University Of Massachusetts Amherst


(updated 1/20/2010)




UMASS Graduate Film Studies Certificate Course Requirements:

1.)   one course in film theory

2.)   a minimum of two courses taken outside the student’s degree-granting department and college

3.)   a minimum of two courses with an international or intercultural focus

* Category notations are specified at the end of each course description.

            N.B.  For a complete list of Graduate Film Studies Certificate requirements, please visit www.umass.edu/film





COMM 641:  CINEMA AS SOCIAL FORCE                   <<CANCELED>>

Norden  409 Machmer

01-LEC(57283) We 3:35PM - 6:25PM         location TBA

In this seminar we will investigate issues related to the general topic of film and society and will doubtlessly make forays into such cognate fields as economics, politics, sociology, and psychology along the way.  The semester will likely be divided into four overlapping units: Development & Structure, Function, Representation, and Audience.  The first unit will cover the emergence and maturation of the film industry and its connections with other cultural institutions and society in general.  The second unit will focus on the various functions of film -- e.g., entertainment, education, propaganda, mode of discourse for maintaining the status quo -- as reflected in the work of representative practitioners.  The third unit will examine film and society's mutually causal relationship with special attention paid to film's role as a socio-cultural document.  Finally, the fourth unit will investigate spectatorship issues.  Requirements will include research survey reports, in-class presentations, and an original research project.  Though film will be the main medium under study in this seminar, I would welcome and encourage discussion and research related to video/TV as well.  (Course capacity is 10)

Course Eligibility*:  Communication Doctoral & Masters Graduate Students or permission of instructor

UMass Graduate Certificate course:  general

Dept/College:  Communication / Social & Behavioral Sciences



Ciecko  306 Machmer                                     Cap. 15, Open: 3  (20jan10)

01-SEM(51680) Tu 4:00PM - 6:55PM         Dickinson room 210

This course offers an introductory overview of major approaches to the study of film, including formalism and realism (which together constitute "classical" film theory) and theoretical and critical methods informed by structuralism, semiology, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, political theory, and contemporary cultural studies. Auteurism, feminism/ gender studies and queer theory, genre studies, alternative aesthetics (including concepts of "third cinema"), historical spectator/audience/ reception, star and performance studies, apparatus theory (film, video, and "new media"), and postcolonial theory (issues of racial/ethnic and national identities, as well as globalization) are likely to be considered. The format and content of the seminar will be discussion-intensive, interdisciplinary, and multi-perspectival, and will feature instructor-facilitated class dialogue and some guest presentations by film scholars and filmmakers. Film clips and shorts (and occasionally, longer narratives, documentaries, and experimental works) will be shown in class, but students will also be responsible for watching a number of films outside class.  Writing assignments will provide students with opportunities to further engage with and respond to course readings and related materials, and enable them tobegin (and present to the class) exploratory work on projects tailored to individual interests/goals. Prior study of film is not required. This course is a requirement for the Graduate Certificate in Film Studies.   (Course capacity is 15.)

Course Eligibility*:  Doctoral and Masters graduate students, all majors, no prerequisites.

UMass Graduate Certificate course:  film theory

Dept/College:  Communication / Social & Behavioral Sciences



Don Eric Levine, 328 Herter Hall                   Cap. 15, Open: 6  (20jan10)

01-SEM(55204) We 3:35PM - 7:35PM        212 Herter Hall

Lecture. What were Godard's early films for Fassbinder? Instead of rejecting the most influential avant-garde film maker of the sixties, Fassbinder adopted Godard as father. Yet this fathering was a highly selective progeneration. What does the juxtaposition of these film makers reveal and conceal - and not only about Fassbinder's films, since we cannot now see those of Godard without having our past  viewings of Fassbinder films in our heads.  Fassbinder sets us on track with two remarks: "Godard believes that film is the truth 24 frames per second, while I believe film is the lie 25 frames per second," and "Both Godard and I despise our characters." The course will raise theoretical issues of spectatorship, tone (irony, distanciation, citation) gender, genre, while being firmly grounded in the formal analysis of filmic text; the construction of the filmic text and its "meaning," and the destruction of subject by means of abyssal structures (mises-en-abyme, structural or metaphoric infinite regresses); Fassbinder's ideological fatigue and complex sexual politics, Godard's political innocence (which is not the same as naivete), his cinematic energy amidst his films' increasing cultural despair. Pre-requisites: familiarity with film theory and discourse, preferably by at least two courses in film analysis.  Course meets as intensive seminar, once a week for 4  hours.  Films selected from: Why Does Herr R. Run Amok and Breathless; American Soldier and Les Carabiniers; The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant & Une Femme Mariée; Effie Briest & Vivre sa Vie; Beware of the Holy Whore and Contempt.

UMass Graduate Certificate course:  “International/intercultural” category

Dept/College:  Comparative Literature / Humanities & Fine Arts



Barbara Zecchi                                    Cap. 15, Open: 10   (20jan10)


MoWe 4:00PM - 6:30PM      114 Herter Hall          

A close examination of the evolution of Spanish cinema by women directors and scriptwriters through the viewpoint of gender and film theories.  We will tackle topics such as the female gaze, visual pleasure, pornography, the representation of the body, the female spectator and the question of authority.  In particular we will address the validity of applying U.S. filmic theory to Spanish cinema.  The course is TAUGHT IN SPANISH.

UMass Graduate Certificate course:  “International/intercultural” category

Dept/College:  Spanish / Humanities & Fine Arts