View requirements

Film Studies Minor

The minor in Film Studies provides students with a solid foundation in film analysis across diverse genres and national traditions, with an introduction to film production through digital photography and video-making. What underlies the program’s approach to analysis is the practical proposition that film is primarily a visual language and that to achieve fluency students must first fully understand its grammar and vocabulary through close reading of both still and moving images. A shared philosophy joins together all Film Studies minor coursework: the conviction that transmedia literacy and practice currently represent an indispensable means for striving towards global citizenry and professional success in an increasingly image-based world.

Collaboration with Emerson College: Film Studies minors are eligible to participate in the Film as Fine Art in Europe course offered at Emerson College’s Kasteel Well program in the Netherlands each summer. Successful completion of this course may count as one of the three required Film Studies courses in the minor

Minor Requirements (18 Credits)

Foundation (3 Credits)
CLCS 150 Reading Film

This course introduces students to the language of cinema through close studies of and foundational readings on film theory, narrative/documentary structure, camera technique, lighting, sound, casting, and location. Students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding of film language through scholarly analysis of both canonical and contemporary cinema texts and two practical applications of film. Students will move beyond the passive reception of an image-based world by working towards increased intellectual adaptablity in terms of engaged film reading skills that will call into question philosophical and culture-specific notions and norms. The learning outcomes will be developed through a number of concentrated modules lasting approximately three weeks each, including analysis, contemporary criticism, audience reception, and practical applications.

Critical Skills (3 Credits)

One of the following:

AHT 270 Theories and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture

The course introduces students to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It addresses both traditional and innovative models from art history and how to apply methodologies from other disciplines to the study of the visual world. Students will conduct original research projects using a variety of critical approaches to put their theoretical knowledge in practice.

CLCS 110 Reading Cultures: Approaches to Cultural Studies

This course has two primary goals: to introduce students to the history and theoretical writings of various strands of cultural studies, and to acquaint them with some of the intersecting axes - race, class and gender - that energize the field. Close attention will be paid to issues such as the shaping of identity, forms of representation, the production, consumption and distribution of cultural goods, and the construction of knowledge and power in a host of cultural practices and cultural institutions.

No more than one of the following courses may overlap with other major or minor requirements.
Film Studies (9 credits)

Three of the following:

AHT 371 Topics in Art History

Topics in Art History vary from year to year. They are advanced courses on specific topics not normally offered, and they may require additional pre-requisites or permission of instructor.

CLCS 230 Science / Fiction: Envisioning the Possible

Science fiction narratives may be defined as speculative fictions, ideal allegorical vehicles eliciting theoretical reflection on the state of contemporary culture and society and motivating social reform. As such, the main objective of this course is to consider several major contemporary socio-cultural issues through the unique lens provided by writers and filmmakers of the science-fiction tradition. The issues, allowing for variances from year to year, will include questions regarding gender and Otherness, the hypothesized deterioration of a human-world bond, modern apocalyptic anxieties, genetic engineering, intersections of ideology and communication technologies. Authors and filmmakers may include: Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guinn, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, William Gibson; Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Andrew Niccol, Jean-Luc Godard, Lana and Andy Wachowski

CLCS 242 Representations of Poverty in Literature

This course looks at poverty as it is portrayed in contemporary literature, film, television, painting, music and street magazines. Students will explore how these representations compare to economic and social indices such as income, Living Standards Measurement surveys, welfare statistics, poverty indexes and poverty determinants. For these latter determinants the class will take Switzerland, a country in which the extremes of poverty and riches are quite subtle, as our case study. The overall goals of this course are 1) to compare different forms of representation and to recognize and be able to distinguish among the many faces and facets of poverty in a wealthy nation and 2) to critically explore the ideologies underlying mainstream representations of ''the poor'' or ''the marginalized'' and to ask how effective such representations are in triggering social change.

CLCS 250 Ecocritical Approaches to Film

This course approaches film from an ecocritical perspective to explore how the medium of film articulates relations between the environment and human rights. In recent decades, scholars have increasingly examined how film represents ecological issues and humans' involvement with those issues, particularly with regards to environmental disaster and climate change. The course aims to make students familiar with those debates by examining a variety of film genres -- blockbuster, documentary, animation, among others -- to offer a survey in reading film ecocritically, from a human rights’ perspective. Students will gain experience in analyzing films as texts and in applying ecocritical theory to those films and the ethical issues surrounding them, from production to narrative, and distribution to reception. Screenings, theoretical readings, class discussion, video-making and writing assignments will help students develop a critical awareness of how film tells the story of our complex relation with the environment against the backdrop of contemporary human rights regimes.

FRE 374 Introduction to French Cinema

The course examines French films from Jean Vigo's Zero de conduite (1933) to Robert Bresson's Un condamne a mort s'est echappe (1956). It explores the art of cinematography while considering the aesthetics, historical, political, sociological, and psychoanalytical frames within which each movie was realized. It furthermore provides students with analytical tools to enable them to develop their own personal approach when viewing, discussing, and writing about a film.

FRE 376 French Cinema: The New Wave

The French New Wave was a major turning-point in the history of French Cinema. It gave birth to a new way of approaching cinematography as a whole. This course centers on New Wave film directors Chabrol, Truffaut, Resnais, Godard and Varda, and examine closely their cinematographic creed, theoretical preoccupations, similarities and differences. Movies will be partially watched outside of class.

GER 376 Screening Swissness: An Introduction to Swiss-German Film

This course will trace the development of Swiss-German film over the last several decades paying close attention to motives such as gender, the tension between city/countryside, ideas of Swiss identity, depictions of foreigners, and Swissness. Swiss-German film made its entry on the international stage in the thirties, with films that reacted to the threat of war and critically reflected on the notion of the Geistige Landesverteidigung, or the spiritual resistance, a concept, which should become a rallying call during World War Two. The fifties and sixties with the so-called Gotthelf Filme, in which Jeremias Gotthelf's novels and stories were brought to the big screen in beautiful black and white renditions that fuelled the national imaginary with more soothing notions of what it meant to be Swiss followed the earlier critical stances. A host of related Heimatfilme-films in which the nineteenth century Heile Welt depictions of Gotthelf were transposed into the 20th century with little regard for changing political landscape. The seventies and eighties then saw rather more reflected takes on what it meant to be Swiss: films, like for instance Rolf Lyssy's Die Schweizermacher, that explored the arduous process of procuring a Swiss passport, and is thought of today as a break-through in Swiss film history. Today, we look back on three decades of Swiss film since Die Schweizermacher as a site avid and often provocative cultural criticism that has turned the idea of Swissness upside down even as its relentless search for a Swiss identity speaks the language of enduring Heimweh. This class is a split-level class, and will be taught in German with some attention to the peculiarities of Swiss dialects. Film screenings will take place regularly on a weekday evening and must be attended in addition to the regular classes.

IS 274 Italian and Italian-American Cinema

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major accomplishments of Italian cinema from ''neorealism'' through the ''commedia all'italiana'' to the present. Emphasis is placed on film as a narrative, visual, and theoretical medium for scholarly exploration of current societal issues in contemporary life. Some of Italy's major film directors will be considered, such as Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, the Taviani brothers, Scola. Particular attention is dedicated to the films of Fellini. A module dedicated to Italian-American cinema (Capra, Scorsese, Coppola, Tarantino) offers a means for comparative study of two related but contrasting traditions in filmmaking. EMPHASIS IS PLACED ON FILM AS A NARRATIVE, VISUAL, AND THEORETICAL MEDIUM FOR SCHOLARLY EXPLORATION OF CURRENT SOCIIETAL ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY LIFE

IS 280T Italian Cinema on Location: Projections of the Eternal City in Italian Film and Cultural Studies

This course provides an introduction to classic cinematic portrayals of the city of Rome and its inhabitants, with an emphasis on 20th-century authors and filmmakers. Landmark films, such as Roberto Rossellini's ''Open City'' and Federico Fellini's ''La Dolce Vita'' will be contextualized both historically and thematically. Subsequently, students will begin crafting their own short film design; to be pitched in the form of a multi-media presentation prior to travel. Filming and production will follow in Rome, under the guidance and supervision of the professor. During the final weeks of the semester, class time will be devoted to close the discussion of contemporary readings from Italian Cultural Studies and, parallel to this, editing and completion of the student's semester-long short film project. Students enrolling in this course should have basic knowledge of how to create and edit short films using their own digital video devices. Students should be familiar with the program Final Cut (or similar editing program).

ITA 373 Italian Film and Society

Aspects of political, social and cultural history of twentieth century Italy are studied through documentaries and some of the major accomplishments of Italian cinema. Some novels adapted into film are also examined. Most of the films are in Italian (some with English subtitles).

ITA 374 Italian Cinema

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major accomplishments of Italian cinema from ''neorealism'' through the ''commedia all'italiana'' to the present. Emphasis is placed on film as an artistic, aesthetic and theoretical medium for an exploration and interpretation of issues related to contemporary life. Some of Italy's major film directors will be considered, such as Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, the Taviani brothers, Scola. Particular attention is dedicated to the films of Fellini.

ITA 375 Italian Film Adaptation: From the Page to the Screen

The course introduces the student to the development of Italian cinema through close study of the relationship between Italian literature and film adaptation. The selected books and films will offer a unique opportunity to analyze and discuss crucial issues related to the historical, political, and cultural evolution of Italy from its Unification to the present. Among the adaptations we will be looking at will be: Antonio Fogazzaro's Malombra as interpreted by Carmine Gallone (1917) and Mario Soldati (1942), Luchino Visconti's 1963 rendering of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Vittorio De Sica's 1970 adaptation of Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, Alberto Moravia's The Conformist, as adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci (1970), Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, adapted by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1971).

STA 209 The Video Essay: From Conception to Projection

This is a hands-on course designed to explore key aspects of an exciting contemporary film genre known as The Video Essay: a branch of experimental cinema which stems from the contributions of avant-garde filmmakers such as Man Ray, Jean-Luc Godard, Nam June Paik, and Bill Viola. Video Art, like its celluloid counterpart in experimental film, emphasizes the artistic potential of the film medium, as opposed to cinema's more common function as an object of consumption for entertainment value. As the etymology of the name implies, the video essay is an expression of how and what we see when we try to make visual sense of the world. The key aspects of videomaking to be studied in this course have been divided into four learning modules. Each module corresponds to one week in the four- week summer program, each week being dedicated to one of the questions noted above. These learning modules are: 1) Conceptualizing the Image; 2) Capturing the Image; 3) Contextualizing the Image; and 4) Projecting the Image. Students will be evaluated on a portfolio comprised of four completed video essays, with accompanying statements of artistic intent, and one conclusive paper which will be presented orally to the class. Students enrolled in this class must have their own digital video recording device.

STA 279 The Video Essay and Photography on Location in Europe

Aimed at beginning and intermediate students, this digital-based media course (photography, sound and video) is designed to reveal key aspects of the production of the video essay through excursions in the Ticino region, studio work and critical discussions based on readings and screenings. The video essay is an expression of how and what we see when we try to make visual sense of the world-- a genre of experience. Through projects using photography, sound and video, students will explore this dynamic genre and how it can be used to express place and their relationship to it, with the goal of producing a personal portfolio of creative work. Students enrolled in this class must have their own digital video recording device, which can range from a smart phone to a digital camera or video camera. The course carries a nominal fee of 100 CHF or USD 100 for art supplies and travel expenses.

AHT 371, CLCS 230, CLCS 242, CLCS 250, IS 274, IS 278T, STA 209, and STA 279: in English

FRE 374 and FRE 376: in French

GER 376: in German

ITA 373, ITA 374, and, ITA 375: in Italian

Electives (3 Credits)

One of the following (all courses in English):

AHT 213 Art and Ideas: Exploring Vision

The course departs from the question of whether vision is simply what the external world imprints on our retina or if it is a cultural construct? Is it purely physiological or can we speak of a history or histories of the eye? How do culture, science, and ethnicity influence what we see and how se see it? Keeping these questions in mind the course studies aspects of vision (perception, reception, revelation, blindness) - both from an empirical and from an historical point of view. Besides practical exercises related to the seeing eye, the course examines the discovery of perspective in the Renaissance, the invention of the Baroque theater, gender and gaze in modernity, and optical instruments of the Enlightenment as precursors for modern photography and film.

AHT 216 Introduction to the History of Photography

This course offers an introduction to the history of photography from its inception in the early 19th century to the present day. It considers the specific historical development of the photographic medium through the evolution of both its technical possibilities during the period and the range of its applications. The course will question past and present readings of photographs, while reflecting on the peculiar modes of representation implied by the use of the daguerreotype, the calotype and the negative-positive photographic process, the commercialization of photographic equipment in the early 20th century, the introduction of the Kodacolour film in 1942, and the changes in the late 20th century with the introduction of the digital camera. It will consider a set of different objects favored by the medium, such as the landscape, the city, the portrait, the body, taking into account the historical socio-political contexts in which these various photographic practices developed. It will consider the history of genres within photography: documentary photography, photography as fine art, photography in advertising and media, fashion photography, as well as its archival and historical documentation. Finally, the course will emphasize the question of the impact and influence of photography on other artistic mediums, such as painting and literature, as well as on the modern and contemporary experience of the world.

AHT 285T Technology in Art, Visual Communication, and Fashion

From early optical instruments to Renaissance printing presses, from camera obscuras floating on boats to portable paint tubes, from modern film cameras to laser sculptures, from computer robotics to 3D printing, technology continues to play a major role in art, visual communication, and fashion. It shapes both creative processes and production techniques in the making of visual culture and it affects and defines the status of the beholder of its manifold expressions. The course will investigate some of the milestones in the history of instruments and will take up contemporary technology to investigate the intertwined connection between man and machine in the creative world.

AHT 362 Visual Semiotics: Signs and Symbols in Art, Architecture, Film, and Fashion

The course will investigate the different types of sign languages that we find in the visual arts. It will study and discuss theories of semiotics and then investigate how each medium sets up its own method of visual communication through signs and symbols. What kinds of patterns of messages do we find in paintings? Do buildings have their own code of communication other than being functional containers? What kinds of messages does a film convey beyond its action? Do the clothes we wear make a statement? In addition to the theoretical aspect, the course will also contain an empirical and a studio component where students will conduct research on a particular topic, which they will then present in a visual medium of their choice.

CLCS 335 Hauntings

This creative writing/cultural theory course focuses on the concept of haunting and related phenomena such as possession or exorcism. The course draws from recent scholarly work in hauntology, a term coined by Jacques Derrida in his SpectresdeMarx (1993). What emerges from this area of research is an unusual theoretical space in which to consider literature and culture, both philosophically (as critical thinkers) and creatively (as authors and performance artists). The class explores and creatively experiments with texts that function primarily as a medium for giving voice to those realms of human experience that are generally considered unreasonable and extrasensory; otherworldly perceptions of parallel dimensions that transcend the laws and rational orderings of the knowable physical world. Students will reflect on ghostly metaphors and manifestations as they are summoned, in various forms and to different ends, by fiction writers, performers, and filmmakers who tend to link stories of haunting to social-psychic-emotional disturbances: expressions of diasporic sensibilities and hyphenated ethnicities, stigmas of invisibility related to shadows of class and gender, spectral polyvalence and the paranormal activity emerging from recent theoretical discourse around taboo conceptual couplings such as the queer child and/or the ''unruly/child''.

COM 327 Producing Digital Media: Communication and Media in Practice

This course explores the impacts and capacities of new media technologies in producing social worlds and advocating social issues. Following an exploration of the key concepts in new media theory, students in this course will spend the bulk of the semester producing a digital short story about an issue of social interest. As a course in applied media and communication, students will have a hand in the entire process of producing, marketing, and showing the film.

MUS 213 Classical Music in Film

The purpose of the course is to explore and understand the use of classical music in art movies. From Bach to Mahler and from D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, classical music has been used as leitmotiv and supporting narrative in film. Based on the chronology of music history and the use of classical music in period movies, the course analyzes the way in which specific pieces of music have contributed to some of the greatest films of the past. Musical and film extracts will be viewed and discussed.

POL 230 Politics and Films

Politics and mass media have always been closely interlinked. This course will explore the relationship between politics and mass media and introduce students to socio-political topics in the United States. It will specifically make use of film and related literature to study various dimensions of US politics and society, as they present themselves through the eyes of Hollywood. Key topics to be addressed include war, political electioneering, class behavior, racism, and social anomie.

STA 107 Introduction to Digital Photography

This course course in digital photography introduces the beginner to the elements of digital photography. There will be two areas of concentration: 1. Image capture and manipulation using digital imaging technology (cameras and editing software). 2. Photograph design (crafting a photograph that reflects the photographer’s intention using composition, framing, lighting etc.). Throughout the course emphasis will be placed on the artistic value of photographs rather than the technicalities of digital imaging. Photography is one of the various artistic media available for self-expression and much emphasis will be put on precisely that. Students will synthesize these elements to create a portfolio of work that reflects not only their newly developed skills but also an appreciation and understanding of photography as an art medium. The course carries a fee for photography/art supplies.

STA 179 Photography on Location in Europe

Aimed at beginning and intermediate students exploring the countryside, towns, villages, and interiors of Ticino, this digital photography course concentrates on the dynamics of composition through the use of color and natural light. (Students in this course must provide their own tools for some of the techniques, and a digital camera is required. The course carries a fee for art supplies and equipment.)

VCA 120T Documentary and Street Photography on Location: Munich

This course will investigate the particularities of both documentary and street photography through readings and studio projects. It will shed light on the history of photography; how the visual world communicates, studying the interaction of photography with other visual media; and will pay specific attention to the semiotic potential and challenges of photography. Students will engage in a project that relates to the location of the travel component of the class, documenting a subject of their choice. The Academic Travel destination will be Munich with additional day excursions to Bavaria and Austria.

Film Studies Professional Portfolio (non-credit)
CLCS 490 Film Studies Professional Portfolio

This non-credit course provides a capstone for the Film Studies minor in the form of a Film Studies professional portfolio. The portfolio will bring together the various coursework done as part of the Film Studies minor. Abroad variety of disciplinary perspectives is strongly recommended and will be evaluated as part of the student’s final portfolio assessment. Specific requirements as well as design recommendations will be presented to students in LC 150. The final portfolio work will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of professors who teach in the Film Studies minor. There will be public screening showcasing student work each Spring.