Film Studies

Students may complete a minor in Film Studies.

Steering Committee

Timothy Harte, Chair and Associate Professor of Russian

Homay King, Professor of History of Art (on leave semester I)

Hoang Tan Nguyen, Associate Professor of English and Film Studies

Michael Tratner, Mary E. Garrett Alumnae Professor of English

Sharon Ullman, Chair and Professor of History (on leave semesters I and II)

Affiliated Faculty

Shiamin Kwa, Assistant Professor on the Jye Chu Lectureship in Chinese Studies (on leave semester I & II)

Roberta Ricci, Chair and Associate Professor of Italian

David Romberg, Lecturer

H. Rosi Song, Associate Professor of Spanish

Film Studies is an interdisciplinary program of inquiry bringing a range of analytical methods to bear upon films, film audiences, and the social and industrial contexts of film and media production, distribution and exhibition. The courses that comprise the minor in film studies reflect the diversity of approaches in the academic study of cinema. The minor is anchored by core courses in formal analysis, history and theory. Elective courses in particular film styles, directors, national cinemas, genres, areas of theory and criticism, video production, and issues in film and media culture add both breadth and depth to this program of study.

Film Studies is a Bryn Mawr College minor. Students must take a majority of courses on the Bryn Mawr campus; however, minors are encouraged to consider courses offered in the Tri-College consortium and at the University of Pennsylvania. Students should work with the director of the Film Studies Program to develop a minor work plan when declaring the minor.

Minor Requirements

In consultation with the program director, students design a program of study that includes a range of film genres, styles, national cinemas, eras and disciplinary and methodological approaches. Students are strongly encouraged to take at least one course addressing topics in global or non-western cinema. The minor consists of a total of six courses and must include the following:

  • One introductory course in the formal analysis of film
  • One course in film history or an area of film history
  • One course in film theory or an area of film theory
  • Three electives.
  • At least one of the six courses must be at the 300 level. Courses that fall into two or more of the above categories may fulfill the requirement of the student’s choosing, but may not fulfill more than one requirement simultaneously. Students should consult with their advisers to determine which courses, if any, may count simultaneously for multiple credentials. Final approval is at the discretion of the program director.

COURSES

ARTW B266 Screenwriting

An introduction to screenwriting. Issues basic to the art of storytelling in film will be addressed and analyzed: character, dramatic structure, theme, setting, image, sound. The course focuses on the film adaptation; readings include novels, screenplays, and short stories. Films adapted from the readings will be screened. In the course of the semester, students will be expected to outline and complete the first act of an adapted screenplay of their own.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Spring 2017)

CSTS B274 Greek Tragedy in Global Cinema

This is a topics course. Topics vary. This course explores how contemporary film, a creative medium appealing to the entire demographic spectrum like Greek drama, looks back to the ancient origins. Examining both films that are directly based on Greek plays and films that make use of classical material without being explicitly classical in plot or setting, we will discuss how Greek mythology is reconstructed and appropriated for modern audiences and how the classical past continues to be culturally significant. A variety of methodological approaches such as film and gender theory, psychoanalysis, and feminist theory will be applied in addition to more straightforward literary-historical interpretation.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Baertschi,A.

Fall 2016: Greek Tragedy in Contemporary Film.

EALC B212 Topics: Introduction to Chinese Literature

This is a topics course. Topics may vary.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

EALC B240 Topics in Chinese Film

This is a topics course. Course content varies.Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

EALC B281 Food in Translation: Theory and Practice

This semester we will explore the connections between what we eat and how we define ourselves in the context of global culture. We will proceed from the assumption that food is an object of culture, and that our contemplation of its transformations and translations in production, preparation, consumption, and distribution will inform our notions of personal and group identity. This course takes Chinese food as a case study, and examines the way that Chinese food moves from its host country to diasporic communities all over the world, using theories of translation as our theoretical and empirical foundation. From analyzing menu and ingredient translations to producing a short film based on interviews, we will consider the relationship between food and communication in a multilingual and multicultural world. Readings include theoretical texts on translation (Apter), recipe books and menus, Chinese and Chinese-American literature (Classic of Poetry, Mo Yan, Hong Kingston). Films include Ian Cheney’s “Searching for General Tso,” Wayne Wang’s “Soul of a Banquet” and “Eat a Bowl of Tea,” Ang Li’s “Eat Drink Man Woman,” and Wong Karwai’s “In the Mood for Love.”
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ENGL B205 Introduction to Film

This course is intended to provide students with the tools of critical film analysis. Through readings of images and sounds, sections of films and entire narratives, students will cultivate the habits of critical viewing and establish a foundation for focused work in film studies. The course introduces formal and technical units of cinematic meaning and categories of genre and history that add up to the experiences and meanings we call cinema. Although much of the course material will focus on the Hollywood style of film, examples will be drawn from the history of cinema. Attendance at weekly screenings is mandatory.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Nguyen,H.
(Spring 2017)

ENGL B229 Movies and Mass Politics

Movies and mass politics emerged together, altering entertainment and government in strangely similar ways. Fascism and Communism claimed an inherent relation to the masses and hence to movies; Hollywood rejected such claims. We will examine films that allude to Communism and Fascism, seeking to understand how they join in political debates and comment upon the mass experience of movie going.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ENGL B324 Topics in Shakespeare: Shakespeare on Film

Films and play texts vary from year to year. The course assumes significant prior experience of Shakespearean drama and/or Renaissance drama.
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Gordon,C.

Spring 2017: Global Shakespeare. We will read Shakespearean drama alongside the global performance archives that update and remix Shakespeare for a world shaped by the War on Terror, globalization, occupation, and revolution. By pairing original texts and their adaptations, this course considers pressing issues in postcolonial theory, including cosmopolitanism; appropriation; colonial education and canon formation; nationalism; and the global city.

ENGL B336 Topics in Film

This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Nguyen,H.

Fall 2016: Global Queer Cinema. This course asks, “What can the theories of globalization, transnationalism, and diaspora contribute to the study of same-sex eroticisms in the cinema?” To help us answer this question, we will base our investigation on a corpus of films drawn from across the globe (mostly from non-US contexts) that deal with non-normative sexualities.

ENGL B355 Performance Studies

Introduces students to the field of performance studies, a multidisciplinary species of cultural studies which theorizes human actions as performances that both construct and resist cultural norms of race, gender, and sexuality. The course will explore “performativity” in everyday life as well as in the performing arts, and will include multiple viewings of dance and theater both on- and off-campus. In addition, we will consider the performative aspects of film and video productions.
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ENGL B367 Asian American Film Video and New Media

The course explores the role of pleasure in the production, reception, and performance of Asian American identities in film, video, and the internet, taking as its focus the sexual representation of Asian Americans in works produced by Asian American artists from 1915 to present. In several units of the course, we will study graphic sexual representations, including pornographic images and sex acts some may find objectionable. Students should be prepared to engage analytically with all class material. To maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and solidarity among the participants in the class, no auditors will be allowed.
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ENGL B375 Sex on Screens

This course will provide a historical and theoretical overview of the ways moving image sex acts have been represented on screen, from early cinema’s silent film loops to today’s celebrity sex tapes. We will examine the ideological operations of sex in the cinema and aim to comprehend the multifarious ways viewers, filmmakers, critics, and scholars respond to dominant conceptions of sex-sexuality through alternative cinematic production and critical scholarship. Units include: stag movies, the Production Code and ratings system, European art cinema, sex ed, underground and the avant-garde, cult / sexploitation / blaxploitation, sexual revolution, hard core, women’s cinema, home video, queer cinema, HIV/AIDS, the digital revolution, feminist porn, and the Internet. Prerequisites: HART / COML B110: Identification in the Cinema; or ENGL / HART 205: Introduction to Film; or ENGL B299 History of Narrative Cinema, 1945 to the Present.
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

GEOL B125 Focus: Geology in Film

This is a half semester Focus course. Geologic processes make for great film storylines, but filmmakers take great liberty with how they depict scientific “facts” and scientists. We will explore how and why filmmakers choose to deviate from science reality. We will study and view one film per week and discuss its issues from a geologist’s perspective.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 0.5
Instructor(s): Marenco,P.
(Spring 2017)

GNST B255 Video Production

This course will explore aesthetic strategies utilized by low-budget film and video makers as each student works throughout the semester to complete a 7-15 minute film or video project. Course requirements include weekly screenings, reading assignments, and class screenings of rushes and roughcuts of student projects. Prerequisites: Some prior film course experience necessary, instructor discretion.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Romberg,D.
(Fall 2016)

GNST B302 Topics in Video Production

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Prerequisite: GNST B255 or ENGL/HART B205 or ICPR H243 or ICPR H343 or ICPR H278 or ANTH H207 or an equivalent Video Production course, such as Documentary Production or an equivalent critical course in Film or Media Studies.
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

HART B110 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: Identification in the Cinema

An introduction to the analysis of film through particular attention to the role of the spectator. Why do moving images compel our fascination? How exactly do film spectators relate to the people, objects, and places that appear on the screen? Wherein lies the power of images to move, attract, repel, persuade, or transform its viewers? In this course, students will be introduced to film theory through the rich and complex topic of identification. We will explore how points of view are framed in cinema, and how those viewing positions differ from those of still photography, advertising, video games, and other forms of media. Students will be encouraged to consider the role the cinematic medium plays in influencing our experience of a film: how it is not simply a film’s content, but the very form of representation that creates interactions between the spectator and the images on the screen. Film screenings include Psycho, Being John Malkovich, and others. Course is geared to freshman and those with no prior film instruction. Fulfills History of Art major 100-level course requirement, Film Studies minor Introductory course or Theory course requirement.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): King,H.
(Spring 2017)

HART B299 History of Narrative Cinema, 1945 to the present

This course surveys the history of narrative film from 1945 through contemporary cinema. We will analyze a chronological series of styles and national cinemas, including Classical Hollywood, Italian Neorealism, the French New Wave, and other post-war movements and genres. Viewings of canonical films will be supplemented by more recent examples of global cinema. While historical in approach, this course emphasizes the theory and criticism of the sound film, and we will consider various methodological approaches to the aesthetic, socio-political, and psychological dimensions of cinema. Readings will provide historical context, and will introduce students to key concepts in film studies such as realism, formalism, spectatorship, the auteur theory, and genre studies. Fulfills the history requirement or the introductory course requirement for the Film Studies minor.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

HART B306 Film Theory

An introduction to major developments in film theory and criticism. Topics covered include: the specificity of film form; cinematic realism; the cinematic “author”; the politics and ideology of cinema; the relation between cinema and language; spectatorship, identification, and subjectivity; archival and historical problems in film studies; the relation between film studies and other disciplines of aesthetic and social criticism. Each week of the syllabus pairs critical writing(s) on a central principle of film analysis with a cinematic example. Class will be divided between discussion of critical texts and attempts to apply them to a primary cinematic text. Prerequisite: A course in Film Studies (HART B110, HART B299, ENGL B205, or the equivalent from another college by permission of instructor).
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): King,H.
(Spring 2017)

HART B334 Topics in Film Studies

This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Feliz,M.

Fall 2016: Visual Culture and Technology. This course examines the intersections of art and technology across a wide range of visual culture and popular media. Beginning with an exploration of a set of aesthetic and cultural production that includes 16th century woodcuts, 17th century cabinets of curiosity, 18th century magic lantern shows, and 19th century stereoscopes and panoramas, the course will provide historical context for a consideration of the role that various forms of technology have played in shaping art, film and new media in the 20th and 21st century.

HIST B284 Movies and America

Movies are one of the most important means by which Americans come to know – or think they know—their own history. This class examines the complex cultural relationship between film and American historical self fashioning.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ITAL B212 Italy Today: New Voices, New Writers, New Literature

This course, taught in English, will focus primarily on the works of the so-called “migrant writers” who, having adopted the Italian language, have become a significant part of the new voice of Italy. In addition to the aesthetic appreciation of these works, this course will also take into consideration the social, cultural, and political factors surrounding them. The course will focus on works by writers who are now integral to Italian canon – among them: Cristina Ali-Farah, Igiaba Scego, Ghermandi Gabriella, Amara Lakhous. As part of the course, movies concerned with various aspects of Italian Migrant literature will be screened and analyzed.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Gender and Sexuality Studies; Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ITAL B214 The Myth of Venice (1800-2000)

The Republic of Venice existed for over a millennium. This course begins in the year 1797 at the end of the Republic and the emerging of an extensive body of literature centered on Venice and its mythical facets. Readings will include the Romantic views of Venice (excerpts from Lord Byron, Fredrick Schiller, Wolfang von Goethe, Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni) and the 20th century reshaping of the literary myth (readings from Thomas Mann, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Henry James, and others). A journey into this fascinating tradition will shed light on how the literary and visual representation of Venice, rather than focusing on a nostalgic evocation of the death of the Republic, became a territory of exploration for literary modernity. The course is offered in English; all texts are provided in translation. One additional hour for the students who are taking the course for Italian credit. Suggested Preparation: At least two 200-level literature courses.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Monserrati,M.
(Spring 2017)

ITAL B229 Food in Italian Literature, Culture, and Cinema

Taught in English. A profile of Italian literature/culture/cinema obtained through an analysis of gastronomic documents, films, literary texts, and magazines. We will also include a discussion of the Slow Food Revolution, a movement initiated in Italy in 1980 and now with a world-wide following, and its social, economic, ecological, aesthetic, and cultural impact to counteract fast food and to promote local food traditions. Course taught in English. One additional hour for students who want Italian credit . Prerequisite: ITAL 102
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ITAL B255 Uomini d’onore in Sicilia: Italian Mafia in Literature and Cinema

This course aims to explore representations of Mafia figures in Italian literature and cinema, with reference also to Italian-American films, starting from the ‘classical’ example of Sicily. The course will introduce students to both Italian Studies from an interdisciplinary prospective and also to narrative fiction, using Italian literature written by 19th, 20th, and 21st Italian Sicilian authors. Course is taught in Italian. Prerequisite: ITAL B102 or permission of the instructor.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

ITAL B310 Detective Fiction

In English. Why is detective fiction so popular? What explains the continuing multiplication of detective texts despite the seemingly finite number of available plots? This course will explore the worldwide fascination with this genre beginning with European writers before turning to the more distant mystery stories from around the world. The international scope of the readings will highlight how authors in different countries have developed their own national detective typologies while simultaneously responding to international influence of the British-American model. Italian majors taking this course for Italian credit will be required to meet for an additional hour with the instructor and to do the readings and writing in Italian. Suggested Preparation: One literature course at the 200 level.
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

PSYC B375 Movies and Madness: Abnormal Psychology Through Films

This writing-intensive seminar (maximum enrollment = 16 students) deals with critical analysis of how various forms of psychopathology are depicted in films. The primary focus of the seminar will be evaluating the degree of correspondence between the cinematic presentation and current research knowledge about the disorder, taking into account the historical period in which the film was made. For example, we will discuss how accurately the symptoms of the disorder are presented and how representative the protagonist is of people who typically manifest this disorder based on current research. We will also address the theory of etiology of the disorder depicted in the film, including discussion of the relevant intellectual history in the period when the film was made and the prevailing accounts of psychopathology in that period. Another focus will be how the film portrays the course of the disorder and how it depicts treatment for the disorder. This cinematic presentation will be evaluated with respect to current research on treatment for the disorder as well as the historical context of prevailing treatment for the disorder at the time the film was made. Prerequisite: PSYC B209.
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Child and Family Studies; Film Studies; Health Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Rescorla,L.
(Fall 2016)

RUSS B215 Russian Avant-Garde Art, Literature and Film

This course focuses on Russian avant-garde painting, literature and cinema at the start of the 20th century. Moving from Imperial Russian art to Stalinist aesthetics, we explore the rise of non-objective painting (Malevich, Kandinsky, etc.), ground-breaking literature (Bely, Mayakovsky), and revolutionary cinema (Vertov, Eisenstein). No knowledge of Russian required.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

RUSS B217 The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky

This course will probe the cinematic oeuvre of the great Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, who produced some of the most compelling, significant film work of the 20th century. Looking at not only Tarkovsky’s films but also those films that influenced his work, we will explore the aesthetics, philosophy, and ideological pressure underlying Tarkovsky’s unique brand of cinema.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

RUSS B238 Topics: The History of Cinema 1895 to 1945

This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Harte,T.

Spring 2017: Silent Film: From U.S. to Soviet Russia & Beyond. This course will explore cinema from its earliest, most primitive beginnings up to the end of the silent era. While the course will focus on a variety of historical and theoretical aspects of cinema, the primary aim is to look at films analytically. Emphasis will be on the various artistic methods that went into the direction and production of a variety of celebrated silent films from Russia, Germany, the U.S. and elsewhere. These films will be considered in many contexts: artistic, historical, social, and even philosophical, so that students can develop a deeper understanding of silent cinema’s rapid evolution.

RUSS B258 Soviet and Eastern European Cinema of the 1960s

This course examines 1960s Soviet and Eastern European “New Wave” cinema, which won worldwide acclaim through its treatment of war, gender, and aesthetics. Films from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Yugoslavia will be viewed and analyzed, accompanied by readings on film history and theory. All films shown with subtitles; no knowledge of Russian or previous study of film required.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Critical Interpretation (CI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Film Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)

SPAN B252 Compassion, Indignation, and Anxiety in Latin American Film

Stereotypically, Latin Americans are viewed as “emotional people”—often a euphemism to mean irrational, impulsive, wildly heroic, fickle. This course takes this expression at face value to ask: Are there particular emotions that identify Latin Americans? And, conversely, do these “people” become such because they share certain emotions? Can we find a correlation between emotions and political trajectories? To answer these questions, we will explore three types of films that seem to have, at different times, taken hold of the Latin American imagination and feelings: melodramas (1950s-1960s), documentaries (1970s-1990s), and “low-key” comedies (since 2000s.)
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Film Studies; Latin American, Iberian and Latina/o Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2016-2017)