Course Descriptions

FALL 2019:

FMS 105 – Introduction to Comics Studies (Frank: M/W/F 10:00-10:50)
This course provides an introduction to comic books in the United States. We will examine various approaches to reading and understanding comics and graphic narratives, the relationship between comics and other forms of media, and the influence of comics in American culture more broadly. Topics include the history of comics, controversies and concerns about the cultural influence of comics, the comics industry and how comics are published and distributed, representation in comics, and the impacts of digital production and distribution on comics. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments. Open to first-years, sophomores, and Film and Media Studies majors; others by consent of instructor.

FMS 170 – Introduction to Television Studies (Elseewi: M/W 1:00-2:20) 
This course explores world culture through an analysis of what is arguably its central medium: television. Tracing the medium from its origins in radio to its digital future, we will investigate television as a site of identity formation, controversy, political power, and artistic experimentation. The course will also consider television in terms of industrial production and audience reception, including the rapidly changing practices associated with television viewing in the 21st century. Lectures, discussions, tests, and required weekly screenings.

FMS 210 – Our Deepest, Darkest: Horror Film & Popular Culture (Elseewi: M/W 2:30-3:50)
Horror film (like literature before it) is often dismissed as base. Its visceral representation of violence in general and sexual, gendered violence in particular earns the horror film a great deal of (often justified) social criticism. From the academy to the public sphere, horror films are often used as pressing examples of the worst elements in society, from sexism to deranged solipsism. And yet, for all of its supposed wrongs, horror remains among the most profitable genres of film. Perhaps this is because, as in a dream, the horror monster represents both the self and the other. What can we learn about society from horror? Are there utopian undercurrents to horror’s dystopian surface? What is the continuing function of frightening stories in human society? What can we learn about cultural anxieties such as capitalism, war, death, and disease from watching as they play out before our eyes and ears? This class will explore horror films in space and time looking at historical examples (such as Nosferatu (Germany 1922); Frankenstein (USA 1931); Psycho (USA 1961); Rosemary’s Baby (USA 1968) and geographically and culturally diverse examples as Ringu (Japan 1998) and Djinn (UAE, 2013). In this class we will be looking at the cultural articulations of horror by analyzing the formal aspects of horror film (including narrative, visual and aural elements) and the psychological and ideological ramifications through the lens of psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, and cultural studies. Is there such a thing as a feminist horror film? Does the Persian language, American produced film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) help us to understand the intersections between horror and empowerment? This class will require a screening and will require students to purchase/rent films in addition to text books.

FMS 350 – Latinxs in U.S. Media (Frank: M/W/F 11:00-11:50)
This course explores the representation and participation of Latinxs in American media. We will discuss how racial and ethnic group designations such as “Latino” or “Latinx” are formed and understood in U.S. media contexts, how Latinxs have historically been represented in U.S. media, and contemporary representations of Latinxs across a variety of media including film, television, music, comics, and online media. We will also examine the production and distribution of media texts created by and aimed at U.S. Latinxs. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments.

FMS 387 – Film & Media Studies Theory (Elseewi: T 8:30-11:20)
Using a variety of critical theories, this course focuses on the analysis of film and various other media forms. Students give presentations and write papers utilizing these various perspectives. The goal is for students to become more conversant in the many ways they can assess the significant influence media has in our lives. Open to FMS majors; open to other students with consent of instructor.

SPRING 2020:

FMS 120 – Introduction to Digital Media (Frank: M/W 2:30-3:50)
In an era where the majority of media are produced, distributed, and accessed digitally, how can we understand the influence of digitization on our media landscape? Are digital media “new?” Has digitization fundamentally changed approaches to making or consuming media? How has the Internet affected the cultural role of media? This course introduces historical and theoretical approaches to understanding digital media and digitization. Topics include the history of digital technologies, the impact of digitization on media production in various industries, digital distribution and exhibition of media, and how the rise of the Internet and other digital technologies play a role in our current media landscape. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments. Open to first-years, sophomores, and Film and Media Studies majors; others by consent of instructor.

FMS 160 – Intro to Film Studies (Sickels: T/Th 1:00-2:20 & T Screening 7:30-10:00)
This course introduces the historical and theoretical fundamentals of film studies. Representative films will be drawn from a variety of different eras, genres, and countries. Lectures, discussions, tests, and required weekly film screenings. Open to first-years, sophomores, and Film and Media Studies majors; others by consent of instructor.

FMS 230 – Science Fiction & Society (Elseewi: M/W 2:30-3:50 & M Screening 7:30-10:00)
Although long-derided as genre fiction, pulp, or simple entertainment, analyzing science fiction film and television can yield important clues about shared social anxieties and hopes.  In this class we will critically evaluate utopian and dystopian visual science fiction and fantasy through various lenses including: aesthetics, industrial concerns, politics, gender, and genre.  We will screen various examples of science fiction and fantasy film and television (such as Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, and Lord of the Rings) and also discuss the use of science fiction and fantasy in video games. Required weekly screenings.

FMS 260 – Intro to Filmmaking (Sickels: T/Th 11:30-12:50 & Th Lab 8:30-11:20)
This course introduces the fundamentals of the visual language and narrative structures of film. Students will collaboratively make their own short films. Extensive lab time required. Prerequisites: Film and Media Studies 160 or consent of instructor. Priority given to Film and Media Studies majors.

FMS 265 – Understanding Media Industries (Frank: M/W/F 10:00-10:50)
Have you ever watched a film or TV show and wondered, “How did this get made?” or “Who is this for?” Media industries produce and circulate important cultural products that influence how we understand the world around us. This course critically examines the history, organization, everyday practices, and cultural influence of media industries. Topics include media industry ownership, regulation of media, how media industries make (or don’t make) money, creative practices and professions within media industries, distribution of media, and the impacts of digitization and globalization on media industries. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments.

FMS 305 – Global Comics (Frank: M/W/F 11:00-11:50)
While American superhero movies may currently dominate the global box office, the U.S. is not the only country where comic books are an influential medium. There are long histories of comics publishing and established comics industries in a number of countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe; online and digital comics are produced and consumed all over the globe. This course examines the cultural impact of comic books and graphic narratives from Japan, France, Nigeria, Mexico and various other countries and global contexts. Topics include the histories of comics in various countries, how different global comics industries operate, the circulation of comics and comics culture between countries, and representation in comics in different cultural contexts. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments. Prerequisite: Film and Media Studies 105 or consent of instructor.

FMS 340 – Globalization, Culture (Elseewi: M/W 1:00-2:20)
This class will examine transnational media (including television, film, electronic networks, and mobile telephony) from aesthetic, economic, political, and critical theoretical perspectives. We will look at the role that media narratives play in enculturating viewers within and across physical, cultural, and linguistic borders. With an eye towards avoiding simplistic binaries such as East/West, Global/Local, or Good/Bad, we will explore the complex and contradictory impulses of global culture and globalization from multiple theoretical perspectives and academic disciplines drawing on cinema studies, postcolonial theory, literary theory, anthropology, political theory, cultural geography, and cultural studies. Required weekly screenings.

The following courses are also available for the major or minor:

Anthropology 312: Ethnographic Film Studies
Anthropology 325: The Anthropology of New/Digital Media
Art 103: Foundations-Art and Public Engagement
Art 104: Foundations-Digital Processes and Production
Art 109: Foundations-Optical Imaging
Art 114: Foundations-Maker Spaces and Culture
Art 123: Beginning Photography
Art 125: Beginning Digital Printing
Art 180: Beginning New Genre Art Practices
Art 223: Intermediate Photography
Art 225: Intermediate Digital Printing
Art 280: Intermediate New Genre
Art 323: Advanced Photography
Art 325: Advanced Digital Printing
Art 380: Advanced New Genre
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 230: The Social Life of Photography
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 235: Race and Visual Culture
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 237: Theory and Performance
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 253: Transnational Interplanetary Film & Video Consciousness
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 351: Los Angeles: Art, Architecture, Cultural Geography
Art History and Visual Culture Studies 354: Race, Ethnicity, and the Urban Imaginary
English 200: Literature and the Digital
French 409/Global Literatures 309: French National Cinemas
Global Literatures 301: Chinese Literature and Film Adaptation
Global Literatures 325:  Imagining Community through Contemporary Japanese Fiction and Film
Global Literatures 338: Undoing the Japanese National Narrative through Literature and Film
Global Literatures 407: Visual Narrations: The Art and Architecture of the Graphic Novel
Hispanic Studies 144: Contemporary Latin American Cinema
Music 129: Deconstructing Popular Music
Music 140: Meet the Beatles
Music 271: Introduction to Music Technology
Music 342: Classical Music in Film
Music 371: Intermediate Music Technology
Philosophy 177 (ST): Philosophy in Science Fiction
Politics 101: Politics through Film
Religion 170: The End Times–Representations of the Apocalypse
Religion 307: Mediating Religions
Rhetoric Studies 260: Rhetoric and Sensation in Civic Life
Sociology 290: Sociology and History of Rock n’ Roll
Theatre 125: Beginning Acting I
Theatre 126: Beginning Acting II
Theatre 211: Stage Electrics
Theatre 222: Digital Rendering 3D Environments
Theatre 225: Acting Styles
Theatre 310: Puppetry
Theatre 320: Directing for the Theatre
Theatre 357: Theatre and Performance
Theatre 466: The Director in Theatre II

Additional Core FMS Courses: 

FMS 220 – Identity, Gender, and Media (Elseewi)
This introductory-level class explores the relationship between media and multiple forms of “identity.” By critically exploring and deconstructing normative concepts of gender we shall open critical space to investigate other kinds of identity produced in and through media such as national, religious, ethnic, and class identities. We will focus on contemporary and historically specific examples such as radio and the construction of national identity in the 1920s; television and the production of the domestic housewife in the 1950s; and contemporary marketing techniques and the construction of impossible female bodies. We will bring feminist thought, critical theory, and cultural studies together with specific examples in order to analyze “identity-talk” in film, radio, television, and the Internet. The ultimate goal of this class is to produce an awareness of the different kinds of techniques that bring power and media together to create politically useful identities.  Required weekly screenings. Intended for first-year students and sophomores and Film & Media Studies majors; open to non-FMS major juniors and seniors by consent only.

FMS 270 – Transmedia Cultures (Frank)
According to Henry Jenkins, media industries are increasingly trying to engage viewers by spreading narratives across a variety of media. He explains that this “transmedia” storytelling “represents the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of media platforms. A story like Heroes or Lost might spread from television into comics, the web, alternate reality or video games, toys, and other commodities […].” This course examines how transmedia franchises and narratives are produced, distributed, and consumed. We will explore issues related to transmedia culture, including how media franchises are developed and sustained, audience perceptions of transmedia narratives, forms of transmedia participation by fans, and the influence of transmedia narratives and media franchises on other forms of media. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments.

FMS 300 – No Point to Any of This: Gen X Film
Generation X encompasses those who were born in the period stretching from approximately 1965 to 1980. The idea of a shared generational experience makes for an easy conversational shorthand, but it belies the complexity of the disparate realities of those who share a common birth era and in many instances not much else. What defines this supposedly cynical and disaffected generation? And, more importantly, who is doing (or gets to do) the defining? Demographers? Historians? Sociologists? Cultural producers? Those who are ostensibly a part of it? And why does it matter? Through intensive study of the ways this generation is depicted and contested in film and culture, we will grapple with these questions and others through various lenses including: representation, industrial concerns, auteurism, politics, gender, class, aesthetics, and genre. The class combines lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments. Required weekly screenings.

FMS 307 – Mediating Religions (Elseewi)
This course will engage with philosophy, religious studies, phenomenological theory, post-colonial and cultural studies scholarship in order to critically analyze mediated religion and other parts of social life on a global scale. We will consider the many meanings of mediation, from the larger social level of mass communication to the individual level of the body, in which larger beliefs are individually mediated through ritual and performance. Themes that may receive attention include: the use of electronic fatwas in modern Muslim societies; the rise of American televisual evangelism; the global and local markets for religious cultural products; the representation of religious identities—particularly the rise of Islamophobia—in media; and the prominence of fundamentalist and nationalist religious politics across the globe. Lectures, discussions, and tests. May be elected as Religion 307. When Film and Media Studies 307 is not offered, Religion 307 may be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies major. May be taken for credit toward the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major.

FMS 310 – YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook: Television after T.V. (Elseewi)
Television, which started out life encased in wood and set in the center of our homes, has leapt out of its box. Those interested in analyzing the various roles that television plays in constructing our social, political and economic realities now find themselves chasing their object of study as it leaps across platforms, national borders and generic borders. If, in the past, television was primarily worthy of study because of its centrality in American social life, if television was the very space where the imperfect American public sphere lived, how do we begin to trace our shared culture when we no longer share television? If the primary strength of what we used to call television was to gather the largest numbers of citizens/consumers using the lowest common denominator of narratives, what are we to make of a situation in which citizen/consumers are increasingly segmented off into smaller and smaller target groups? How was ‘narrowcasting’ transformed what ‘broadcasting’ used to at least appear to hold together? This class will center around the question: what to make of television now that television as we knew it is largely gone. This class will use the theoretical backbones of public sphere theory, network theory and imagined communities to analyze how information is produced, distributed and consumed in a post-tv era. How has the shift from networks to cable and then to the Internet impacted both the industry and its consumers? How have the economics changed? How have politics changed in an age where people can ‘talk back’ to television through their own visual productions on Facebook or YouTube? Is there a relationship between the splintering of audiences, or narrowcasting, and the increasingly fractious political atmosphere in the world? What promises of progress or regress do the new regimes of media production and distribution set the stage for? How have new modes of producing and distributing entertainment and news had an impact on productions of the self? Or on privacy? How, in the contemporary era of mass self-communication, has the relationship between individual and society been transformed? Prerequisite: Film and Media Studies 170 or permission of the instructor.

FMS 315 – Bad Objects: Popular Culture and Questions of Taste (Frank)
Increasingly, forms of popular culture that once were regarded as niche or unsophisticated have become mainstream or even cool. Comic books, science fiction, video games, and other supposedly “geeky” interests generate billions of dollars; popular culture conventions host academic conferences and college and universities offer courses and promote research on everything from superheroes to horror movies to online role-playing games. However, there are still a variety of popular culture genres or objects that are seen as lowbrow, in poor taste, or as “guilty pleasures.” What are the implications of judging popular culture based on perceptions of taste or quality? This course examines popular culture “bad objects,” including how and why certain texts or genres become perceived as “bad,” the production of “bad” popular culture texts, fans and fandom of “bad objects,” and the relationship of “bad objects” to larger questions of race, class, gender/sexuality, and social status. This class will combine lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments.

FMS 320 –  The Magnificent Andersons: The Cinema of Wes & P.T. Anderson (Sickels)
Writer/directors Wes and P.T. Anderson both released their first feature films in 1996. Since that time, they’ve continued to make deeply personal, highly influential films. They are both meticulous craftspeople, instantly stylistically recognizable, not particularly prolific, and in many ways working increasingly on the margins of mainstream cinema. How, or is, their work reflective of its time? What does it have to tell us about the contemporary moments in which it has been made? How has it evolved over time to reflect broader cultural changes? Or has it? Why does one Anderson’s work appeal to an international audience while comparatively the other’s does not? Why has their work, which itself has been heavily influenced by earlier filmmakers, been so influential on their contemporaries (Greta Gerwig, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach, etc.)? In this class we will grapple with these questions and others through various lenses including: aesthetics, industrial concerns, auteurism, politics, gender, class, representation, and genre. The class combines lectures, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments. Required weekly screenings.

330 Media, Politics, & Power (Elseewi)
This class will explore the complex, interdependent relationships between media and politics in the articulation of power. Not taking any of our terms for granted, we will question what is meant by politics, how different forms of power are articulated openly or discreetly in public life, and how different forms of media enter the process in different ways. While the bulk of our focus will be on media, power, and politics in the United States, we will also question the tensions between media and power globally by studying patterns of media distribution and military, economic, and political power. Along the way, we shall come into critical acquaintance with the public sphere theories, which have their origin in the work of Jurgen Habermas, cultural identity and representation as expressed by Stuart Hall, and discipline, governmentality, and subjectivity as expressed by Michel Foucault, and the political economic theories of Karl Marx. Required weekly screenings. May be taken for credit toward the Politics major or minor or Rhetoric Studies major or minor.

FMS 345 – The Middle East in Media (Elseewi)   
This course examines visual texts (primarily film and television) in which the Middle East is represented and represents itself. This class is concerned with how the “Middle East” is represented in the West and also with how the region represents itself in film and media. We will look at issues of representation; religion; nationalism; gender; and ethnic identities. In addition to critically, aesthetically, and culturally analyzing films from the Arab, Persian, Turkish, and Hebraic Middle East, we will also look at the role of media in articulating politics and identity. We will focus on Middle Eastern auteurs and the political economies of the culture industries that frame their work. Along the way we will be guided by cultural studies and post-colonial theorists. Required weekly screening. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Race and Ethnic Studies major.

FMS 360 – Advanced Filmmaking (Sickels)
In this intensive workshop course students will produce documentary films and commercials. Extensive lab time required. Priority given to Film and Media Studies majors. Prerequisites: Film and Media Studies 160, 260, or consent of instructor.

FMS 372 – Mean Streets and Raging Bulls: The Silver Age of Cinema (Sickels)
In tracing film history from the demise of the studio, students in this course will study the all too brief era known as the American cinema’s “silver age,” during which maverick film school directors made deeply personal and remarkably influential films. Texts will likely include works by Coppola, DePalma, Friedkin, Altman, Allen, Polanski, Bogdanovich, Kubrick, Malick, and Scorsese. Lectures, discussions, a big research paper, an oral presentation, and weekly film screenings.

FMS 373 – The Genius of the System–The Golden Age of Cinema (Sickels)
In tracing film history from its late nineteenth century beginnings to the 1950s, students in this course will study the era known as the American cinema’s “golden age,” during which the Hollywood Studio System dictated virtually all aspects of filmmaking. Texts will likely include works by Ford, Hitchcock, Curtiz, Hawks, Capra, Sturges, and others. Lectures, discussions, papers, and weekly film screenings.

FMS 498 – Honors Thesis
Research and writing of a senior honors thesis.  Open only to and required of senior honors candidates in FMS.  Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy.