What is Film and Media Studies?
Film and Media Studies examines a vitally important aspect of visual culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, namely the development of film, television, radio, and other electronic media as aesthetic and cultural forms. Like other areas of learning, the study of different film and media is broken down into more specific domains. These include:
• Criticism — the close analysis of individual films, television programs, radio broadcasts, web pages, etc. Students learn to examine the various ways that the combination and interaction of image, sound, movement, and performance affect our experience of film and media. Why do some television shows make us laugh and others make us cry? How do specific films and programs shape our thoughts and beliefs?
• History — the study of the historical development of film and media as art forms and as industries. A consideration of film and media in both their aesthetic and com-modity functions as well as the ways film and media reflect and influence the historical moments in which they are produced.
• Theory — the investigation of the broader properties and aspects of the media. How do film and media communicate with its audiences? What are the social, aesthetic, and political dimensions of media as cultural forms? How do film and media challenge us, amuse us, and make us see things in new ways?
• Practice — creative courses in video production and screenwriting. In order to ex-plore the film and media artist’s tools analytically, students in film and media studies need to gain something of an insider’s understanding of the tools of the trade. Creative courses aim to provide that understanding.
Why Study Film and Media?
As our national and international cultures become increasingly dominated by visual culture, we acknowledge the need to study those forms that provide our chief sources of entertainment and information. This need speaks to our desire to become critical viewers, knowledgeable in the history of the most popular art forms of our century and possessing the analytical skills to understand and interpret visual forms of expression.
The undergraduate major in film and media studies requires the rigorous study of history and aesthetics in an attempt to understand the creative force of an individual artwork, its relation to other artistic production, and its place in culture. Furthermore, because film and media creations are most often produced within an industrial context, the student of film and media must also study industrial and business practices. Complementing the critical studies curriculum, courses in production and screenwriting will provide an intimate understanding of the kinds of choices that film and media artists confront, further refining students’ abilities to view critically. Courses in production do not aim to provide students with professional instruction in film and media. It is not the purpose of this program to train students for professional work.
Receive Close Personal Attention
Unlike many larger Film and Media programs, students at Washington University re-ceive close personal attention from our dedicated faculty of distinguished scholars, screenwriters, and video artists. Although we have a few large lecture courses, students usually get the opportunity to discuss individual texts or ideas in smaller sections. Most of our upper-level courses have limited enrollments of 15 to 25 students per class. As a Film and Media Studies major, your academic advisor will learn your specific interests and goals, and will help to make your studies at Washington University a rich and rewarding experience.
Enjoy Talented Visiting Scholars and Artists
Each year you will have the chance to attend lectures and screenings by one or more notable scholars, directors, or producers. Past visitors to the Program in Film and Me-dia Studies have included Wash U alum, screenwriter and director Harold Ramis (Cad-dyshack, Groundhog Day, Analyze This), Wash U alum Michael Shamberg (The Big Chill, Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich, Along Came Polly), Wash U alum Jon Feltheimer (CEO of Li-onsgate Films), screenwriter/producer Lorenzo Carcaterra (Sleepers, Law & Order) and producer Lloyd Silverman (Snow Falling on Cedars). Additionally, Film and Media Studies has co-sponsored guest lectures from some of our country’s preeminent film scholars, such as Richard Allen, David Bordwell, and Tom Gunning.
Explore Your Creative Side
Film and Media Studies offers several courses in screenwriting and video production that allow our students to fulfill their creative potential. Through exercises and pro-jects, students receive hands on instruction and professional evaluation of their work in a workshop environment. Past students have made their own music videos, public service announcements, and fictional and documentary shorts. Capstone experiences allow students to work on an even broader canvas creating their own 20 to 30 minute videos or writing a feature-length screenplay.
As the so-called seventh art, film has often been viewed as a synthetic art form that combines elements of several other kinds of creative expression. As such, Film and Media students are able to use what they have learned in the study of other art forms,
• Creative Writing
Beyond that, however, the theoretical, historical, and cultural dimensions of Film and Media Studies make it relevant to several other areas of learning. Many of our majors choose to double major in a related field, and most of our courses are crosslisted with other departments and programs. You will readily find the opportunity of combining your interests in Film and Media with related studies in:
• American Culture Studies
• Art History
• Comparative Literature
• Cultural Studies
• English • Germanic Languages and Literatures
• Romance Languages
• Women’s Studies
Find the Path to Many Careers
The knowledge and skills you learn in Film and Media Studies will help prepare you for many different kinds of careers. Because we emphasize writing and critical thinking skills as well as the body of knowledge that constitutes our discipline, students are trained to have the kinds of intellectual and communication skills that many employers seek. Your studies can help you become an:
• Advertising Manager
• Art historian
• Business Manager
• Entertainment Lawyer
• Film Critic
• Film Editor
• Manuscript Reader
• Movie Theater Manager
• Production Assistant
• Television Critic
• Television Producer
• Web Designer