The Department of Cinema and Media Studies offers a Ph.D. 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.
Centering on the cinema, the graduate program provides students with the critical skills, research methods, and an understanding of the debates that have developed within cinema studies as a discrete discipline. At the same time, the study of cinema and related media mandates an interdisciplinary approach in a number of respects. The aesthetics of film is inextricably linked to the cultural, social, political, and economic configurations within which the cinema emerged and which it in turn has shaped. Likewise, the history of the cinema cannot be separated from its interaction with other media. Just as it is part of a whole new culture of moving images and sounds that includes television, video, and digital technologies, the cinema draws on earlier practices of instantaneous photography and sound recording and, in a wider sense, those media that are more often described as the fine arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, theater, and music). Finally, the interdisciplinary orientation of the program entails an emphasis on the diversity of film and media practices in different national and transnational contexts and periods and thus an understanding of the cinema as a historically variable and rich cultural form.
The University of Chicago also offers Masters level study in Cinema and Media Studies through the Master of Arts Program in Humanities. In this one-year program, students build their own curriculum with graduate-level courses in any humanities department. Students choosing to focus in Cinema and Media Studies would take courses within the department and complete their thesis with a faculty advisor.
The Film Studies Center, located on the third floor of Cobb Hall, serves as a resource for course-related and individual research and as a forum for cinema and media-related activities.