Film Studies prepares students for a variety of careers and further educational opportunities by providing foundational instruction in the analysis of visual culture. As a Film Studies student, you'll assess the medium of film in interdisciplinary courses. You'll learn methods of film analysis that take into account the history and conventions of filmmaking. You'll learn about the social impact of film — its uses for reflecting, shaping, and critiquing culture — while improving your ability to express interpretations of this important and influential medium. You'll emerge with the ability to critically view and interpret films, becoming a discerning cinema analyst.
Dozens of career fields rely on knowledge of digital media and visual narratives — including fields in the Arts, Business, Journalism, Writing, Education, and many more. Do you want to write about moving images, make them, market them, or teach them? If you want to develop your ability to analyze visual language and visual narrative, you may find that a Film Studies major or minor is the right fit for you and your goals.
Of course, you may want to take Film Studies courses out of pure love for the movies, which is just fine by us.
Here are some careers within which you can use your knowledge of cinema and other visual narrative media, either in the film business directly or in any of hundreds of intersecting and related fields.
Talk to your advisor and fill out the form to add or change your major or minor. You can also make an appointment with the Film Studies Coordinator, Donald Jellerson, to sign the form. Feel free to get in touch with us to plan your courses, talk about which courses are available, or discuss what Film Studies can do for you.
A 12-credit Film Studies Certificate designed for students who want to learn the analysis of cinematic language as either a supplement to their major and minor programs or as the basis for a deeper appreciation of cinema prompting lifelong learning.
If your major is within the College of Letters and Sciences, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org asking to declare the Film Studies Certificate. And if your major is within a different college, fill out the Major/Minor/Certificate Change Form and send it to your home department. If you need assistance declaring a Film Studies major, minor, or certificate, contact the Film Studies Coordinator, Donald Jellerson.
When you've completed the certificate, click the link below to download the exit survey. Fill out the survey and send it to the Film Studies Coordinator, Donald Jellerson (3217 Laurentide, email@example.com).
Explores the history and enduring significance of visual culture in America. Themes will include the role of technology in visual culture, the dawn of modern consumerism, the emergence of film, and the postmodern digital collage of 21st century visual culture.
A variable-topics course introducing students to selected historical themes depicted by popular film. Students will watch and deconstruct popular historical films within the larger context of scholarly analysis of a particular historic period or event.
A thematic approach to the study of art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Course material will explore the art, artists, and theory related to modern and contemporary art.
An introduction to critical and analytical approaches to writing about narrative performative and media texts, such as film, television, stage plays, and digital/online texts.
Focuses on understanding and appreciating film as a unique visual communication experience. Includes an introduction to the understanding of film language and different theories of film aesthetics and criticism.
A survey overview of the history of cinema from its inception to today, covering the technological developments of filmmaking, the historical development of various countries’ film industries, cinema’s aesthetic developments, and the relationship between cinema and society throughout history.
Considers films from the Classical Hollywood Cinema era to better understand how such films take up cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity and repackage them for viewers. Learn a set of terms and techniques for interpreting film and another set of terms and techniques for analyzing gender and sexuality.
Learn to conceptualize, structure, and produce analytical writing in multiple forms within digital contexts. Since such contexts are often multi-modal — layered with visual images as well as sound — instruction will include the analysis and appropriation of the visual and auditory in critical writing.
Sociologically analyze racial and ethnic patterns in American films. Discuss how decision-makers shape the public imagination. Examine how race intersects with other identities in ways that lead to specific trends in Hollywood, highlighting the relationship between media, culture and the economy.
Explore the ways in which sound design and music have been used in conjunction with images in diverse media including films, video games, video art, cartoons, music videos, television, and live performance.
Examines the conventions, development, and cultural contexts of a rotating selection of film genres, with a focus on the stylistic innovations, recurrent themes, and varying interpretations of representative films and/or filmmakers. Repeatable with change of instructor.
Examines the complex cultural work of adapting literature to film. Through critical analysis of narrative fiction and the films they inspire, investigate the history, narrative conventions, iconic elements, and cultural significance of literary adaptations to film. Repeatable with change of instructor.
Students study stage plays as well as the ways in which screenwriters and filmmakers adapt those plays for the big screen.
A theoretical and practical study of story-based visual media and how audiences understand what they see. Introduces principles of narrative and traces how these have changed (or not changed) through the evolution of both the media we consume and the nature of our media consumption. Primary materials include comics, tv, film, and video games.
Subjects offered will be of particular social and academic importance, and the course will emphasize the careful analysis of film criticism as well as films themselves. Repeatable with change of instructor.
Analysis of television production, content, and audience reception from the perspective of feminist and cultural theory, with consideration for historical and contemporary texts. Text and images will be examined for representations of sex, gender, women, and LGBT+ individuals with regard to how those representations impact meaning making, identity formation, politics, and social responsibility.
Students deploy analyses of gender and sexuality that respond to the possibilities and limitations of the medium. Appropriate for any student who wishes to learn how to apply complex theories of gender representation and sexual identity to the analysis of visual narratives.
Gain practical experience in writing scripts for cinema and/or television, with special emphasis on creative, theoretical, and critical processes.
Learn to analyze film in international contexts. The course will either focus on a director whose work crosses national and language boundaries or compare two established film directors, one working in English and one working in another language. Repeatable with a change of topic.
Study the work of major film theorists and analyze specific films using theoretical lenses. Broaden your knowledge of terms and concepts in film analysis, using established theoretical lenses such as feminism, Marxism, queer theory, and psychoanalysis. Topics will vary.
A student may wish to substitute an individually designed research or writing project for another course in the Film Studies program. Such a student may plan an independent study course in collaboration with a faculty member. The student and faculty member can propose the independent study using this form: INDEPENDENT STUDY PROPOSAL.
FACULTY TEACHING IN FILM STUDIES
Wisconsin Film Festival—http://www.wifilmfest.org
The Wisconsin Film Festival is presented by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Arts Institute in association with the Communication Arts Film Studies Program. Founded in 1999, the Festival presents 150 films in seven theaters over eight days in April.
Milwaukee Film Festival—http://mkefilm.org
Film can entertain, educate, and empower. It can bring change on levels both intimate and epic. And it's at its best as a communal viewing experience, with the best possible sound and projection. As a non-profit cultural institution, Milwaukee Film's mission is to communicate all of this to the city that we love, in a way that is both true and unique to Milwaukee. We seek to create a film festival in Milwaukee that is locally beloved, internationally acclaimed, and a true forum for our diverse community; to offer year-round education programs for all ages, teaching the role and power of film in the modern media landscape; to provide strategic support to filmmakers and projects; and to do our part to make better the city that has made us better. [Note: the Milwaukee Film Festival takes place in September–October.]
Chicago International Film Festival—http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com
Across countries, languages and cultures, film opens a window onto new worlds, demonstrates the promise of new possibilities, and gives expression to different ways of thinking, all the while confirming our shared stories and common humanity. In 2012, we presented 127 feature films, including 21 feature-length documentaries, and 50 short subject films from more than 55 countries. Many of these films participated in competitive sections, where the highest honor is the Gold Hugo - a standard of excellence in the world of film and a true symbol of discovery. [Note: the Chicago International Film Festival takes place in October.]
Film Wisconsin is a unique non-profit organization and public/private partnership working to create thriving Motion Picture, Television Production, and Video Game industries in the state. Wisconsin has no state film commission or official state liaison to the entertainment or gaming industries so Film Wisconsin was formed to advocate for the industry with Wisconsin’s state and local leaders, provide information and resources for the industry as well as technical assistance for individuals and organizations engaged in all aspects of film and motion production including video gaming and new media.
Northwest Chicago Film Society—http://www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org/about-us
The Northwest Chicago Film Society exists to promote the preservation of film in context. Films capture the past uniquely. They hold the stories told by feature films, but also the stories of the industries that produced them, the places where they were exhibited, and the people who watched them. We believe that all of this history—not just of film, but of 20th century industry, labor, recreation, and culture—is more intelligible when it’s grounded in unsimulated experience: seeing a film in a theater, with an audience, and projected from film stock.
Society for Cinema and Media Studies—http://www.cmstudies.org
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television, and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition.
American Film Institute—http://www.afi.com
AFI is America's promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.
Writers Guild of America—http://www.wga.org
The Writers Guild Foundation was established in 1966 as a non-profit charitable corporation by a group of television and motion picture writers, members of the Writers Guild of America, West. The founding president was James. R. Webb, and early programs included the Watts Writing Workshops, tribute events and a small library of awarded-nominated screenplays and television scripts. The Foundation’s mission is to serve the community of writers and for writers to serve the community: “Through our events, outreach programs, library and archive we strive to educate and inspire as well as to promote and preserve excellence in writing and the work of writers.”
Quarterly Review of Film and Video—http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/gqrf20/current#.Udwua9KHt8E
University of Wisconsin-Madison— https://commarts.wisc.edu/graduate/film
UW Madison offers master's (MA) and doctoral (PhD) degrees in both Film Studies and Media and Cultural Studies through their Department of Communication Arts. “The PhD in Film prepares students for a future scholarly career. It is designed to train students to conduct research and to disseminate knowledge in the classroom and in other professional settings. Reflecting this overall aim, the program integrates course work, research, and teaching experience.”
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee— https://uwm.edu/english/graduate/graduate-plans/media-cinema-and-digital-studies/
Students in UW-Milwaukee's Media, Cinema and Digital Studies program can build their own graduate curriculum at the MA and PhD levels, drawing from courses in film studies, television, media theory, cultural studies, critical theory, multimedia writing, art history, alternative textual production, digital studies, gaming, technology theory, history and more. A concentration in UW-Milwaukee English graduate program, MCDS offers a flexible and individuated course of study for students interested in film studies, media, digital studies or popular culture. Students are encouraged to combine theory, history, analysis or digital textualities with explorations of new and developing global cultural practices, shifts in industry structures and technology, and developments in narrative and formal conventions.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee— https://www4.uwm.edu/psoa/film/mfa/
The Graduate Program (MFA) in Film, Video, Animation & New Genres in the Peck School of the Arts at UW-Milwaukee is interdisciplinary, hands-on, and non-commercial in spirit with a commitment to the intensive and rigorous production of creative time-based art. We have a dedicated, internationally recognized faculty for a small and mutually supportive group of 10-14 graduate students. We encourage works which demonstrate a personal commitment to the art of media making, projects marked not so much by any particular style but rather by the questions they explore. It is the goal of the program to assist each graduate student in completing a number of accomplished works rooted in a developed sense of community, culture, and self.
Columbia College Chicago—https://www.colum.edu/academics/programs/cinema-directing
Cinema Directing (MFA). To realize their unique visions onscreen, the best directors need equal mastery of leadership, storytelling and production skills. Candidates in Columbia’s 52-credit Master of Fine Art in Cinema Directing program learn to craft character-driven narratives, work with producers, and create diverse and authentic films grounded in the human experience. Creative Producing (MFA). Creative producers drive the cinema, television and interactive industries. Columbia’s intensive 50-credit Master of Fine Art in Creative Producing program will train you to find great material, navigate the marketplace, hire talent, juggle financial and legal issues, and deliver high-quality entertainment to enthusiastic audiences. For your thesis, you’ll produce a short film and package a long-form narrative project developed during your final year of study.
DePaul University— http://www.cdm.depaul.edu/academics/Pages/MFA-in-Cinema.aspx
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cinema is the terminal degree in digital filmmaking. The MFA program is designed for aspiring filmmakers who seek to become visual storytellers. Graduates of the program have the skills necessary to work in the professional film industry. This also is the preferred degree for those who wish to teach at the university level. The MFA program is a highly selective program that culminates in the successful completion of the MFA thesis project, a public presentation of the thesis project, and a defense of the thesis to the student's MFA committee.”
Governors State University— http://www.govst.edu/mfa/
GSU’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Independent Film and Digital Imaging is an interdisciplinary program that forges a relationship between applied sequences in digital filmmaking (Communications) and digital photography (Art). MFA students on the Independent Film track will conceive, produce, direct, edit, and deliver digital documentaries and dramatic projects. Students on the Digital Imaging track will undertake the development of gallery-worthy art. All graduates will hold terminal degrees in the applied arts, giving them the opportunity to compete for work in higher education.
Loyola University— http://www.luc.edu/soc/graduate/digitalstorytelling/
The master's (MC) degree in Digital Media and Storytelling at Loyola is designed for post-baccalaureate students whose intentions are to enter professional markets with current and relevant skills putting stories into compelling narrative form through new and digital means. Our program gives you the opportunity to develop technical expertise while exploring different communications streams such as journalism, advertising, public relations, and documentary filmmaking.
Northern Illinois University— http://www.engl.niu.edu/graduate/MA_programs/film-lit.shtml
The Department of English offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree with a special focus in Literature and Film—a comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of the relationships between traditional literary study and the cinema. The focus is designed for students from a wide variety of undergraduate degrees (Communication, Education, English, Film, Theater, etc.); for teachers in the broad range of language skills and art; and for professionals in the media. Its purpose is to study how the cinema engages, appropriates, and extends the forms, philosophies, and values of literature.
Northwestern University— http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/programs/phd_screen_cultures/
The Screen Cultures program at Northwestern is a leading doctoral (PhD) program that conducts and mentors innovative research in the history, theory, and critical analysis of film and media. Integrating interdisciplinary opportunities both within Radio, Television and Film and University-wide, Screen Cultures provides you with an exceptional humanities-based course of study in film, television, and digital media.”
University of Chicago— http://cms.uchicago.edu/content/graduate-program
The Department of Cinema and Media Studies offers a doctoral (PhD) program that focuses on the history, theory, and criticism of film and related media. Faculty are drawn from a wide range of departments and disciplines primarily in the humanities. In addition to offering its own doctoral degree, the Department offers courses and guidance to students who specialize in film and related media within departmental graduate programs or might be pursuing a joint degree.