Film and Media Studies

Humanities Quadrangle, 1st floor, 203.436.4668
M.Phil., Ph.D.

Fatima Naqvi

Director of Graduate Studies
John MacKay

Professors Francesco Casetti, Katerina Clark, Aaron Gerow, Brian Kane, John MacKay, Millicent Marcus, Charles Musser, Fatima Naqvi, John Durham Peters, Katie Trumpener, Jing Tsu, Laura Wexler

Associate Professors Marta Figlerowicz, R. John Williams

Assistant Professor Marijeta Bozovic

Professor in the Practice Thomas Allen Harris

Senior Lecturer Camille Thomasson

Lecturers Oksana Chefranova, Brian Meacham

Fields of Study

Film and Media Studies is an interdisciplinary field. Students have the option to apply for admission to one of two tracks within the program: either solely to the Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies or to a combined program track involving one of the following disciplines: African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Literatures, English, French, German, History of Art, Italian Studies, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. In addition to acquiring a firm grounding in the methods and core material of film and media studies (and, for the combined degree track students, another discipline), all students are expected to coordinate a plan of study involving comprehensive knowledge of one or more areas of specialization. 

Through course work, examinations, and the dissertation, candidates in a combined degree program link a film and media specialty with the participating discipline. Directors of graduate studies from both programs monitor the candidate’s plans and progress.

To be considered for admission to the combined degree track, applicants must indicate both Film and Media Studies and one of the participating departments/programs listed above. Students seeking admission to Film and Media Studies alone should indicate only Film and Media Studies on their application.

In addition to the Ph.D. program, Film and Media Studies offers students in the Graduate School’s other doctoral programs the chance to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Film and Media Studies. See Film and Media Studies, under Non-Degree Granting Programs, Councils, and Research Institutes, in this bulletin.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Every student selected for the combined program track is subject to the supervision of the Film and Media Studies program and the relevant participating department. A written protocol between each department and Film and Media Studies outlines the requirements and schedule to be borne in mind as a plan of study is worked out in consultation with the director of graduate studies (DGS) of Film and Media Studies and the DGS of the participating department. In all cases, students are required to take FILM 601 as well as at least five additional Film and Media Studies seminars, one of which should be FILM 603. With the permission of the DGS, another Film and Media Studies course may be substituted for FILM 603. Course requirements vary for participating departments. By the third year, students advance to candidacy by completing qualifying examinations and a dissertation prospectus.

Students in the stand-alone Film and Media Studies track are held to the same Department of Film and Media Studies requirements and deadlines as students in the combined degree track: 12 graduate-level courses, including the required courses listed above and four additional Film and Media Studies seminars.

In addition, students in both tracks are expected to complete the following requirements:

  1. Qualifying examinations. Qualifying examinations follow the regulations of the participating department with at least one member of the Film and Media Studies Executive Committee participating. Students pursuing the stand-alone Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies should consult the DGS for details about the format of the examinations and formation of the examining committee.
  2. Dissertation prospectus. The dissertation prospectus is presented to a faculty committee or the entire faculty of the participating department for combined degree students. The prospectus is also submitted to the prospectus committee of Film and Media Studies for approval.
  3. Defense of Method. A defense of method occurs when the dissertation is nearing completion, one or two terms before submission. The purpose of this defense is to provide guidance and feedback at a critical stage, in order to assist the dissertation’s final form. At least three faculty readers meet with the student; the DGS of Film and Media Studies is (and, for students in the combined degree program, the DGS of the participating department is also) invited to participate. For combined degree students, at least one examiner of the dissertation must be a member of the Film and Media Studies Executive Committee and one must be from the participating department; for students in the stand-alone track, two-thirds of the dissertation committee members should be a member of the Film and Media Studies Executive Committee.

The faculty in Film and Media Studies considers participation in the Teaching Fellows Program to be essential to the professional preparation of graduate students. Students normally teach in years three and four. Every student may expect to assist in two Film and Media Studies courses, one of which will very likely be Introduction to Film Studies (FILM 150) or Introduction to Media (FILM 160). Students in the stand-alone track are expected to teach in the two courses above as well as two other courses in either Film and Media Studies or an allied program, with the permission of the DGS.

Master’s Degree

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.


The required core seminars, FILM 601 and FILM 603, are offered in alternating years.

FILM 601a / CPLT 917a / ENGL 920a, Foundations of Film and MediaJohn MacKay

The course sets in place some undergirding for students who want to anchor their film interest to the professional discourse of this field. A coordinated set of topics in film theory is interrupted first by the often discordant voice of history and second by the obtuseness of the films examined each week. Films themselves take the lead in our discussions.
M 9:25am-11:15am, M 7pm-10pm

FILM 605a and FILM 606b, Film and Media Studies Certificate WorkshopStaff

The workshop is built on students’ needs and orientations. It is aimed at helping the individual trajectories of students and at deepening the topics they have met while attending seminars, conferences, and lectures. Students are required to present a final qualifying paper demonstrating their capacity to do interdisciplinary work. The workshop covers two terms and counts as one regular course credit. Open only to students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Film and Media Studies. Prerequisite: FILM 601.  ½ Course cr per term

FILM 614b, Early Film Theory and ModernityFrancesco Casetti

For a long time, early film theories have been overlooked and underestimated. Their recent rediscovery has, however, highlighted their crucial role in framing film as a “modern” invention. The main point of interest in early film theories is based on their capacity of highlight and focus some of the characteristic of modern life: speed, economy, contingency, excitation, etc. By prioritizing the filmic experience, they focalized attention on the spectator. But the idea of a “modern” art, as well as the research for a “modern” language, were also an important issue. On the background of this interest in modernity, early film theories were not uniform. Ideological differences and national identities played a major role in defining the perspective of theoretical research. In this respect, it is useful to compare the debate in the US and in Europe and to acknowledge the very different traditions which they represented. The seminar accordingly takes into account theories in France (Delluc, Epstein), Germany (Arnhein, Kracauer), Middle-Europe (Bálazs, Lukács, Tille), Italy (Papini, Thovez), Soviet Union (Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin), and the US (Lindsay, Freeburg, Münsterberg). Every week there is a screening with films representative of the time.

FILM 617a / CPLT 904a / FREN 875a / GMAN 617a / SPAN 901a, Psychoanalysis: Key Conceptual Differences between Freud and Lacan IMoira Fradinger

This is the first section of a year-long seminar (second section: CPLT 914) designed to introduce the discipline of psychoanalysis through primary sources, mainly from the Freudian and Lacanian corpuses but including late twentieth-century commentators and contemporary interdisciplinary conversations. We rigorously examine key psychoanalytic concepts that students have heard about but never had the chance to study. Students gain proficiency in what has been called “the language of psychoanalysis,” as well as tools for critical practice in disciplines such as literary criticism, political theory, film studies, gender studies, theory of ideology, psychology medical humanities, etc. We study concepts such as the unconscious, identification, the drive, repetition, the imaginary, fantasy, the symbolic, the real, and jouissance. A central goal of the seminar is to disambiguate Freud's corpus from Lacan's reinvention of it. We do not come to the “rescue” of Freud. We revisit essays that are relevant for contemporary conversations within the international psychoanalytic community. We include only a handful of materials from the Anglophone schools of psychoanalysis developed in England and the US. This section pays special attention to Freud's “three” (the ego, superego, and id) in comparison to Lacan's “three” (the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real). CPLT 914 devotes, depending on the interests expressed by the group, the last six weeks to special psychoanalytic topics such as sexuation, perversion, psychosis, anti-asylum movements, conversations between psychoanalysis and neurosciences and artificial intelligence, the current pharmacological model of mental health, and/or to specific uses of psychoanalysis in disciplines such as film theory, political philosophy, and the critique of ideology. Apart from Freud and Lacan, we will read work by Georges Canguilhem, Roman Jakobson, Victor Tausk, Émile Benveniste, Valentin Volosinov, Guy Le Gaufey, Jean Laplanche, Étienne Balibar, Roberto Esposito, Wilfred Bion, Félix Guattari, Markos Zafiropoulos, Franco Bifo Berardi, Barbara Cassin, Renata Salecl, Maurice Godelier, Alenka Zupančič, Juliet Mitchell, Jacqueline Rose, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, Eric Kandel, and Lera Boroditsky among others. No previous knowledge of psychoanalysis is needed. Starting out from basic questions, we study how psychoanalysis, arguably, changed the way we think of human subjectivity. Graduate students from all departments and schools on campus are welcome. The final assignment is due by the end of the spring term and need not necessarily take the form of a twenty-page paper. Taught in English. Materials can be provided to cover the linguistic range of the group.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

FILM 651b / CPLT 929b / ENGL 929, Film and Fiction in InteractionDudley Andrew

Beyond adaptations of complex fiction (Henry James, James Joyce) literature may underlie “original” film masterpieces (Rules of the Game, Voyage to Italy). What about the reverse? Famous novelists moonlighted in the film world (Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene). Others developed styles in contact with cinema (Marguerite Duras, Eileen Chang, Kazuo Ishiguro). Today are these art forms evolving in parallel and in parity under new cultural conditions?

FILM 735a and FILM 736b / AMST 832a and AMST 833b, Documentary Film WorkshopCharles Musser

This workshop in audiovisual scholarship explores ways to present research through the moving image. Students work within a Public Humanities framework to make a documentary that draws on their disciplinary fields of study. Designed to fulfill requirements for the M.A. with a concentration in Public Humanities.
W 10:30am-1:20pm, T 7pm-10pm

FILM 761a / GMAN 595a, German Film from 1945 to the PresentFatima Naqvi

We look at a variety of German-language feature films from 1945 to the present in order to focus on issues of trauma, guilt, remembrance (and its counterpart: amnesia), gender, Heimat or “homeland,” national and transnational self-fashioning, terrorism, and ethics. How do the Second World War and its legacy inflect these films? What sociopolitical and economic factors influence the individual and collective identities that these films articulate? How do the predominant concerns shift with the passage of time and with changing media? How is the category of nation constructed and contested within the narratives themselves? Close attention is paid to the aesthetic issues and the concept of authorship. Films by Staudte, Wolf, Kluge, Radax, Wenders, Fassbinder, Schroeter, Farocki, Haneke, Petzold, Schanelec, Seidl, Hausner, and Geyrhalter, among others. This class has an optional German section (fifty minutes a week) for students interested in counting this class for the Advanced Language Certificate. A minimum of three students is required for the section to run.
Th 9:25am-11:15am, W 6pm-8pm

FILM 783a / AMST 783a, The Historical DocumentaryCharles Musser

This course looks at the historical documentary as a method for carrying out historical work in the public humanities. It investigates the evolving discourse sand resonances within such topics as the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, and African American history. It is concerned with the relationship of documentary to traditional scholarly written histories as well as the history of the genre and what is often called the “archival turn.”
T 3:30pm-5:20pm, M 7pm-10pm

FILM 833a, SemioticsFrancesco Casetti

Digging into semiotics tradition, the seminar provides analytical tools for “close readings” of a vast array of objects and operations, from verbal texts to all sorts of images, from cultural practices to all sorts of manipulation. Semiotics’ foundational goal consisted in retracing how meaning emerges in these objects and operations, how it circulates within and between different cultural environments, and how it affects and is affected by the cultural contexts in which these objects and operations are embedded. To revamp semiotics’ main tasks, after an introduction about the idea of “making meaning,” the seminar engages students in a weekly discussion about situations, procedures, objects, and attributes that are “meaningful,” in the double sense that they have meaning and they arrange reality in a meaningful way. Objects of analysis are intentionally disparate; the constant application of a set of analytical tools provides the coherence of the seminar. Students are expected to regularly attend the seminar, actively participate in discussions, propose new objects of analysis, present a case study (fifteen–twenty minutes), and write a final paper (max. 5,000 words). Enrollment limited to fifteen. Students from Film and Media Studies and the School of Architecture have priority: they are asked to express their choice by August 25. Students from other departments are asked to send the instructor up to ten lines with the reasons why they want to attend the seminar by August 26. The seminar is aimed at bolstering a dialogue that crosses cultures and disciplines.

FILM 861a / CPLT 632a, Literature and Film of World War II: Homefront NarrativesKatie Trumpener

Taking a pan-European perspective, this course examines quotidian, civilian experiences of war, during a conflict of unusual scope and duration. Considering key works of wartime and postwar fiction and film alongside verbal and visual diaries, memoirs, documentaries, and video testimonies, we will explore the kinds of literary and filmic reflection war occasioned, how civilians experienced the relationship between history and everyday life (both during and after the war), women’s and children's experience of war, and the ways that home front, occupation and Holocaust memories shaped postwar avant-garde aesthetics.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm, M 7pm-10pm

FILM 871a / EALL 805a, Readings in Japanese Film TheoryAaron Gerow

Theorizations of film and culture in Japan from the 1910s to the present. Through readings in the works of a variety of authors, the course explores both the articulations of cinema in Japanese intellectual discourse and how this embodies the shifting position of film in Japanese popular cultural history.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

FILM 873b / EALL 581b, Japanese Cinema and Its OthersAaron Gerow

Critical inquiry into the myth of a homogeneous Japan through analysis of how Japanese film and media historically represent “others” of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, and sexualities, including women, black residents, ethnic Koreans, Okinawans, Ainu, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ minorities, the disabled, youth, and monstrous others such as ghosts.
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

FILM 900a or b, Directed ReadingStaff


FILM 901a or b, Individual ResearchStaff


FILM 995a or b, Directed ReadingStaff