalism and Migration, and Hispanic Caribbean Film in a Global Context. This course will take a cultural studies approach to the study of film as a social practice. Weekly films (1.5-2 hours in length) must be watched outside of class hours. All films with dialog have English subtitles. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    PHIL-313
Philosophy of Film
Introduces students to models of film interpretation and critique that arose in pre-war Europe and that have burgeoned since; these models combine philosophical, aesthetic, economic and psychoanalytic methods of analysis. Among the topics considered are the nature of the image, ideology and alienation, trauma, fetishism, magical realism, realism and anti-realism in film. Lecture 3 (Fall).
    POLS-490
Politics Through Film
This course explores the enduring issues facing the American and global political order through the lens of film. Particular attention will be paid to the principles of sound political deliberation, the limitations of political leadership and the theory and practice of American political principles both at home and abroad. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    VISL-100
Introduction to Visual Arts*
This course will develop students' ability in perceiving worth in objects of art through consideration of fundamental concepts in painting, sculpture and architecture, involving analysis, interpretation and principles of aesthetics. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
    VISL-120
Introduction to Film*
This course provides the student with an introduction to film as an art form. The course presents a vocabulary for film analysis as well as the critical and analytical skills for interpreting films. The course examines the major aesthetic, structural, historical, and technical components of film. It considers how a film works, by looking internally at the multiple aspects that comprise the construction of a film, and externally at how a film affects the viewers. Students will watch a variety of feature films, primarily American, ranging in date from the 1940's through the 2000's. Clips from alternative films and foreign films will also be screened and discussed. Any artistic background in film, music, theatre, painting, sculpture, etc., is helpful, but no specific technical knowledge of film, video, or photography is required or expected. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
    VISL-140
Introduction to Visual Culture*
This course provides an introduction to Visual Culture studies, an interdisciplinary field of study that explores the ways in which our lives are shaped through contact with, and consumption of, images, designed objects and visual forms of media, communication, and information. Students will develop a critical understanding of different aspects of contemporary visual culture as well as an awareness of its recent historical development. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   VISL-210
 Vision, Media and Technology in Rochester
This course seeks to enrich students’ understanding of the visual by studying its historical, technical, and social construction. Recognizing the biases and issues of access embedded in visual media, we will consider how these media can both limit and liberate one’s experience of the visual world depending on ability, identity, and socioeconomic status. In addition to studying a range of image-making technologies—such as photography, film, photocopying, and virtual reality—we will also analyze the resulting images as expressions of aesthetic, cultural, and social values. We will set our sights on legacy Rochester companies, such as Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox, to explore how the Flower City has contributed to the invention of modern and contemporary ways of seeing. Visits to institutions on and/or beyond campus will offer further insight into how RIT and Rochester remain at the forefront of experiments in visual art and visual science. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
    VISL-320
Contemporary Cinema: Fact and Fiction
We will study cinema in the United States and abroad from the mid-20th century to contemporary screen cultures. We will consider shorts, war documentaries, biographical and autobiographical films, animation, mockumentaries, video diaries, and immersive installations. Questions we will ask include: How does cinema represent or transform social and historical events in local and global contexts? Which ethical and aesthetic responsibilities does a filmmaker have to their audience and filmed subjects? What ethical questions do the films raise for us as spectators? How do we understand the role of media technologies in the making of these films? We will investigate the structures, techniques, and ideologies that identify cinematic practices as fiction or non-fiction and consider films that challenge these representational systems, helping us examine the line between fact and fiction. Students will complete a film critique as a class assignment. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
    VISL-372
American Film of the Studio Era
This course examines the history and aesthetics of the motion picture in the United States between the 1890s and the early 1960s; emphasis will be placed on the analysis of both the work of major American filmmakers and the development of major American film genres during the Classical Hollywood Studio period. Among the filmmakers to be studied are Griffith, Chaplin, Hawks, Ford, Capra, Welles, Curtiz, Wilder, Donen, Sirk, Ray, Hitchcock, and Kubrick. Genres to be covered include the melodrama, silent comedy, screwball comedy, western, thriller, film noir, newspaper film, and the gangster film. The films will be studied within the context of contemporary cultural and political events, and will be discussed from several viewpoints, including aesthetic, technical, social, and economic. The ways in which gender and class are constructed through the movies will also be a major focus of study. Lecture 3 (Annual).
    VISL-373
American Film Since the Sixties
This course examines the history and aesthetics of the motion picture in the United States since the late 1960s, when the classical studio era ended. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of both the work of major American filmmakers and the evolution of major American film genres between 1967 and 2001. Among the filmmakers to be studied are Kazan, Cassavetes, Penn, Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Allen, Seidelman, Lee, Burton, Altman, Tarantino, Coen, and Lynch. The course will consider the evolution of such traditional Hollywood genres as the gangster film, the romantic comedy, and the Hollywood movie, study the development of new, blended genres, investigate the rise of the blockbuster, explore the rise of the Independents, and follow the aesthetic changes that occurred since the 1967. The films will be studied within the context of contemporary cultural and political events, and will be discussed from several viewpoints, including aesthetic, technical, social, and economic. The ways in which gender, race, and class are constructed through the movies will also be a major focus of study. Lecture 3 (Spring).
    VISL-440
Deaf Art & Cinema
Students will examine the context in which specific cultural groups have chosen to create works about their experiences. They will go on to explore a wide range of artistic works representing the Deaf experience in visual arts and cinema. Students will be expected to analyze works in terms of cultural symbols and themes. Attention will be given to historical context (personal and collective) that has helped to shape many of these works, motifs, and messages. Students will write and present in-depth papers examining specific works and artists/filmmakers. In addition, students will be expected to create an original artwork and a collaborative short film. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).

* At most only one of VISL-100, VISL-120, or VISL-140 may be used toward the minor.