Why Study Cinema and Media?

A film reel from Something Good 1898.

The Cinema and Media Studies department trains students in critical, formal, theoretical, and historical thinking and analysis. The program aims to develop an ability to understand forms of cultural production in relation to wider contexts, as well as to foster discussion and writing skills. Students will gain the tools to approach today's media environment from a historical and international perspective, and will thus be able to work within a changing mediascape.

For more than a century, and across widely different cultures, film has been the primary medium for storytelling, for depicting and exploring the world, and for engaging and shaping the human senses and emotions, memory and imagination. We live in a time in which cinema, the theatrical exhibition of films to a paying public, is no longer the primary venue in which films are consumed. But even as it is being transformed by television, video, and digital media, cinema seems to survive, and these media in turn are giving rise to new forms of moving image culture.

The undergraduate curriculum in Cinema and Media Studies provides a framework within which students in the College can approach the history of film and related media from a variety of historical, critical, and theoretical perspectives. Focusing on the study of the moving image (and its sound accompaniments), the program enables students to analyze how cinema creates meanings through particular forms, techniques, and styles; how industrial organization affects the way films are produced and received; and how the social context in which they are made and consumed influence the way we understand and make meaning of films.

At the same time, the goal is to situate the cinema (and related media) in broader contexts, such as the formation of visual culture and the history of the senses; modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde; narrative theory, poetics, and rhetoric; commercial entertainment forms and leisure and consumer culture; sexuality and gender; constructions of ethnic, racial, and national identities; and transnational media production and circulation, and the emergence of global media publics.