The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Academics

Requirements -Major

Film Studies Major through BDIC Requirements

Full list of requirements. Here is a list of the core courses that a student must take to obtain the Film Studies Major as a concentration under BDIC:

 

Introductory Course (I)

FILM-ST 170 - Introduction to Film Analysis: Cinematic Time Travel
Instructor: Barry Spence
NOTE: This is a combined course, and can be enrolled under either COMP-LIT 170 or FILM-ST 197FA.
This is an introduction to film studies and to the analysis of film. The course explores the complex nature and cultural function of cinema by focusing on time travel as both a central theme of a wide range of films and as a way of understanding how cinema works as a time-based medium. By studying films from various points in the global history of cinema - including films from nine countries and five continents - this course performs a transcultural introduction to the formal and stylistic aspects of cinematic storytelling. (Gen. Ed. AT)
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: I

COMP-LIT 170 - Introduction to Film Analysis: Cinematic Time Travel
Instructor: Barry Spence
NOTE: This is a combined course, and can be enrolled under either COMP-LIT 170 or FILM-ST 197FA.
This is an introduction to film studies and to the analysis of film. The course explores the complex nature and cultural function of cinema by focusing on time travel as both a central theme of a wide range of films and as a way of understanding how cinema works as a time-based medium. By studying films from various points in the global history of cinema - including films from nine countries and five continents - this course performs a transcultural introduction to the formal and stylistic aspects of cinematic storytelling. (Gen. Ed. AT)
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: I

COMM 140 - Introduction to Film Studies
Instructor: Shawn Shimpach
 3 Credits
NOTE: Open to Sophomores & Freshmen only
This course is designed to provide introduction to the nature and functions of film in its narrative, documentary, and experimental forms. We will look at the various components of film expression (composition, movement, editing, sound, production design, acting), developments in screen narrative, film's relationship to other arts and media, and its role as an instrument of social expression.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: I

COMM 231 - Film & TV Production Concepts
Instructor: Kevin Anderson
 3 Credits
This class provides an overview of film and television production principles and processes from script to screen and also prepares students for later hands-on production courses. We will explore both the art and craft of film and digital motion picture production, including the roles and functions of the major creative and technical personnel in the scripting, pre-production, production, and post-production phases. Technical aspects such as digital vs. analog media, lighting and color, cinematography, production design, editing concepts, sound recording, and storytelling and script-writing will be covered. In addition, students are given three options for producing a creative project for the course.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: I, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: I

top

 Film course before 1950s (H1)

COMM 340 - History of Film I
Instructor: Marty Norden
3 Credits
Lecture, lab (screening), discussion. A survey of key events and representative films that mark the history of motion pictures in the United States and other countries to 1950. In addition to identifying and providing access to major works, the course is designed to facilitate the study of the various influences (industrial, technological, aesthetic, social, cultural, and political) that have shaped the evolution of the medium to the advent of television.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H1

FILM-ST 397Z: Classical Hollywood Cinema
Instructor: Barry Spence
3 credits

This is a history of film course focusing on what is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. An examination of classical Hollywood cinema, this course will concentrate on the period from the 1920s to the 1960s. We will look at the production and distribution practices of the Hollywood studio system, and pay special attention to the way this preeminent form of cinema established many of the norms of the immersive film experience. Among other subjects, we will consider the construction of classical continuity by studying the narrative structures and devices, stylistic techniques, and approaches to editing of a wide range of exemplary films. Weekly in-class screenings, with separate discussion.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H1

top

Film course after 1950s (H2)

COMP-LIT 337 - International History of Animation
Instructor: Christopher Couch
4 Credits
This course traces the history of animation from the late 19th century to today, including short and feature-length films from the United States, Europe and Japan. Topics will include the Fleischer, Disney and UPA studios, directors from Emil Cole to Hayao Miyazaki, and experimental animators including Oskar Fischinger and John Canemaker. Animation for television, including Jay Ward's Rocky and Bullwinkle and Matt Groening's The Simpsons will also be considered.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H2

COMPLIT 381- Self- Reflective Avant- Garde Film
Instructor: Don Levine
4 credits
Explores modern origin of film experimentation in avant-garde modes such as Expressionism, Surrealism and Contemporary results of this heritage. Trying to determine if film is the most resolutely modern of them media, we’ll look at cinema as the result of two obsessive concerns 1.) The poetic, dreamlike and fantastic 2.) The factual, realistic and socially critical or anarchistic. Thus, we’ll attempt to discover how modern culture deals with avant-garde imperatives to always “make it new.” Films and filmmakers such as Breathless (Godard), My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant), The American Soldier (Fassbinder), others.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H2 

COMP-LIT 383 - Narrative Avant-Garde Film (Gen.Ed. AT)
Instructor: Don Levine
4 Credits
Focus on narrative problems of love, desire, sexual identity, daily life, and death. These films' investigations of how we might gain distance on our life fictions by questioning and undermining viewer identification with narrative.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H2

FILM-ST 383 - Narrative Avant-Garde Film (Gen.Ed. AT)
Instructor: Don Levine
Focus on narrative problems of love, desire, sexual identity, daily life, and death. These films' investigations of how we might gain distance on our life fictions by questioning and undermining viewer identification with narrative.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H2

FILM-ST - 497AC/697AC: Arthouse Cinema 1950-1980
Instructor: Barry Spence
 3 Credits
This course will examine the cultural phenomenon of the “art film” during the first three decades of the postwar period (1950s, 60s, 70s). The nature and characteristics of, as well as the relationships connecting and distinguishing, modernist cinema, art cinema, and avant-garde film during this vital period in film history will be the course’s primary concern. We will examine the notion of the auteur and consider its usefulness for thinking about this multiform, innovative cinema. What is the relationship between cinematic modernism and the core principles and representational strategies of modern art? Does modern cinema, as Gilles Deleuze suggests, function as a mental substitute for the lost connection between the individual and the world? Can it restore our belief in the world? The course will pay particular attention to distinctive stylistic attributes, but will also look at dominant thematic concerns. There will be weekly in-class screenings as well as regular streaming of films outside of class. The filmmakers we will consider include, but are not limited to: Chantal Ackerman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Theo Angelopoulos, Ingmar Bergman, Stan Brakhage, Robert Bresson, Luis Buñuel, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Greenaway, Werner Herzog, Miklós Janscó, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Sergei Paradzhanov, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alain Resnais, Jean-Marie Straub, Andrei Tarkovsky, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, Wim Wenders.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: H2

top

Director or Genre course (D&G)

COMM 291j – Villains in Film: Issues of Representation
Instructor: Briggs
3 Credits
This course will interrogate representations of villains in cinema. We will screen a wide variety of films, including Basic Instinct, Disney's Aladdin, and Jennifer's Body. We will use intersectional feminist theory, film theory, and queer theory to examine how race, gender, sexuality, and disability are used to construct images of danger, badness, and villainy. Course content will explore and critique harmful tropes of bisexuality as dangerous and trans identity depicted as inherently deceptive, as well as examining how villains were historically queer- coded in Hollywood film. We will view and analyze films that construct whiteness as goodness and use representations of people of color as a stand-in for villainous character traits. We will look at the stigmatizing of mental illness and representations of people who look "different" as ways that ableism emerges in cinematic representation. Films that resist stereotypes and tropes will be viewed to offer a counterpoint to theses representations and to explore ways in which film can be used to present and change narratives around representations. 
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V 

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

COMM 444 - Film Styles and Genres
Instructor: Shawn Shimpach
3 Credits
Why do we put certain films into categories? What constitutes a film genre, how do we recognize it, and what do we do with it? This course examines these questions and more by considering a specific genre over the course of the semester. We will learn to think of genre as a way of comparing and contrasting different films. Genre will also be thought of as a way of creating expectations and measuring experience and meaning. The power of film genre is that it allows us to understand film as a text and film as a social practice at the very same time.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

COMM 446: Film Documentary
Instructor: Bruce Geisler
3 credits
We will view, analyze, and discuss films by modern documentary masters such as Michael Moore ("Sicko"), Chris Paine, ("Revenge of the Electric Car"), Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong - A fistful of Quarters"), Pamela Yates ("Granito") and many others to further the understanding of the documentary craft and art from a filmmaker's perspective. Students will also do preproduction (research and treatment) for their own short documentary, along with shorter hands-on exercises in writing narration, interview techniques, etc.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

COMM 493L - S-Experimental Film & Video
Instructor: Kevin Anderson
3 Credits
Prerequisites: COMM 331, 441, OR 446
NOTE: Open to Seniors and Juniors only
This course explores the genre of Experimental Film and Video with a critical eye toward the history and current articulations of this form of production in both feature film and short form movies and videos. The course begins with an introduction to the genre, then explores Experimental Film; video according to three different categories: Experimentation with Narrative, Experimentation with Structure/Form, and Experimentation with the line between Fact and Fiction. Students will emerge from this course with a solid foundation in the history and theory of experimental film/video as evidenced by writing projects, research papers, and student-produced experimental media projects.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

COMM 494BI- Countercultural Films
Instructor: Bruce Geisler
Seminar, Discussion. An exploration of the counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and 70s and later, hosted by someone who was there and lived to tell the tale. Through the medium of documentary and fiction films, we will delve into the musical, sexual, artistic, political and spiritual upheavals that rocked America and Europe back then and that continue to reverberate today. 
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

COMP-LIT 350: INTERNATIONAL FILM
Instructor: Barry Spence
4 credits
This general education course will screen films from across the globe studying examples of a range of lesser-known subgenres of the Horror film, such as Giallo (Italian genre mixing slasher horror with detective mysteries), Fantastique (French genre mixing gothic horror with fantasy erotica), and Jiangshi (Hong Kong genre mixing slasher horror with Kung Fu). And we will consider in equal measure the so-called dystopian film. We will look at the interrelationship connecting these two modes, which can be seen at work in films like Battle Royale. This course will include a primary focus on gender issues, will examine the representation of women, and will screen (transgressive) examples of these modes by women filmmakers. The intention of this course is to expose students to a cultural diversity of these vital contemporary film genres beyond the conventional Hollywood fare. Weekly film screenings and discussion. 
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G
GenEd: AT

COMPLIT 391SF- International Sci-Fi Cinema
Instructor: Christopher NC Couch
3 Credits
This course provides an introduction to science fiction cinema from the end of the nineteenth century to today. Beginning with the experiments of the Melies Brothers and the importance of German Expressionist films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the course considers technological prognostication from Destination Moon to 2001: A Space Odyssey, adventure and science fiction in films like Forbidden Planet and Star Wars, and the dystopian imagination from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to District 9. The course will also highlight the roles of women writers and directors from Thea von Harbou to Kathryn Bigelow, and technological cinematic advances from matte painting and process shots to CGI. 
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G 

 

FILM-ST  297SF Special Topics- Possible Futures: Science Fiction in Global Cinemas

Kevin Anderson

There are multiple growing concerns regarding issues of climate, class, race, gender identity, and the nature of democracy in our contemporary world.  Science fiction has proven to be a thought-provoking genre to help raise awareness to many of these social and environmental issues.  This course takes a global perspective on such pressing issues by examining science fiction films from around the world. As such, the course uses science fiction films as primary texts, accompanied by weekly readings.  Students will engage in a critical analysis of the assigned films and readings in order to better appreciate what we can begin to anticipate regarding our future.

UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G (limit one 200 level course)

 

FILM-ST 330: Film Auteurs: Akira Kurosawa

Credits 4
Instructor: Barry Spence

This class will focus on one, or more, specific filmmaker and will aim to highlight their cinematic models, distinctive style and recurrent themes, within the theoretical framework of the "auteur theory", thus offering students an introductory and comprehensive view of perhaps the most central concept in film studies. In the first place, this class will address the historical evolution of the debate around "auteur theory," from the "politique des auteurs" to the "death of the author", while providing author criticism and analysis in practice. It will tackle questions such as: Why do certain filmmakers qualify as auteurs? What is the difference between commercial cinema and auteur cinema? Due to the collaborative nature of filmmaking, can we talk about the author of a film? What is the intersection between gender and authorship? What does it mean to be a woman author? Secondly, it will concentrate on one specific filmmaker: students will read pertinent bibliography (e.g. biography, film reviews, etc.) on their films, watch and study their most significant film production, and contextualize it historically, geographically and culturally.

UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

 

FILM-ST 391SF- International Sci-Fi Cinema 

Christopher NC Couch
This course provides an introduction to science fiction cinema from the end of the nineteenth century to today. Beginning with the experiments of the Melies Brothers and the importance of German Expressionist films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the course considers technological prognostication from Destination Moon to 2001: A Space Odyssey, adventure and science fiction in films like Forbidden Planet and Star Wars, and the dystopian imagination from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to District 9. The course will also highlight the roles of women writers and directors from Thea von Harbou to Kathryn Bigelow, and technological cinematic advances from matte painting and process shots to CGI. 
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G 

 

FILM-ST 397A- ST Alien Encounters

3 credits Daniel Pope
Could extraterrestrial life exist in the cosmos? Scientists say yes, possibly on billions of planets in our galaxy alone. In this class, we will examine the international cinema of alien encounters and explore how these films envision the alien other. How do these films both reflect and shape our own experience of "the alien" or the unknown "other"? Since the beginning of cinema, the figure of the alien has visited the big screen with its promise of otherworldly wonders and its threat of unthinkable perils. This course will explore how alien encounters reflect the haunting of historical realities (such as European voyages of discovery, conquest, and colonization) as well as contemporary issues, such as international conflict (war or global migration), questions of identity (race, gender, sexuality), and the power and perils of emerging technologies (nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence, space travel). Imagining encounters with intelligent beings beyond our own cultural and ideological sphere provides powerful new perspectives on what we think we know about the world, about ourselves, and about others.

If you have trouble enrolling please contact the professor at daniel@umass.edu
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

 

 

FILM-ST 397E: Film at the End of the World

Credits: 3
Instructor: Daniel Pope

Climate disaster, world war, aliens, cosmic collisions, dystopias, zombies, the rise of the machines, catastrophic pandemics, mass extinction, prophesied apocalypse. What do films about the end of the world tell us about contemporary realities? What insights do they offer into the cultural moment that produces them and the prevailing attitudes and realities of gender, race, class, sexuality, and gender identity? How do they speak to our anxieties and fears about the future as well as our hopes and aspirations? How does the genre of end-of-the-world films intersect with other genres—thriller, action film, neo-noir, comedy, art-house, romance, drama, experimental, historical? In this course we will study the cinema of eschatology, of ultimate endings, and analyze a range of filmic approaches to the philosophical, psychological, social, and aesthetic questions posed in end-of-the-world films.

UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: III, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

 

FILM-ST 497V – Video Essay in Film Criticism

Daniel Pope Cap. 14, 3 Credits

This is a course in planning, scripting, and editing video essays in film criticism, working with films from around the world and across film history. The field of film criticism is taking new forms in recent years, with social media, podcasts, websites and blogs dedicated to analyzing and discussing movies. Out of this trend, the video essay emerges as an exceptionally attractive and powerful medium for the film critic. In this class, we examine a wide array of video essays and explore the unique analytical and expressive opportunities the medium offers. A primary emphasis in the course is the study and practice of film criticism as an intellectual and creative endeavor with its own particular objectives, challenges, and expressive powers. With this foundation, we develop the critical, creative, and technical skills necessary for making effective video essays addressing films, directors, genres, national cinemas, and cultural and social issues. Making a video essay is in many ways like making a movie. As such we are engaged not only in film analysis and film writing but also in video editing, image composition, sound design, and other aspects of moving image media.

UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, IV, V

FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G

FILM-ST 497V – Video Essay in Film Criticism
Instructor: Daniel Pope 
3 Credits
This is a course in planning, scripting, and editing video essays in film criticism, working with films from around the world and across film history. The field of film criticism is taking new forms in recent years, with social media, podcasts, websites and blogs dedicated to analyzing and discussing movies. Out of this trend, the video essay emerges as an exceptionally attractive and powerful medium for the film critic. In this class, we examine a wide array of video essays and explore the unique analytical and expressive opportunities the medium offers. A primary emphasis in the course is the study and practice of film criticism as an intellectual and creative endeavor with its own particular objectives, challenges, and expressive powers. With this foundation, we develop the critical, creative, and technical skills necessary for making effective video essays addressing films, directors, genres, national cinemas, and cultural and social issues. Making a video essay is in many ways like making a movie. As such we are engaged not only in film analysis and film writing but also in video editing, image composition, sound design, and other aspects of moving image media.
UNDERGRADUATE FILM STUDIES CERTIFICATE CATEGORY: II, IV, V
FILM STUDIES MAJOR THROUGH BDIC CATEGORY: D&G